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Thoughts and questions on the concept of 'competition'. Peter Petr é Functional Linguistics Leuven (FLL) FWO Vlaanderen. FRIAS – 12 december 2009 Freiburg. Why are function words & morphemes lost? Nature of competition of function words/morphemes Stable (partly complementary) distribution
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Functional Linguistics Leuven (FLL)
FRIAS – 12 december 2009
Nature of competition of function words/morphemes
What is this something?
Only rarely the concept of 'competition' is considered in detail in linguistic analysis.
If mentioned at all, two main factors are seen as instrumental in determining the outcome:
In many cases these factors do not seem to explain very much
Very briefly three case studies:
My main argument: stable competition changes into unstable competition (and subsequent loss) when the grammatical system changes at the macro-level
to what extent does competition involve complementary distribution and to what extent free variation?
What is the role played by frequency?
How do different (regional/idiosyncratic) outcomes of competition converge (language-internally, as the notion of standardization alone is not enough in my opinion)?
IntroductionItems for discussion
In all cases, I adopt a constructionist framework (Croft 2001, Croft 2000, Goldberg 1995, 1996)
This is mainly done to highlight the function of changing meaningful syntactic patterns (form-meaning pairings) in which the respective morphemes/function words are used
The details of Construction Grammar are not relevant to follow the discussion
IntroductionA constructionist approach
Often alternating (competing) in certain contexts
(1) ... sola nominum praenotatione DIStinguo (L: 15.19)
gif ic Asceade mid mearcunge þara namena(GD [O]: 7.2)
gyf ic mid mearcunge TOsceade þara naman (GD [H]: 7.2)
... GEsceade ... (GD: 7.fn.1)
"If I DIStinguish by marking their names."
Often merely intensifying
(2) God GEswang Farao ðone cining mid ðám mǽstum wítum.
"God scourged king Farao with the greatest punishments. (c1025)
Alternation with be- is less frequent, but does occur
(3)Gif hine mon BEswinge, mid XX scillingum gebete.
"If people flog him, amend it with 20 shilling." (c1000)
Case 1 – Conservation of beCompetition between prefixes
From early ME onwards, however, be-V starts to be the dominant form (e.g. onginnan > beginnen [find other examples: bitiden, bilimpen?])
How to account for the conservation of be- in the face of the loss of
the other prefixes, some of which (e.g. to-) had much more
concrete semantics than be-?
Possible answer: prefixes are associated with two construction types
(cf. Blom 2004; Goldberg 1995):
- predicative (the majority): will disappear
- non-predicative be-: will remain
Case 1 – Conservation of beResearch question & hypothesis
(4) Astig nu of rode (c950)
“descend [DOWN-come] now from the cross”
→ you come + are DOWN
(5) he TObræc þa clusan (c890)
“he shattered [IN-PIECES-broke] the prison”
→ he broke the prison + it is IN PIECES
• Predicative prefixes predicate the result of the action of the V
(are like secondary predicates)
• Valence identical to that of prefixless construction
Case 1 – Conservation of bePredicative prefix constructions
It does not predicate the result of the action, hence non-predicative
(6) & he BErad þone cyning þær (c. 890)
“and he surrounded [AROUND-rode] the king there”
Is NOT like
(7) *he rode + the king was AROUND
But MORE like
(8) He rodeAROUND the king
Case 1 – Conservation of beNon-predicative prefix constructions (1)
Be- denotes TOTAL AFFECTEDNESSof DO
(9) hie BEsæton ða burg (921 A.D.)
“they sat ~ROUND [i.e. besieged] the castle”
→ Syntactically salient (↔ simplex verbs)
• Intr. verbs of motion become transitive (LM provides DO)
• Theme-DO and LM-PP of transitive verbs switch places
(10) sume ða yða he BEcerð mid ðy scipe (ca. 890 A.D.)
“some waves he avoided [AROUND-turned] with the ship”
Case 1 – Conservation of beNon-predicative prefix constructions (2)
→ New VO patterns (particles) gradually replaced OV prefixes
→ Functional/Conceptual equivalence enables replacement
Case 1 – Conservation of beDevelopment of predicative prefix cxns
with valence change (tr. began < intr. gan)
(13) mid þy Romani þa gyt Breotone BEeodon (ca. 890 A.D.)
