Argument realisation and argument structure in the Old English eventive noun phrase: data set of 6190 eventive noun phrases.

  • Roxanne Taylor (Creator)



This study examines noun phrases which refer to events in Old English (c700CE to c1100CE) and considers questions of argument structure and the relationship between event-referring nouns and verbs. This study offers an account of event-referring noun phrases in a period of English not previously considered with reference to eventive noun phrases, providing an empirical and theoretical assessment which focuses on the relationship between an eventive noun and the adnominal realisations of participants in the event to which the noun refers. Data are retrieved by automated and manual search from the York-Toronto-Helsinki Parsed Corpus of Old English Prose (YCOE) (Taylor et al. 2003). The data found here are the basis for the quantitative and qualitative investigation into eventive noun phrases and consist of annotations of noun phrases retrieved from the YCOE. There are 6190 noun phrases included in the data set, each of which refers to an event and contains some realisation of at least one of the participants in that event by means of an adnominal dependent. Three forms of adnominal dependents are found to be relevant to Old English eventive noun phrases: genitive-case-marked noun phrases, prepositional phrases, and adnominal clauses. Genitives are by far the most frequent form of adnominal dependent relevant to event-referring noun phrases and noun phrases with an adnominal genitive realising one of the participants in the event make up the majority of observations. The noun phrase in (1) gives an illustrative example. (1) slege haligra martyra killing holy.GEN martyr.GEN "Killing of holy martyrs" From a theoretical perspective, this study primarily considers whether nouns have argument structure and therefore take arguments, within the theoretical framework of Lexical Functional Grammar. Is the relationship between the noun referring to an event, and the adnominal dependents referring to participants in that event a relationship between a predicate and its arguments, as would be the case if a verb were used to refer to an event? The possibility that eventive nouns have the same argument structure as related verbs is considered from a number of perspectives, examining different dimensions of argument structure. It is argued that Old English eventive nouns do not have argument structure and that the relevant relationships between eventive nouns and adnominal dependents are syntactically and semantically similar to those between semantically prototypical nouns, referring to entities, and their adnominal dependents. These data accompany a University of Manchester doctoral thesis (2023) which will be made available by open access in the future.
Date made available7 Feb 2023
PublisherUniversity of Manchester Figshare


  • Old English language
  • Old English studies
  • Noun phrase syntax
  • Argument structure
  • Lexical Functional Grammar
  • Genitive case
  • Argument realisation
  • Genitive alternation

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