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Causative <i>habban</i> in Old English

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Abstract

The budding causative use of Old English <i>habban </i>&#8216;have&#8217; has so far received little attention in the literature compared to other Old English periphrastic causatives. The construction with <i>habban </i>represents indirect passive causation and corresponds to the Present-Day English construction of the type <i>I had my shoes repaired</i>. The study is based on the entire <i>habban </i>material, c. 12,600 instances, from the <i>Dictionary of Old English Corpus</i>. The material yields 19 (20) causative <i>habban </i>instances. After a brief look at the diachronic and dialectal breakdown of the data, the discussion focuses on syntactic features, such as word-order and the inflection/non-inflection of the past participle, and semantic features, e.g. the roles of the causer, patient and causee, the presence of volitional or deontic modality in all the instances, and the telicity/atelicity of the action expressed by the verb phrase. The article concludes with a discussion of the origin of the construction. A new hypothesis concerning the triggering of the grammaticalisation process of causative <i>habban </i>is presented and viewed in the light of Diewald&#8217;s context-sensitive grammaticalisation scenario.

References

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