The Position of Negative Adjectives in Aelfric’s Catholic Homilies I
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In Old English, negative adjectives, i.e. incorporating the negative prefix -un, are said to generally come in postposition to nouns (e.g. Fischer, 2001; Sampson, 2010). This paper investigates to what extent this general rule is followed in Aelfric’s Catholic Homilies, the texts of this author being a typical choice for the study of Old English syntax (cf. Davis 2006; Reszkiewcz, 1966; Kohonen, 1978). The data have been obtained from the York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose (YCOE). The following research questions have been formulated: Do strong negative adjectives outnumber nonnegated adjectives in postposition? Do strong negative adjectives have a tendency to appear in postposition? Do strong negated adjectives occur in preposition? The results indicated that for the sample analyzed, strong adjectives in postposition are not predominantly negated. Additionally, the postposition of most of those which are may potentially be explained by other factors, such as modification by a prepositional phrase, co-occurrence with a weak preposed adjective (both mentioned by Fischer), or indirect Latin influence in a formulaic phrase. Also, the data does not appear to support the observation that negated adjectives tend to appear in post- rather than preposition.