LINGUIST List 27.2554

Fri Jun 10 2016

Disc: About the construction of ''NP there be''

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 02-Jun-2016
From: Takanori Kojima <>
Subject: About the construction of ''NP there be''
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I'm a graduate school student, majoring in English linguistics. Specifically, I studied ''Existential there construction''. Recently, I used The Penn Corpora of Historical English to find something new. my node and query is like this;

(1) node : IP-MAT query: (EX exists)

When I applied this node and query to PPCEME2, which I had further seperated into 4 parts, such as the periods of M1, M2, M3, M4, there are only 158 examples in M1 and M2 together. Then, when I checked these data one by one, I found the construction which seems strange from my view. The examples are;

(2)from M1
a. Monie oðere þer beoð [þe comeð of weole…]

many other there were that come of wealth…

(133 ID CMANCRIW,II.149.2019))
b. and oðer unriht inoh. þere beð ollende word…

and other wrong enough there is ollende word…

(3)from M2
a. Vor lite uolk þer byeþ [þet by diligent ine þet …]

for little folk there were that by diligent in that …

b. Ac zeuen principals doles þer byeþ. [þet byeþ ase zeue boʒes þet…]

But seven principals deals there were that were as seven boys that…


these sentences seem strange in that all these associate noun phrases(NP) precede ''there be'', and furthermore, the kind of associate NPs which precede ''there be'' seems determined. According to my investigation, there are 11 examples like these constructions. Of all these examples. 9 examples are quantifed NP, and 1 example is the phrase including ''(an)other'', and so on. When I reported these data in my class presentation, a reviewer said ''can't these sentences really be available in the present day? You should confirm these sentences are surely incorrect today.'' That's why I would like you native speakers to assess whether these kinds of constructions can't be available in present English. I'd appreciate your cooporations.

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Page Updated: 10-Jun-2016