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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).


Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>