Chapter published in:Changing Structures: Studies in constructions and complementation
Edited by Mark Kaunisto, Mikko Höglund and Paul Rickman
[Studies in Language Companion Series 195] 2018
► pp. 197–213
The development of infinitival complementation with or without language contact
Certain contact languages previously lacking a finiteness contrast have developed infinitival complementation. The late Old English and Sri Lankan Malay (SLM) constructions both involve to-infinitives seemingly based on prepositional phrases, specifically infinitival to + lexical verb in Old English and infinitival nang + lexical verb in SLM. There is no evidence, however, that these verbs were ever nominalized in SLM, and Los (2005) has argued that the apparently dativized forms we find in Old English belie the fact that their syntactic status was verbal and the constituents containing them clausal. The SLM infinitival prefix is etymologically irrealis, paralleling the subjunctives that the English to-infinitive progressively replaced. Identifying cross-linguistically parallel changes that are explainable based on textual attestations in one of the languages examined will aid in reconstructing the development of underattested languages that lack diachronic corpora.
Keywords: Sri Lankan Malay, finiteness, language contact, regrammaticalization
Published online: 22 May 2018
Blom, Wilhelmina Bernardina Theodora
2009 A Grammar of Upcountry Sri Lanka Malay. PhD dissertation, University of Amsterdam.
Smith, Ian & Paauw, Scott
Cited by 2 other publications
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