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Dissertation Information

Title: The History of the Genitive in Swedish. A Case Study in Degrammaticalization Add Dissertation
Author: Muriel Norde Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Amsterdam, Scandinavian Languages and Literature
Completed in: 2000
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Language Family(ies): Germanic
Director(s): P. Törnqvist
Harry Perridon
L. Peterson

Abstract: Degrammaticalization, the shift from a more grammatical to a less grammatical status, appears to be extremely rare. Yet a clear example of degrammaticalization is found in several contemporary Germanic languag-es, viz the s-genitive. The s-genitive (as in English the queen of England's power), is most suitably analysed as a phrase-final clitic, but unlike other clitics it does not derive from a lexical item, but from an inflectional ending.

This study presents a survey of the rise of the s-genitive in one language, namely Swedish. Covering a period of more than 700 years (from the beginning of the Runic Swedish period until the influential 1541 bible translation), it is concerned with both phonological, morphological and syntactic aspects of the Swedish genitive. From the historical data presented in this book, it becomes evident that -s, initially only the genitive singular of masculine and neuter (i/j)a-stems, was first re-analysed as a phrase marker before it spread to other declensions.

The book also provides a discussion of both internal and external factors that are usually held responsible for the loss of inflectional morphology in the continental Scandinavian languages, as well as a contrastive survey of possessive constructions in Germanic.