Complex quantifiers with genitive and concord in Old English and beyond

Research paper by Dorian Roehrs, Christopher Sapp

Indexed on: 07 Sep '18Published on: 06 Sep '18Published in: The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics


In this paper, we establish the empirical correlation that in Old English, the morphology on the quantified element is related to the morpho-syntactic status of the quantifier. While quantified DPs are always in the genitive, quantified non-DPs vary between genitive and concord based on the status of the quantifier. The quantifiers that take only genitive dependents contain uninflected particles and cannot be modified; those that occur with non-DP-size dependents in concord are inflected as adjectives and can be modified by degree words. We propose that particle-like quantifiers are in a head position but that quantifiers with adjectival properties are in a specifier position. The quantified dependents are also argued to be in different positions: all DP dependents are in the genitive and proposed to be the complement of N; in contrast, non-DP dependents are either in a specifier position (if genitive) or part of the nominal projection line (if concord). We wind up with the proposal that head-like quantifiers assign genitive case to their specifiers but adjective-like quantifiers do not. This proposal is confirmed in two related languages: most quantifiers in Old High German are of the head type and thus occur with genitive dependents, while all Old Icelandic quantifiers under investigation are adjective-like and take non-DP dependents in concord.