Shin, Sungkyun. 2017. A Diachronic Study of the English Perfect Passive. English Language and Linguistics 23.1, 1-17. The English perfect passive was not used in Old English, in which the preterit passive was used instead of the present perfect passive. In early Middle English, the perfect passive came to be used and since then, its use has been increasing. Regarding the passive progressive, Visser (1963-73: §2158) prefers to see the main reason for the appearance of the passive progressive to be the “urge, permanently inherent in English as an analytic language, to signal separately every separate shade of meaning, function or connotation.” In other words, an analytic language such as English tries to express every aspect of verb phrases through periphrastic verb phrases, such as auxiliaries, which were expressed by full inflections in Proto-Indo-European. Likewise, if we observe a change in English verbal phrases, we find a direction of change concerning the English perfect passive. As English changed from Old English through Middle English and early Modern English to Present-day English, the pressure to fill the accidental gap－in this case, the perfect passive－was successfully resolved, resulting in the appearance of the perfect passive in the English language. Therefore, we assume two principles: one is the principle of filling the accidental gap: English changes to fill the accidental gap left by Proto-Indo-European as a result of the loss of inflections; and the other the principle of maximizing sequences of auxiliaries: concerning the verbal phrase, English changes to satisfy the maximal sequences of auxiliaries, which correspond to those of Proto-Indo-European. The two principles function together to do the same work.
Key words: diachronic, English perfect passive, filling the accidental gap, maximizing sequence of auxiliaries