The focus of this presentation is the use of futurate presents, which served as the primary means of expressing future tense in Old English. With the emergence of lexically-based future constructions in the grammaticalization process, i.e. shall (OE *sculan) and will (OE willan), and their subsequent dissemintation, the use of futurate presents tended to gradually decline. The aim of this study is to examine (a) in what way the development of periphrastic future markers affected the functional domain of futurate presents at this very early stage, and (b) to identify the factors conditioning the use of futurate presents and the dynamics of the redistribution of future reference forms. A range of potential factors is considered to account for the (re)distribution, including morphosyntactic and syntactic features, pronominality of the subject, semantic features, as well as pragmatic ones. The material for the quantitative analysis comes from the tenth-century Bible translations, Lindisfarne and Rusworth Gospels. The findings indicate that the distribution of futurate presents and the merging periphrastic consructions in Old English was determined by a combination of semantic and formal criteria, with person, telicity, sentence type and morphological complexity of the verb as pivotal.
This talk takes a look at Old English from the perspective of motion typology (Talmy 1985, Slobin 2004). The typology classifies languages according to how their speakers typically express intransitive motion, pursuing questions such as which information is typically expressed in the verb and which element is typically used to express path. After discussing in how far the extant Old English texts are suitable for these questions, I will present three studies on how motion is expressed in Old English (Huber 2017):
1. Which verbs are attested in motion expressions? 2. Which verbs and which patterns are frequent in motion expressions? 3. How are Latin path verbs translated to Old English? The results will briefly be contrasted with the situation in Middle English, where the borrowing of French path verbs (e.g. entrer, descend) obviously brings a great change to the inventory of motion verbs, but not so much to their use.