His-genitive as a morphological variant of S-genitive: An analysis of early examples in the Otho manuscript of La3amon's Brut

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An examination of early examples of the Ms-genitive in the Otho manuscript of La3amon's Brut suggests its orthographical origin as a variant of the historically expected s -genitive, but at this stage they are already different morphologically, though they remain identical syntactically. Their orthographical and morphological independence as well as their lessened degree of attachment with their head noun appears to have advanced their clitic-like nature, and when the process is complete, the group genitive becomes available. Once the clitic status is attained, his, with its more syntactic freedom, may be said to have become more prone to reanalysis as a pronoun, and the resultant construction is further generalized to the feminine and the plural to develop her- and their-genitives. This reanalysis could have happened even before the cliticization of his, however, given its obvious formal similarity to the pronoun, and, in fact, they appear to have been associated with each other earlier on to lead to the morphological independence of his from the inflection. It may be just that the incorporation of the reanalysis into the system or sub-system of grammar has to wait until the cliticization of the genitive or possessive marker. Thus it appears that the necessary components are all present in Otho to be further exploited for the later development of his- and other related genitive constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalNeuphilologische Mitteilungen
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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