Long, Lust and ThirstThe Development of Impersonal Verbs of Desire in Early Modern English from the Perspective of Construction Grammar

  1. Noelia Castro Chao 1
  1. 1 Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

    Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

    Santiago de Compostela, España

    ROR https://ror.org/030eybx10

Moving beyond the pandemic: English and American studies in Spain
  1. Francisco Gallardo del Puerto (coord.)
  2. María del Carmen Camus Camus (coord.)
  3. Jesús Ángel González López (coord.)

Editorial: Editorial de la Universidad de Cantabria ; Universidad de Cantabria

ISBN: 978-84-19024-15-2

Ano de publicación: 2022

Páxinas: 48-55

Congreso: Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos. Congreso (44. 2021. Santander)

Tipo: Achega congreso


The class of verbs of Desire comprises a few verbs, such as long, lust or thirst, whose syntax and semantics have undergone important changes in the course of the history of the English language. These three verbs are attested in earlier English as impersonal verbs, that is, verbs occurring in impersonal constructions characterised by the lack of a grammatical subject. Impersonal constructions began to decrease in frequency between 1400 and 1500, and their loss brought about profound changes in the grammar of verbs of Desire. In this paper, I explore the development of long, lust and thirst as prepositional verbs in the Early Modern English period (1500-1700), based on corpus data retrieved from EEBOCorp 1.0. Results show that, after the general loss of impersonal patterns, NP complements were superseded by prepositional complements. Within the framework of Construction Grammar, this finding may be interpreted as the result of a semantic mismatch between lexical and constructional meaning.