Disintegration of the nominal inflection in Anglian: The case of i-stems

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2008

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Adam Mickiewicz University

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An evident tendency which can be observed in the behaviour of the Old English nouns belonging originally to the i-stem type is that they reveal a marked fluctuation between the inherited and the innovative (productive) paradigm, manifested in their adopting the inflectional endings of both. The apparent hesitation between the two types of inflection can be seen, for instance, in forms of the nominative and accusative plural of masculine paradigm, where alongside the expected OE -e ending, forms in -as, extended from the productive a-stems paradigm, are attested (e.g. OE wine ~ winas ‘friends’). It is believed that through various phonological processes actively operating within the paradigm and leading to a generalisation of a single ending (-e), this declensional type very early lost its communicative function and was ready to appropriate endings from the stronger, more influential paradigms, i.e. a-stems and ō-stems. The present analysis is a qualitative and quantitative study of the i-declension in the Anglian dialects, known for displaying considerable confusion in the inflectional system. Aimed at presenting a systematic account of the steady disintegration of the nominal paradigm in this dialect, the investigation seeks to determine the exact pattern of dissemination of the productive inflectional endings in nouns belonging to the historical i-stem type.

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Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 44 (2008), pp. 101-120

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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego