Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics
Edited By Michiko Ogura and Hans Sauer
This volume is a collection of papers read at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds in 2017, in two sessions organized by the Institute of English Studies at the University of London and four sessions organized by the Society of Historical English Language and Linguistics. Contributions consist of poetry, prose, interlinear glosses, syntax, semantics, lexicology, and medievalism. The contributors employ a wealth of different approaches. The general theme of the IMC 2017 was ‘otherness’, and some papers fit this theme very well. Even when two researchers deal with a similar topic and arrive at different conclusions, the editors do not try to harmonize them but present them as they are for further discussion.
5 From Verb Simplexes to Periphrastic ‘Modal Verb + Infinitive’ Constructions: A Semantic and Syntactic Study of the OE Boethius, with Reference to the Four Poems in the Junius Manuscript11I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. John Scahill, Teacher at Insearch, the University of Technology, Sydney, for his suggestions for improving my writing style.
5 From Verb Simplexes to Periphrastic ‘Modal Verb + Infinitive’ Constructions: A Semantic and Syntactic Study of the OE Boethius, with Reference to the Four Poems in the Junius Manuscript1
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine whether periphrastic ‘modal verb + infinitive’ constructions function as a metrical filler and are semantically equivalent to verb simplexes in some OE poems.
With due allowance for OE metre and poetic syntax, the text of the OE Boethius enables a semantic and syntactic comparison between the prose (Bo) and the verse (Met), because each of the versions can show different OE equivalents of the same Latin in identical contexts.2 In this connection, Godden and Irvine (2009: 102–103) point out that “verb simplexes are altered into whole-verse verbal periphrases with the same sense, or into constructions with auxiliaries and infinitives, some of these phrasings being found elsewhere in the poetic corpus.” This suggests that modal structures function as a metrical filler and are semantically equivalent to verb simplexes (i.e. indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and ambiguous forms).3 Therefore, it is possible for modal verbs to have already undergone the process of semantic weakening in some way and to have been grammaticalised.
This paper will use various modal correspondences between Bo and Met as a springboard to examine (1) whether modal verbs in the periphrastic constructions are semantically bleached (or meaningless) and used to fill a verse, (2) whether the use of these...
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