This article examines changes in the valency marking in the history of English. I start with a discussion of the typological literature on measuring basic valency and point out the problems with such an approach. A sample of 18 Old English verbs provides no basic valency pattern for Old English; this makes Old English different from the other Germanic languages. I then review the evidence, presented in, for instance, Visser (1963), that there is an increase in transitivity in the history of English and argue that this increase is partly due to verbs ceasing to mark Theme-preserving alternations, between anticausative and causative. I also examine Theme-changing alternations, between intransitive and transitive, and argue that, due to the changes in aspect marking, objects become licensed by a light verb, v. I conclude by suggesting a syntactic structure that accounts for the various stages of English and argue that the main changes are due to an increase in morphological intransparency.
2020. ‘Fifty pounds will buy me a pair of horses for my carriage’: the history of permissive subjects in English. English Language and Linguistics 24:4 ► pp. 719 ff.
Elter, Wiebke Juliane
2023. Integration of Cognate Loan Verbs in Contact Between Closely Related Languages Effecting Valency Changes. In Language in Educational and Cultural Perspectives [Second Language Learning and Teaching, ], ► pp. 237 ff.
2020. The basic valency orientation of Old English and the causativeja-formation: a synchronic and diachronic approach. English Language and Linguistics 24:1 ► pp. 153 ff.
García García, Luisa
2023. Lability and the rigidification of word order: evidence from Early Middle English. Linguistics 61:5 ► pp. 1233 ff.
García García, Luisa & Richard Ingham
2023. Language Contact Effects on Verb Semantic Classes: Lability in Early English and Old French. In Medieval English in a Multilingual Context [New Approaches to English Historical Linguistics, ], ► pp. 343 ff.
García García, Luisa & Esaúl Ruiz Narbona
2021. Lability in Old English Verbs: Chronological and Textual Distribution. Anglia 139:2 ► pp. 283 ff.
Gentens, Caroline & Juhani Rudanko
2019. The Great Complement Shift and the role of understood subjects: The case of fearful. Folia Linguistica 53:1 ► pp. 51 ff.
2020. How Contact with French Drove Patient‐Lability in English. Transactions of the Philological Society 118:3 ► pp. 447 ff.
2013. Null and cognate objects and changes in (in)transitivity. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 60:1 ► pp. 69 ff.
2019. Word order and closest-conjunct agreement in the Greek Septuagint: On the position of a biblical translation in the diachrony of a syntactic correlation. Questions and Answers in Linguistics 5:2 ► pp. 37 ff.
2020. Isoglosses and language change: Evidence of the rise and loss of isoglosses from a comparison of early Greek and early English. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 56:4 ► pp. 553 ff.
2015. Macroscopic and microscopic typology: Basic Valence Orientation, more pertinacious than meets the naked eye. Linguistic Typology 19:1 ► pp. 1 ff.
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