Chapter published in:Morphological Variation: Theoretical and empirical perspectives
Edited by Antje Dammel and Oliver Schallert
[Studies in Language Companion Series 207] 2019
► pp. 27–62
Possessive -s in German
Development, variation and theoretical status
In several Germanic languages, such as English and Swedish, the former genitive morpheme -s has developed into a possessive marker, which has been described as a special clitic by some scholars. Synchronic and diachronic corpus data as well as a comparison with English and Dutch show that German possessive -s is going through a similar, though less radical change as its Germanic counterparts, resulting in morphosyntactic variation. This high amount of synchronic and diachronic variation makes it hard to categorize -s in German. However, the marker can best be described as a bound element that gradually loses its paradigmaticity. This gradual rather than categorial change in progress on an affix-clitic-continuum challenges both synchronic as well as diachronic morpheme-based theoretical approaches.
Published online: 27 June 2019
Deutsches Textarchiv (DTA)
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