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  1. Why is there a Present-day English absolute? Nikki van de PolPeter PetréHubert Cuyckens KU LeuvenResearch Foundation ‒ Flanders

  2. Structure of the talk • Introducingabsolutes • Earlier views on the distribution of ACs • Hypothesis • Methodology • Results • Conclusion • References

  3. Introduction

  4. Introducing absolute constructions (ACs) Unaugmented absolutes (1a) She wiggled into the kitchen..., her snug skirt binding her knees in a geisha-like gait.(COHA) (1b) Er lag ... een brief in mijn hut, zei hij half voor zich uit, zijn blik weer op het grijs daarbuiten gericht. (Het godsdeeltje) (‘his gazefocusedagainon the grey outside’) Augmented absolutes (2a) He ... crawled on with blood dripping from his chin.(TIME) (2b) Later werd hij met een kogel door zijn hoofd in Florida gevonden. (Memoires) (‘witha bulletthroughhis head’)

  5. Introducingabsolutes (3) The big hard right fist caught Elam on the side of the jaw and stretched the man out on the floor, blood leaking from his mouth. (COHA, 2001) • Non-finite construction • Predicate + (pro)nominal subject • Predicate = (typically) participle; noun/NP, adjective/AdjP, adverb/AdvP, PP, infinitive • Semantics ~ finite (subordinate) adverbialclauses • May appear anywhere in the sentence

  6. Prescriptive views on ACs (1) • Dutch/English grammars view ACs as formal, archaic and infrequent • The ANS (Haeseryn et al. 1997): onlymet-augmented AC are productive in PDD. Unaugmented ACs occur in some highly formal idioms only • Quirk et al. (1985: 1120): PDE ACs are formal and infrequent • Ross (1893): ME & ModE ACs are markers of a “classical, learned, scholastic style” (1893: 273) • Kohnen (2004: 352): ACs developed through formal text types • Recent English style advice embraces ACs as a useful addition • e.g., ACs are compact and can provide variation from the conventional adverbial clause (Hannay & Mackenzie 2002: 96)

  7. Prescriptive views on ACs (2) • Dutch school grammars almost all ignore the existence of the AC and prescriptivism tends to argue against its use (Komen 1994: 37) (Haeseryn et al. 1997) • In English, prescriptive rejection was limited to the use of the accusative or objective AC (Komen 1994: 102)

  8. Research on the distribution of ACs • AC is still productive and common in English • In informal registers, when augmented by with (König & van der Auwera 1990: 349) • In written language, frequency of use decreases proportionally to an increase of the formality of the text type (Kortmann’s 1991:2) • In spoken language (van de Pol & Cuyckens 2014)

  9. Hypothesis & Methodology

  10. Hypothesis • Present-day English makes significantly more use of ACs than other Germanic languages (Kortmann 1995:189-192) • Two interconnected language internal reasons • Structural priming (Loebell & Bock 2003) • Formal and functional overlap • Englishprescriptivism ↔ otherGermaniclanguages

  11. Methodology • Corpus-based English – Dutch comparison • (+ Literatureon other Germanic languages) • EModE & LModE: 1500-1914 PENN, Old Bailey, Poetry • EModE: ca. 1.7 million words; LModE: ca. 1 million words • # EModE: 3,422 (224 with-augmented); # LModE: 1,858 (315 with-augmented) • Representative variety of written genres • For LModE: near spoken language from direct speech segments in Old Bailey Corpus • Search method: AC tag search (PENN), read & filter manually (Old Bailey, Poetry) • PDE: BNC (1985-’94), KU Leuven Drama Corpus (’69-’72) • Sample of ca. 3.6 million words • # PDE 3,984 (1,760 with-augmented) • Representative variety of genres, including spoken register • Search method: read & filter manually

  12. Methodology • Late Modern Dutch (19th century) • DBNL: ca. 150,000 words • # 129 ACs (60 augmented) • Representative variety of written genres • Search method: read & filter manually • PDD (20th century): DBNL, De Standaard Online, E-books • Ca. 375,000 words • # 137 ACs (75 augmented) • Representative variety of written genres • Search method: read & filter manually

  13. Results

  14. Overall frequencydevelopment • Both English and Dutch show a gradualdecline in AC frequency, but the AC frequency (n = 100,000) is markedlyhigherforEnglish

