Schijnbare syntactische feniksen | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 20, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171



This article investigates ‘syntactic phoenixes’: obsolete or obsolescent constructions that unexpectedly regain currency in language use. Four case studies are investigated to gain insight in the reasons for the revival of these old constructions: (i) transparent free relatives, (ii) the complex preposition-like combination , (iii) accusativus and nominativus cum infinitivo (ACI/NCI) and (iv) bare infinitive with the young modal . In all cases, the (temporary) reversal of the diachronic trends in the internal syntax of these constructions is argued to be driven by an analogical pull by cognate constructions. As such, the phoenixes are in fact illusions: the revival only affects a particular corner of the whole construction, namely where it borders on the neighbouring construction. The diachronic developments underscore the need to take into account the impact of the broad grammatical environment in which syntactic changes take place in grammaticalisation.


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