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Evolutionary Syntax

By Ljiljana Progovac

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The Making of Vernacular Singapore English

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Academic Paper

Title: The Rise and Fall of Constructions and the History of English Do-Support
Author: Peter W. Culicover
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Ohio State University
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Do-support is a unique characteristic of English. Many languages other than English have do-periphrasis but not English-type do-support. This raises the obvious question: What is special about English? The goal of this paper is to provide an account of English do-support that explains why do-support, with its attendant properties, is found uniquely in English. I review the classical derivational approaches to do-support and argue that they do not satisfactorily capture the generalizations. I suggest an alternative, non-derivational account of contemporary do-support that makes crucial use of constructions. Finally, I propose an account of the history of do-support in English that characterizes the changes in terms of the content and scope of constructions. The rise of do-support can be understood as a consequence of the contraction and re-specialization of particular constructions in the wake of well-documented changes in the overt morphological system of the language.


This article appears IN Journal of Germanic Linguistics Vol. 20, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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