The regrammation of paradigms: Auxiliaries from Gothic to Modern Danish

Lars Heltoft

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


This article surveys the development of voice and tense auxiliaries in Scandinavian with a focus on Danish. Voice is the first category (documented indirectly by Gothic) to show periphrastic forms in paradigmatic cooperation with inflectional forms; and these periphrastic forms are modelled on predicative constructions. Modern Danish has introduced verbal constructions at the expense of all predicative morphology, and the Old Scandinavian auxiliary verbs hafa/hava ‘have’ and vera/wæra ‘be’, verða/wartha ‘become’ have undergone semantic changes, including specialisation and markedness shift. This regrammation process involves semantic changes that must be described in terms of paradigm (re)organisation and cannot be captured in terms of changes along the parameters of the cline of grammaticalisation. Two main types of auxiliaries are distinguished: inflectional auxiliaries, with predication scope (tense, mood and voice) as part of otherwise inflectional paradigms, and, constructional auxiliaries (copula verbs) with predicate scope. Modern Danish inflectional auxiliaries express perfect tense and active voice with transitive verbs (have ‘have’), perfect tense, active voice and telicity with intransitive verbs (være ‘be’ and have ‘have’), stativity (copula verbs være ‘be’ and blive ‘become, turn’) and passive voice and telicity in the periphrastic passive (være ‘be’ and blive ‘become, be’). Their meaning potentials differ according to the paradigms they are part of.
TidsskriftActa Linguistica Hafniensia: International Journal of Linguistics
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)255-285
Antal sider24
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Auxiliaries
  • Danish
  • Paradigmatic organisation
  • Regrammation

Citer dette