Studies in English Language History in Honour of Leiv Egil Breivik
Edited By Kari Haugland, Kevin McCafferty and Kristian A. Rusten
The essays are all empirical studies, based on a wide range of corpora (both historical and contemporary) and applying theoretical approaches informed by Systemic-Functional Grammar, grammaticalization theory, dependency grammar, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistic methods. Issues of methodology, statistics and corpus construction and annotation are also addressed in several contributions.
Gard B. Jenset: In search of the S (curve) in there
← 26 | 27 → GARD B. JENSET
In search of the S (curve) in there1
The Present-day English distinction between existential and locative there, exemplified in (1) and (2) with data from the spoken part of the Corpus of Contemporary American English or COCA (Davies 2008–), goes back to Old English (Breivik 1990). It is widely accepted that the existential use of there diachronically originated from the locative adverb there, plausibly through the interplay of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic factors (Breivik 1990, 1997, Jenset 2010, 2014).
there was a brand-new, just-made key left at the crime scene in the lock. (Existential)
she was there, stuck in the house in New York. (Locative)
However, an important and as yet unsettled question is how this innovation, once it had occurred, propagated through the speech community. The essential question explored by the present paper is: how did Old English þær (for convenience discussed in its modern form there), once the initial reanalysis as a grammatical subject had taken place, survive and affirm this new status?
← 27 | 28 → 1.1 The evolution of existential ‘there’ in Old English
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