“when Romans then still walked ABOUT [= occupied] Brittain”
without valence change (pragmatic effect of intensification)
(14) & BEwreoh þæt heals fæste mid leafum. (cf. tr. wreon 'cover')
“and (BE)cover the neck firmly with leaves” (c950)
(15)Gif hine mon BEswinge, mid XX scillingum gebete
“If people beat him SEVERELY, amend with 20/-”
Case 1 – Conservation of beCore extensions of be-
[AGENTSUBJbe-V LMOBJ THEMPP(MID)|INST]
This valence more often than not differs from that of prefixless usages.
(16) Wiþ gongelwæfran bite, smit on isen swat. (before 950)
‘Against spider’s bite, smear on iron sweat’
AGENTSUBJsmitan THEMOBJ LOC-LMPP(on)
þu ellþeodig usic woldest […] synnum besmitan (before 1050)
‘you stranger us wished [...] sins-with defile [lit. besmear]’
AGENTSUBJbesmitan PAT-LMOBJ THEMPP(mid)
Frequent exposure to valence ‘minimal pairs’ (intr. sittan vs. tr. besittan)
makes it easier to establish the construction’s contribution
→ This kind of syntactic salience exerts a conservatory influence
To test this: Pairing samples of be-/to-Vs with samples of simplex Vs
Case 1 – Conservation of beThe conservatory influence of be-'s valence
→ Syntactic salience correlates with frequency history
Case 1 – Conservation of beSyntactic salience of be-
From late OE onwards, competition spread to phrasal particles
Phrasal particles took over due to their better alignment to VO
Only exception to this: be-
Its conservation can be accounted for by its non-predicative constructional properties:
Not by its frequency (ge-, a- more frequent), nor semantic expressivity (to- 'asunder' more expressive)
Case 1 – Conservation of beConclusion
In OE weorðan 'become' (German werden) was a highly frequent verb;
It alternated with the main copula-cluster is/beon/wesan
They are in some sort of stable (partially?) complementary distribution:
(17) Wesan: no change of state (statal/resultative)
Gehwa wundrað hu se hælend become into his apostolum. & wæron þeahhwæðere þa dura belocene?
"Everybody wonders how the Saviour came by his apostles, when yet the doors wereclosed." (c995)
(18) Weorðan: change of state (dynamic)
Hi urnon ut of ðissere byrig mid ðam ðe ða burhgata belocenewurdon.
"They ran out of the city at the time when the city gates wereclosed. " (c1005)
By the end of the 14th century, however, weorðan had al but disappeared;
How to account for this?
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanIntroduction
Fact: in general, is/beon/wesan is about 10 times as frequent as is weorðan in OE
Biese (1932, 1952): the copula weorðan disappeared as a consequence of competition with
And yet, an account on the basis of frequency alone is suspect given that worden/werden further grammaticalized in Dutch and German from a comparable starting point.
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanAs a copula: frequency and expressivity
Zieglschmidt (1929), Klingebiel (1937): next to weorðan, wesan/beon are used in dynamic passives as well
Mitchell (1985) takes this even a step further: they are in free variation
(19) (Annal 633) Her wearð Eadwine cing ofslagen [...] (Annal 642) Her was Oswald ofslagen Norðhymbra cing.
"In this year king Edwin waskilled [...] In this year Oswald waskilled, king of the Northhumbrians." (c1107. ChronF: 633 & 642)
Weorðan disappeared due to its lower frequency(see Wattie 1930: 143)
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanAs a passive auxiliary: frequency
Studies on the copula weorðan are separated from studies on the passive auxiliary weorðan
Because of this, major generalizations are lost
The disappearance of weorðan is accounted for by means of its overlap/near-synonymy with wesan/beon:
The existing studies cannot account for the fact that weorðan is lost first in the past tense (where it 'competes' with wesan), and only about half a century later in the present tense (Petrésubmitted)
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanProblems with existing research
An important distinction within narrative text construction is that between bounded and unbounded:
Recent research argues this to be a deep cross-linguistic distinction (von Stutterheim 2002: 25, Carroll & von Stutterheim 2003, Carroll & Lambert 2003, Carroll, von Stutterheim & Nuese 2004).
