Light verb constructions in the history 
of English

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This study investigates light verb constructions in sample corpora from Old- Middle- and Early Modern English. The use of one coherent definition of light verb constructions throughout these periods allows direct comparison of the overall structures and of the light verbs used. The comparison shows that frequencies are highest in the Middle English texts and decrease in the Early Modern data. While the Old English counts are significantly lower than Middle English ones, their frequencies are far from negligible. It is argued that where previous assessments consider Old English light verb constructions to be rare or non-existent, this is partly due to having used the perspective of the most frequent Modern English light verbs rather than working from the perspective of which light verbs were frequent at the period in question.


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