Our goal in this paper is to show that the northern and southern dialects of Middle English differ significantly in their verb-movement syntax. In particular, we will give evidence that these dialects exemplify a recently discovered typological distinction within the Germanic language family in the landing sites of verb movement. Several studies have indicated that the verb-second (V2) constraint characteristic of the Germanic languages involves movement to either of two different positions, depending on the language investigated. In the better known languages (German, Dutch, and Mainland Scandinavian), verb-second word order results from movement of the tensed verb to the COMP (C-zero) position and concomitant movement of some maximal projection to the specifier of CP. In other Germanic languages (Yiddish and Icelandic), however, V2 word order can reflect movement of the tensed verb to a lower position. In studies using the phrase structure of Chomsky 1986 a, that position is lNFL (I-zero) (Diesing 1990, Santorini 1992, Pintzuk 1991). Under current assumptions, where the INFL projection has been decomposed into a varying number of functional projections with simpler feature content, the verb in this second type of language seems to move to the highest projection below C-zero. As there is no consensus on the label or precise character of this projection, we will distinguish the two types of languages terminologically as ``CP-V2'' versus ``IP-V2'' languages, with the understanding that ``IP'' here stands for the highest projection below C-zero, whatever that may be. In section 7, we will give reason to believe that a split-INFL analysis is, in fact, useful in understanding the character of Middle English V2; but for most of this paper we will, for the sake of simplicity, assume a unitary I-zero.
The difference in the position to which the verb moves in different languages leads to subtle but clearly observable differences in the shape and distribution of verb-second clauses. Most strikingly, while all V2 languages exhibit verb-second word order in main clauses, the two subtypes differ in the availability of this word order in subordinate clauses. The CP-V2 languages allow verb-second order only in those embedded clauses that in some way have the structure of matrix clauses, either because the complementizer position is empty or because there is an additional complementizer position embedded below the one that introduces the subordinate clause (the so-called ``CP-recursion'' structure discussed in de Haan and Weerman (1986) and Iatridou & Kroch 1992). As the cited authors show, instances of these exceptional subordinate clauses are largely confined to the complements of bridge verbs. The IP-V2 languages, on the other hand, show V2 word order in a broad range of subordinate clauses (Diesing 1990, Santorini 1989, 1992, Rögnvaldsson &\ Thráinsson 1990). Pintzuk 1991, 1993 has recently shown that the verb in Old English V2 clauses surfaces in the I-zero position; and despite the empirical difficulties pointed out by Kemenade (this volume), we will support her conclusion. We will further see that the southern dialect of Middle English preserves the V2 syntax of Old English, despite having become, unlike Old English, overwhelmingly INFL-medial and VO in basic word order (see also Kemenade 1987). In striking contrast to the southern dialect, however, the northern dialect of Middle English appears to have developed the verb-movement syntax of a standard CP-V2 language and hence to be similar in its syntax to the modern Mainland Scandinavian languages. In the following pages, after a brief discussion of the historical context of dialect differentiation between North and South in Old and Middle English, we will lay out the complex V2 syntax of Old English. With this background, we will proceed to describe the syntax of V2 in the southern and northern dialects of Middle English, respectively, and will show that V2 clauses in the two dialects differ in the landing site of the verb. Given the strong and well-known linguistic influence of Scandinavian on northern Middle English, we are immediately led to ask whether the CP-V2 character of northern Middle English could reflect contact with Scandinavian. We give evidence in support of this possibility and suggest what the nature of the contact effect might have been.