In its 1500-year history, the English language has seen dramatic grammatical changes. This book offers a comprehensive and reader-friendly account of the major developments, including changes in word order, the noun phrase and verb phrase, changing relations between clausal constituents and the development of new subordinate constructions. The book puts forward possible explanations for change, drawing on the existing and most recent literature, and with reference to the major theoretical models. The authors use corpus evidence to investigate language-internal and language-external motivations for change, including the impact of language contact. The book is intended for students who have been introduced to the history of English and want to deepen their understanding of major grammatical changes, and for linguists in general with a historical interest. It will also be of value to literary scholars professionally engaged with older texts.
Olga Fischer is Professor of Germanic Linguistics at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. She is co-author of The Syntax of Early English (Cambridge, 2000), with Wim van der Wurff, Ans van Kemenade and Willem Koopman. She is also the author of Morphosyntactic Change: Functional and Formal Perspectives (2007) and a contributor to the Cambridge History of the English Language (Cambridge, 1992). Hendrik De Smet is a BOF (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds) Research Professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He is the author of Spreading Patterns: Diffusional Change in the English System of Complementation (2012) and co-editor of On Multiple Source Constructions in Language Change (2015). Wim van der Wurff is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is co-author of The Syntax of Early English (Cambridge, 2000), with Olga Fischer, Ans van Kemenade and Willem Koopman. He is also co-author of Colloquial Bengali (2009) with Mithun B. Nasrin.
1. Introduction; 2. Data and data handling; 3. Theoretical models and morpho-syntactic change; 4. The role of contact in syntactic change in English; 5. The noun phrase; 6. The verb phrase; 7. Clausal constituents; 8. Subordinate clauses; 9. Word order; 10. References; Index.