A Case Study of a Late Stage in the Development of Grammatical Gender toward its Ultimate Loss
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.
5. Conclusion: implications for the grammatical category of gender 135
135 5. Conclusion: implications for the grammatical category of gender In this study, a late stage of the development of grammatical gender as it moves toward its ultimate loss has been examined through an analysis of unhistorical gender assignment within the noun phrase in La(amon’s Brut, an Early Middle English metrical chronicle, in an attempt to explain how and why grammatical gender disappeared from English. The focus has been on the motivation behind such devia- tions and their implications for the system of grammatical gender. What follows is a summary of my observations and conclusions. A detailed examination of various gender-distinctive forms of demonstratives and adjectives in the two extant versions of La(amon’s Brut shows that traditional gender agreement is generally well pre- served even at such a late period. There are, however, occasional deviations. Apart from some isolated instances that do not appear to constitute a defined tendency, mostly those resulting from gender change or confusion, some are found indeclinably in all case con- texts without any regard to gender, and others occur in specific case contexts, again irrespective of gender considerations. This latter type is expounded on first. Presented in a simplified way, ungrammatical gender assign- ment found in specific case contexts falls into the following four categories: -es in genitive contexts, -Vn in dative and post-preposi- tional contexts, -ne in accusative contexts, and -re in dative and post- prepositional contexts. An explanation of the first three is not difficult if the fact is duly recognized...
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