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Clause Structure and Word Order in the History of German$
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Agnes Jäger, Gisella Ferraresi, and Helmut Weiß

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198813545

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198813545.001.0001

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The OV/VO alternation in early German

The OV/VO alternation in early German

Diagnostics for basic word order

(p.230) 12 The OV/VO alternation in early German
Clause Structure and Word Order in the History of German

Eric Fuß

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses a set of theoretical approaches to the OV/VO alternation in Early German (with an emphasis on OHG), focusing on the question of whether it is possible to identify a basic serialization pattern that underlies the ‘mixed’ word order properties found at the syntactic surface. Based on a review of a set of OV/VO diagnostics, including for example the placement of elements that resist extraposition, properties of verbal complexes, and the significance of deviations from the source text in translations, it is argued that—despite some notable exceptions—OHG exhibits a more consistent verb-final nature than other Early Germanic languages (OE, in particular). This conclusion is supported by the observation that OV qualifies as the unmarked surface word order, which is compatible with a larger set of pragmatic contexts.

Keywords:   Old High German, Old English, basic word order, OV, VO, extraposition, grammar competition, head parameter, information structure, verb raising

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