Chapter published in:English Historical Linguistics 2008: Selected papers from the fifteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 15), Munich, 24-30 August 2008.. Volume I: The history of English verbal and nominal constructions
Edited by Ursula Lenker, Judith Huber and Robert Mailhammer
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 314] 2010
► pp. 217–236
On the use of beon and wesan in Old English
This paper commences by characterizing the exceptionality of the Old English double paradigm of sL and bLforms of the verb ‘to be’ in the present tense among the (West) Germanic languages, followed by an analysis of the use of beon and wesan in the Old English section of the Helsinki Corpus with a focus on the linguistic contexts of these verbs in their indicative, subjunctive and imperative forms and on their dialectal distribution. A comparison of my findings with parallel forms and their uses in the Celtic languages supports the assumption that the emergence of the double paradigm in Old English, with wesan expressing current relevance and beon referring to habitual or future events, can only be assigned to Insular Celtic influence.
Published online: 28 October 2010