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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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Copularization of becumeþ and weaxeþ

Copularization of becumeþ and weaxeþ

(p.197) Chapter 6 Copularization of BECUMEÞ and WEAXEÞ
Constructions and Environments

Peter Petré

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 provides the first detailed analysis of the development of the change-of-state copulas become (originally ‘arrive’) and wax (‘grow’). Intriguingly, these verbs became fully productive copulas in a very short time. It is argued that this happened after a pre-copular stage had reached a threshold value. Crucially, the copularization of become and wax reached this threshold as a result of an interactive constellation of multiple lineages of constructions belonging to two groups. First, verb-class-specific constructions involving become or wax gradually changed and interacted. Second, verb-class-specific constructions involving already existing copulas, notably weorðan ‘become’, provided a template of general productivity upon which the newly emerging copulas could graft.

Keywords:   Copula, productivity, construction grammar, historical linguistics, analogy, grammaticalization, Old English, Middle English

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