Historical Germanic Syntax

Since W.P.Lehmann’s influental work (1974) and Elmer H. Antonsen’s and Paul Hopper’s publications is has become customary to reconstruct Proto-Germanic and some early Germanic languages (cf. older futhark) as SOV languages. Are the arguments really sufficient? Read my 1999 paper published in Язык и речевая деятельность, vol. 2 (1999), 195-205.

Early Germanic languages should be classified with the HAVE-type, not BE-type, since possessive meanings were regularly expressed on the basis of transitive sentence patterns with HAVE, not on the basis of intransitive sentence patterns with BE and oblique case marking on the possessor. Some of these languages nevertheless preserved remnants of the earlier BE-type-constructions, which were remodeled in the historic period. I defined the notion of pseudo-possessives and described their distribution in Saemundar-Edda. See my 1999 paper published in Atlantica, vol. 4 (1999), 33- 58.


A detailed analysis of pseudo-possessive sentence patterns in the history of Scandinavian languages may be found in chapter 4 of my 2002 monograph, p. 643-653, 703-705.  See the page ‘Typological Scandinavian Syntax’ for more information.

One of the traditional problems in historical Germanic syntax is the evolution of the so called impersonal sentence patterns. I argue that impersonal sentence patterns can be both archaic and innovative: in other words, some of these patterns found in early Germanic languages might well be recent innovations, which can be dated with the oral prehistory of particular languages.

See my 1992 paper ‘Die unpersoenlichen Satzmodelle in der islaendischen Sprache’ on page SKANDINAVISTIK 1992.

One Response to “Historical Germanic Syntax”

  1. corporate histories Says:

    Conducting historical research is often a challenge, as it requires the bringing together of a wide range of sources in order to come up with as accurate an impression of a given moment in time as possible.

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