Recursivity and Inheritance in the Formation of Old English Nouns and Adjectives

  1. Vea Escarza, R. 1
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España


Studia Neophilologica

ISSN: 0039-3274

Year of publication: 2016

Volume: 88

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-23

Type: Article

DOI: 10.1080/00393274.2015.1049830 SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-84930366045 WoS: WOS:000374586000001 GOOGLE SCHOLAR


This article addresses the question of the associative character of the lexicon of Old English from two angles. From a morphological perspective, it is concerned with the derivation of previously derived lexical items, while on the semantic side it deals with meaning continuity and change throughout derivation. The corpus comprises around 400 nouns and adjectives that qualify as recursive derivatives, that is, derivatives with a derived base. Lexical recursivity is understood as the repetition of a process, in other words, prefixation as input to prefixation, and suffixation as input to suffixation. Affix distribution is analyzed exhaustively, as well as the positional restrictions on affix combination. The change of meaning caused by derivation is explained by means of an inventory of lexical functions based on paradigmatic morphology and structural-functional grammars. The analysis indicates that lexical recursivity in Old English is a suffixal rather than a prefixal phenomenon. The main conclusion is that the function of recursivity depends on the output category. Whereas in adjective formation recursivity conveys more expressivity, in noun formation the main function of recursivity is to create abstract nouns. © 2015 Society for Studia Neophilologica.