The emergence of modal meanings from <i>haben</i> with <i>zu</i>-infinitives in Old High German

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The grammaticalisation path from possession to obligation which describes the development of <i>haben</i> to a marker of modality is well-established (cf. Heine/Kuteva 2002), but opinions differ on when exactly these modal readings came about. Haspelmath (1989) argues for a dating no earlier than Middle High German, but a careful study of Notker&#8217;s writings reveals evidence of modal &#8216;<i>haben</i> &#43; <i>zu</i>-infinitive&#8217; in Old High German. Following Ebert (1976), this study identifies four stages of grammaticalisation of <i>haben</i> with <i>zu</i>-infinitive. The pivotal point is reached as soon as &#8216;<i>haben</i> &#43; <i>zu</i>-infinitive&#8217; is combined with nominal complements in the genitive or dative case, which clearly evince modal meanings. Notker&#8217;s Old High German texts contain several instances of this use. Finally, the comparison with the original texts demonstrates that &#8216;<i>haben</i> &#43; <i>zu</i>-infinitive&#8217; does not derive from Latin, but rather is used independently, even in Old High German.


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