1887
Volume 71, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0108-8416
  • E-ISSN: 2212-9715
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Abstract

In addition to the Germanic nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive cases still present in modern German and Icelandic, Old English inherited a fifth case known as the instrumental. This case was marginal and not consistently distinguishable from the dative, with which it had merged by the beginning of the Middle English period. This article establishes the patterns of use of the instrumental and the mechanism of its loss, through analysis of syntactically annotated corpora of Old English texts. It is found that the case survived primarily through probabilistic selection in a set of highly restricted contexts which developed independently of each other, in some cases merging with the dative and in others solidifying into morphologically indecomposable constructions.

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2018-04-05
2019-09-19
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