This article presents independent morpho-syntactic evidence from Ancient Greek and Old English supporting the existence of two alternative Aspect functional heads (following Fukuda 2007 on Modern Japanese and Modern English). The focus of the study is on the similarities between Ancient Greek and Old (and Modern) English aspectual verbs and on the consequences of these similarities for the analysis of aspectuals. Ancient Greek and Old English aspectual verbs fall into two groups: (a) aspectual verbs that could select both infinitive/to-infinitive and participial/ bare infinitive complements (aspectual in H-Asp), and (b) aspectual verbs that selected only a participial/bare infinitive complement (aspectual in L-Asp). No aspectual verb takes only infinitive/to-infinitive. Furthermore, “long middles/passives” is an option only with aspectual verbs in L-Asp, while the regular embedded middle/passive is the only option with an aspectual verb in H-Asp. The similar properties of the Greek and English aspectual verbs, however, historically manifest diferent developments: English not only retained Old English possibilities (to- vs. bare infinitives), but later extended them from Middle English into the 18th century, while in Greek the development of the infinitive and the participle afected the options of verbal complements of aspectual verbs.
We examine spontaneous production data from the dialect of Modern West Thracian Greek (mwtg) (the local dialect of Evros) with regard to a hypothesis of syntactic borrowing of verbal transitivity. We argue that mwtg allows omission of the direct object with specific reference, in contrast to Standard Modern Greek (smg) and other Modern Greek (mg) dialects (spoken in Greece), but similar to Turkish. Object omission in mwtg is possible only in contexts where smg and other mg dialects show obligatory use of the 3rd-person clitic. We argue that syntactic borrowing in the case of language contact follows the transfer with second language learners: the relevant elements that host uninterpretable features are used optionally. Moreover, the definite article, in contrast to the indefinite article, is also affected by language contact. The 3rd-person clitic and the definite article are affected by contact as uninterpretable clusters of features. We claim that interpretability plays a significant role in transitivity in cases of language contact.