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Let’s talk about uton*

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Abstract

This paper discusses the form and behavior of Old English <i>uton</i> in relation to the question of whether it is a verb or not. Its lack of participation in the reduction process affecting finite verbs followed by <i>w&#275;</i> and <i>g&#275;</i> is difficult to account for if <i>uton</i> were still a verb form synchronically. The same holds for its apparently completely fixed syntactic position and the failure of the negative particle <i>ne</i> to attach to it. Not treating it as a verb would mean that <i>uton</i> constructions are without a finite verb, and it would make a very small number of examples hard to analyze but, on balance, the evidence suggests that <i>uton</i> had probably grammaticalized to a point where speakers no longer treated it as a verb.

References

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