Old English Ge- and the Descriptive Power of Nerthus

Francisco Javier Martín Arista


The main purpose of this article is to carry out an extensive examination of the evidence available of the Old English affix ge- in general, and, in particular, of the ge-alternation, which holds between predicates that bear a form-and-function contrast such as hlid ‘lid’~gehlid ‘roof’. The ge-alternation is examined as a pure and a mixed alternation, co-occurring with gradation, zero derivation and affixation. The conclusion is reached that ge- is the most frequent and the most widely distributed affix in Old English. Moreover, it partakes in inter-categorial and recursive derivation. As a secondary goal, this article aims at assessing the descriptive adequacy of the database of Old English derivational morphology Nerthus both on qualitative and quantitative grounds. In this respect, the conclusion is reached that the amount of evidence of ge- that can be drawn from Nerthus allows for an extensive analysis of the affix. On the other hand, Nerthus, in its present state, requires more accurate and formalised meaning definitions.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.129

Copyright (c) 2008 Francisco Javier Martín Arista

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