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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 category of the to-infinitive

The category of the to-infinitive

(p.153) 7 The category of the to-infinitive
The Rise of the To-Infinitive

Bettelou Los (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the to-infinitive cannot be analysed as a prepositional phrase in Old English. Its distribution is no longer that of a to-PP, its dative inflection has fossilized and does not behave like the dative inflection found on true N-heads, and it takes accusative objects rather than the genitive objects that would be expected if it was still nominal. Evidence from relative clauses, the position of the to-infinitival object, and the emergence of an overt complementizer — for — in early Middle English all argue for clausal rather than phrasal status. The most telling piece of evidence is the fact that the to-infinitive has entered into competition with the finite subjunctive clause and can be seen to gradually oust it in a number of environments. All the available evidence suggests that the to-infinitive was being analyzed as a non-finite subjunctive already in OE.

Keywords:   to-infinitival relative, finite, complementizer, dative inflection, derivation, infinitival marker, subjunctive, verb complement, syntactic reanalysis

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