|From:||David McCann <david@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 21:51|
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).