As we have remarked, the early southern texts of Middle English exhibit the same basic patterning of the V2 constraint as is found in Old English. Table 1 shows this clearly. It combines data on positive declarative sentences from seven Midlands texts of the early to mid-thirteenth century: the Trinity Homilies, Lambeth Homilies, Sawles Warde, Hali Meiad, Vices and Virtues, St. Katherine, and Ancrene Riwle. The sample consists of a total of 3064 matrix clauses, an exhaustive sample of the text excerpts in the Penn-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Middle English (1994) (PPCME), the source of all our Middle English data. The contributions of the individual texts in this early southern group range from 230 to 689 clauses. They have been grouped together to increase the size and reliability of the figures in the table, since there is no evidence of any difference in the V2 syntax of these texts.
Table 1: V2 in seven early Midlands texts.
We see above, with exceptions as we have noted, the expected Old English pattern. Preposed complements generally trigger inversion of subject and verb with full NP subjects but almost never do so with pronoun subjects. The temporal adverbs `tha' and `then' trigger inversion with both NP and pronoun subjects, though not as regularly with pronoun subjects as in Old English, an indication that these adverbs are losing their special status. The adverb `now' is included in the table because in Old English it sometimes behaves like `tha' and sometimes like other adverbs; and as in Old English, it here behaves variably.
If we look at a sample of approximately 200 clauses from a text of the Kentish dialect, the ``Ayenbite of Inwit,'' we see the pattern repeated:
Table 2: V2 in the Ayenbite of Inwit (Kentish).
The data in Table 2 is interesting because the Ayenbite text is from a holograph manuscript of the mid-fourteenth century, at least 100 years later than the Southwest Midlands texts. By this time, the language of most of England was well on its way to losing the V2 constraint; but Kentish, an isolated dialect that eventually died out, still preserved the Old English pattern of V2 nearly intact. The only difference between the Kentish data and the earlier texts is a further erosion in the exceptional status of `then' and `now' and a generally freer attachment of adjuncts to CP, reflected in the lower rates of inversion of full NP subjects after PP adjuncts and adverbs.