A new approach to transitive expletives: evidence from Belfast English

Alison Henry, Siobhan Cottell

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    9 Citations (Scopus)


    This article discusses the existence of transitive expletives in a variety of English. BelfastEnglish has none of the features previously proposed as licensing transitive expletives,but nevertheless allows these, calling into question previous analyses of the licensing ofthis structure. This article considers the properties of transitive expletives in this variety,showing that they are restricted to sentences where the associate is quantified, and that theassociate can appear in a range of positions, similar but not identical to those availableto ‘floated’ quantifiers. It is argued that Belfast English has a higher merge position forthe expletive than does Standard English, and that the general availability in Englishof quantifier positions between T and vP – perhaps because auxiliaries in English headphases, and phases can be closed by a quantification – means that, even though BelfastEnglish is not a Verb Second language, a position is available for both the expletive andthe associate.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)279-299
    JournalEnglish Language and Linguistics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2007


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