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Folia Linguistica

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Volume 39, Issue 2

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This is not the same: the ambiguity of a Gothic adjective

Artūras Ratkus
Published Online: 2018-10-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flih-2018-0017

Abstract

In line with the traditional pronouncement that the weak (definite) forms of adjectives in Germanic follow the definite determiner, the Gothic weak-only adjective sama ‘the same’ (no indefinite form *sams, with the strong inflection -s, occurs) is determined (sa sama ‘the same’) in the majority of its attestations. However, contrary to the traditional description, occasionally it also occurs on its own, without a determiner. An examination of the syntactic distribution of the adjective and a comparison of the Gothic translation of the Bible with the Greek and Latin texts uncover a double semantic nature of sama. Specifically, when determined, sama conveys a definite/particularising force of ‘the same’. In the absence of the determiner, however, it conveys the semantic value of ‘one; of one kind’. The results of this investigation contribute to our understanding of the conditions that govern the distribution of strong vs. weak adjective inflections in early Germanic. In particular, they confirm the contention that the occurrence of the weak form of the adjective is not simply a matter of whether or not a definite determiner precedes it. Instead, the definite value of the adjective inflection is realised cumulatively (periphrastically), via the co-occurrence of the definite determiner and the weak adjective inflection.

Keywords: Gothic; morphology; adjective inflection; strong adjective; weak adjective; n-stem; definiteness; indefinite; determiner; morphosyntactic feature; periphrasis

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About the article

Received: 2017-11-28

: 2018-02-10

Revised: 2018-03-18

Accepted: 2018-03-26

Published Online: 2018-10-27

Published in Print: 2018-10-25


Citation Information: Folia Linguistica, Volume 39, Issue 2, Pages 475–494, ISSN (Online) 1614-7308, ISSN (Print) 0165-4004, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flih-2018-0017.

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