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Is there any evidence that the third person singular -s can be traced back to a lexical item before it became an inflection? I am trying to see if the theory of grammaticalization applies to its diachronic process. The cline of grammaticalization is as follows:

Lexical item > grammatical word > clitic > inflectional affix.

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  • I could have sworn I commented on this question. Strange. – Mark Beadles Jan 23 '12 at 15:41
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    I have seen this as PIE *-ti -> PGmc *-di/*-ði -> AS -t/-ð/-þ -> ME -th (Southern)/ -s (Northern) -> ModE -s. The Northern -s came from the influence of Norse mediopassive -sk; eventually the Northern usage became standard in Modern English. According to this, the form has been inflectional at least back to late PIE. – Mark Beadles Jan 23 '12 at 15:52
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    Oh, it was on English.SE also. That should have been noted. I will make this an answer. – Mark Beadles Jan 23 '12 at 18:00
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    Yes, someone suggested I post it here too. Thanks for your response in both ! – marta Jan 23 '12 at 20:37
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PIE *-ti -> PGmc *-di/-ði -> AS -t/-ð/-þ -> ME -th (Southern)/ -s (Northern) -> ModE -s

The Northern -s came from the influence of Norse mediopassive -sk; eventually the Northern usage became standard in Modern English. According to this, the form has been inflectional at least back to late PIE.

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