Development of transitivity in a language without/with object clitics: English vs. Greek (A diachronic contrastive study)

Nikolaos Lavidas


In this historical study, I test the hypothesis of a relationship between the changes in the null definite objects and the development of the D-system and clitics. In Lavidas (2013), I have shown that the grammaticalization of the viewpoint aspect in English has progressed in parallel with activity/event-noun cognate objects, but it does not appear to have affected the development and loss of null object constructions in English. The diachronic examination of null objects in the present study searches for the absence/presence of a link between the emergence of new types of personal pronouns in the history of a language without clitics, English, and in the history of a language with clitics, Greek. The paper offers new data from the historical corpora of English and Greek, and analyzes both the grammaticalization of the D-system in English and Greek and its link to the loss of null definite objects in both languages. The loss of the definite null objects in English follows the changes in the D-system but does not directly follow the development of the personal pronouns. The relationship between the development of personal pronouns in the object position, the changes in the D-system, and the loss of definite null objects is evident for Greek.


null objects, D-system, language change, English, Greek

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