Inflectional Variation in the Old English Participle. A Corpus-based Analysis

Ana Elvira Ojanguren López


This article deals with the coexistence of verbal and adjectival inflection in the Old English past participle. Its aim is to assess the degree of variation in the inflection of the participle so as to determine whether or not the change starts in the Old English period. The analysis is based on two corpora, the “York Corpus of Old English” and the “Dictionary of Old English Corpus”. With these corpora the following variants of the inflection of the participle are analysed: genre (prose and verse), tense (present and past), morphological class (weak vs. strong) and case (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative and instrumental). The main conclusion of the article is that the quantitative evidence from the corpora indicates that the degree of variation presented by the participle in Old English shows that diachronic change is underway. Overall, the past participle and poetic texts clearly reflect the loss of inflection, while the adjectival inflection of the participle co-occurs with its adjectival function.


Corpus analysis; Old English; inflection; participle

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