  15. Predicate types • For Dutch, the decline in AC use is especially prominent for present and past participles

  16. Predicate types • Present participles have become rare as an AC predicate in PDD, whilethey are still the primary AC predicate in PDE, as they have been at leastsinceEModE (van de Pol & Cuyckens 2013b) • Prepositionalphrases are byfar the most frequent predicate type in PDD ACs

  17. Augmentation • With-/met-augmentationbecomesincreasinglyobligatory in bothEnglish and Dutch but the development in Dutch has progressedfurther

  18. Semantics • PDD AC use is largely limited to expressing relations of elaboration, accompanying circumstance or manner. ‘Stronger’ (cf. Kortmann 1991: 121) adverbialuses have become rare • PDE: stronger adverbial uses are still more common (p<0.001), even though elaboration uses have gained ground over time: 23.8% in EModE over 32.3% in LModE to 44.1% in PDE (van de Pol & Cuyckens 2013a) • Strong adverbial uses are more easily expressed by more verbal predicate types

  19. Possibilities for structural priming What is structuralpriming(Loebell & Bock 2003)? The structure of one construction is echoed in the structure of a second construction that may be otherwise unrelated to the first  generalization  eitherconstruction is more likely to occur after the other construction was used

  20. Possibilitiesfor structural priming The gerund • Dutch never had a gerund-likeconstruction (König 1994: 559)  structuralprimingbygerunds is onlypossible in English The progressive • English • has been fullygrammaticalized • is stillveryproductive • Dutch • neverextended to the passive progressive (van der Horst 2008) • was replacedbyliggen, staan or zitten (+ te) + infinitive or aan het + infinitive (Ebert 2000:607; Betinetto et al. 2000: 528) • Only the Englishprogressivecontinues to support participialing-forms

  21. Possibilitiesfor structural priming The free adjunct • 18th century: 211.8 free adjuncts per 100,000 wordsfor Dutch versus 212.7 per 100,000 wordsforEnglish. (Fonteyn & Cuyckens 2013: 169-170) • 19th century: free adjuncts had a muchlowerfrequency in Dutch (96.1 per 100,000 words) than in English (177.7 per 100,000 words) (Fonteyn & Cuyckens 2013: 169-170) Kortmann’s 1995 articlesuggestsan even largerdifferencefor 20th centuryEnglish (313.8 per 100,000 words)  The free adjunct is a muchbetter ‘anchor’ for the AC in the Englishlanguage system thanit is in Dutch

  22. Possibilitiesforstructuralpriming • Cross-linguistically free adjunctstend to be at the center of a cluster of participialuses (König & Van der Auwera 1990)  free adjunctsmayexist in languagesthat do not have an AC (anymore)  itseemsimpossiblefor a language to useACs without alsomakinguse of free adjuncts a steepdecline in free adjunct use as in Dutch willalmostcertainlybereflected in a similardecline in AC use object nexus predicative adverbial SS use (i.e. free adjunct) absolutes Attributive/ apposition

  23. Overlap: gerunds (4) I don't claim to know that God exists, I only claim that he does without my knowing it, and while I claim as much I do not claim to know as much; indeed i cannot know and God knows I cannot.(Leuven drama corpus, Jumpers, 1972) (NO AC, gerund) (5) Life was fraught enough for the Stevenses as it was, with the constant care of Jennifer, without her adding to their problems. (BNC False impressions. 1990) (6) Nobody walks out of there without me saying, Yes it's good for you. (BNC, interview, 1991) (7) He loved to wake and hear the large house stirring, with himself enfolded in it. (BNC, Van Gogh: a life, 1990) (8)The first part of Gaudium et Spes returns again and again to the theme of Christ, the New Adam who fully reveals man to man, himself making man's vocation clear(BNC Modern Catholicism: Vatican II and after 1991) (9) … but it had never occurred to her, she being neither proud nor ashamed of it, nor even thinking it very out of the ordinary. (BNC, King Solomon's carpet, 1992)(prototypical unaugmented AC) TYPICAL AC FORM GERUND LIKE FORM

