Loss of laten-support in embedded infinitivals in fifteenth-century Low Saxon

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In diachronic studies, the rise of do-support in the history of English takes in prominent place (Ellegård 1953, Kroch 1989). It has been argued that do-support in questions (V-to-C) and in negative declaratives (V-to-T) are one and the same grammatical process, despite the fact that the change occurs later in negative declaratives. In the light of the Constant Rate Hypothesis, the two types of change might realize a common change in the property of the VP, that becomes opaque for verb movement (Roberts 1985, Pollock 1989). Alternatively, if the two processes can be shown to be distinct, the two types of do-support are probably tied to changes in some intermediate projection or to the landing site, CP or TP.
In this paper we consider a phenomenon in the closely-related Low Saxon dialects on the continent that have a similar auxiliary-support which, however, shows up differently because of the basic OV nature and the strict V2 character of those dialects. It enables us to view the locus of verb movement from a different perspective. These 15th century Low Saxon variants exhibit changes in the verbal system that are similar to English, only its direction is reverse: Low Saxon dialects in the Netherlands lose auxiliary support and lose a separate auxiliary class. It gives a new perspective on do-support in English. It is argued that the (in)transparency of the TP projection is a driving force.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWord Order Change
EditorsAna Maria Martins, Adriana Cardoso
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198747307
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • periphrastic auxiliaries
  • Middle Dutch


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