The Development of long in Early Modern English: Impersonal Verbs of Desire in Focus

  • Noelia Castro-Chao Universidade de Vigo


The class of English verbs of Desire in Present-Day English comprises verbs such as long or thirst, several of which are attested in earlier English in impersonal constructions characterised by the lack of a grammatical subject. In English, the impersonal construction decreased in frequency between 1400 and 1500, and effectively went out of use during the sixteenth century. Previous research has suggested that there is a need for a corpus-based study of not just Middle English, but also Early Modern English, in order to explore the different path(s) of development followed by individual impersonal verbs. The present article, therefore, investigates the development of the impersonal verb long (< OE langian) with the following objectives: a) to determine when long ceases to occur in impersonal constructions; b) to provide a diachronic overview of the personal syntactic patterns that came to replace impersonal constructions in Early Modern English; and c) to identify, within the framework of Construction Grammar, factors that may account for the development of long as a prepositional verb.

Author Biography

Noelia Castro-Chao, Universidade de Vigo
Noelia Castro-Chao holds a BA in English Language and Literature and a PhD in English Linguistics (May 2020). Until November 2019, she worked under funding from an FPU grant at the University of Santiago de Compostela, where she is currently a researcher at the unit for “Variation, Linguistic Change and Grammaticalization.” Her research interests include historical syntax and semantics, corpus linguistics and Construction Grammar.


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