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Towards personal subjects in English

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Abstract

The paper examines the well-known change from impersonal to personal subject from the point of view of a slight person split in Old and Early Middle English: third person pronouns remain impersonal longer than first or second person. This split is shown to be linked to the different rates of disappearance of morphological Case in the first, second, and third person paradigm by arguing that the change from impersonal to personal involves the loss of inherent/lexical/semantic Case and the introduction of structural Case. Both changes are indicative of a larger typological change from synthetic to analytic, which can be seen as a change from Interpretable to Uninterpretable features.

References

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