Germanic possessive -s

An empirical, historical and theoretical study

Research questions, aims and objectives

Research questions

Data from the development of the proto-Germanic genitive -s to its different forms in present-day varieties have been adduced in two current debates in linguistics:

  • historically on issues relating to the concept of degrammaticalisation; and
  • in relation to morpho-syntactic theory on the reassessment of categories like clitic.

In spite of the vast literature on these issues, no one has taken a family-wide overview. This project will do that.

Aims and objectives

  • Historical: to provide a comparative study of the historical development of the possessive -s in three Germanic languages: Dutch, English and Swedish;
  • Empirical: to describe in detail the structural and distributional properties of the possessive -s in the modern varieties of English and Swedish and to make the results available through a database;
  • Theoretical: to gain insight into the properties of morphological categories such as ‘affix’ and ‘clitic’, the relation between them and how they change over time.