VO or OV: V to v or not to v
Hans Broekhuis
November 2022

This paper sketches a new analysis of the diachronic development found in many West Germanic languages from a hybrid VO-OV order to a rigid OV or VO order. The discussion departs from Struik & Van Kemenade (2020/2022) and, especially, Struik & Schoenmakers (2022) on the diachronic development of English/Dutch, which focus on the role of object shift and information structure. My interpretation of their data will be based on an earlier analysis of the Germanic OV and VO languages in Broekhuis (2008: §2.4; 2011). The main conclusions are the following. First, the change of the historical hybrid VO-OV systems into the rigid OV and VO systems of the present-day languages is due to changing the “setting” [±V-to-v] into more categorical ones, viz. [–V-to-v] or [+V-to-v]. Second, the role of object shift in the diachronic development is modest; it is not involved in the development of the OV-languages at all and involves only the (partial) loss of object shift in the VO-languages (contra Struik c.s.). Third, the encoding of the information-structural NEW-GIVEN distinction remains constant in that the interpretation of (un)scrambled nominal objects does not change over time (contra S&S). See lingbuzz/001035 for a detailed discussion of the theoretical background of the proposal.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006526
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Linguistic Variation 23:2 (2023), p.343-378
keywords: diachronic syntax, old/middle english, middle dutch, grammar competition, vo versus ov, verb movement, object movement, information structure, syntax
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