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Pro drop in Old English: shifts in the pronominal system Elly van Gelderen Aims To show pro drop exists in Old English To argue inflection changes from.

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Presentation on theme: "Pro drop in Old English: shifts in the pronominal system Elly van Gelderen Aims To show pro drop exists in Old English To argue inflection changes from."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pro drop in Old English: shifts in the pronominal system Elly van Gelderen Aims To show pro drop exists in Old English To argue inflection changes from interpretable to uninterpretable To examine other changes in the pronoun and demonstrative system: that > the; she + they To think about the status of features in current Minimalism

2 Pronouns, demonstratives, and pro-drop (1) þæt fram ham gefrægn Higelaces þegn, god mid Geatum, Grendles dæda; se wæs moncynnes mægenes strengest on þæm dæge þysses lifes, æþele ond eacen. Het him yðlidan godne gegyrwan, cwæð, he guðcyning ofer swanrade secean wolde, mærne þeoden, þa him wæs manna þearf. ðone siðfæt him snotere ceorlas lythwon logon, þeah he him leof wære. `Hygelac’s thane heard about Grendel’s deeds while in Geatland; he (=Hygelac’s thane) was mankind’s strongest man on earth, noble and powerful. (He) ordered himself a good boat prepared and said that he wanted to seek the king over the sea since he (=the king) needed men. Wise men did not stop him (=Hygelac’s thane) though he was dear to them.’ (Beowulf )

3 Traugott (1992: 171) (2)Þa clypode an ðæra manna Zebeus gehaten and cwæð to ðam cyninge; `Then cried one of-the men Zebeus called and said to the king: Eala ðu cyning þas fulan wuhta þu scoldest awurpan of ðinum rice. Oh you king the foul creatures you should throw-out of your kingdom ðylæs ðe hi mid heora fylðe us ealle besmiton; in-case that they [= the foul creatures] with their filth us all affect Hi habbað mid him awyriedne engel. mancynnes feond. They [= the foul creatures] have with them corrupt angel, mankind’s enemy and se hæfð andweald on ðam mannum ðe heora scyppend forseoð. and he [the angel] has power over those men that their creator despise’ (Ælfric’s Catholic Homilies, 2nd series Godden 1979, – 115)

4 Different from Germanic topic drop (3)Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard Now must praise heaven.kingdom’s guard (Northumbrian version of Caedmon’s Hymn). (4)Nearwe genyddon on norðwegas anxiously hastened on north.ways `Anxiously, they hastened north.' (Exodus 68) (5)Him on mod bearn þæt healreced hatan wolde medoærn micel men gewyrcean Him to mind came that palace command would meadhall large men build `He thought that he would order his men to build a big hall, a big meadhall.' (Beowulf 64-69) And non-generic third person!

5 Lindisfarne (Northumbrian) 1S9/212 (=96% overt pronouns) 1P0/53 (=100%) 2S16/103 (=87%) 2P10/206 (=95%) 3S445/116 (=21%) 3P263/108 (=29%) (Berndt 1956) See also Walkden: 20% 3S pro-drop in Beowulf C/Edge-Linking Generalization (Sigurðsson 2011) Any definite argument, overt or silent, positively matches at least one CLn in its local C-domain, CLn ∈ {A, P, Top,...}.

6 Around 1200: a reanalysis (6) & gaddresst swa þe clene corn `and so you gather the clear wheat.’ (Ormulum , Holt edition) (7) 3ho wass … Elysabæþ 3ehatenn `She was called Elisabeth.’ (Ormulum 115) (8) & swa þe33 leddenn heore lif Till þatt te33 wærenn alde `and so they led their lives until they were old.’ (Ormulum 125-6) (9) þin forrme win iss swiþe god, þin lattre win iss bettre. `Your earlier wine is very good, your later wine is better.’ (Ormulum 15409)

7 InternalExternal se -->the seo --> she him/her --> himself/herself hi --> they a.se>the [i-loc]/[i-phi][u-T]/[u-ps] b.he/hi is replaced byhe heo/hais replaced by she (possibly via seo) hi/hieis replaced bythey [i-phi][i-phi]/[i-loc] Internal change: Semantic > Interpretable > Uninterpretable External change: Renewal of the semantic features

8 Demonstrative [i-3S] [i-loc] articlecomplementizer(copula) [u-phi][u-T] [i-loc] (10)Mida i tatáSaramaccan I be yourfather ‘I am your father.’ (McWhorter 1997)

9 Features of the English DP (11)a.*That the dog loves their the toys. b.I saw that. c.*I saw the. (12)DPDP thatD’DNP [i-loc] DNPthe[3S] [i-3S][3S][u-phi]

10 Semantic > Grammatical Chomsky (1995: 230; 381) "formal features have semantic correlates and reflect semantic properties (accusative Case and transitivity, for example)." This makes sense if a language learner uses the semantic features in the derivation, these features turning into interpretable ones so to speak. The cycle of phi-features: noun > emphatic > pronoun > agreement >0 [sem][i-phi] [i-phi]/[u-phi][u-phi]

