Departmental Bulletin Paper The diachronic development of English nominals : why is the article system so difficult?


72pp.115 - 130 , 2016-03-30 , 法政大学文学部
This paper discusses the diachronic development of nominal structures of English. I argue that a functional D system was absent in earlier English like Old English and a D system emerged later in English as a syntactic device to compensate for the loss of morphological case. The syntactic DP is a new comer to the English language. The function of a D is identifying the referentiality of a nominal and changing it into an argument. However, this function is not always taken care of by a D. Without a D, morphological case can do the same task. In Old English, morphological case attached to nominals could change them into arguments. As a result of the demise of morphological case distinctions, this device became unavailable. Subsequently a functional D-system has developed to do the same job in English. The Present-day English DP is a syntactic necessity and appeared as such in the Middle English period. A D system belongs to functional categories whose function is grammatical rather than semantic. This causes the difficulty of language learning for Japanese learners of English. It is very difficult for Japanese learners to understand a D system. The semantic contribution of a D system is secondary and then, it is not easy for language learners, since language learners and children are more dependent on semantic cues. The difficulty of a D system is inherent in its nature.

Number of accesses :  

Other information