Edited by Gabriele Diewald, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka and Ilse Wischer
[Studies in Language Companion Series 138] 2013
► pp. 289–312
On gain and loss of verbal categories in language contact
Old English vs. Old High German
The theory of language change has in recent years increased its explanatory repertoire by pointing out the role of language contact in determining which paths of development are entered and followed under specified conditions. In particular, language shifting – as unmonitored second language learning – is recognized as a powerful mechanism for introducing new verbal categories into language systems as well as leading to the loss of verbal categories from language systems. In this paper I will relate several of the most important structural changes and categorial differences in the verb systems of Proto-Germanic, Old English and Old High German to the different contact histories of these languages, among them: (1) the reduction of the Proto-Indo-European TAM system (TAM for tense, aspect, mood) to half its size in Proto-Germanic, (2) the existence of a double copular paradigm in Old English (and again in Irish English) but not in German; (3) a number of properties of English but not of German attributed to Celtic influence by Filppula, Klemola, and Paulasto (2008), such as the loss of the affected possessor construction and the rise of the verbal noun in -ung/-ing and the progressive based on it.