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The history of nominative -er in Danish and Swedish

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Abstract

A much cited example of exaptation is the development whereby the old case marker of the nominative in the masculine singular -er evolves into a derivative suffix changing adjectives into nouns in Swedish (Norde 2001, 2002, 2009; Heine 2003: 168; Narrog 2007). Recent studies based on Old and Middle Danish sources uncover how the developments of the old nominative took place (Jensen 2011); this paper presents an outline of these developments. The outline serves as the foundation for a discussion of whether the development of -er in Swedish and Danish should be taken as an example of exaptation, and if we really need the concept in historical linguistics at all, given that the developments depicted in this paper are easily and adequately covered by other well established concept of change, especially the notion of reanalysis.

References

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