The Structure of the English NP
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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This paper provides a detailed comparison of the referential behaviour of noun phrases and nominal and verbal gerunds from Middle to Late Modern English. It will be shown that in earlier stages of English, nominal and verbal gerunds to a large extent resemble prototypical noun phrases in their referential functioning, but also exhibit ‘non-nominal’ uses that depend on clausal rather than nominal grounding strategies. It is argued that the study of (diachronic changes in) the semantic and functional behaviour of nominal and verbal gerunds in Middle and Modern English should take into account that these are functionally hybrid constructions, showing referential traits of both prototypical noun phrases and clauses. This functional hybridity, then, was gradually sorted out, with nominal gerunds specializing to nominal reference and verbal gerunds continuing to adhere to the functional apparatus associated with subordinate clauses.


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