Edited By Jacek Fisiak and Magdalena Bator
Marcin Krygier (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) - On the Scandinavian origin of the Old English preposition til ‘till’ 129
On the Scandinavian origin of the Old English preposition til ‘till’ Marcin Krygier, Adam Mickiewicz University, Pozna ABSTRACT The paper revisits the origin of the English preposition ‘till’, commonly claimed to have resulted from a merger of Old English til and Old Norse til. An analysis of the data from the DOE corpus shows that the role of the Old English preposition in the process is rather unlikely, and till should be viewed as a direct borrowing from Old Norse. KEYWORDS: loanword, grammatical borrowing, preposition, Old English, Old Norse 1. Introduction The process of borrowing of grammatical words is generally viewed both as exceptional and as indicative of intimate language contact. The history of the English language provides exactly the right context, namely the long-lasting contact between the speakers of Old English and Old Norse, which is said to have exerted profound influence on the structural make-up of English. It is therefore the more surprising that, with the exception of personal pronouns, these structural borrowings have not been subjected to more than a perfunctory scrutiny, especially as they might have wider theoretical implications. The aim of this paper is to review the accepted etymology of one of these non-lexical borrowings, the preposition till. This particular word is said to have had a mixed history, descending from homophonous Old English and Old Norse prepositions – the explanation which has remained unchallenged since the publication of the Oxford English Dictionary; therefore, data from the DOE corpus (Cameron et al. (ed.) 1981) will be...
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