Article published in:Unity and Diversity in West Germanic, III
Edited by Hans Frede Nielsen and Patrick V. Stiles
[NOWELE 67:1] 2014
► pp. 51–75
Patterns of reorganization of the early English nominal system
The case of old English consonantal stems
The present paper discusses the reorganization process of early English nominal inflection, investigating in detail the mechanism involved. The focus of the study is on the old English minor (unproductive) declensions which testify to a considerable departure from the inherited Proto-Germanic inflectional system, losing their identity as independent inflectional classes in the course of the Old English period. The investigation aims at identifying the patterns of the restructuring process, in particular its distribution with respect to the criteria of case and number. The data analysis shows that the patterns of restructuring were largely determined by the case/number hierarchy as predicted by the theories of markedness. It also reveals the importance of factors such as the morphological and semantic makeup of individual classes and the frequency of occurrence (operating on different levels) with its conserving effect. In a broader context, the study explores some general consequences of the process of the reshaping of the early English inflectional system, especially its theoretical implications for the traditional philological taxonomy of Old English nouns.
Published online: 24 February 2014
Cited by 1 other publications
Versloot, Arjen P. & Elżbieta Adamczyk
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