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Impersonal and reflexive uses of Middle English psych verbs under contact influence with Old French
Linguistics Vanguard  (IF0.971),  Pub Date : 2020-06-01, DOI: 10.1515/lingvan-2019-0016
Carola Trips

Abstract This article discusses the relation between impersonal constructions and the reflexive use of psych verbs of the admire-type (Levin 1993) copied from Old French to Middle English. The outset of the study is an observation made by van der Gaaf (1904) which was commented on by Fischer (1992) concerning the reflexive use of verbs like remembren (Old French remembrer) in the course of the development of impersonal constructions to personal constructions. My aim is to answer the following questions: First, was the reflexive use of verbs copied from Old French new to the Middle English system? Second, what is the syntactic and semantic relation between ME impersonal and OF reflexive constructions? I will first examine the reflexive construction in Old English and Old French to answer the first question. I will then deal with the second question taking a closer look at both constructions in Middle English. Supported by lexicon-based and corpus-based small-scale studies of the psych verb remembren I will provide an analysis of the syntactic and semantic properties of the verb in both constructions and show that what they have in common is an intransitive structure where the subject is an experiencer, and middle semantics. I will finally address possible effects of language contact through translations, before I conclude.