'Someone' to Love: An Investigation into OFr Pronouns with Special Attention to Ma
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Pronouns in Old English (OE) display striking differences from full noun phrases (NPs), maintaining Subject-Order syntax and failing to invert in situations where we would expect inversion in a Germanic language. This paper takes advantage of that asymmetry between OE NPs and pronouns to investigate the relationship, whose origins remain undetermined, between OE and its nearest linguistic relative, Old Frisian (OFr). A newly available OFr text, Apographa, is studied using a combination of corpus linguistics and traditional methods to determine whether pronouns in OFr share the behaviour of their OE counterparts in certain contexts, including fronting (topicalization) of various constituents. An in-depth investigation into the indefinite OFr pronoun ma ‘one, someone’, which in OE shows its own asymmetries within the NP/pronoun division, offers further insight into the divisions between NPs and types of pronouns, the OFr contexts in which they are investigated, and to what extent OE and OFr share these features. The relationship between OE and OFr has primarily been explored from a phonological perspective to date, and a new, syntactic approach is especially timely in light of recent archaeological finds that raise questions about Frisian identity and make scholars reconsider the nature of the link between English and Frisian.