written to spoken usage in English syntax

Frans Plank Frans.Plank at UNI-KONSTANZ.DE
Thu Jun 26 11:10:06 UTC 2008

not about English but German, and I don't vouch for it either:

It has sometimes been assumed (and I would have to search for 
references) that strict verb-final in comp-introduced subordinate 
clauses in Mod German is due to normative Renaissance grammarians 
trying to impose on "educated" German what they believed were the 
proper Latin standards -- naturally first in writing, but they were 
quite succesful for speech too.

The traditional story of course is that V-final is the original 
Germanic state of affairs;  but apparently strict V-final doesn't 
really have an unbroken continuity.

Frans Plank

>Dear typologists,
>Does modern English have any examples of sentence patterns which 
>originated in WRITTEN usage before spreading to the spoken domain?
>So far I have only been able to find instances - or at least, claims 
>- outside of syntax, e.g. phonological examples (reading 
>pronunciations and/or misfits such as [@uphEk] for OPEC; [)f at n] vs. 
>[)ft at n] for _often_; [ji:] in Ye Olde Inn, etc.); or lexical 
>examples, e.g. words like _e-business_ and _e-learning_.
>Please note that the status of the above examples & claims is NOT my 
>concern here. I only mention them to inquire if there are any known 
>syntactic parallels, i.e. sentence patterns which used to be bookish 
>before they entered into mainstream spoken English.
>The phenomenon has been observed e.g. in Mandarin, where modern 
>passive patterns (especially those in which the patient is not 
>literally 'suffering') initially spread as written translations from 
>English, French, German and Russian, and only later to spoken usage. 
>- Does spoken English perhaps have similar developments from 
>translatese, e.g. from medieval French literature, or from Latin 
>I checked various sources on the history of English to find 
>examples, but lacking a background in English studies, I may have 
>been looking in all the wrong places. Any suggestions about 
>literature on the subject will be greatly appreciated!
>Jeroen Wiedenhof
>- - -
>Sinological Institute, Leiden University
>P.O. Box 9515,  2300 RA Leiden,  Holland
>@     jeroen at wiedenhof.nl
>W     www.wiedenhof.nl
>T     +31-71-527.2525
>F     +31-71-527.2526
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