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Agreement and the grammaticalisation of perfect and passive constructions in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle


  • Bozhil Hristov University of Sofia



grammaticalisation, perfect, passive, agreement, Old English, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle


Based on material from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, this paper examines the development of perfect and passive periphrases out of copular and possessive clauses, tracing the interaction between agreement marking, reanalysis and grammaticalisation. It has previously been claimed that reanalysis was triggered in contexts with zero-morphology. However, I demonstrate that zero-exponence did not play a decisive role in the reanalysis of these periphrastic schemas and the subsequent loss of agreement across-the-board. Instead, the gradual decline of overt agreement correlates with a higher degree of grammaticalisation as a natural consequence of it. The data point to a gradient cline from least to most grammaticalised patterns: passives with be or become, which remain closest to copular clauses, followed by be-perfects and then have-perfects, the most highly entrenched periphrastic schema.