Perfects, resultatives and auxiliaries in Early English
Thomas McFadden, Artemis Alexiadou
September 2009

We argue on the basis of a large-scale corpus study that the distribution of the auxiliaries have and be in Early English can be best understood if we recognize that the construction with be was not a full-fledged perfect, but was restricted to a stative resultative interpretation. Support for this idea comes from a comparison with Modern Icelandic, Norwegian and German data. We thus propose a formal analysis along these lines, and show how it explains the attested patterns and changes in Middle and Early Modern English. Then we explore some of the larger consequences this analysis has for theories of the syntax and semantics of the perfect and of auxiliary selection, with a view to cross-linguistic validity.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000588
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: to appear in Linguistic Inquiry 41.3
keywords: perfect, auxiliary selection, have, be, old english, middle english, early modern english, resultative, auxiliaries, counterfactual, syntax, semantics
previous versions: v2 [December 2008]
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