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Title: The preterite-present : an investigation into the underlying origin process
Author: George, Stig K. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 816X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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The preterite-present verbs of the Germanic languages have long presented an anomaly to linguistic description. Not only has an inconstant and less than easily categorised syntactic and morphological status been attributed to the members of this group, an unlikely origin narrative is implicated in their thematic presents, which evince a striking commonality of form with the preterites of the corresponding strong verb classes. In this thesis, the matter of the processes of change behind the development of the preterite-presents is revisited. An attempt is made to ascertain whether a revised take on Grimm's theory, the earliest such approach to these verbs, can be formulated using up-to-date analytical apparatus, as has been forthcoming with more recent advances in the field of semantics. The pursuit of this goal is preceded in Chapter 1 with a discussion of the problems and solutions that have received attention in past and current theory. It is here that arguments are laid in favour of returning to the theory of a preterite/strong-verb origin, where an attempt is made to show that alternative frameworks come with problems of their own. In Chapter 2, meanwhile, a number of theory-based arguments are propounded to the end of resolving those more fundamental of the conceptual difficulties believed to face Grimm's theory. This paves the way for Chapter 3, where a new theory of change explaining the supposed Past to Present transition is developed. In the process of formulating this approach, an in depth look at how preterite-present verbs handle Modality is attempted. By appealing to this semantic domain, it is shown that something of the change defined as Past > Present can be accounted for semantically; yet, it becomes clear that a number of problems arise with any simple transposition of existing modal theory when taken in isolation. It is through a careful reformulation of the fundamental ideas associated with Modality, along with measured consideration of how the categories Realis/Irrealis can be incorporated into a wider semantic model, that a basis with which to account for the preterite-present verb can be devised. The advancements come in the form of showing how more precise variations of current theory can resolve ongoing problems associated with subjectivity, and how invoking the Realis/Irrealis distinction can go lengths to illuminate the diachronic links observable between lexical and modal meanings in verbs. Finally, in Chapter 4, it is shown that this new insight can be combined with the revised process of change outlined in Chapter 2, such that a theory explaining the origin process behind preterite-presents begins to appear forthcoming.
Supervisor: Millar, Robert McColl Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Germanic languages