Analysis of the genitive case in Old English within a cognitive grammar framework, based on the data from Ælfic's Catholic Homilies First Series
MetadataShow full item record
The primary aim of the present study is to give a semantic/conceptual analysis to the genitive case in Old English (= OE) within a Cognitive Grammar (=CG) framework (specifically Langacker's version; Langacker 1987, 1991) and explain the diversity of its use (adnominal, adverbal, adjectival, prepositional, and adverbial), as constituting a coherent network, wherein all variants share a unified semantic structure. My analysis is partly based on Roman Jakobson's (1936/1971) study on the Russian case system, which is recast and updated within a CG framework. Pivotal to my analysis of the semantic structure of the genitive case is the notion of "deprofile", whereby an already profiled (i.e. most prominent) entity in a given predicate becomes unprofiled, to reduce the amount of attention drawn onto the designatum, making it conceptually less prominent. Specifically, the function of the genitive case in OE is to deprofile the profile of the nominal predicate to which the genitive inflection is attached. The crucial claim is that a genitive nominal is a nominal predicate, in that it still profiles a region in some domain, in accordance with the schematic characterisation of the semantic structure of a noun in CG. The nominal character of a genitive nominal means that it can occur in various syntactic contexts where any other nominal expression can occur, namely in a position for a verbal, adverbial, and prepositional complement, as well as in a modifier/complement position for a noun. This account ties in with the subsequent history of the genitive case after the end of the OE period, in which some of its uses became obsolete, especially the partitive function of adnominal genitive, and all functions of the adverbal, adjectival, prepositional genitives. The cumulative effect of this is that a genitive nominal ceased to be a nominal predicate, and its determinative character which had already existed in OE side by side with its nominal character, became grammaticalised during the ME period as a general function of a genitive nominal. Chapter l outlines the history of the genitive case from OE to early ME, to introduce the problems to be dealt with in this dissertation, particularly the diversity of the genitive functions. Reviews of some previous studies relevant to the problems are also provided. Chapter 2 and 3 introduce the framework of CG. Chapter 2 summarises some basic assumptions about grammar, and Chapter 3 focuses on how syntactic issues are dealt with in CG, based on the assumptions summarised in Chapter 2. Here I also introduce Langacker's (1991) and Taylor's (1996) account of a Present Day English possessive construction, using Langacker's reference point analysis, and examine its applicability to the OE genitive. As an alternative, the notion of deprofile will be introduced. Chapters 4 and 5 are the application to the actual examples of genitive nominals, taken from Ælfric's Catholic Homilies first series; Chapter 4 deals with adnominal genitive, and chapter 5 covers all the non-adnominal genitives. Finally, Chapter 6 discusses how the diversity of the genitive functions in OE and its subsequent history may be accounted for in the light of the findings in this study.