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Rethinking Verb Second$
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Rebecca Woods and Sam Wolfe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198844303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198844303.001.0001

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Rethinking ‘residual’ Verb Second

Rethinking ‘residual’ Verb Second

(p.126) 6 Rethinking ‘residual’ Verb Second
Rethinking Verb Second

Craig Sailor

Oxford University Press

The term “residual Verb Second ” is a misnomer for English, because V2 is, in fact, still productive in the language. Evidence for this comes from a previously undescribed negative inversion phenomenon innovated very recently in varieties of English. An analysis is proposed for how such a restrictive V2 system could, nevertheless, be productive, appealing to learner-driven models of language change in which novel structures can arise as artefacts of the acquisition procedure. Specifically, it is argued that innovative V2 arises when acquirers postulate a novel clause type characterized by a left-edge operator, which they analyse as a V2 environment by analogy with other non-declarative clause types involving such structures (e.g. interrogatives). This finds support from other cases of innovative V2 in English, Scots, and Afrikaans. Overall, we are left with a clearer picture of the status of V2 in English, and what it takes to innovate new V2 environments cross-linguistically.

Keywords:   residual Verb Second, negative inversion, left-edge operator, learner-driven, acquisition procedure

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