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Constructions and EnvironmentsCopular, Passive, and Related Constructions in Old and Middle English$
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Peter Petré

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199373390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199373390.001.0001

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In Dialogue with Previous Studies

In Dialogue with Previous Studies

(p.24) Chapter 2 In Dialogue with Previous Studies
Constructions and Environments

Peter Petré

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 outlines previous literature on English copular and passive verbs. Studies that address the distinction between bið and is have examined either contact with Celtic or dialectal variation and standardization in Middle English, but have never attempted reconstruction of the actual diachrony of these verbs from a functional viewpoint. Historical work concerning the competition between weorðan and bið/is/was suggests that the loss of weorðan was the complex result of many factors, both internal and contact-induced. Many studies claim that weorðan was outcompeted by another verb, mostly weseþ/is/bið, but as a rule their explanation only covers part of the uses of weorðan. It is suggested that a radically different approach is needed that is not focused on competition.

Keywords:   Copula, passive construction, English linguistics, historical linguistics, Old English, Middle English, Celtic influence

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