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Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume II$
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D. Gary Miller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583430.001.0001

Morphological Change

Chapter:
(p.102) 4 Morphological Change
Source:
Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume II
Author(s):

D. Gary Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583430.003.0005

The origin and diffusion of two English suffixes are treated. The first is 3sg. ‐s, which is not of Scandinavian origin but resulted from generalization of ‐s from is to has to other irregular monosyllabic verbs, to which ‐s was restricted in Early Modern English, and finally to regular verbs. The second study is deadjectival ‐en, which expanded under Norse contact in northeast England. Novel English verbs were created by semantic analogy to the Nordic models, which imposed a set of constraints: monosyllabic base, trochaic foot structure, and root‐final obstruent. A brief comparison with the spread of other affixes reveals that derivational and inflectional formatives spread by lexical diffusion. General utility and extralinguistic factors determine the rapidity of the spread and the degree of productivity.

Keywords:   English suffixes, semantic analogy, root‐final obstruent, lexical diffusion

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