Alternation vs. allomorphic variation in Old English word-formation: Evidence from the derivational paradigm of strong verbs

Title alternative


This article addresses the question of Old English alternations with a view to identifying instances of allomorphic variation attributable to the loss of motivation and the subsequent morphologiza-tion of alternations. The focus is on the strong verb and its derivatives, in such a way that the alternations in which the strong verb partakes can be predicted on the basis of phonological prin-ciples, whereas allomorphic variation with respect to the strong verb base is unpredictable. Out of 304 derivational paradigms based on strong verbs and comprising 4,853 derivatives, 478 in-stances have been found of phonologically motivated vocalic alternations. The conclusion is reached that the most frequent alternations are those that have /a/ as source and those with /y/ as target, because /a/ is the point of departure of i-mutation and /y/ its point of arrival. Sixteen in-stances of allomorphic variation have also been found, of which /e/ ~ /eo/, /e/ ~ /ea/ and /i/ ~ /e/ are relatively frequent.



This research has been funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation through the project FFI2012-29532.


allomorphic variation, alternations, derivatives, morphology, strong verb


Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 49.2 (2014), pp. 63-82



Title Alternative

Rights Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

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