The Development of the Mandative Subjunctive in the Early Modern English Period


Eva-Liisa Fillbrandt


RWTH Aachen University



Abstract. This paper focuses on the use of the mandative subjunctive and of its alternative variants, the modal constructions and the indicative, in the Early Modern English period, i.e. from 1500 to about 1700. The investigation is carried out for two variants of the English language – the southern variant Early Modern English and the northern variant Older Scots. The analysis is based on the diachronic part of the Helsinki Corpus of English Texts and on the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots. This study shows that while the use of the mandative subjunctive decreases, the use of the indicatives increases in both variants of the English language, except between the last subperiods of Older Scots the subjunctive and indicative frequencies stay almost constant. The frequency of the modal constructions remains practically unchanged throughout the whole period, only in the first half of Older Scots, it shows a considerable increase. The subjunctive frequencies are higher in Older Scots than in Early Modern English throughout all subperiods. With the frequencies of the indicatives it is the other way round. The modal constructions have nearly identical distributions in the subperiods of Early Modern English and Older Scots.


Keywords: mandative subjunctive, its alternative variants, mandative items, Early Modern English, Older Scots, corpus linguistics