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðan(Un)Bounded
Similar to a camera filming through the eyes of the protagonist
(20) Auf einmal hört der Mann Wasser tropfen
Und dann gräbt er nach dem Wasser
Bis der Sand dann unter ihm nachgibt
Abundant use of time adverbials
The subject (topic 2) is the protagonist of the series of events
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanBounded languages
Like a camera filming with bird's eye view
(21) The man is hearing the sound of dripping water
and he is digging for the water
and the sand is caving in under him
Topic-time remains constant and serves as a frame (an implicit 'long now')
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanUnbounded languages
(22) Ða æfter feawa dagum se gingra sunu forspilde his æhta. Ða he hig hæfde ealle amyrrede þawearð mycel hunger & he wearð wædla. Þa beþohte he hine & cwæð, Ic fare to minum fæder, & ic secge him, Eala fæder, do me swa anne of þinum yrðlingum. & þagytþa he wæs feorr his fæder he hyne geseah & wearð mid mildheortnesse astyrod.(c1025. Lk (WSCp): 13-20)
"Then after a few days the younger son wasted his possessions. When he had them all wasted, then a great hunger came (wurde) over the country & he became (wurde) a beggar. Then he thought by himself and said: “I will go to my father, and I will tell him: hey father, take me as one of your servants." And he arose then and came to his father, and when he was still far his father saw him and was (wurde) stirred by mercy”."
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanOE is a bounded language
Contrast the following ME translation (and note the absence of wearð)
(23) And not aftir many daies the ȝonger sone wastide hise goodis. And aftir that he hadde endid alle thingis, a strong hungre was maad, and he bigan to haue nede. And he turnede aȝen to hym silf, and seide, Y schal go to my fadir, and Y schal seie to hym, Fadir, make me as oon of thin hirid men. And whanne he was ȝit afer, his fadir saiȝ hym, and was stirrid bi mercy.((c1384) WBible(1) (Dc 369(2)): Luke 15.13-20)
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanBreakdown of OE system in ME
The change of state-semantics of wearð are very suitable for expressing narrative action (foreground)
Narrative action constitutes the domain where unbounded constructions are used
Wearð is strongly entrenched in this type of constructions
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanWearð and the unbounded system
A distinctive collexeme analysis shows the association between wearð with time adverbials of narrative progress vs. wæs
The analysis of alternating pairs of constructions and their relative preferences for words that can (or should be able to) occur in both of them’ (Gries and Stefanowitsch 2004: 101).
Because of this strong association of wearð with (bounding) time adverbials of narrative progress, wearð disappears when these time adverbials disappear
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanSemantic entrenchment: time adverbials
(24)Heo hine freclice bat. Ðawearð heo sona fram deofle gegripen.
"She beat him heavily. Thenwas/got she suddenly taken by the devil." (c1025)
Wearð + AFTER_X
(25) Meoduscerwen wearðæfter symbeldæge
"A beer-bitterness aroseafter the feast-day." (c1000)
Wæs without time adverbial
(26) Yfelwæs Iudas ðe Crist becheapode. "Evilwas Judas who betrayed Christ."
Wæs with ERE_X
(27) Ða wæs se calic eft swa gehal swa he ærwæs.
"Then the chalice was whole again as it had beenbefore."(c1000)
Wæs with THROUGHOUT_PERIOD
(28) Her forðferde Cnut cing æt Scieftesbyri, [...] & he was cing ofer eal Englaland welneah XX wintra.
"In this year died king Cnut in Shaftesbury, [...] and he was/had been king over all England almost 20 winters." (c1107)
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanExamples of semantic entrenchment
"verb-second was all but defunct by 1500" (Los 2009: 110; Warner 2007)
Tabel 3: Word order of main clauses with wearð vs. wæs (prose)
Vf2-entrenchment: wearð is linked to bounded constructions formally
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanFormal entrenchment: main clause order
When this system starts to break down from the 13th ct. onwards, wearð disappears too.
