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From Simple Verbs to Periphrastic Expressions

The Historical Development of Composite Predicates, Phrasal Verbs, and Related Constructions in English


Meiko Matsumoto

English offers verbal expressions in two basic forms: simple verbs such as walk and look, and periphrastic expressions such as have/ take a walk and have/ take a look. Which do we use, why, and how do particular usages arise or disappear? This volume explores the historical development of two important periphrastic verbal constructions, composite predicates and phrasal verbs, as well as related expressions, from the viewpoint of English historical linguistics. The approach is descriptive and interpretive, encompassing rich and varied data from Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English, Late Modern English, and Present Day English, from sources such as the Chadwyck-Healey electronic corpus databases. The history of English is characterized by the development from synthetic to analytic. The role of this tendency in the development of verbal expressions is of particular interest.
Contents: Composite predicates – Phrasal verbs – The historical development of have/take a look – The verbs ‘have’ and ‘take’ in composite predicates and phrasal verbs – Composite predicates with body nouns – The origin of used to – The verbs meaning ‘happen’ – The verbs have and be.