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Corpus-based Studies of Diachronic English

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Edited By Roberta Facchinetti and Matti Rissanen

Corpus-based studies of diachronic English have been thriving over the last three decades to such an extent that the validity of corpora in the enrichment of historical linguistic research is now undeniable. The present book is a collection of papers illustrating the state of the art in corpus-based research on diachronic English, by means of case-study expositions, software presentations, and theoretical discussions on the topic. The majority of these papers were delivered at the 25 th Conference of the International Computer Archive of Modern and Medieval English (ICAME), held at the University of Verona on 18-23 May 2004. A number of typological and geographical varieties of English are tackled in the book: from general to specialized English, from British to Australian English, from written to speech-related registers. In order to discuss their tenets, the contributors draw on corpora and dictionaries from different centuries, including the most recent ones; hence, they testify to the fact that past and present are so strongly interlocked and so inextricably entwined that it proves hard – if not preposterous – to fully understand Present-day English structure and features without turning back to the previous centuries for an in-depth knowledge of the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of the current state of the art.

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Old English and Middle English

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JOHAN VAN DER AUWERA / MARTINE TAEYMANS More on the Ancestors of Need1 1. Introduction The present-day English verb need has attracted a lot of attention, especially because need comes in two versions, (i) a full verb with a third person indicative present -s, do for negatives and questions, and a to infinitive, and (ii) an auxiliary, without the -s, without do, without infinitival to, and also without a positive affirmative use. (1a) Does he need to see this? (1b) He does not need to see this. (1c) He needs to see this. (2a) Need he see this? (2b) He need not see this. (2c) *He need see this. Studies hail from the partially overlapping fields of English modals (Duffley 1994) or modals in general (van der Auwera 2001), grammaticalization theory (Taeymans 2004), and negative polarity semantics (van der Wouden 2001). In this chapter we turn to the origin and the early development of this verb. We will see that there are puzzles there too, and that some are relevant for understanding the present-day problems. The old 1 An earlier version of this chapter appeared as van der Auwera, Johan/Taeymans, Martine (2004). Thanks are due to the Research Council of the University of Antwerp for supporting this work with a GOA grant (2003- 2006). Special thanks are also due to Louis Goossens and to Mike Hannay. The glosses use the following abbreviations: ACC ‘accusative’, DAT ‘dative’, DEF ‘definite’, F ‘feminine’, GEN ‘genitive’, IND ‘indicative’, M ‘masculine’, PRS ‘present, ‘PTR’ ‘preterite’,...

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