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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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175 References Algeo, John / Pyles, Thomas 2009. The Origins and Development of the English Language. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth. Allen, Cynthia L. 1995. Case Marking and Reanalysis: Grammati- cal Relations from Old to Early Modern English. Oxford: Ox- ford University Press. Allen, Rosamund 1994. The Implied Audience of La(amon’s Brut. In Le Saux, Françoise H. M. (ed.) The Text and Tradition of La(a- mon’s Brut. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 121-139. Allen, Rosamund 2002. ‘Nv seið mid loft-songe’: A Re-appraisal of Lawman’s Verse Form. In Allen, Rosamund / Perry, Lucy / Roberts, Jane (eds) La(amon: Contexts, Language, and Inter- pretation. London: King’s College London, Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, 251-282. Aron, Albert W. 1930. The Gender of English Loan-Words in Col- loquial American German. Language Monograph 7, 11-28. Barber, Charles / Beal, Joan C. / Shaw, Philip A. 2009. The English Language: A Historical Introduction. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press. Baron, Naomi S. 1971. A Reanalysis of English Grammatical Gen- der. Lingua 27, 113-140. Barron, W. R. J. 2002. The Idiom and the Audience of La(amon’s Brut. In Allen, Rosamund / Perry, Lucy / Roberts, Jane (eds) La(a- mon: Contexts, Language, and Interpretation. London: King’s College London, Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Stud- ies, 157-184. Barron, W. R. J. / Le Saux, Françoise 1989. Two Aspects of La(amon’s Narrative Art. Arthurian Literature 9, 25-56. Barron, W. R. J. / Weinberg, S. C. (eds) 1995. Brut, or Hystoria...

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