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Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax$
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Eric Mathieu and Robert Truswell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198747840.001.0001

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The origins of the Romance analytic passive: Evidence from word order

The origins of the Romance analytic passive: Evidence from word order

(p.216) 14 The origins of the Romance analytic passive: Evidence from word order
Micro-change and Macro-change in Diachronic Syntax

Lieven Danckaert

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that despite formal resemblances, Latin perfect tense BE-periphrases of the type amatus sum ‘I was loved’ are not the historical source of Romance present tense passives like Italian sono amato and French je suis aimé (both meaning ‘I am (being) loved’). Evidence comes from the observation that Late Latin has a very strong preference for the head-final order ‘past participle–BE’, which goes against the otherwise general tendency for the language to move towards a strictly head-initial TP. As an alternative, I propose that amatus sum perfects disappeared from the language, and that the analytic present tense passives are new formations. The Late Latin preference for head-final BE-periphrases is explained in terms of phonological weakening of the auxiliary. I conclude by comparing this phonological process to the oft-discussed grammaticalization of HAVE (habeo) as a marker of futurity.

Keywords:   Latin, Romance, morphosyntax, word order, BE-periphrases

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