The Rise of the To-Infinitive

Paperback | February 15, 2007

byBettelou Los

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This book describes the historical emergence and spread of the to-infinitive in English. It shows that to + infinitive emerged from a reanalysis of the preposition to plus a deverbal nominalization, which spread first to purpose clauses, then to other nonfinite environments. The bookchallenges the traditional reasoning that infinitives must have been nouns in Old English because they inflected for dative case and can follow prepositions. Dr Los shows that, even as early as Old English, the to-infinitive was established in most of the environments in which it is found today. Sheargues that its spread was largely due to competition with subjunctive that-clauses, which it gradually replaced. Later chapters consider Middle English developments. The author provides a measured evaluation of the evidence that to undergoes a period of degrammaticalization. She concludes that the extent to which to gains syntactic freedom in Middle English is due to the fact that speakers began to equate itwith the modal verbs and therefore to treat it syntactically as a modal verb. The exposition is clear and does not assume an up-to-date knowledge of generative theory. The book will appeal to the wide spectrum of scholars interested in the transformation from Old to Middle English, as well as those studying the processes and causes of syntactic change more generally.

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This book describes the historical emergence and spread of the to-infinitive in English. It shows that to + infinitive emerged from a reanalysis of the preposition to plus a deverbal nominalization, which spread first to purpose clauses, then to other nonfinite environments. The bookchallenges the traditional reasoning that infinitives...

Bettelou Los is a Lecturer in Linguistics at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 1986 and has since held teaching and research positions at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit, the University of Nijmegen and other colleges of higher education. She participates in the res...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:354 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.79 inPublished:February 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199208735

ISBN - 13:9780199208739

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Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction1. IntroductionPart II: The to-infinitive as GOAL2. The Expression of Purpose in Old English3. The to-infinitive as GOAL-argumentPart III: The to-infinitive as THEME4. Intention5. Commanding and Permitting6. CommissivesPart IV: Syntactic Status7. The Category of the to-infinitive8. The Changing Status of Infinitival toPart V: Changes in Middle English9. The Rise of to-infinitival Exceptional case-Marking10. Innocent Bystander: The Loss of the Indefinite Pronoun manPart VI: Summary and Conclusions11. Summary and ConclusionsAppendixReferencesIndex