Chapter published in:Developments in English Historical Morpho-Syntax
Edited by Claudia Claridge and Birte Bös
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 346] 2019
► pp. 9–33
The dynamics of changes in the early English inflection
Evidence from the Old English nominal system
This study examines the mechanisms of the reorganisation of the Old English nominal morphology, which embraced a range of phonological and analogical developments conditioned by a variety of factors deriving from different domains. The immediate consequences of these changes are most prominent in the minor (unproductive) declensional classes, whose inflection tended to be remodelled on the patterns of the major (productive) paradigms. The focus of the study is primarily on three factors which had a major impact on the restructuring patterns of the Old English nominal morphology: frequency of occurrence, morpho-phonological salience of inflectional exponents and the formal inflectional overlap across paradigms. Interacting mostly in a synergetic way, they largely determined the shape of the nominal system as it is known now in modern English. The analysed material demonstrates as well that the dynamics of the changes in the nominal system worked towards retaining or enhancing the functionality of the system.
Keywords: Old English, nominal morphology, frequency of occurrence, morpho-phonological salience
Published online: 27 May 2019
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