Article

Analyticity and syntheticity in the history of English

Benedikt Szmrecsanyi

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of English

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199922765
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199922765.013.0056

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Analyticity and syntheticity in the history of English

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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The article adopts terminology, concepts, and ideas developed in quantitative morphological typology (cf. Greenberg 1960) to investigate the coding of grammatical information in English diachrony. Specifically, we utilize a quantitative, language-internal measure of overt grammatical analyticity, defined as the text frequency of free grammatical markers, and a measure of overt grammatical syntheticity, defined as the text frequency of bound grammatical markers. We subsequently apply these measures to the Penn Parsed Corpora of Historical English series, which covers the period between circa 1100 and 1900, and demonstrate that this time slice does not exhibit a steady drift from synthetic to analytic.

Keywords: analytic; synthetic; typology; drift; quantitative; morphology; typology; English; linguistics

Article.  3971 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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