Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Prosodic evidence for incipient VO order in Old English
Author: Ann Taylor
Institution: University of York
Linguistic Field: Syntax; Phonology; Typology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: In this article I investigate the prosodic structure of verb–object sequences in three Old English metrical texts: Beowulf, Ælfric's Lives of Saints, and The Metres of Boethius. I show that while OV sequences are rarely separated by a line break in any of the texts, the prosodic structure of VO sequences is different in each text, with a high rate of separation of the verb and object in Beowulf, followed by the Metres with less separation, and finally the Lives of Saints with less again. I relate these facts to the ongoing change in headedness in the VP that has been claimed to begin in the Old English period. I take a separated verb–object sequence to indicate a postposed object, and thus the fall in the frequency of separation across the texts indicates a fall in the proportion of VO sequences that are derived by postposition, with a concomitant increase in base-generated VO order.


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

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page