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The emergence of complex verb constructions in Germanic languages

All Germanic languages have complex verb constructions with two or more auxiliary verbs, such as: Ik moet kunnen komen / I must be able to come or Ik heb/ben kunnen komen / I have been able to come. The period that these emerged and the conditions under which this occurred vary by language, which created a high degree of variation between the languages. The aim of this study is to determine which causes and mechanisms led to the emergence of complex verb constructions and how to explain these differences. The research will be conducted in collaboration with researchers Evie Coussé and Gerlof Bouma from the University of Gothenburg, and is funded by the Swedish Vetenskapsrådet (Research Council). The study will be conducted based on historical grammars and existing historical corpora for Dutch, Swedish, German, and English; a new corpus will also be created within the project, specifically a multilingual parallel corpus of historical and modern Bible translations, which will make comparative research of the Germanic languages possible.

Researcher: Nicoline van der Sijs