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Her daughter's being taken into care or her daughter being taken...?: Genitive and common-case marking of subjects of verbal gerund clauses in Present-day English
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2008 (English)In: The Dynamics of Linguistic Variation: Corpus evidence on English past and present / [ed] Terttu Nevalainen, Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta & Minna Korhonen, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins , 2008, 311-333 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article deals with the variation between genitive and common-case NPs as subjects of verbal gerunds in present-day British English, as in As compensation for Polly’s (Polly) keeping the house, Preston had received twenty thousand pounds. Previous research on the topic has mostly focused on the possessive/objective distinction with personal pronouns, wheras the present paper draws attention to other NPs, those which take or do not take the genitive ’s.

The material comprises 16 million words from the British National Corpus, representing the four genres Academic Prose, Fiction, News, and Conversation. Methods of  retrieval are discussed in some detail, since searches for NPs in the common case proved to require manual scanning.

Results show that the genitive form is very infrequent in present-day English, but figures more often than not in formal texts; this finding is in accordance with modern grammars such as Quirk et al. (1985). More than 50% of all genitives are found in the Academic Prose genre, wheras Conversation display no genitives. Common-case forms are seen to be spread more evenly across genres. Moreover, the linguistic factors animacy and NP length are seen to have influence on the choice of form.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins , 2008. 311-333 p.
, Studies in Language Variation, ISSN 1872-9592 ; 2
Keyword [en]
English linguistics, gerund, variation, corpus linguistics, BNC
National Category
Specific Languages
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-88674ISBN: 9789027234827OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-88674DiVA: diva2:158851
Available from: 2009-02-04 Created: 2009-02-04 Last updated: 2010-11-22Bibliographically approved

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