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  • Author: DEBRA ZIEGELER x
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Constructions in Singapore English

The notion of a missing or understood subject of infinitive and other non-finite clauses has been the topic of a vast enterprise of syntactic research for more than thirty years. It has also increasingly become the focus for discussion in semantic domains, with the tendency to determine control relations by the lexical nature of the verbs within their scope. The present study addresses the topic from a functionalist, grammaticalisation perspective, examining some examples from Colloquial Singapore English (CSE) in which subject Control relations appear to be absent. Within such enquiry, it is questioned what implications such examples may have for definitions of subject Control under a grammaticalisation account, and the relation of subject Control to subject selection in the complement. It is hypothesised that the presence of subject Control implies that the controlled subject must be selected by the complement verb and that the subject selection properties of the complement verb are determined by the level of grammaticalisation of the main verb. Furthermore, the presence of topic-prominent, rather than subject-prominent sentence structure in CSE underlies the contact influence most likely to contribute to the apparently reduced semantic relations holding between the verb and subject for speakers of that dialect.

Abstract

The mystery of the rise of the affirmative, declarative (periphrastic) use of do in the thirteenth century and its decline by the start of the eighteenth century remains one of the principal unsolved problems for linguists working in historical research. Some of the main arguments on the origins of do discuss the needs of poetic rhyme (e.g., Engblom 1938), the positioning of the adverb (e.g., Ogura 1993), the elimination of awkward consonant clusters (e.g., Stein 1990), and the ambiguities of object referents in questions (Hudson 1997), much of the earlier historical research relying on hypotheses relating to internal problems of the system. The present study examines the early causative origins of do, viewed from a diachronic, construction-based approach, and offers an explanation in which the reanalysis and subsequent loss of do as a declarative, affirmative auxiliary took place via a process known as hyperanalysis (Croft 2000), resulting in the gradual process of co-lexicalization of the causative verb meaning within the semantics of the main verb across an ever-increasing range of main verb environments.

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Abstract

The study of replica grammaticalization in contact (Heine and Kuteva 2003, 2005) has not been without its critiques (e.g. Matthews and Yip 2009; Gast and van der Auwera 2012), because it assumes a historical linguistic “awareness” of model language grammaticalization routes. In Heine and Kuteva’s studies, the contact “model” language was usually understood to be a substrate or L1. The present study investigates three features observed in more than one contact dialect of English, and proposes instead a replication of diachronic stages in the lexifier observed to have appeared up to 1000 years ago. Replication in such cases is assisted by the identification of co-existing, lexical source meanings recoverable from the grammaticalized meanings in the lexifier.