Article published in:Meaning in the History of English: Words and texts in context
Edited by Andreas H. Jucker, Daniela Landert, Annina Seiler and Nicole Studer-Joho
[Studies in Language Companion Series 148] 2013
► pp. 157–184
Let’s talk about uton
This paper discusses the form and behavior of Old English uton in relation to the question of whether it is a verb or not. Its lack of participation in the reduction process affecting finite verbs followed by wē and gē is difficult to account for if uton were still a verb form synchronically. The same holds for its apparently completely fixed syntactic position and the failure of the negative particle ne to attach to it. Not treating it as a verb would mean that uton constructions are without a finite verb, and it would make a very small number of examples hard to analyze but, on balance, the evidence suggests that uton had probably grammaticalized to a point where speakers no longer treated it as a verb.
Published online: 18 December 2013