Alternation vs. variation in Old English


  • Ana Elvira Ojanguren López Universidad de La Rioja



Old English, alternation, dialectal variation, diachronic variation


This paper addresses the phenomena of variation and alternation as reflected by the Old English version of De Temporibus Anni (Blake 2009).The analysis, which focuses on the stem vowels of verbs and is based on the diatopic and diachronic contrasts found by de la Cruz (1986) as well as the alternations identified by Kastovsky (1968), aims at deciding if a given equivalence is a product of variation or alternation. The results obtained reveal that alternation is a more predictable and systematic phenomenon than variation. The conclusions stress the importance of the diphthong /ie/ for discerning between Early and Late West-Saxon and as a point of contact between the phenomena of i-mutation, alternation and diachronic variation.



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