Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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Cross-linguistic diachronic studies have focused on the parallel or divergent development of cognate or functionally equivalent items. This paper traces the diachronic convergent development of two unrelated items by means of a case study, the development of the German verb ‘shine, emit light’ and English ‘(originally) befit, beseem’. Despite their different source meanings, the two verbs have grammaticalized into evidential markers, as is evidenced by the constructions + + infinitive and + + infinitive. We use historical corpus data to show that the two verbs have converged both semantically and syntactically. Semantically the verbs converge when they acquire the sense ‘appear, become visible’, a well-known source of evidentials. Syntactically, and come to occur in the same range of constructional patterns. This development is more advanced in English, so that it is ahead of German by at least four centuries.


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