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Title: On the morphophonology of Old English weak verbs : a synchronic and diachronic approach
Author: Sigsworth, C.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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Within the development of English 'weak' verbs, Old English represents a transitional period where the relatively transparent proto-Germanic system of inflectional classes has been complicated (despite remaining (largely) recognisable) by phonological change but its large-scale Middle English restructuring and simplification, although hinted at by numerous non- 'standard' forms, is, apparently, not yet fully underway. The intermediate nature of this system means that, depending on one's preferred point of view and the data taken in to consideration, the morphological structure of the Old English weak verbs can be seen to represent the continuation of the Germanic situation (the view implied by most traditional grammars) or the beginning of the Middle English demise of this system. This dissertation contains an attempt to establish what type of synchronic analysis should be imposed upon the weak verbs in Old English and how their diachronic development should be characterised. Variation from the expected Old English forms can in many cases be interpreted as synchronic evidence for the fact that morphological change was in progress and so these two issues will be considered mutually dependent: the most adequate answer to one should provide insight into the other and vice versa. The historical development of these verbs from their proto-Germanic source to their new Middle English system will thus first be discussed before several approaches to the synchronic analysis of these verbs are evaluated in the light of general theoretical concerns and the Old English data. I will suggest that two dialectally defined systems of weak verbs can be identified in the Old English period; the first of which (in Anglian texts) can be explained largely in terms of the phonological development of these verbs from Germanic to Middle English. In West-Saxon texts, restructuring of the weak verbs appear to be (at least partly) independent of phonological developments and, therefore, must be explained (both synchronically and diachronically) in terms of their morphological structure.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available