  24. Overlap: gerunds • Dutch never had a gerund (König 1994: 559) and thuslacksthis anchor for the AC to connectwithotherelements of the language system • Combinedwith the loss of the Dutch progressive and the factthat the Dutch free adjunct is muchlesscommon, thismayexplain the hugediscrepancy in frequency of present-participlepredicates in Dutch and EnglishACs

  25. Overlap: prepositional postmodifiers • English (10) He showed us a toy that he had made as a boy: a little square box of painted wood with a glass panel (NO AC, prepositional phrase as postmodifier) (adapted from BNC 1991) (11) He showed us a toy that he had made as a boy: a little square box of painted wood with a glass panel on top (adapted from BNC 1991) (12) He is downstage, with his back to her(BNC, 1970) (13) They all meet midstage, turn upstage to walk, HAMLET in the middle, arm over each shoulder. (BNC, 1986) (prototypical unaugmented AC with prepositional phrase predicate) TYPICAL AC USE POSTMODIFIER LIKE USE

  26. Overlap: prepositional postmodifiers • Dutch(14) De zwart-wit geblokte gootsteen met de barst. (NO AC, prepositional phrase as postmodifier) (adapted from DBNL, 1995) ‘sinkwith the crack’ (15) De zwart-wit geblokte gootsteen met de barst in het midden. (DBNL, 1995) ‘sinkwith the crack in the middle’ (16) Obama daarentegen kon rekenen op miljoenen aanwezigen, die met tranen in de ogen getuige waren van de historische eedaflegging. (DBNL, 2009) ‘withtears in theireyes’ (17) Ik zat net te lezen bij het elektrische kacheltje toen mijn gastheer verscheen, de herder op zijn hielen. (DBNL, 1994) ‘the shepherdonhis heels’ (prototypical unaugmented AC with prepositional phrase predicate) TYPICAL AC USE POSTMODIFIER LIKE USE

  27. Overlap: prepositional postmodifiers • Connection between the AC and the rest of the language system • Bothin English and Dutch • Only anchor for the Dutch AC  high frequency of prepositional phrase predicates and adverbial predicates in Dutch ↔ English • Met-augmented ACs are biased towards the use of prepositional phrase predicates (31% versus 13% for PDE)  augmentationis quasi-obligatory in Dutch, not so for English

  28. Other Germanic languages • Danish • Danish prescriptivism  againstLatinsyntacticinfluence  promoted parataxis above hypotaxis (Killie 2006) • No progressivewith present participle form (Ebert 2000: 607; Betinetto et al. 2000: 528) • No gerund (König 1994: 559) • Norse • Old Norse had an AC similar to other older Germanic languages (Bauer 2000:275) • heavily influenced by Danish prescriptivism in the 1700s • uses of itsparticiplelimited (Killie 2006: 452), e.g. lost its verbal properties (Swan 2003)

  29. Other Germanic languages • No progressivewith present participle form (Ebert 2000: 607; Betinetto et al. 2000: 528) • No gerund (König 1994: 559, Killie 2006: 466) • Still ACs with non-verbal predicates e.g ‘medhåndkleet over skuldrene’ ‘with a towel over the shoulder’ or ‘med hvertvårtglass’ ‘eachwithhisownglass’ (Haff: 208) • German • Old High German had a frequently used dative AC (Bauer 2000: 275) • Until recently (19th century) the AC was still fairly common in German (Komen 1994: 103-108) • Prescriptive rejection was usually limited to non-coreferential-subject ACs (Komen 1994: 103-108)

  30. Other Germaniclanguages • These ACswere lost in Present-dayGerman (Kortmann 1988: 67-69) e.g. * Seine Muttereine Deutsche seiend,John…’ ‘HismotherbeingGerman, John ….’ • In Present-day German, the AC’s functional and formal properties are more limited than those of English (cf. supra)(Kortmann 1988:69) • As in Dutch, German ACs survive mainly in uses with non-verbal predicate types. (Kortmann 1988: 72; 85) • The lack of a gerund (König 1994: 559) and a progressive with the participle (Ebert 2000: 607; Betinetto et al. 2000: 528) in combination with a less frequent use of free adjuncts are presumably also here the cause of gradual AC loss (cf. Dutch)

  31. Conclusion

  32. Conclusion • ACs (especially those with present participle predicates) are much more common in English than in Dutch • Reasons? • Priming • Overlap (Dutch reanalysis?) • Prescriptivism

