Why a Determiner? The Possessive + Determiner + Adjective Construction in Old English

Cynthia L. Allen

in Information Structure and Syntactic Change in the History of English

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860210
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949601 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the History of English

Why a Determiner? The Possessive + Determiner + Adjective Construction in Old English

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There is debate on the existence of a determiner (as opposed to specifically demonstrative) category in Old English. A major reason for this is the fact that determiners could co-occur with possessives in this early stage. This chapter reports some results from an investigation into the properties of one of the constructions where such co-occurrence is found and shows that a consideration of information structure is essential in any attempt to understand its use. It begins with a comparison of two possible combinations of possessives and determiners in Old English generally. In the first, the determiner precedes the possessive; and in the second the possessive precedes the determiner, and there is always an adjective present. The chapter focuses on a comparison of this second Poss(essive) + Det(erminer) + Adj(ective) sequence (Poss Det Adj) and the factors which favored its use instead of the Poss(essive) + Adj(ective) combination, in which no determiner accompanies the possessive (Poss Adj).

Keywords: determiners; Old English; possessives; information structure; adjective

Chapter.  13931 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics

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