Learned borrowing or contact-induced change: Verb cluster word order in Early-Modern Frisian
Jelke Bloem, Arjen Versloot, Fred Weerman
December 2017

In West Frisian, when there are two verbs in a cluster (an auxiliary verb and a main verb) the order of verbs in two-verb clusters is typically considered to be fixed, but in practice, multiple verb cluster orders are now being used, due to language contact with Dutch. However, in older Middle Frisian texts the non-normative auxiliary-first order also appears. This raises a question: is the modern use of this word order really a new development taken from Dutch, or something older? To study this, we have extracted verb clusters from a corpus of Early-Modern Frisian texts. Results show that auxiliary-first clusters are much more frequent in poetry than in prose. Furthermore, no effect of clause length or morphological complexity was found, unlike in modern Dutch. It appears that the auxiliary-first order is mainly a stylistic device used by these authors in the written modality, rather than a construction with the function of decreasing language processing load as in Dutch. Therefore, we conclude that these auxiliary-first word orders are a learned borrowing: they may have come from Dutch, but do not have the same function as in Dutch.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003775
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Unsubmitted preprint
keywords: verb cluster, language contact, learned borrowing, bilingualism, word order, language variation, frisian, early-modern frisian, corpus linguistics, syntax
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