Expressivity does not seem to play a major part in its disappearance
Importantly, the domain in which wearð and wæs competed disappeared as such
Case 2 – Disappearance of weorðanConclusion
In OE is and beon were in stable near-complementary distribution;
Both verbs possessed a full paradigm in the indicative and subjunctive present
Only beon shows non-finite forms
From late OE onwards, beon starts to extend its use at the cost of is (and, in one manuscript, vice versa)
This results in a situation more or less stable during the ME period
Case 3: merger of is and beonIntroduction
Kilpiö 1993 (en DOE, s.v. beon) points out the following distinctions:
(29) Se ælmihtiga scyppend hæfð gehealden sumne gecorenne. þyssere leode to cyninge. and se bið ðe swa leof swa nuis se oðer.
" The Almighty creator has kept someone chosen, as a king to this people. And he will be as dear to you as now the other [king] is." (c1020(c995))
(30) Ic þæt gehyre þæt þis is hold weorod frean Scyldinga.
“I understand that this is a troop friendly to the Lord of the Scyldings.” (c1000. Beo: 291)
Case 3: merger of is and beonDistribution is en beon (1)
3: BIÐ rather than IS is used in generic statements (‘gnomic present’):
(31) Wið stede & for gebinde, heortes hær beoð swiðe gode mid to smeocanne wifmannum.
" Against strangury and constipation, hairs of the hart arevery good for women to fumigate with." (c1025)
(32) Ðonne [...] ða folc þær cumendebeoð.
[On Michaelmas] come [lit. are coming] the people there. (c1000(c971))
(33) Þonne hangaþ þær eac swiþe mycel leohtfæt, þæt biða dæges & nihtesbyrnende.
" Moreover, there hangs also a large lamp, which isalwaysburning, day & night." (c1000(c971))
Case 3: merger of is and beonDistribution is en beon (2)
5 (not in Kilpiö): IS is used exceptionally frequently (25 %) in identifying statements (only about 4,5 % for bið)
(34) Liber Iudicum, þæt ys demena boc.
"Liber Iudicum, that isBook of Judges." (c1075)
(35) Þe zixte heaued/ of þe kueade beste: islecherie.
"The sixth head of the evil beast islechery." ((1340))
Case 3: merger of is and beonDistribution is en beon (3)
From a synchronic point of view, the different meanings of bið can be related (polysemy):
Hypothesis: there is a strict functional distinction between is & bið in OE:
Case 3: merger of is and beonDifference is vs. bið (1)
The difference between bið and is gets smaller from late-OE onwards (after 1050)
Bið extends in the plural (beoð) from generic statements to situations predicated of non-specific subjects;
This is a spontaneous kind of extension:
(36) Eadigebeoð þa þe þissa eorþwelena ne gymaþ.
"Happy are they(,) who do not care about these earthly riches." (c1000(c971))
The opposite development (sinden > generic) does not seem to occur (except perhaps in the Ormulum)
Case 3: merger of is and beonExtension of bið to non-specific subjects
(37) 3if 3e hit rædeð; 3e beo[ð] mine riche men. ich wulle his heued of swippen.
"If you advise it - you are my brave men - I will smite off his head." (c1275)
Figur 9: Spread of bið to non-generic subjects
Case 3: merger of is and beonExtension of bið to specific subjects
The spread of beon to non-specific subjects and then to specific subjects proceeds in different ways in different manuscripts:
This may be related to its deictic function of pointing out what is the case at present – something for which mainly main clauses are used –, but sinden is used in various ways (though not generically).
Both are related to the prototypical identifying function of is)
Case 3: merger of is and beonDifferent outcomes (1)
By 1250, sinden has been lost in most texts. There are exceptions, and largely seem an archaic retention for metrical purposes
Case 3: merger of is and beonDifferent outcomes (2)
Role of frequency: what, if any
Complementary distribution or free variation?
Case 3: merger of is and beonGeneral discussion
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