This paper uses survey results and interactive mapping tools to analyze correlations across different versions of the non-standard verbal use of the word rather, in particular with participial morphology, as in rathered. Across numerous possible instantiations of the construction, there appear to be in fact a quite limited number of grammars, which are generated by an implicational hierarchy of functional heads, along with the availability of a silent verb HAVE. The overall picture supports several broader conclusions. First, silent verbs can be licensed by head-moving to a modal head in the extended projection. This movement is freely available, but silence demands recoverability, which limits its application only to certain verbs, and certain uses/meanings of those verbs. Second, bare-infinitive–selecting verbs are nearly “closed class” because they have special syntactic properties that go beyond semantic or even syntactic selection: they must license the temporal verbal features of the embedded verb, or else provide a structural context for such licensing. Third, in addition to previously known configurations for building parasitic participle constructions, movement of a lower verb to a higher verb can extend the phase of the lower verb and lead to its silence. Fourth, the distribution of rather suggests that volitional meaning is not a primitive, but is constructed from smaller primitives. Finally, microvariation reveals a tight connection among logically distinct functional heads, suggesting that they are not acquired independently of each other, but interact in significant ways.
Wood, Jim. 2022. Microvariation in verbal rather. Yale Working Papers in Grammatical Diversity 4 (1), 1–32.