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<i>Hearsay</i> and lexical evidentials in Old Germanic languages, with focus on Old English

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Abstract

This article offers a paradigmatic survey of auditory evidential constructions in Old English: direct-perception constructions &#8211; <i>accusativus cum infinitivo</i> (ACI) introduced by the auditory (<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i> &#8216;to hear&#8217; ((<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i>&#43;ACI) &#8211; and hearsay-evidence constructions, consisting of the verb (<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i> with the infinitive of a verb of utterance ((<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i>&#43;Inf), followed by a compliment clause, a prepositional clause, or a parenthetical. Comparative data from other Old Germanic languages suggests a common origin of both constructions. It is further hypothesised that these two do not go back to the same Proto-Germanic construction: (<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i>&#43;ACI is more likely to have arisen from the reanalysis of the verbal noun in <i>I heard his speech</i> into an ACI with a verb of &#8216;speaking&#8217; <i>I heard him speak</i>, while (<i>ge</i>)<i>hieran</i>&#43;Inf could have developed from <i>I heard the story</i> into <i>I heard </i>(<i>the</i>)<i> say</i> with the verb of &#8216;saying&#8217;.

References

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