Old English–Late British language contact and the English progressive

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This chapter assesses the hypothesis that the Late British verbal noun construction influenced what was to become the English progressive. Evidence from archaeology, genetics, second language acquisition research, contact linguistics and grammaticalization studies is assessed and compared. The conclusion is that the socio-historical conditions may have been conducive to linguistic influence from Late British onto Old English. However, given the dynamic nature of progressive and imperfective forms, evidence from more recent varieties of Celtic and English cannot be used as evidence. It is also argued that what causes contact-induced influence is similarity of function, not form; thus, the Late British verbal noun construction may well have influenced not the Old English verbal noun construction, but the Old English participial progressive.


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