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<i>De</i>: A genitive marker in French?

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Abstract

This paper deals with the evolution of the genitive case from Latin to Old and Middle French, and from Middle French to Modern French. The loss of morphological case inflection in French raises the question whether the category of the genitive is still a relevant notion. The authors claim it is, by showing that the prepositional phrase <i>de</i> + NP, which gradually spread from Latin to Modern French, fundamentally marks the dependency of a nominal constituent with respect to another nominal expression, just like the adnominal genitive did in Latin. They show that the preposition <i>de</i> underwent a pervasive grammaticalization process from a full-fledged preposition introducing adjuncts expressing spatial origin to a structural marker of arguments of verbal and (especially) nominal heads.

References

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