Publication details [#67228]

Bauer, Brigitte L.M. 2019. Language contact and language borrowing. Compound verb forms in the Old French translation of the Gospel of St. Mark. Belgian Journal of Linguistics 33 : 215–255.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This study investigates the potential influence of Latin syntax on the development of analytic verb forms in a well-defined and concrete instance of language contact, the Old French translation of a Latin Gospel. The data show that the formation of verb forms in Old French was remarkably independent from the Latin original. While the Old French text closely follows the narrative of the Latin Gospel, its usage of compound verb forms is not dictated by the source text, as reflected e.g. in the quasi-omnipresence of the relative sequence finite verb + pp, which – with a few exceptions – all trace back to a different structure in the Latin text. Another important innovative difference in Old French is the widespread use of aveir ‘have’ as an auxiliary, unknown in Latin. The article examines in detail the relation between the verbal forms in the two texts, showing that the translation is in line with OF grammar. The usage of compound verb forms in the Old French Gospel is therefore autonomous rather than contact stimulated, let alone contact induced. The results challenge Blatt’s (1957) assumption identifying compound verb forms as a shared feature in European languages that should be ascribed to Latin influence.