‘Hreran mid hondum hrimcealde sæ’: On verb attraction in Old English

Nils-Lennart Johannesson


This paper deals with a phenomenon in Old English syntax labelled ‘verb attraction’. In an Old English clause with two verbs, such as an auxiliary verb and the following nonfinite verb, or an object-control verb such as hatan ‘to command’ plus the infinitive verb form in the infinitive clause governed by hatan, verb attraction makes the non-finite verb form leave its canonical syntactic position to become adjoined to the higher finite verb. The paper explores some properties of clauses where verb attraction is at work, and ends with a consideration of the usefulness of verb attraction in poetry.


Old English syntax; verb syntax; verb attraction; adjunction to finite verb; Old English word order

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