The purpose of this work is to investigate the evolution of genitive noun phrases (i.e. Genitive+Noun and Noun+Genitive structures, split genitives, his genitives and combined genitives) and their “analytic” equivalents (i.e. N+[of+N] structures) in some prose texts belonging to Old and Middle English. In the first part of the study, different aspects of the various synthetic structures are examined. Firstly the investigation of the alternation between G+N and N+G structures in Old English shows that the (in)animacy of the genitive referent is a more important factor than the relative morpho-syntactic weight in determining the phrasal word-order. Secondly, the analysis of the relative frequency of the various synthetic structures demonstrates that N+G structures almost disappear during the Middle English period, in correlation with the change of function of the prepositional phrase of+N. On the contrary, G+N structures tend to remain stable up to the XIV century. Two hypotheses are proposed with respect to the preservation of G+N structures throughout the Middle English period: either they became fixed formulas or they were the result of a process of reanalysis of the –es marker as the possessive his in the so-called his genitive structures. In particular it is claimed that a four-stage grammaticalization path of the possessive his is what caused the bleaching between his genitive structures and NPs with –es genitives. The second part of the study investigates the function and distribution of the prepositional phrase of+N: more specifically, it is claimed that the reanalysis of the predicative structure [[verb of movement] + [of+N]], used in ablative contexts, led to the change of function of the prepositional phrase from adverbal modifier to adnominal modifier. Finally, a large part of the study is reserved to the investigation of the different semantic relations conveyed by both the genitive NPs and the N+[of+N] structures: in particular, it is showed that in Old English any synthetic structure could be associated to any semantic relation. On the contrary, in Middle English the reanalyzed N+[of+N] structure appears to take over the genitive NPs in any semantic relation, except the alienable/inalienable possessive relations where the G+N structure is still the most likely choice.

(2019). L'evoluzione del genitivo e di espressioni concorrenti da antico a medio inglese [doctoral thesis - tesi di dottorato]. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/128665

L'evoluzione del genitivo e di espressioni concorrenti da antico a medio inglese

Giofré, Valeria
2019-02-14

Abstract

The purpose of this work is to investigate the evolution of genitive noun phrases (i.e. Genitive+Noun and Noun+Genitive structures, split genitives, his genitives and combined genitives) and their “analytic” equivalents (i.e. N+[of+N] structures) in some prose texts belonging to Old and Middle English. In the first part of the study, different aspects of the various synthetic structures are examined. Firstly the investigation of the alternation between G+N and N+G structures in Old English shows that the (in)animacy of the genitive referent is a more important factor than the relative morpho-syntactic weight in determining the phrasal word-order. Secondly, the analysis of the relative frequency of the various synthetic structures demonstrates that N+G structures almost disappear during the Middle English period, in correlation with the change of function of the prepositional phrase of+N. On the contrary, G+N structures tend to remain stable up to the XIV century. Two hypotheses are proposed with respect to the preservation of G+N structures throughout the Middle English period: either they became fixed formulas or they were the result of a process of reanalysis of the –es marker as the possessive his in the so-called his genitive structures. In particular it is claimed that a four-stage grammaticalization path of the possessive his is what caused the bleaching between his genitive structures and NPs with –es genitives. The second part of the study investigates the function and distribution of the prepositional phrase of+N: more specifically, it is claimed that the reanalysis of the predicative structure [[verb of movement] + [of+N]], used in ablative contexts, led to the change of function of the prepositional phrase from adverbal modifier to adnominal modifier. Finally, a large part of the study is reserved to the investigation of the different semantic relations conveyed by both the genitive NPs and the N+[of+N] structures: in particular, it is showed that in Old English any synthetic structure could be associated to any semantic relation. On the contrary, in Middle English the reanalyzed N+[of+N] structure appears to take over the genitive NPs in any semantic relation, except the alienable/inalienable possessive relations where the G+N structure is still the most likely choice.
31
2017/2018
SCIENZE LINGUISTICHE
CUZZOLIN, Pierluigi
CAMMAROTA, Maria Grazia
Roma, Elisa; Manzelli, Gianguido
Giofré, Valeria
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