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Parametric Variation and the Verb-Second Constraint in Old English and Early Middle English

Alexandra Scridon


Syntactic variation and change have attracted increasing interest within the field of historical linguistics during the past few decades. Much recent work on diachronic syntax has followed a Chomskian approach, adopting the Minimalist framework (Chomsky 1995). Taking into account recent contributions to current generative work on syntactic change, this paper will focus on the notion of parameters (e.g., verb movement parameter, verb-second parameter) and the theories which account for parameter variation and change in Old and Middle English (e.g., van Kemenade 1987, 1997; Pintzuk 1999). Therefore, we will discuss the exploitation of functional heads within the Principles and Parameters framework and will focus on V-to-I movement and V/I-to-C movement. Considering the CP domain, we will present how C interacts with V (yielding verb-second word order) and with DP by discussing the role and position of the first constituent in a clause.

Keywords: parameters, verb-second, cliticization, head movement.

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