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ON DISFUNCTIONAL SYNTACTIC CHANGE IN EARLY MODERN ENGLISH: THE CASE OF THE 'GROUP GENITIVE' (OR WHY GENITIVES NO LONGER APPEAR WITH POSTNOMINAL RESTRICTIVE ADJUNCTS)

José Luis G. Escribano
Atlantis
Vol. 17, No. 1/2 (noviembre 1995), pp. 45-87
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41054774
Page Count: 43
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
ON DISFUNCTIONAL SYNTACTIC CHANGE IN EARLY MODERN ENGLISH: THE CASE OF THE 'GROUP GENITIVE' (OR WHY GENITIVES NO LONGER APPEAR WITH POSTNOMINAL RESTRICTIVE ADJUNCTS)
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Abstract

Starting from the failure of possessives and genitives to co-occur with restrictive relative clauses and other post-nominal restrictive adjuncts, the history of various English genitival constructions is first thoroughly examined in as theory-neutral terms as possible and subsequently reinterpreted in the light of current research in 'functional' categories within the Theory of Principles and Parameters. Assuming a (DP DP XP) analysis of restrictive adjuncts and a slightly modified version of Abney's DetP-Hypothesis, I argue that the current incompatibility of restrictive adjuncts and prenominai genitives is a consequence of the fact that, buried inside Spec of DP, the identificational features of the genitive fail to percolate up to DP and to c-command the XP adjunct, whereas the possibility of such constructions in Late ME and Early Modern English follows from the fact that possessives and genitives were word-level categories and actually alternated with determiners under D in that period. The roughly contemporary development of an XP-level genitive (the 'group genitive'), however, and the reinterpretati on of possessives as DP-level structures made the 'his-genitive' impossible, pushed genitives out of D into Spec of DP and hence eventually prevented their features from reaching DP, blocking all constructions which depend on identification or control by the higher DP node.

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