  33. Conclusion • OtherGermaniclanguages: situation similar to Dutch • Norwegian and Danish: heavy prescriptive criticism against AC use )

  34. References (1) • Bauer, Brigitte. 2000. Archaic syntax in Indo-European. The spread of transitivity in Latin and French. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. • Bertinetto, Pier Marco; Ebert, Karen and de groot, Casper. 2000. ‘The progressive in Europe’. In Östen Dahl (ed). Tense & aspect in the languages of Europe. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 517-558. • Ebert, Karen. 2000. ‘Progressive markers in Germanic languages’. In Östen Dahl (ed). Tense & aspect in the languages of Europe. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 605-653. • Fonteyn & Cuyckens. 2013. 'The development of free adjuncts in English and Dutch.' Leuven Working Papers in Linguistics 2. 160-195. • Haeseryn, W. et al. 1997. Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst. Deurne: Plantyn. • Haff, Marianne HobækHaff. 2010. 'A contrastive analysis of absolute constructions in French, German and Norwegian.' LingvisticɶInverstigationes 33. 2. 208-223. • Hannay, Mike and Mackenzie, J.Lachlan. 2002. Effective writing in English: a sourcebook. Bussum: Coutinho. • Killie, Kristin. 2006. 'Internal and external factors in language change: present participle converbs in English and Norwegian.' NeuphilologischeMitteilungen 107. 4. 447-469. • Kohnen, Thomas. 2004. Text, textsorte, sprachgeschichte: Englische Partizipial- und Gerundialkonstruktionen 1100 bis 1700. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. • Komen, J.H.M. 1994. Over de ontwikkeling van absolute constructies. Amsterdam: Buijten en Schipperhejn.

  35. References (2) • König, Ekkehard. 1994. 'English'. In Ekkehard König and Johan van der Auwera (eds.) The Germanic languages. London: Routledge. 532-565. • König, Ekkehard and van derAuwera, Johan. 1990. 'Adverbial participles, gerunds and absolute constructions in the languages of Europe. In Johannes Beclert, Giuluano Bernini and Claude Budart (eds.). 1990. Toward a Typology of European Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 337-355. • Kortmann, Bernd. 1988. 'Freie Adjunkte und absolute Konstruktionen im Englischen und Deutschen.' PapierezurLinguistik 38. 1. 61-89. • Kortmann, Bernd. 1991. Free adjuncts and absolutes in English: problems of control and interpretation. London & New York: Routledge. • Kortmann, Bernd. 1995. 'Adverbial participial clauses in English.' In Martin Haspelmath and EkkehardKönig. 1995.Converbs in cross- linguistic perspective. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 189-237. • Loebell, Helga and Bock, Kathryn. 2003. 'Structural priming across languages.' Linguistics 41. 5. 791-824. • Quirk, R., et al. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.London: Longman. • Ross, Charles Hunter. 1893. ‘The Absolute Participle in Middle and Modern English’. PMLA 8.3. 245-302. • Swan, Toril. 2003. 'Present participles in the history of English and Norwegian'. NeuphilologischeMitteilungen 104. 179-195.

  36. References (3) • van de Pol, Nikki and Cuyckens, Hubert. 2013a. ‘In absolute detail: the development of English absolute constructions from adverbial to additional-context marker’. ICAME. Santiago de Compostella, 22-26 May 2013. • van de Pol, Nikki and Cuyckens, Hubert. 2013b. ‘Gradualness in change in Englishaugmentedabsolutes.’ In: GiacaloneRamat A., Mauri C., Molinelli P. (Eds.), Synchrony and Diachrony: A dynamic interface. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. • van de Pol, Nikki and Cuyckens, Hubert. 2014. 'The diffusion of Englishabsolutes: A diachronic register study.' In Davidse K., Gentens C., Ghesquière L. and Vandelanotte L. (eds). Corpus interrogation and grammaticalpatterns. Studies in Corpus Linguistics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

  37. Thank you! Nikki van de Pol (nikki.vandepol@arts.kuleuven.be) Peter Petré (peter.petre@arts.kuleuven.be) Hubert Cuyckens (hubert.cuyckens@arts.kuleuven.be) KU Leuven – Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) http://www.arts.kuleuven.be/ling/fest/