Possible pathways from agreeing to non-agreeing genitive appositives as seen in laeamon's Brut

Seiji Shinkawa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Old English, genitive nouns in apposition are both marked for case. King Arthur's men, for example, would be Arures cyninges menn, Arures menn æs cyninges, among a few other possibilities. Non-agreeing genitive appositives such as Arur kinges men and Arures men (e) king began to appear in the Early Middle English period. The analysis in two versions of Laeamon's Brut suggests two possible pathways through which they were established. One is the development of the name and the title as a compound-like unit, which marks genitive only at the end of the second element as in Arur kinges men, and the other is ambiguous appositive or predicative expressions such as Arures men (e) king, interpretable as either 'King Arthur's men' or 'men of Arthur, (who is) (the) king', which seem to have led post-head constituents of split genitives to appear in the nominative or unmarked case, resulting in genitive marking only on the pre-head components. These new usages are thus originally and essentially independent of the developments of the case-marking system itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalTransactions of the Philological Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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