‘Impersonal’ and ‘reflexive’ constructions: Verb features peculiar to Old and Middle English


Old English
early Middle English

How to Cite

Ogura , M. . (2022). ‘Impersonal’ and ‘reflexive’ constructions: Verb features peculiar to Old and Middle English. SELIM. Journal of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature., 27(1), 49–80. https://doi.org/10.17811/selim.27.2022.49-80


When Old English appeared in a written form for the first time, it had already lost inflections like optative, hortative, perfective, passive, etc. Making up for these morphological forms, it started, again before it was written and preserved, using periphrastic expressions with modal auxiliaries, habban, beon/wesan, utan, ongan, etc. Without having middle voice, it used ‘impersonal’ and ‘reflexive’ constructions (the single quotes mean that they included quasi-impersonals and quasi-reflexives in the real sense of the words). In this paper I focus on some such verbs as lician, lystan, sceamian,þyncan and wer(g)ian with their native and/or loan synonyms like (dis)plesen, joien, remembren, repenten, semen, etc. and their constructions used in Old and Middle English so as to maintain that their peculiar features reflect compensatory devices of the lost function before the appearance of Old English.



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Copyright (c) 2022 SELIM. Journal of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature.


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