Word order variation in late Middle English

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This paper discusses the considerable word order variation that existed at the end of the Middle English period, by studying four prose texts written by the same author, John Capgrave. The data are investigated in terms of information structure, and we identify the effect of three different grammars, a local East Anglian variety with syntactically motivated V2 (CP-V2) due to Scandinavian influence, a new leveled standard variety without verb movement (Non-V2), as well as the mixed grammar from Old English where word order is based on information structure (IS-V2). The texts display variation that to some extent mirrors the diachronic development, and we show that the intended readership plays a significant role for the grammars chosen across the four texts.


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