Article published in:English Historical Linguistics 2006: Selected papers from the fourteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 14), Bergamo, 21–25 August 2006. Volume II: Lexical and Semantic Change
Edited by Richard Dury, Maurizio Gotti and Marina Dossena
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 296] 2008
► pp. 217–239
Was Old Frech -able borrowable? A diachronic study of word-formation processes due to language contact
An in-depth corpus study will show that the ability of -able formations to highlight other arguments of the verbal base is present from the start in Old French texts, similarly to findings for Modern French (2003). Old French formations like (par)durable, decevable or changable show that unergatives and unaccusatives can just as well serve as input to -able formations, and that the traditional distinction between transitive and intransitive types cannot account for the variety of derivatives we are already faced with in the Old French period. We also argue against the assumptions that in Old French the active meaning was clearly dominant and that in ME the free morpheme able explains the rise of the suffix -able. The semantic analysis has shown that an adequate word-formation rule should account for the event structure of the base verb rather than rely on the syntactic or semantic frame alone.
Published online: 09 July 2008
Cited by 1 other publications
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