Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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In the history of English one finds a mixture of V2 and non-V2 word order in declaratives for several hundred years, with frequencies suggesting a relatively gradual development in the direction of non-V2. Within an extended version of a cue-based approach to acquisition and change, this paper argues that there are many possible V2 grammars, differing from each other with respect to clause types, information structure, and the behavior of specific lexical elements. This variation may be formulated in terms of micro-cues. Child language data from present-day mixed systems show that such grammars are acquired early. The apparent optionality of V2 in the history of English may thus be considered to represent several different V2 grammars in succession, and it is not necessary to refer to competition between two major parameter settings. Diachronic language development can thus be argued to occur in small steps, reflecting the loss of micro-cues, and giving the impression that change is gradual.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): acquisition; change; information structure; micro-cues; verb second; word order
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