Was Old Frech <i>-able</i> borrowable? A diachronic study of word-formation processes due to language contact

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An in-depth corpus study will show that the ability of <i>-able </i>formations to highlight other arguments of the verbal base is present from the start in Old French texts, similarly to findings for Modern French (2003). Old French formations like <i>(par)durable</i>, <i>decevable </i>or <i>changable </i>show that unergatives and unaccusatives can just as well serve as input to <i>-able </i>formations, and that the traditional distinction between transitive and intransitive types cannot account for the variety of derivatives we are already faced with in the Old French period. We also argue against the assumptions that in Old French the active meaning was clearly dominant and that in ME the free morpheme <i>able </i>explains the rise of the suffix <i>-able</i>. The semantic analysis has shown that an adequate word-formation rule should account for the event structure of the base verb rather than rely on the syntactic or semantic frame alone.


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