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The Rise of the To-Infinitive$
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Bettelou Los

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274765.001.0001

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The to-infinitive as goal-argument

The to-infinitive as goal-argument

(p.44) 3 The to-infinitive as GOAL-argument
The Rise of the To-Infinitive

Bettelou Los (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that some purpose adjuncts were reinterpreted as GOAL-arguments of conatives and verbs of persuading and urging. This involved a semantic change of the higher verb. Verbs meaning ‘exert oneself’ came to mean ‘exert oneself in order to’, hence ‘strive, try’, i.e., a conative, with the following to-infinitive, originally there as purpose adjunct, becoming a GOAL-argument of that verb. The GOAL-argument of verbs of persuading and urging underwent a similar change. That these to-infinitives are indeed arguments in Old English and no longer adjuncts is shown by syntactic tests. That the to-infinitive after these verbs started out as a purpose adjunct is clear from the fact that the other two expressions that are available to encode the GOAL-argument are the to-prepositional phrase and the subjunctive þæt-clause — both, like the to-infinitive, regularly used to encode purpose adjuncts.

Keywords:   goal-argument, verb complement, subjunctive, prepositional phrase, conative, persuading and urging, syntactic test, purpose adjunct, syntactic reanalysis

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