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Grammatical ChangeOrigins, Nature, Outcomes$
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Dianne Jonas, John Whitman, and Andrew Garrett

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199582624

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582624.001.0001

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Triggering syntactic change: Inertia and local causes in the history of English genitives

Triggering syntactic change: Inertia and local causes in the history of English genitives

Chapter:
(p.198) 10 Triggering syntactic change: Inertia and local causes in the history of English genitives
Source:
Grammatical Change
Author(s):

Paola Crisma

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199582624.003.0010

This chapter brings order to the bewildering complexity of genitive placement in determiner phrase (DP) in Old English (OE). In OE DPs containing a determiner, a genitive, and the head noun, all orders are possible except those with the determiner after the noun. The four basic patterns are characterized as one structurally comparable to the modern s-genitive, one involving an incorporated genitive (as in modern N-N compounds), a postnominal genitive, and a pattern fronting the genitive from postnominal position. The first change in the system is loss of the postnominal genitive. Three subsequent developments are affected by this change: the reanalysis of genitive -s in pre-head position as a phrasal clitic, the development of by-marking for posthead external arguments, and the development of of-marking. The chapter shows that the notion of a prior change ‘affecting’ a subsequent one is complex: In the case of the reanalysis of genitive -s, for example, the earlier change does not force the subsequent one, but rather removes a cue that would have otherwise precluded the later change.

Keywords:   genitive placement, Old English, determiner phrase, s-genitive, postnominal genitive

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