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The Non-Surviving Preterite-Present Verbs in English

The Demise of *dugan, munan, *-nugan, *þurfan, and unnan


Anna Wojtyś

Based on four historical corpora, the book is a comprehensive study of the demise of five preterite-present verbs in English. It offers a detailed description of their distribution in Old and Middle English. The subsequent comparison of the forms and uses of the preterite-presents in the two periods allows the author to suggest the reasons for their elimination from the language. The discussion focuses on phonological and morphological changes the verbs underwent as well as on the syntactic structures they appeared in. Yet, the study does not ignore factors of extra-linguistic nature such as genres in which the verbs were frequently found and the potential rivalry with other items of native and foreign origin.

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List of tables


Table 1. The attestations of preterite-present verbs in Old Germanic languages in the past

Table 2. Preterite-present verbs in Old West Germanic

Table 3. Preterite-present verbs in North Germanic

Table 4. Preterite-present verbs in West Germanic

Table 5. Syntactic structures containing *dugan in Old English

Table 6. The attestations of *dugan in Middle English

Table 7. Syntactic structures containing *dugan in Middle English

Table 8. The attestations of unnan in Middle English

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