Language Changes Walking Hand in Hand : The spread of the s-plural and case syncretism in Early Middle English(<Special Issue>Individual Languages and Language Universals)

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Author(s)

Abstract

In this paper, I address two morphological changes in Early Middle English that played a part in the major transition of the language from synthesis to analysis : the spread of the s-plural and case syncretism. I investigated a large number of scribal texts that are mostly dated between 1050 and 1300 and localised to different dialects, both from printed editions and from the LAEME text database. The investigation makes it clear that the two changes proceeded in a pattern proposed by Lexical Diffusion, i.e. a characteristic slow-quick-quick-slow S-curve. It is also shown that they proceeded roughly parallel in each of the dialects investigated. On the grounds that the two changes agree not only in their general growth pattern but also in their irregular behaviour particularly in the more southern/western dialects, I conclude that they are not independent but correlated processes that encouraged each other and together contributed to arguably the most catastrophic morphological change in the history of English.

Journal

  • Kanagawa University studies in language

    Kanagawa University studies in language 特集号, 95-124, 2008

    Kanagawa University

Codes

  • NII Article ID (NAID)
    110007001320
  • NII NACSIS-CAT ID (NCID)
    AN1008864X
  • Text Lang
    ENG
  • ISSN
    09153136
  • Data Source
    NII-ELS 
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