Syntactic variation and auxiliary contraction: The surprising case of scots

Gary Thoms, David Adger, Caroline Heycock, Jennifer Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article is concerned with the distribution of contracted auxiliaries in English, in particular the restriction against their occurrence in the immediate context of a gap created by movement or ellipsis. We document apparent exceptions to this restriction in varieties of Scots, all occurring in what we call the locative discovery expression. We analyze these as mirative constructions, and using new data from the Scots Syntax Atlas, we describe patterns of variation in the accep-tance of auxiliary contractions in locative discovery expressions that provide clues as to the role of syntax in conditioning auxiliary contraction. Adapting the proposal in Wilder 1997, where contracted auxiliaries are prosodically incorporated into the following predicate, we provide an account in which the differences across dialects with respect to contraction are explained in terms of the availability of different abstract structures.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)421-455
    Number of pages35
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2019


    • Microcomparative syntax
    • Scots
    • auxiliary contraction

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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