Article in:Early history of the North Sea Germanic languages
Edited by Stephen Laker and Hans Frede Nielsen
[NOWELE 74:1] 2021
► pp. 3–25
A multifactorial account of analogical developments in Old English nominal paradigms
The present paper focuses on the interaction of factors that conditioned analogical developments in Old English nominal paradigms. They include especially the absolute and relative frequency of occurrence, the salience of inflectional exponents, the formal inflectional overlap across paradigms, functional factors, semantics and syllable structure (stem weight). They could work in two opposite directions, namely towards retaining the etymological inflections or they could facilitate the adoption of analogical endings. The significance of individual factors for the reorganisation of nominal paradigms is investigated by employing a statistical analysis (multivariate logistic regression) which allows us to rank them. The analysis demonstrates that the attested inflectional patterns can largely be explained by an interaction of three factors, namely salience and frequency, which can be linked to the cognitive aspects of storage and retrieval of linguistic information, and the formal inflectional overlap of forms across paradigms, which is a manifestation of analogical pressure in the paradigms.
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