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From:Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 23:11
On 16/04/08 07:50:57, David McCann wrote:
> > On Mon, 2008-04-14, Tristan McLeay wrote: > > > No, the Old English genitive was -es/-es/-e/-a (M/N/F/pl), > > same (wrt -s) as modern German (based on Wikipedia). But > > the Nominative/ Accusative plural ending was -as only in > > the masculine; in the neuter and feminine it was -u/- and > > -a/-e respectively. It is clear that in English all nouns > > basically became masculine. Someone with a better > > knowledge of the timing of everything and Middle English > > might also be able to provide some evidence that > > possessive -s had already generalised to all numbers and > > all genders before it had cliticised. > > > According to Fisiak's Short Grammer of Middle English, -es/-is was > dominant by 1400: dore > dores. A few unmarked forms remained (e.g. > fader), and in the South -en was sometimes found (e.g. gomen < OE > guma). > These changes are obviously long before cliticisation. > > I don't think it was a case of nouns becoming masculine, but of > becoming > neuter, with the rise of semantic gender assignment (which had > started > in Old English).
Well, the reason I said they became masculine is because the -s in the plural is only present in the masculine gender; as you've quoted me saying above, Nom./Acc. pl was -as in the masculine, -u/- in the neuter and -a/-e in the feminine. The process of using semantic gender assignment for pronouns was a separate process from the process of abandoning different declensions; in OE times people would use pronouns in the modern way, while retaining the distinction between genders in declension. -- Tristan.