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A diachronic investigation of word order changes in English
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

In modern English, word order is how we understand the relationship between words in a sentence. It was not always like this. Early English had a highly developed inflectional system that offered much greater varieties in word order possibilities. The aim of this paper is to compare texts from different periods in the history of English to see how and when the relatively rigid word order of modern English developed. First an account of previous research is given. The paper is written within the field of historical syntax, which helps us understand the relationship between the past and the present. The diachronic approach taken in this paper means that texts from the three dominating periods: Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English, have been analyzed and compared in order to see when the SVO word order of modern English came about. Based on an analysis of 100 clauses from each period it turns out that SVO word order is the most dominant pattern in all periods. However, first in the Early Modern English period does the percentage of clauses with SVO word order come close to 100%, namely 98%. It can therefore be said that SVO word order was exclusive from around 1500 and onwards._x000B_The investigation also shows that main clauses have more varying word order patterns than subordinate clauses, which leads me to believe that SVO word order was established, rigidly, first in subordinate clauses, which then later influenced main clauses.

Abstract [en]

In modern English, word order is how we understand the relationship between words in a sentence. It was not always like this. Early English had a highly developed inflectional system that offered much greater varieties in word order possibilities. The aim of this paper is to compare texts from different periods in the history of English to see how and when the relatively rigid word order of modern English developed. First an account of previous research is given. The paper is written within the field of historical syntax, which helps us understand the relationship between the past and the present. The diachronic approach taken in this paper means that texts from the three dominating periods: Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English, have been analyzed and compared in order to see when the SVO word order of modern English came about. Based on an analysis of 100 clauses from each period it turns out that SVO word order is the most dominant pattern in all periods. However, first in the Early Modern English period does the percentage of clauses with SVO word order come close to 100%, namely 98%. It can therefore be said that SVO word order was exclusive from around 1500 and onwards. The investigation also shows that main clauses have more varying word order patterns than subordinate clauses, which leads me to believe that SVO word order was established, rigidly, first in subordinate clauses, which then later influenced main clauses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 27 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53655Local ID: ENG C-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53655DiVA: diva2:1102215
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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