Perfect Auxiliary Selection in Middle English

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Prof. Judith Huber

Beteiligte FAU-Organisationseinheiten:
Juniorprofessur für Englische Linguistik, insbesondere historische Linguistik und Variationslinguistik

Projektstart: 01.11.2016


historische englische Syntax und Lexikologie
Juniorprofessur für Englische Linguistik, insbesondere historische Linguistik und Variationslinguistik

Abstract (fachliche Beschreibung):

In Old and Middle English both BE and HAVE combined with past participles of verbs to form perfect periphrases. While originally, HAVE combined with transitive verbs only (e.g. hie hæfdon hine gebundenne ‘they had bound him’) and BE with intransitive ones, the combinational range of HAVE increased already in Old English to include intransitives (e.g. Þa hie [...]gewicod hæfdon ‘when they had encamped’). Ultimately, only the HAVE-perfect survived. However, for a long time, BE+past participle remained in use with mutative intransitive verbs, i.e., verbs denoting a change of state or location (e.g. He is come, still in the 19th century).

On the basis of attestations like (1) and (2), Los (2015: 76–77) has recently suggested that there might be a systematic difference in the use of BE and HAVE with manner of motion verbs in Middle English: These can denote both a change of location, like mutative intransitives (cf. unto the temple walked is in (1)), and a ‘controlled process’ or ‘activity’, i.e., non-mutative (cf. ye han walked wyde in (2)). Los suggests that in the former use of manner of motion verbs, BE might the auxiliary of choice, in the latter HAVE.

  1. Arcite unto the temple walked is / of fierse Mars, to doon his sacrifise (Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Knight’s Tale 2368–9) ‘Arcite has walked to the temple of fierce Mars to make his offering.’

  2. ‘Saw ye’, quod she, ‘as ye han walked wyde / Any of my sustren walke you besyde [...]?’ (Chaucer, Legend of Good Women 3, 978–9) ‘“Did you”, she said, “while you were walking far and wide, see any of my sisters walking beside you?”’

Taking into account also other factors that have been found to influence the choice of be and have, such as counterfactuality, infinitive or past perfect context (cf., e.g., Kytö 1997), I test the above hypothesis with attestations of manner of motion verbs taken from the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse.

Zuletzt aktualisiert 2018-22-11 um 17:02