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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


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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Appendix A: Old English paradigms 139


139 Appendix A: Old English paradigms A.1 Nominal endings This is a simplified list of nominal endings. See Campbell (1959: 222-260) for details. A.1.1 Strong declensions Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Nominative zero, -e, -u -u, zero zero, -e, -u Genitive -es, -a -e, -a -es Dative -e, -a, -e, -a -e Accusative zero, -e, -u, -e, zero, -u zero, -e, -u Plural Nominative -as, -e, -a -a, -e -u, zero Genitive -a -a, -ena -a Dative -um -um -um Accusative -as, -e, -a -a, -e -u, zero A.1.2 The weak declension Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Nominative -a -e -e Genitive -an -an -e Dative -an -an -an Accusative -an -an -an Plural Nominative -an -an -an Genitive -ena -ena -ena Dative -um -um -um Accusative -an -an -an 140 A.1.3 Minor declensions The zero ending in the dative singular and the nominative and accusative plural primarily involves a mutated root vowel. Masculine Feminine Neuter Singular Nominative zero -u, zero zero Genitive -es, zero -e, zero -es Dative zero, -e -e, zero -e Accusative zero -u, zero zero Plural Nominative zero, -as, -e -e, zero, -a, -u -u Genitive -a -a -a Dative -um -um -um Accusative zero, -as, -e -e, zero, -a, -u -u A.2 The simple demonstrative Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural Nominative se s&o þæt þ" Genitive þæs þ6re þæs þ"ra, þ6ra Dative þ6m, þ"m þ6re þ6m, þ"m þ6m, þ"m Accusative þone þ" þæt þ" Instrumental þon, þ0 þon, þ0 See Campbell (1959: 290-291) for details. 141 A.3 The compound demonstrative...

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