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Syntax and the morphology of deixis: The loss of demonstratives and paratactic clause linking

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAtypical Demonstratives
Subtitle of host publicationSyntax, Semantics and Pragmatics
EditorsMarco Coniglio, Andrew Murphy, Eva Schlachter, Tonjes Veenstra
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783110560299, 9783110558050
ISBN (Print)9783110557916
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Publication series

NameLinguistische Arbeiten
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Electronic)0344-6727


This paper investigates the affinities between V2 in Old English, the Spec,CP position, and the deictic þ/s-system (demonstratives se/s¯eo/þæt as well as an etymologically related set of time, place and manner adverbs þa ‘then’, þonne ‘then’, þær ‘there’, þus ‘thus’, swa ‘so’, swylc ‘such’). The interrelations between V2 syntax and an articulated demonstrative paradigm create efficient systems for expressing topic shift and topic continuity. In the course of Middle English, a number of developments conspire to break the system down: the loss of gender and the loss of V2, leading ultimately to a loss in specific reference of the þ/s-elements and a restructuring of discourse relations, with relative pronouns taking over the role of topic shifters.

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