Old English and Anglo-Latin

Matti Kilpiö
Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG), University of Helsinki

With a single exception, the papers in this section deal with linguistic variation and change in English, either within Old English or during the long diachrony from Old English to Present-Day English. Even Heikkinen’s paper on Anglo-Latin metrics can be said to be diachronically oriented as he traces developments in Latin metrics from Classical Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. Most of the studies in this section are corpus-driven, with the corpora ranging from the Helsinki Corpus and the York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose to the FLOB Corpus and the British National Corpus.

Minoji Akimoto’s article ‘Rivalry between Expect and Hope’, which covers the time span from 1100 to Present-Day English, focuses on the diachronic development of both expect and hope. For expect, there is increasing use of to-infinitives at the expense of NPs. The increased use of be expected to is remarkable. During the EModE period, the verb hope is increasingly used in the patterns hope + Ø and hope + to-infinitive. An important question put in the article is why expect developed its multifunctions compared with the other verbs of the wanting type. With regard to subjectification, expect moves into non-subjectification directions and hope into subjectification directions. The be expected to-infinitive construction is studied from the point of view of constructionalisation and idiomatisation. Two further verbs of wanting, desire and wish are also briefly discussed.

The literary culture of Anglo-Saxon England was profoundly influenced by models provided by the classical Mediterranean Latin civilization and its christianised offshoots in continental Europe and the British Isles. Seppo Heikkinen’s paper ‘Elision and hiatus in early Anglo-Latin grammar and verse’ concentrates on the individual solutions adopted by two major scholar-poets, Aldhelm, who made extensive use of hiatus and Bede, who vigorously avoided it. Attention is also paid to the way Bede and Aldhelm deal with this area of Latin metrics in their theoretical treatises. Bede’s avoidance of hiatus in his poetry has to do with the fact that, faithful to his christianising agenda, he condemned the occurrence of hiatus in pagan poets, such as Vergil, and admired Christian poets for being more advanced in this respect.

Brian Lowrey’s article ‘Analytical causative constructions in Old English’ studies the way in which causative verbs enter different types of construction. Special attention is paid to agentivity and the “second agent” factor as well as to the causee and its interaction with the causer. The main causative verbs discussed are (ge)don, hatan and lætan. Lowrey further discusses manipulative verbs, some of which have also a causative meaning. Although the focus is on Old English, an outline of post-Old English developments up to Early Modern English is provided.

Katarzyna Sówka-Pietraszewska’s article ‘On the development of a prepositional object construction with give verbs, motion verbs and Latinate verbs in English’ studies double object constructions from Old to Present-Day English. The approach is two-pronged. The first part of the study focuses on the meanings of the prepositional object construction (POC) in Old English and Middle English with ‘give’ verbs and ‘motion’ verbs, with attention being paid to the variation between the double object construction (DOC) and POC. The second part addresses the structure selection of Latin-based verbs with a focus on Latinate ‘give’ verbs. The time period covered in this section ranges from Late Middle English to Present-Day English. During this period, the possibility of selecting either DOC or POC is eventually reduced to a situation where POC is the only choice.

Tomohiro Yanagi’s paper ‘Ditransitive alternation and theme passivization in Old English is related to Sówka-Pietraszewska’s article in that both of them study ditransitive constructions in early English. Although Yanagi briefly discusses ditransitive active constructions, the emphasis in his paper is on ditransitive passive constructions. His detailed analysis, based on the York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose (YCOE), pays special attention to word order variation of Theme and Goal arguments. Interestingly, the word class of the arguments plays a role here: the word orders resulting from passivisation vary according to whether the arguments are nominal or pronominal.

Anastasia Eseleva’s PowerPoint presentation ‘Giefan vs. sellan: the rivalry between the main OE ditransitives’ traces the development whereby giefan, by the end of the Old English period, supplants sellan in the sense referring to voluntary giving. Four prefixed variants of these two verbs are also discussed.


Akimoto, Minoji
Rivalry between expect and hope with particular reference to their constructional developments
http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/akimoto/ (see abstract)

Heikkinen, Seppo
Elision and hiatus in early Anglo-Latin grammar and verse
http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/heikkinen/ (see abstract)

Lowrey, Brian
Early English Causative Constructions and the “Second Agent” Factor
http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/lowrey/ (see abstract)

Sówka-Pietraszewska, Katarzyna
On the development of a prepositional object construction with give verbs, motion verbs and Latinate verbs in English
http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/sowka-pietraszewska/ (see abstract)

Yanagi, Tomohiro
Ditransitive Alternation and Theme Passivization in Old English
http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/10/yanagi/ (see abstract)

Powerpoint presentation

Anastasia Eseleva
GIEFAN vs. SELLAN: the rivalry between the main OE ditransitives