Studies in Honour of Piotr Ruszkiewicz
The Constructionalization of Because in Late Middle English: Rafał Molencki
The Constructionalization of Because in Late Middle English
University of Silesia, Katowice
In this article we trace the etymology and the syntactic evolution of the causal conjunction because in Late Middle English. Its history is a clear example of grammaticalization, whereby the original complex phrase by/for the cause that (the prepositional phrase with the full noun cause followed by the subordinating particle that) goes down the decategorialization cline to reach the status of a subordinating conjunction. We will argue that the phrase arose in Middle English among bilingual speakers, who copied the Anglo-Norman structure par la cause que in the situation of common code-switching. The corpus data clearly show that the original phrase had appeared in Anglo-French two centuries before it is attested in Continental French.