This book examines the evidence for the development of adnominal genitives (the knight's sword, the nun's priest's tale, etc.) in English. During the Middle English period the genitive inflection -es became either the possessive his or the clitic 's, but how, when, why, and over how long atime are unclear, and have been subject to considerable research and discussion. Cynthia Allen draws together her own and others' findings in areas such as case marking, the nature of syntactic and morphological change, and the role of processing and pragmatics in the construction of grammars andgrammatical change. Using evidence derived from a systematic examination of a wide range of texts, she reviews the evidence for the nature of the possessive inflection in earlier stages of English. In doing so Dr Allen shows that Middle English texts are more reliable witnesses to the grammar of Middle English than hassometimes been assumed, and that where the written evidence runs counter to typological generalization about syntactic change it may be the latter, not the former, which is in need of qualification. The texts may have been conservative, but their language, the author argues, is a reasonablereflection of the spoken language. While the book focuses on Middle English it also contains discussions of linguistic change before and since, and draws on comparative evidence from other languages, particularly Germanic languages such as Swedish and Dutch.