Linguistics 300, F08, Assignment 1

Part 1 due: M 9/8
Part 2 due: W 9/10

This assignment is adapted from an assignment for Linguistics 310 (S06).


One of the most remarkable features of the syntax of modern English is the use of the auxiliary verb do in sentences like (1).

(1) a. Negative sentences: Mary does not live here. Mary doesn't live here.
b. Emphatic sentences: John doesn't like pizza, but Mary does (like pizza).
c. Questions: Does Mary live here? Where does Mary live?
d. Other sentences with subject-aux inversion: John like pizza, and so does Mary.

Auxiliary do, also known as periphrastic do or do support, is unusual among the world's languages, and earlier stages of English did not use it. Your job in this assignment is to find the early equivalents of the four sentence types in (1). A good source of material is Shakespeare's writings, which are easy to find and search online. However, you can use other authors if you prefer.


Part 1: Collect 20 early forms of negative sentences. Also collect as many early forms of the other sentence types as you easily can. Bring your examples to class on Monday in some form (hardcopy or electronic) so that we can discuss them.

Here are some considerations and questions to keep in mind as you work on the assignment:


Part 2: If you need to, revise your original collection of examples in light of Monday's discussion. Send your examples to Caitlin Light, either as plain text or as a Word attachment.