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Argument Structure in Flux

The Development of Impersonal Constructions in Middle and Early Modern English, with Special Reference to Verbs of Desire


Noelia Castro-Chao

The class of verbs of Desire comprises verbs whose syntax and semantics have undergone important changes in the course of their histories. Their argument structure involves a Desirer and a Desired, and in earlier English they could be used impersonally in constructions lacking a subject marked for the nominative case. The book presents three case studies based on a comprehensive survey of the entries in the Oxford English Dictionary and the Middle English Dictionary and on corpus data retrieved from EEBOCorp 1.0 (1470s–1690s). The results obtained unveil the loss of impersonal uses and their gradual replacement by personal patterns, in particular a pattern where the verb governs a prepositional complement representing the Desired as a metaphorical goal.

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accusative 21, 23, 26–27, 34–37, 40, 58, 117, 140–141, 181

ache 11, 18, 38, 56, 61, 64, 68

adjectival construction 76, 138–139, 163–166, 172, 211–212

affectedness 31, 41, 47–48, 58, 72–73, 92, 98–99, 220–221

Agent 32, 39, 41, 50–52, 74, 76, 168, 193

Argument Selection Principle 47–48


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