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Title:The Semantic Systems of The Prepositions of Separation in Gothic, Old High German, and Old Saxon
Author(s):Zych, Donna Ann
Department / Program:German
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Prepositions in Gothic, Old High German and Old Saxon which designate separation from their object are studied semantically in order to determine how they function both individually and as members of a sub-system of prepositions within the entire system of prepositions. The prepositions are Gothic af, fram, us, fairra; Old High German fon, ir, uzar, uzana; and Old Saxon fan, af.
To facilitate a comparison, each meaning and function of a preposition of separation is extracted and identified as a distinctive feature. Although this study concentrates on the prepositions of separation, the distinctive features for all the prepositions within each of the languages are tabulated. The distinctive features which represent the preposition's basic meaning are designated as emic features. Those features which are present in some usages, but not in all of them are secondary, or etic features. In some contexts, the preposition is used, not for its primary spatial meaning, but for another function, usually unrelated to its spatial meaning. A transformational rule is written which relegates the preposition's primary spatial meaning to the rank of a secondary meaning and designates one of the preposition's secondary features as its primary meaning within the specialized context.
The Gothic system of separation contains the greatest number of distinctive prepositions. The functions they perform are also the most clearly defined of the three languages. In Old High German, one preposition fon is used for all the functions performed by four individual prepositions in Gothic. It is the only preposition capable of undergoing transformations. The other three prepositions are in free variation with each other, occur far less frequently than fon, and do not perform any function which fon does not. The Old Saxon system is similar to that of Old High German in that it has a dominant preposition fan and a second preposition af, which occurs less often and does not undergo transformations.
Notable is the change in frequency and function of an individual preposition within each language system. Af, active in Gothic with a meaning all its own, occurs in free variation with fan in Old Saxon. The Old High German cognate aba, found in only a few documents, is limited to its literal meaning 'from' and alternates freely with fon. Fram, important to the Gothic system, occurs only occasionally in High German glosses and not at all as a preposition in Old Saxon. Gothic us occurs to a limited degree in Old High German as ir, also meaning 'out of'. Old High German uz (uzs), which is the Gothic adverb ut, occurs more frequently. Integral to this system are uzar and uzana, which are used as prepositions in Old High German but as adverbs in Gothic and Old Saxon. The Gothic preposition us (OHG ir) is replaced by the Gothic adverb of the same meaning ut which is used as a preposition in Old High German (uzs, uzar, uzana) but adverbially in Gothic (ut, utana) and Old Saxon (ut, utan, utar).
The preposition af, which plays an important role in Gothic, is also prevalent in Old Saxon. Its function in Old High German, however, is restricted to a few documents. While Old High German preserves Gothic us as ir and adds uzar and uzana to its system, the Old Saxon adverbs ut, utan and utar parallel the Gothic adverbs ut, utana as well as the preposition us. However, the etic features of OS af are precisely those of OHG ir (uz). Noteworthily, the etic features of the allosemes of OHG uz do not coincide with those of Gothic us.
Issue Date:1981
Description:216 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127741
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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