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The Early English Impersonal ConstructionAn Analysis of Verbal and Constructional Meaning$
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Ruth Möhlig-Falke

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199777723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199777723.001.0001

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The Impersonal Construction in English

The Impersonal Construction in English

(p.3) 1 The Impersonal Construction in English
The Early English Impersonal Construction

Ruth Möhlig-Falke

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by setting the purpose of the book, which is to analyze the function and use of the Old English (OE) impersonal construction. The analysis shows that the range of syntactic uses of the impersonal verbs in OE was not unsystematic but was motivated by the verbs' semantic properties in combination with the semantic and discourse-pragmatic properties of the syntactic constructions in which they were used. The chapter then discusses the meaning of the term impersonal, the development of impersonal expressions in English, explanations for the diachronic development of impersonal expressions, changes affecting the relationship between subject and object, what motivates language change, and a cognitive-functional perspective on language change. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords:   Old English, impersonal verbs, syntactic uses, semantics, impersonal expressions, language change

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