How To Do Things Without Junk
This paper examines the evolution of the accusative and dative forms of the Latin first- and second-person singular pronouns in the light of Lass’s claim that an opposition which has lost its original value and become vacuous ‘junk’ may assume a new linguistic function. In some Romance languages, the original opposition of case is lost, but the morphological opposition is refunctionalized to encode a distinction between a conjunctive and a disjunctive form. However, this phenomenon seems crucially not to involve ‘junk’, since it is always the original accusative which yields the conjunctive pronoun and the original dative which yields the disjunctive form. Instead, we are arguably dealing with ‘skeuomorphy’ – the state in which an opposition has been evacuated of its exponence, but retains some abstract identity which is not yet ‘junk’. If the opposition is refunctionalized, its refunctionalization will be guided by this residual dichotomy.