Directed motion in Medieval French

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This paper introduces new data showing that Medieval French patterns like a satellite-framed language in that directed motion events can be expressed via a manner verb and a PP complement denoting a telic goal. This contrasts sharply with contemporary French, a typical verb-framed language, in which directed motion is encoded via path verbs with manner as a separate adjunct phrase. Typologically, the data is consistent with a number of other argument structure properties that characterise Medieval French as satellite-framed much like English and Dutch. I argue that the source of variation between Medieval and present-day French resides in a difference in the extended functional projection of prepositional elements. While Medieval French has an active functional projection that permits simple prepositions to encode path, present-day French does not. The analysis diverges from recent accounts of the directed motion construction in which the locus of variation is situated in a macro-parameter.


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