1 Introduction


Research Methods: Home

Welcome to the webpage accompanying Chapter 15 "Combining elicitation data with corpus data" by Anette Rosenbach!

Language variation is a long-term process in human history. It includes variations in pronunciation, word choice and grammar. According to Rosenbach (2013: 279), “the phenomenon of grammatical variation refers to the fact that speakers often have various forms/constructions at their disposal to express essentially the same (propositional) meaning.” The English genitive variation, i.e.  s-genitives (as in the teacher’s book) and of-genitives (as in the book of the teacher), represents a prominent example of such grammatical variation. People often ponder under what circumstances they should use the s-genitive, and in what cases the of-genitive should be used. Are there some rules or factors which affect the choice of genitives? Hinrichs and Szmrecsanyi (2007: 438) mention that, “variation between the synthetic and the analytical construction is not free […] The constraints that govern speakers’ and writers’ choices between the two options have been addressed in a sizable body of research.”

Many linguists have conducted numerous studies and analyses about the factors which might affect the choice of genitives. Here are some of the factors:

The main aim of this webpage is to summarize some of the factors listed above and explain how exactly they influence the choice between s-genitives and of-genitives. First of all, this page will give a brief introduction to the historical distribution of s-genitives and of-genitives and their usage tendencies in present days. Secondly and most importantly, the next section of this page will summarize some of the factors which might affect the choice between s-genitives and of-genitives. Several recent changes have occurred to some of those factors, which will be mentioned in part as well. Thirdly, this page will summarize the relative importance of the factors based on research published by Hinrichs and Szmrecsanyi (2007).

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