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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Syntactic Evolution of Modal Verbs in the History of English Add Dissertation
Author: Céline Romero Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris III, English Department
Completed in: 2005
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): Jacqueline Lecarme
Susan Pintzuk
Jacqueline Guéron

Abstract: In thid thesis, I question the syntactic status of modal verbs from Old to
Early Modern English within Chomsky's Minimalist and Halle & Marantz's
Distributed Morphology frameworks.

As early as the Old English period, I propose the existence of a specific
syntactic position for preterite-present verbs and I also show that these
verbs are raising ones. Moreover, I underline the grammaticalization of
(epistemic) modal verbs in late Old English which can be seen syntactically
through two modal positions: the position Mood (above T) for epistemic
modals and the position vModal (below T) for root modals. I also underline
the grammaticalization of causative verbs and TO in infinitival structures.

My hypotheses are based on:

1)a syntactic position for preterite-present verbs as early as the Old
English period, which is different from the position of strong and weak verbs,
2)an analysis that goes further assuming the existence of a syntactic
position when preterite-present verbs have either a root or an epistemic
3)the fact that these verbs are raising verbs as early as the Old English
4)the analysis of infinitival structures infinitives, negation, adverbs,
elliptic structures and TO (which has the same syntactic behaviour as the
preterite-present verbs).

The analysis of infinitival structures is to be linked up with the analysis
of causative verbs (I shall also underline their grammaticalization between
the OE and ME periods) and the parallelism drawn with the preterite-present
verbs. As for the analysis of negation, it helps me focus on very specific
phenomena for each period of the language:

• negative concord: in a sentence two negative elements do not cancel each
other out, but express only one negation,
• Neg criterion: a negative operator must be in a Spec-head relationship
with an X0, and an X0 must be in a Spec-head relationship with a negative
• negative polarity: coexistence of any with a negative element to express
only one negation.

Finally, the analysis of adverbs allows me to see the different functional
heads there exist within the English sentence from the 8th to the 17th
centuries. And especially the ones dealing with mood and modality, so that
a syntactic hierarchy could be done.

These different analyses have then allowed me to understand that
preterite-present verbs had a specific syntactic behaviour compared to
other types of verbs, and that they grammaticalized as early as the Old
English period. But I have underlined, during the Middle English period,
that causative verbs and TO grammaticalized as well.