Edited by Gabriele Diewald, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka and Ilse Wischer
[Studies in Language Companion Series 138] 2013
► pp. 101–126
Causative habban in Old English
Tracing the Development of a Budding Construction
The budding causative use of Old English habban ‘have’ has so far received little attention in the literature compared to other Old English periphrastic causatives. The construction with habban represents indirect passive causation and corresponds to the Present-Day English construction of the type I had my shoes repaired. The study is based on the entire habban material, c. 12,600 instances, from the Dictionary of Old English Corpus. The material yields 19 (20) causative habban instances. After a brief look at the diachronic and dialectal breakdown of the data, the discussion focuses on syntactic features, such as word-order and the inflection/non-inflection of the past participle, and semantic features, e.g. the roles of the causer, patient and causee, the presence of volitional or deontic modality in all the instances, and the telicity/atelicity of the action expressed by the verb phrase. The article concludes with a discussion of the origin of the construction. A new hypothesis concerning the triggering of the grammaticalisation process of causative habban is presented and viewed in the light of Diewald’s context-sensitive grammaticalisation scenario.