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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

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Academic Paper

Title: Special issue on Aspects of OV and VO order in the history of English
Author: Ann Taylor
Institution: University of York
Author: Wim van der Wurff
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Whether judged by the amount of intrinsic interest, the number of knock-on effects, or the sheer volume of scholarly work devoted to it, it seems safe to say that one of the major issues in English historical syntax is the shift from object–verb (OV) to verb–object (VO) order. Over the last three decades in particular, a large body of literature has grown up that has resulted in an increasingly detailed picture of this change. No doubt in part because the recent introduction of electronic corpora has provided a boost to data-oriented work, the popularity of this change shows no imminent signs of abating. Evidence for the continuing popularity of this topic was demonstrated at two conferences held at the University of Leiden Centre for Linguistics in 2003 (the second Holland–York Symposium on the History of English Syntax in April 2003, and the Conference on Comparative Diachronic Syntax in August 2003). Although neither of the meetings had the shift from OV to VO in English as a special theme, the conference programmes together included no fewer than eight papers on the topic. Seven of these can be found in this special issue, which aims to illuminate selected aspects of the alternation between OV and VO order in the history of English; the collection of articles is rounded off by a review of a recent monograph on the subject.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 9, Issue 1.

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