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The Social Origins of Language

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Presents a new theoretical framework for the origins of human language and sets key issues in language evolution in their wider context within biological and cultural evolution


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Preposition Placement in English: A Usage-Based Approach

By Thomas Hoffmann

This is the first study that empirically investigates preposition placement across all clause types. The study compares first-language (British English) and second-language (Kenyan English) data and will therefore appeal to readers interested in world Englishes. Over 100 authentic corpus examples are discussed in the text, which will appeal to those who want to see 'real data'


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Academic Paper


Title: Functional motivations in the development of nominal and verbal gerunds in Middle and Early Modern English
Author: Hendrik de Smet
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Université Catholique de Louvain
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language: English
English, Middle
Abstract: This article examines the use of three gerund constructions in Middle and Early Modern English on the basis of corpus data covering the period 1250–1640. The constructions examined are verbal gerunds (eating the apple), bare nominal gerunds (eating of the apple), and definite nominal gerunds (the eating of the apple). It is argued that the success of verbal gerunds in the history of English can only be understood against the background of the interaction with their nominal counterparts. An analysis is offered of how the system of gerund constructions is functionally organised, comparing discourse-functional behaviour, distribution, and internal syntax across the three gerund types. It is shown that verbal gerunds closely resemble bare nominal gerunds in terms of discourse-functional behaviour and distribution, but are syntactically more flexible. As a result, verbal gerunds could replace bare nominal gerunds, copying their function but adding syntactic flexibility. By contrast, definite nominal gerunds, being functionally distinct from the other two types, developed a number of specialised uses, which ensured their survival. These conclusions throw light on issues of functional motivation in the development of the English gerund. Historical change is seen to be grounded in synchronic functional organisation. At the same time, it is shown that the only existing explanation for the rise of verbal gerunds (attributing their success to their ability to combine with prepositions) can only be partly correct.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in English Language and Linguistics Vol. 12, Issue 1, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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