11 Semantic > Interpretable > Uninterpretable (13)Ac nis nan scild trum[ra] wið ðæt... But NEG.is no shield stronger against the... `But there is no stronger shield against...’ (14) ne ne helpeð nawiht eche lif to haben. nor not helps not eternal life to have `Nor does it help to have eternal life.’ (15)I can't do nothing for you either, Billy. (16)No, I never see him these days (BNC - A9H 350)

12 Where do semantic features come from? The Minimalist program has shifted the emphasis from UG to third factors and from syntactic parameters to lexical ones, i.e. features. One of the reasons to deemphasize UG is the supposed lack of evolutionary depth. Third factors, however, are vague and feature theory is not well-developed.

13 Cinque and Rizzi (2008) discuss the question of the number of functional categories. There are 32 in Cinque (1999: 130) and around 40 in Kayne (2005). Cinque and Rizzi, using Heine & Kuteva’s 2002 work on grammaticalization, come up with 400 features that are targets in Heine & Kuteva. Benincà & Munaro (2010: 6-7) note that syntax has reached the detail of phonological features.

14 Challenge: acquisition of features and their order Jackendoff (2002), based on Bickerton (1990), suggests that pre-linguistic primate conceptual structure may already use symbols for basic semantic relations. This may include spatial and causal concepts. “Agent First, Focus Last... are `fossil principles’ from protolanguage”. Homo erectus (1 million BP) may have had protolanguage. This gives the innate faculty longer to incorporate this.

15 The acquisition of semantic features Chomsky (1965: 142): “semantic features... too, are presumably drawn from a universal ‘alphabet’ but little is known about this today and nothing has been said about it here.” Chomsky (1993: 24) vocabulary acquisition shows poverty of the stimulus.

16 Conclusions Pro drop in OE: licensed by interpretable phi Change in D: interpretable > uninterpretable and renewal Recent shift towards third factors and parametric features. What does that mean for vocabulary acquisition? All change is in the lexicon: sem>i-F>u-F Evolutionary time-depth greater to allow UG to have more structure.

17 References Adams, Marianne From Old French to the Theory of Pro-drop. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 5: Axel, Katrin Studies on Old High German Syntax. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Baker, Peter, and Michael Lapidge Byrhtferth's Enchiridion, EETS S.S. 15 (Oxford). Bately, Janet, ed The Old English Orosius. Oxford: Oxford University Press [EETS S.S. 6]. Berndt, Rolf Form und Funktion des Verbums im nördlichen Spätaltenglischen. Halle: Max Niemeyer. Bianchi, Valentina, and Mara Frascarelli Is topic a root phenomenon? ms. Biberauer, Theresa, Anders Holmberg, Ian Roberts, and Michelle Sheehan Parametric Variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bosworth, Joseph A literal translation of King Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon version of the compendious history of the world by Orosius. London: Longman. Cardinaletti, Anna Toward a cartography of subject positions. In The structure of CP and IP, ed. by Luigi Rizzi, 115–165. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

18 Chomsky, Noam Three factors in language design. Linguistic Inquiry 36.1: Clemoes, Peter Ælfric's Catholic Homilies: The First Series, Text, EETS s.s. 17 Oxford). Cole, Peter Null Objects in Universal grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 18.4: Fassi Fehri, Abdelkader Arabic Silent Pronouns, Person, and Voice. BAALL 1: Frascarelli, Mara Subjects, topics and the interpretation of referential pro. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25.4, Frascarelli, Mara, and Roland Hinterhölzl Types of Topics in German and Italian. In On Information Structure, Meaning and Form, ed. by Kerstin Schwabe and Susanne Winkler, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Gelderen, Elly van A History of English Reflexive Pronouns. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Gelderen, Elly van The Linguistic Cycle. Oxford: OUP. Holmberg, Anders Is there a Little Pro? Linguistic Inquiry 36.4: Klaeber, Fr [1941]. (ed.) Beowulf. Boston: Heath & Co.

19 Mitchell, Bruce Old English Syntax I. Oxford: Clarendon. Pogatscher, Alois Unausgedrücktes Subject im Altenglischen. Anglia 23: Rusten, Kristian A study of empty referential pronominal subjects in Old English. MA thesis, University of Bergen. Sigurðsson, Halldór Argument-drop in Old Icelandic. Lingua 89: 247– 280. Sigurðsson, Halldór Conditions on Argument Drop. Linguistic Inquiry 42.2: Thorpe, Benjamin The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 2 volumes. London: Ælfric Society. [1971 New York reprint]. Visser, F An Historical Syntax of the English Grammar I. Leiden: Brill. Walkden, George Null arguments in Old English. LAGB talk. Zupitza, Julius Beowulf, reproduced in facsimile. 2nd edition. EETS 245. See also: And


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