Old French Si, Syntax and Function in Diachrony



This article offers a diachronic analysis of the Old French particle si.  Using data from both verse and prose texts, I analyse the function and syntax of si from the 12th to 14th centuries. I find that si fulfills a variety of functions throughout the period, beginning as a subject continuity marker before acquiring functions as a resumptive and an expletive among others. Si’s syntax is defined by its proximity to the verb, occupying the specifier of the left-peripheral head which hosts the verb. This head changes through the Old French period from the lower left peripheral head Fin to the higher head Force. These findings are shown to have ramifications for the study of Medieval Romance syntax and discourse particles.


information structure, si, V2, Old French, left periphery


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Author Biography

Wyn Francis Shaw, University of Oxford

DPhil student, Department of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics




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