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Unhistorical Gender Assignment in Layamon’s «Brut»

A Case Study of a Late Stage in the Development of Grammatical Gender toward its Ultimate Loss

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Seiji Shinkawa

This book explains how and why grammatical gender disappeared from English through a detailed analysis of unhistorical gender assignment within the noun phrase in Layamon’s Brut, one of the most important Early Middle English texts. Such deviations do occur capriciously but not randomly, suggesting a development of innovative functions of the attributive forms concerned.
These innovations are mainly of two types: gender-insensitive uses as a case marker and a shift from a bipartite to tripartite system of defining words, the, that, and this. The author discusses these innovations, focusing on their implications for the subsequent development and eventual loss of grammatical gender.

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Table of Contents

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1. Introduction ............................................................................... 11 1.1 A gap in linguistic gender scholarship ............................... 11 1.2 Gender marking in Old English .........................................12 1.2.1 Sex and gender .........................................................12 1.2.2 Nominal forms ..........................................................13 1.2.3 Agreement ................................................................13 1.2.3.1 Agreement between modifiers and their head nouns ....................................14 1.2.3.2 Agreement between anaphoric pronouns and their antecedent nouns ..........................14 1.3 The loss of grammatical gender .........................................15 1.3.1 Traditional views and their defects ..........................15 1.3.2 The explanation of the first defect ...........................16 1.3.3 The explanation of the second defect: a need for an analysis of unhistorical gender assignment within the noun phrase .............................................17 1.4 A short review of research on unhistorical gender assignment within the noun phrase ........................18 1.5 Texts ....................................................................................20 1.6 Aims and organization........................................................22 2. Historical and unhistorical gender forms of demonstratives and adjectives ..............................................25 2.1 Introduction ........................................................................25 2.2 The simple demonstrative (Old English se/s&o/þæt) ..........26 2.2.1 The distribution of forms .........................................26 2.2.2 Nominative singular masculine (Old English se) ........................................................29 2.2.3 Nominative and accusative singular feminine (Old English s&o/þ") .................................................35 2.2.4 Nominative and accusative singular neuter (Old English þæt) .....................................................38 82.2.5 Genitive singular masculine and neuter (Old English þæs) ...................................................43 2.2.6 Genitive and dative singular feminine (Old English þ5re) ..................................................49 2.2.7 Dative singular masculine and neuter (Old English þ5m, þ"m) .........................................51 2.2.8 Accusative singular masculine (Old English þone) ..................................................54 2.2.9 Post-prepositional singular forms ...........................57 2.2.9.1 Masculine ...................................................57 2.2.9.2 Feminine .....................................................61 2.2.9.3 Neuter .........................................................65 2.2.10 Summary .................................................................69 2.3 The compound demonstrative (Old English þes/þ&os/þis) .................................................70 2.3.1 The distribution of forms ........................................70 2.3.2 Nominative singular masculine (Old...

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