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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 B: historical and unhistorical attributive forms constructed with a particular noun 143


143 m. masculine n. neuter np. nominative plural ns. nominative singular O. Otho pp. post-prepositional plural ps. post-prepositional singular Appendix B: historical and unhistorical attributive forms constructed with a particular noun This is a complete list of unhistorical gender-distinctive forms of attributives discussed in this work arranged in alphabetical order by their head nouns. Other attributive forms are also included for comparison, where available. The letter ð follows t. Relevant simple and compound nouns are also listed. All occurrences are cited and referred to by line numbers. Those in bold are by Scribe A of the Caligula version. The following abbreviations are used: ap. accusative plural as. accusative singular C. Caligula dp. dative plural ds. dative singular f. feminine gp. genitive plural gs. genitive singular A abbot m. abbot C. ns. þe 6506, 6554, 6562, 6564, 6575, 6602; ds. þan 6576; as. þe 6570; ps. þæne 6502, þene 6596; O. ns. þe 6554, 6562, 6564, 6575, 6602, 14832; ds. þe 6576; as. þan 6570; ps. þan 6596, þe 6502 alder-man see man anl)cnesse f. image C. as. þat 583; O. as. þan 583 answ&re f. answer C. as. þas 1490, 14712, 15135, þis 2202 arche-bishop see bishop "ðeling m. nobleman O. as. þeos 6431 B bak-ward(e see ward(e b"le n. harm C. ns. þat 10314, þe 15589; as. þat 8852, þane 2155, þesne 8812; ps. þan 811; gp. -re 4829, 8013, 8643, 10516, 15139, 15627; O. as. þane 8812, 8852 b"rn n. child C. ns....

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