Linguistik-Klassifikation: Sprachgeschichte / History of language
Auxiliary selection and counterfactuality in the history of English and Germanic
- The retreat of BE as perfect auxiliary in the history of English is examined. Corpus data are presented showing that the initial advance of HAVE was most closely connected to a restriction against BE in past counterfactuals. Other factors which have been reported to favor the spread of HAVE are either dependent on the counterfactual effect, or significantly weaker in comparison. It is argued that the effect can be traced to the semantics of the BE perfect, which denoted resultativity rather than anteriority proper. Related data from other older Germanic and Romance languages are presented, and finally implications for existing theories of auxiliary selection stemming from the findings presented are discussed.
Old Aramaic and Neo-Aramaic : some reflections on language history
- Aramaic is not among the oldest Semitic languages in a strictly chronological sense, but among those languages which are still spoken today, it has the longest continuous written tradition. The existing written documents span a period of three millennia and thus enable us to study language history in a long-term perspective. It is very important, in this respect, that the latest stage of development of Aramaic, Neo-Aramaic, still exists in a multitude of spoken varieties which can be studied in vivo. We can thus describe the phonetics and phonology of the modern varieties with more precision than is possible for the older language stages, which in turn enables us to draw conclusions on diachronic sound change. Likewise, we can study morphology and syntax not only from recorded texts, but we also have recourse to native speakers in order to clarify doubtful points. Thus the latest stage of Aramaic casts a strong light back into the past. It is therefore most unfortunate that many Aramaicists and Syrologists show so little interest in this living heritage.