The Old Nordic Middle Voice in the pre-literary period: Questions of grammaticalisation and cliticisation

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In this paper, data from sources predating the earliest preserved manuscripts, runic inscriptions as well as poetry, is used to shed light on the earliest history of the morphologically defined Nordic Middle Voice, ending in <i>-sk </i>in Old West Nordic and in <i>-s </i>in Old East Nordic. This category has not only the reflexive meaning inherited from the reflexive clitic <i>–sk</i>, but also i.a. reciprocal and anticausative meaning. The semantic development must be independent from the formal development including cliticisation, as shown by comparison with the German Middle Voice, which lacks cliticisation. The formal development includes generalisation of the clitic <i>-sk </i>from the 3rd person and infinitive as well as from the accusative to the dative (and genitive). The cliticisation is not restricted to arguments to the verbal hosts, but can involve elements very loosely connected to the verb. Morphological and syntactic arguments show that the clitic must have become an affix as early as the 9th and 10th centuries.


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