The accusative with infinitive, and some kindred constructions in English
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Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC
By: Jacob Zeitlin
Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III The Accusative With Infinitive In English It was stated at the beginning of this essay that the rise of the accusative with infinitive in English has generally been ascribed to the Latin influence which set in strongly at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The unqualified nature of this belief is best represented by the following generalizations found in a recent dissertation. " Pecock's extensive use of the accusative with infinitive after this third group of verbs [mental perception] is characteristic of his style. Krickau calls him the writer ' welcher mit der Einfiihrung des Ace. mit dem Inf. nach den Verben des Sagens und Denkens begonnen hat.' And thus much is certain, that before Pecock this construction is very sporadically to be found. Einenkel (Anglia, vm, 94 sqq.) gives a few examples from Chaucer (after conferme, deeme, holde, wite) and two from O[ld] E[nglish] after weene. In Wycliffe's sermons I have found: ' sixe thingis tellith Crist to come in his passioun' p. 106:' he seith his apostlis to be hise friendis,' p. 1VO. If Peacock may thus be termed the introducer of this kind of accusative with infinitive, yet it was a considerable time before the construction became really incorporated in the English language. According to Krickau (ibid., p. 19) it does not occur at all in other prose works of the fifteenth century such as: Prose Romaunce of Merlin (about 1450), Morte D'Arthur (1469), Caxton's Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1471), Golden Legend (1483) : and it is not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that it begins to reappear. In the Elizabethan period the construc- 42 tion is used about as commonly as in Present English." l The following investigation is intended to test the accuracy of this statement. A. Vebbs Of Expr...