Arguments or macroroles? : Two functional approaches to Old English quirky case


  • Francisco Javier Martín Arista University of La Rioja
  • Laura Caballero González University of La Rioja



After comparing two functional approaches to the question of Old English deviant accusatives, genitives and datives, this paper follows Martín Arista (2001a, b) with respect to Old English prototypical verbal constructions: the prototypical transitive construction is defined as the active accomplishment version of verbs like writan 'write', the activity implementation of creation and consumption verbs representing the less-prototypical transitive construction; the active accomplishment use of verbs such as faran 'go' characterize the prototypical intransitive construction, whereas the activity version of motion verbs define the less-prototypical intransitive construction. The conclusion is reached that quirky case is not a feature of the morphosyntax of certain intransitive verbs of state and causative state, but a characteristic of verbal constructions that, deviating from both the transitive and the intransitive prototypes, show not only case-marking irregularity but also more case-marking choices than verbs that abide by the transitive or intransitive prototype. Since marked morphosyntax -including quirky case- is considered in this paper a consequence of the non-prototypical character of argument structure, it is claimed that the relationship between canonical lexical templates and their configurations should be semantically and syntactically motivated. The Principle of Lexical Template Instantiation guarantees the suitable degree of implementation of a lexical template by stipulating that, prototypically, all the internal variables of the instantiations of lexical templates are fully specified


Download data is not yet available.


Allen, C. L. 1986. “Reconsidering the history of ‘like’”. Journal of Linguistics 22: 375-409.

Allen, C. L. 1995. Case Marking and Reanalysis: Grammatical Relations from Old to Early Modern English. Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press.

Butler, C. S. 1990. “Functional Grammar and Systemic Grammar: a preliminary discussion”. Working Papers in Functional Grammar 39. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.

Butler, C. S. 1996. “Layering in functional grammars: a comparative survey”, in: B. Devriendt, L. Goosens, and J. van der Auwera (eds.), Complex Structures. A Functional Perspective. Berlin: Mouton. 1-27.

Denison, D. 1993. English Historical Syntax: Verbal Constructions. London and New York: Longman.

Dik, S. C. 1978. Functional Grammar. Dordrecht: Foris.

Dik, S. C. 1989. The Theory of Functional Grammar. Part 1: The Structure of the Clause. Dordrecht: Foris.

Dik, S. C. 1997. The Theory of Functional Grammar, Vol. 2: Complex and Derived Constructions. Edited by K. Hengeveld. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Faber, P. and R. Mairal (forthcoming). “Reconsidering lexical representations in Functional Grammar”.

Fischer, O., A. Van Kemenade, W. Koopman and W. Van der Wurff. 2000. The Syntax of Early English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Foley, W., and R. Van Valin. 1984. Functional Syntax and Universal Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goossens, L. 1990a. “Metaphtonymy: the interaction of metaphor and metonymy in expressions for linguistic action”. Cognitive Linguistics 1-3: 323-340.

Goossens, L. 1990b. “Mental processes and relational verbs and the typology of states of affairs in FG”, in: M. Hannay and E. Vester (eds.), Working with Functional Grammar: Descriptive and Computational Applications. Dordrecht: Foris. 167-186.

Hengeveld, K. 1989. “Layers and operators in Functional Grammar”. Journal of Linguistics 25: 127-157.

Hengeveld, K. 1990. “The hierarchical structure of utterances”, in: Nuyts, Bolkestein and Vet (eds.), 1-23.

Hoekstra, T., H. van der Hulst and M. Moortgat (eds.). 1981. Perspectives on Functional Grammar. Dordrecht: Foris.

Kalisz, R., and W. Kubinski. 1997. “Functional Grammar vs. Cognitive Linguistics: an attempt at discovering similarities and differences”, Working Papers in Functional Grammar 64. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.

Kiparsky, P. 1998. “Partitive Case and Aspect”, in M. Butt and W. Geuder (eds.), The Projection of Arguments. Lexical and Compositional Factors. Stanford, California: CSLI Publications. 265-307.

Mairal, R. and R. D. Van Valin (2001). “What Role and Reference Grammar can do for Functional Grammar”, in: M.J. Pérez Quintero (ed.), Challenges and Development in Functional Grammar. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 42. La Laguna: Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de La Laguna.

Martín Arista, J. 1999. “Expresión y motivación en Gramática Funcional”, in: C. Butler, R. Mairal Usón, J. Martín Arista and Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza, Nuevas Perspectivas en Gramática Funcional. Barcelona: Ariel. 173-217.

Martín Arista, J. 2001a. “Sintaxis Medieval I: Complementación, caso y sintaxis verbal”, in: I. De la Cruz and J. Martín Arista, eds. Lingüística histórica inglesa. Barcelona: Ariel. 224-312.

Martín Arista, J. 2001b. “Sintaxis Medieval II: Funciones, construcciones y orden de constituyentes”, in: I. De la Cruz and J. Martín Arista, eds. Lingüística histórica inglesa. Barcelona: Ariel. 224-312.

McLaughlin, J. C. 1983. Old English Syntax: A Handbook. Tübingen: Niemeyer.

Michaelis, L. A. 1993. “On Deviant Case-Marking in Latin”, in: R.D. Van Valin (ed.). Advances in Role and Reference Grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 311-373.

Mitchell, B. 1985. Old English Syntax (2 vols.). Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press.

Nuyts, J. 1992. Aspects of a Cognitive-Pragmatic Theory of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Nuyts, J., A. M. Bolkestein and C. Vet (eds.). 1990. Layers and Levels of Representation in Language Theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Pinkster, H. 1990 (1988). Latin Syntax and Semantics. London and New York: Routledge.

Pyles, T. and J. Algeo. 1982. The Origins and Development of the English Language. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Rissanen, M. and O. Ihalainen. 1984. The Helsinki Corpus of English Texts. Diachronic and Dialectal. Helsinki: University of Helsinki.

Roberts, L. 1995. “Pivots, voice and macroroles: from Germanic to universal grammar”. Australian Journal of Linguistics 15: 157-214.

Talmy, L. 1988. “Force Dynamics in Language and Cognition”. Cognitive Science 12: 49-100.

Taylor, J.R. 1989. Linguistic Categorization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van Valin, R. D. 1990. “Layered Syntax in Role and Reference Grammar”, in: Nuyts, Bolkestein and Vet (eds.), 193-231.

Van Valin, R. D. 1991. “Another look at Icelandic case marking and grammatical relations”. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 9: 145-194.

Van Valin, R. D., and R. LaPolla. 1997. Syntax: Structure, Meaning and Function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




How to Cite

Martín Arista, F. J., & Caballero González, L. (2002). Arguments or macroroles? : Two functional approaches to Old English quirky case. Journal of English Studies, 3, 131–148.