The aim of the present study is to examine the form (morphological and syntactic) and function (syntactic and semantic) of the genitive in late medieval London English. These have been studied at four levels: (i) the general trend; (ii) Type II and Type III language; (iii) verse and prose; and (iv) register categories. In addition, preference structures for genitives with different semantic functions have also been established.
The general conclusion is that in late medieval London English, the genitive preference for diverse forms and functions differs markedly from that of OE and is similar to that of PDE. However, a number of observations indicate that the principles governing the preference for genitive forms and functions in PDE have not been yet established. Late ME is perhaps best described as the last stage in the transition of the genitive from OE to PDE. At the same time, the evidence from the sample corpus reveals that some trends which we now observe in PDE seem already to emerge in late ME, namely the revival of the inflected genitive and the increasing frequency of genitives with inanimate possessors.