Volume 35, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In this article we provide a practical demonstration of how syntactically annotated corpora (treebanks), particularly the English Historical Parsed Corpora Series, can be used to investigate research questions with a diachronic depth and synchronic breadth that would not otherwise be possible. The phenomenon under investigation is split coordination, in which two parts of a conjoined constituent appear separated in the clause (e.g., ). It affects every type of coordinated constituent (subject/object DPs, predicate and attributive ADJPs, ADVPs, PPs and DP objects of P) in Old English (OE); and it, or a superficially similar construction, occurs continuously throughout the attested period from approximately 800 to the present day. Despite its synchronic range and diachronic persistence, split coordination has received surprisingly little attention in the diachronic literature, with the exception of Perez Lorido’s (2009) limited study of split subjects in eight OE texts. Its modern counterpart is most frequently analysed as Bare Argument Ellipsis (BAE). Although the OE and Present-Day English constructions appear superficially similar, we show that not all of the OE data is amenable to a BAE analysis. We bring to bear different types of evidence (structural, discourse/performance effects, rate of change, etc.) to argue that split coordination in fact represents two different constructions, one of which remains stable over time while the other is lost in the post-Middle English period.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arnold, Jennifer, Anthony Losongco, Thomas Wasow & Ryan Ginstrom
    2000 Heaviness vs. newness: The effects of structural complexity and discourse status on constituent ordering. Language76(1). 28–55. 10.1353/lan.2000.0045
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2000.0045 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bech, Kristin
    2001 Word order patterns in Old and Middle English: A syntactic and pragmatic study. PhD thesis, University of Bergen.
  3. Biberauer, Theresa & Ans van Kemenade
    2011 Subject positions and information-structural diversification in the history of English. Catalan Journal of Linguistics10. 17–69. 10.5565/rev/catjl.32
    https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/catjl.32 [Google Scholar]
  4. Busquets, Joan
    2006 Stripping vs. VP-ellipsis in Catalan: What is deleted and when?Probus18. 159–187. 10.1515/PROBUS.2006.006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/PROBUS.2006.006 [Google Scholar]
  5. Gundel, Jeanette
    1988 Universals of topic-comment structure. InMichael Hammond, Edith Moravcsik & Jessica Wirth (eds.), Studies in syntactic typology, 209–239. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/tsl.17.16gun
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.17.16gun [Google Scholar]
  6. Hankamer, Jorge & Ivan Sag
    1976 Deep and surface anaphora. Linguistic Inquiry7. 391–426.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Hinterhölzl, Roland
    2009 Information structure and unmarked word order in (Older) Germanic. InCaroline Féry & Malte Zimmerman (eds.), Information structure from different perspectives, 282–304. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Johnson, Kyle
    2006 Gapping. InMartin Everaert & Henk van Riemsdijk (eds.), The Blackwell companion to syntax, 407–435. Oxford: Blackwell. 10.1002/9780470996591.ch29
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470996591.ch29 [Google Scholar]
  9. Kiss, Katalin
    1996 Two subject positions in English. Linguistic Review13. 119–142. 10.1515/tlir.1996.13.2.119
    https://doi.org/10.1515/tlir.1996.13.2.119 [Google Scholar]
  10. Kemenade, Ans van, & Tanja Milićev
    2012 Syntax and discourse in Old English and Middle English word order. InDianne Jonas & Stephen Anderson (eds.), Grammatical change: Origins, nature, outcomes (Proceedings of DIGS VIII), 237–255. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Kohonen, Viljo
    1978On the development of English word order in religious prose around 1000 and 1200 ad . Åbo: Åbo Akademi Foundation.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Konietzko, Andreas & Susanne Winkler
    2010 Contrastive ellipsis: Mapping between syntax and information structure. Lingua120. 1436–1457. 10.1016/j.lingua.2008.08.009
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2008.08.009 [Google Scholar]
  13. Mitchell, Bruce
    1985Old English syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119357.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198119357.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  14. Munn, Alan
    1993 Topics in the syntax and semantics of coordinate structures. PhD thesis, University of Maryland.
  15. Perez Lorido, Rodrigo
    2009 Reconsidering the role of syntactic “heaviness” in Old English split coordination. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia45. 31–56.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Pintzuk, Susan & Ann Taylor
    2006 The loss of OV order in the history of English. InAns van Kemenade & Bettelou Los (eds.), The handbook of the history of English, 249–278. Oxford: Blackwell.10.1002/9780470757048.ch11
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470757048.ch11 [Google Scholar]
  17. Reinhart, Tanya
    1991 Elliptic conjunctions: Non-quantificational LF. InAka Kasher (ed.), The Chomskyan turn, 360–384. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Reszkiewicz, Alfred
    1966 Split constructions in Old English. InMieczyslaw Brahmen, Stanislaw Helsztyński & Julian Krzyzanowski (eds.), Studies in language and literature in honour of Margaret Schlauch, 313–326. Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Ross, John R.
    1967 Constraints on variables in syntax. PhD thesis, MIT.
  20. Sielanko, Elzbieta
    1994 Split coordinated structures in late Old English. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia24. 58–72.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Taylor, Ann & Susan Pintzuk
    2011 The interaction of syntactic change and information status effects in the change from OV to VO in English. Catalan Journal of Linguistics10. 71–94.10.5565/rev/catjl.61
    https://doi.org/10.5565/rev/catjl.61 [Google Scholar]
  22. 2012a The effect of information structure on object position in Old English: A pilot study. InMaria-Jose López-Couso, Bettelou Los & Anneli Meurman-Solin (eds.), Information structure and syntactic change, 47–65. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. 2012b Rethinking the OV/VO alternation in Old English: The effect of complexity, grammatical weight and information structure. InTerttu Nevalainen & Elizabeth Traugott (eds.), The Oxford handbook of the history of English, 835–845. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. 2014 Testing the theory: Information structure in Old English. InKristin Bech & Kristine G. Eide (eds.) Information structure and syntactic change in Germanic, 53–77. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/la.213.03tay
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.213.03tay [Google Scholar]
  25. 2017 Split coordination in Early English. InBettelou Los & Pieter de Haan (eds.), Word order change in acquisition and language contact: Essays in honour of Ans van Kemenade, 155–183. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/la.243.08tay
    https://doi.org/10.1075/la.243.08tay [Google Scholar]
  26. Traugott, Elizabeth
    1972A history of English syntax. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): annotated corpora; coordination; ellipsis; history of English; syntactic change; treebanks
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error