“Genitive Variation in Middle English Paris and Vienne“

Bibliographical details

Uchida, Mitsumi and Yoko Iyeiri. 2024. “Genitive Variation in Middle English Paris and Vienne“. Kwansei Gakuin University School of Sociology Journal 142: 45-58. (Downloadable PDF)

This article discusses the “genitive alternation” in Leeu’s text of Paris and Vienne (1492). The text shows variation between the s-genitive and of-genitive, of which the latter is rather exceptionally common for its date. It is likely that the choice between the two corms in this text was influenced by French, from which English Paris was translated. The dominance of the of-genitive is so marked (nearly 95%) that other factors do not seem to be really operational, e.g. animacy of the possessor, the relative length between the possessor and possesum, but it is noteworthy that all s-genitive examples show animate possessors. See the following paragraph quoted from the conclusion:

“Due to the overall dominance of of genitives in the text, conditions related to the possessor animacy and the length of possessor and possessum are applicable only to a limited extent. All 30 examples of the s-genitive in Leeu’s Paris indeed involve animate possessors, but even with the of-genitive, animate possessors are common, accounting for nearly half of the relevant examples. As for the relative length of the possessor and possessum, the applicability of the ‘end-weight’ principle is observed even to a lesser extent. The 30 examples of the s-genitive include 26 cases where the possessor noun phrase is longer than the possessum (according to our definition of the length), violating the ‘end-weight’ principle. It does not seem to be necessarily functional in the of genitive, either, in our text.” (p. 55)

One noticeable feature of the genitive in English Paris and Vienne is its common use of “split-infinitive”, which goes back to the Old English period. For further discussion and examples, see the PDF linked above (under bibliographical details).

Related publications