The derivational map of Old English and the limits of gradual derivation


  • Miguel Lacalle Palacios Universidad de La Rioja



Derivational map, Old English, Gradual derivation, Graph theory


This journal article deals with Old English word-formation as represented by a derivational map. In a derivational map, lexical derivation applies gradually, so that a process only occurs at a time and affixes are attached one by one. This theoretical and methodological stance holds good for most derivations but there is also evidence of non-gradual formations with the prefixes ǣ-, ge-, or-, twi-, ðri-, and un-. After discussing the relevant derivatives with each of the aforementioned affixes, the conclusions are reached that non-gradual formations arise in frequent word-formation patterns; they constitute, with few exceptions, an adjectival phenomenon; and they are mainly associated with secondary derivational functions. Regarding the derivational map of Old English, the conclusion is drawn that non-gradual formations have to be represented by means of reconstructed forms so that each node represents one lexeme and each edge marks one morphological process.


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