Traditional analyses of Old French as a verb-second (V2) language (e.g. Thurneysen 1892; Adams 1987) have recently been challenged by Kaiser 2002 and related work. At issue is the treatment of situations in which a particular initial non-subject element can participate in either V2 or V3 order. The current paper focuses on sentences in which the initial element is a fronted subordinate clause. Using a diachronic data base of 13th-century prose, we argue first for a revision in the criteria for identifying V3 that reduces the number of such examples considerably. We then show that the rate of V2 vs. V3 with fronted clauses varies with respect to date, genre, and fronted-clause type in ways that suggest a syntactic change in progress rather than the absence of V2 effects. Our conclusion is supported by a parallel study of a closely related (but minimally syntactically different) language, Old Occitan.
Karen De Clercq, Liliane Haegeman, Terje Lohndal & Christine Meklenborg
2023. Adverbial Resumption in Verb Second Languages,
2014. Socio-stylistic reflexes of syntactic change in Old French. Journal of French Language Studies 24:3 ► pp. 319 ff.
2016. Preverbal subjects, information structure, and object clitic position in Old Occitan. Journal of Linguistics 52:1 ► pp. 37 ff.
2018. Diachronie de la négation phrastique en français : apports d'une approche sociohistorique. Canadian Journal of Linguistics/Revue canadienne de linguistique 63:2 ► pp. 221 ff.
2019. The Variable Position of Initial Subordinate Clauses in Old French: Arguments Against a Semantic Account. In Contributions of Romance Languages to Current Linguistic Theory [Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 95], ► pp. 175 ff.
2022. Microvariation and Change in the Romance Left Periphery. Probus 34:1 ► pp. 235 ff.
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