Verb types and word order in Old and Middle English non-coordinate and coordinate clauses

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This paper focuses on the relation between word order, verb types and clause types in Old and Middle English, with reference to the change of English from a language with a verb-second constraint to a verb-medial language. The word order patterns dicussed are the XVS, SVX and XSV patterns, and the verb categories operated with are verbs with complement, verbs without complement, copulas and existential verbs. A distinction is made between coordinate clauses; i.e., clauses introduced by a coordinating conjunction, and non-coordinate clauses. The results show that there is a difference between the two clause types and between the word order patterns in the distribution of verbs. Furthermore, there is a clear development from Old and Middle English as regards verb distribution in the clause types and word order patterns, and this development is especially noticeable in the XVS pattern. It may thus be deduced that word order is not only determined on the basis of syntactic rules, but is also related to the information content of the sentence. Consequently, studying word order and word order change from a functional perspective is highly relevant.


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