The position of the adjective in Old English prose. A corpus study.
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The aim of the present dissertation is to examine the phenomenon of adjectival premodification and postmodification in Old English prose with the use of corpus methodology. The working assumption of the dissertation is that said methodology will permit to significantly fine-grain the hypotheses which other authors had arrived at on the basis of fragmentary data. The dissertation examines the factors influencing the choice between adjectival preposition and postposition. Four basic types of adjectival constructions present in Old English prose were examined: simple adjectival preposition, simple adjectival postposition, preposition of the and-type, and postposition of the and-type. The study is based on the syntactically annotated YCOE corpus. The following conclusions have been reached: a) simple postposition, compared to simple preposition, is marginal: while adjectives in simple postposition display some common features, these features do not distinguish them from preposed adjectives; b) the functions of strong and weak adjectives overlap: the declension type is a morpho-syntactic phenomenon only; c) adjectives in simple postposition and postposed adjectives of the and-type owe their position to different factors: these constructions should not be treated on a par; d) Latin plays no important role as regards the position of Old English adjectives; e) no noteworthy differences on the individual text level were observed, though biblical translations and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History most prominently display the most natural tendencies of Old English with respect to the structures investigated. In the context of previous studies on the subject, the results confirm the usefulness of corpus methodology in researching syntax.