Word order in the recent history of English: syntax and processing on the move

Javier PĂ©rez-Guerra

University of Vigo, Spain

This talk examines the forces that trigger two word-order designs in English: (i) object-verb sentences (*?The teacher the student hit) and (ii) adjunct-complement vs complement-adjunct constructions (He taught yesterday Maths vs He taught Maths yesterday). The study focuses both on the diachronic tendencies observed in the data in Middle English, Early Modern and Late Modern English, and on their synchronic design in Present-Day English. The approach is corpus-based (or even corpus-driven) and the data, representing different periods and text types, are taken from a number of corpora (the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English, the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Early Modern English, the Penn Parsed Corpus of Modern British English and the British National Corpus, among others). The aim of this talk is to look at the consequences that the placement of major constituents (eg. complements) has for the parsing of phrases in which they occur. I examine whether the data are in keeping with determinants of word order like complements-first (complement plus adjunct) and end-weight in the periods under investigation. Some statistical analyses will help determine the explanatory power of such determinants.

Week 11 2016/2017

Thursday 19th January 2017

Management school LT9