Syntactic variation and auxiliary contraction: The surprising case of Scots

Gary Thoms, David Adger, Caroline Heycock, Jennifer Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article is concerned with the distribution of contracted auxiliaries in English, in particular the re- striction against their occurrence in the immediate context of a gap created by movement or ellipsis. We document apparent exceptions to this restriction in varieties of Scots, all occurring in what we call the LOCATIVE DISCOVERY EXPRESSION. We analyse these as mirative constructions, and using new data from the Scots Syntax Atlas we describe patterns of variation in the acceptance of auxiliary contractions in locative discovery expressions which provide clues as to the role of syntax in conditioning auxiliary contraction. Adapting the proposal in Wilder (1997), where contracted auxiliaries are prosodically incorporated into the following predicate, we provide an account in which the differences across dialects with respect to contraction are explained in terms of the availability of different abstract structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-455
JournalLanguage
Volume95
Issue number3
Early online date19 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Keywords

  • auxiliary contraction
  • microcomparative syntax
  • Scots

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