Вопрос №12 Peculiarities of OE consonantal system.

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Вопрос №12 Peculiarities of OE consonantal system.

The system consisted of several correlated sets of cs. All the cs fell into noise cs and sonorants. The noise cs were subdivided into plosives and fricatives; plosive were further differentiated as voiced and voiceless. The fricative cs were also subdivided into voiced and voiceless. It is noteworthy that among the oE cs there were few sibilants and no affricates.

The most universal distinctive feature in the consonant system was the difference in length.

Fricatives f, h, θ in late OE period became voiced [ð] – Verners law if they were found after unstressed vowels.

the Germanic sound shift. (1ое передвижение согласных). The opposition of cs in the Germanic langs is the same as in other European langs (voice - voiceless). There is no direct correspondence between certain cs in the Germanic langs and those found in other European langs of the same w.

Jacob Grimm in the early 19th century - the Grimm’s Law - there exists a certain consonant regularity in the chain of cs. The first was the Danish scientist Rask, but Grimm was the 1st to call it a la, a typical specific feature inherent in all the Germanic langs. All the plosives of IE shifted into GLs in 3 stages (акты)

1.Acc to the 1st act of the consonant shift, instead of the IE voiceless plosives (aspirated and non-aspirated) there occurred voiceless fricative consonants in the GLs.

2.Acc to the 2nd act IE voiced non-aspirated plosives became voiceless plosives. The way of pronouncing a consonant changed, but the place of articulation remained the same.

3.Acc to the 3d act IE aspirated voiced plosives became voiced fricatives.

But there are some exceptions to the Law: It has been observed that in some ws a voiceless fricative in Germanic, a voiced fricative or a voiced plosive is found instead.

Lat – pater OE - der

It was explained by the Danish scholar Carl Verner (закон Вернера) in the 2nd part of the 19th century. In ancient GLs at that time the stress was free (or movable), fricative cs became voiced.

All the Germanic fricative cs became voiced between vowels if the immediately preceding vowel was unstressed and the following vowel was stressed. After the voicing was complete the stress was shifted to the 1sy syllable.

Later on in the GLs [ð] became [d]. this phenomenon is called hardening.

Fæder < faðar

After the changes under Grimm’s and Verner’s Law PG had the following two sets of fricative cs: voiceless[ f, θ, x, s ] and voiced [v, ð, y, z ]

In all WG langs most cs were lengthened after a short vowel before [j] - “doubling” of cs, as the resulting long cs are indicated by means of double letters: e.g. PG fuljan > OE fyllan (NE fill)

During that process j was lost.

In early OE the velar cs split into two distinct sets of sounds. The velar cs k, g, x, y were palatalized before and after a front vowel, unless followed by a back vowel.

Nasal sonorants were regularly lost before fricative cs: e.g. Gt uns>OE ūs (NE us)

Вопрос №13 Word-stress in OE

The system of word accentuation inherited from PG and underwent no changes in Early OE.

In OE a syllable was prominent by an increase in the force of articulation. In disyllabic and polysyllabic ws the accent fell on the root- morpheme or on the first syllable. W–stress was fixed; it remained on the same syllable in different grammatical forms of the w and as a rule did not shift in w-building either.

Polysyllabic ws, especially compounds, may have had two stresses, chief and secondary, the chief stress being fixed on the first root-morpheme and the secondary stress on the second component.

The grammatical ending –a (Gen.pl) was unaccented.

In ws with prefixes the position of the stress varied: verb prefixes were unaccented, while in nouns and adjs the stress was commonly thrown on to the prefix.

If the ws were derived from the same root, w-stress, together with other means, served to distinguish the noun from the verb. e.g. ‘and-swaru n - and-‘swarian v (NE an answer, to answer)

Вопрос №14 OE alphabet and pronunciation.

The Runic alphabet was composed by Germanic scribes in the II-III centuries AD. This was an alphabet of some 26 letters. The principal written records that came to us through the centuries date from as far back as the 8th century.And their angular shape is due to the material those inscriptions were made on – wood, stone, bone - and the technique of writing – the letters were not written but carved on those hard materials. The word “rune” meant “mystery, and those letters were originally considered to be magic signs known to very few people, mainly monks, and not understood by the vast majority of the illiterate population. Among the first O.E. runic inscriptions we generally mention two: the inscription on the so-called “Franks’ casket” – a small box made of whalebone containing a poem about it, and the inscription on the “Ruthwell cross” – a religious poem engraved on a stone cross found in Scotland.

In the 7th century the Christian faith was introduced and with it there came many Latin-speaking monds who brought wit them their own Latin alphabet. It was used by the majority of the people who could read and write. It ousted the Runic alphabet. But the Latin alphabet could not denote all the sounds in the English language, for example, the sounds (W, Q) – for that purpose some runes were preserved

Вопрос №15 Traces of Palatal Mutation in Old English

This type of change affected back vowels. It was caused by the sound [i/j] in the following

syllable and resulted in the fronting of the vowel. The influence of i/j sound may also result in

the raising of the front vowel. Took place in the 6th cent in all the Germanic dialects. In OE it

was completed by the time of the 1st written efforts. (7th century).

Assimilative changes were positional. They were combinative changes and they were changes of 2 types. The 2nd type is palatal mutation and it was caused by the neighboring vowels.

This type of change affected back vowels. It was caused by the sound [i/j] in the following syllable and resulted in the fronting of the vowel. The influence of i/j sound may also result in the rising of the front vowel. It took part in the 6th century in all the Germanic dialects.

This process had a great influence on the grammar system of OE especially on the adj. and verbs. It also became a word making means.

Palatal Mutation is of special importance because:

1) there appeared new phonemes: y, y -OE phonemes

2) there appeared numerous examples of vowel-variation in the root. These variations are found in the f-building and in the w-building of present day English.

The traces of PM in OEin w-building:

OE adj. lan long

Вопрос №16 Nominal grammatical categories in OE

I. The Nominal Grammatical Categories

OE was like other G. lang an inflexional synthetic lang. Besides inflexions, which were the most productive way of f-building, the following means were employed:

a)sound interchange in the root

b) suppletive formations, which were as archaic in OE, as they are today. They were confined to the same parts of speech, as they are today. (personal pronouns and degrees of comparison): od – bettra - god – better

OE like other IE Languages had the following nominal gr. categories.

- number,

- gender,

- case

In nouns these categories were independent, in adjs and pronouns they were dependent as they agreed with the noun.

Gender: In nouns gender was a lex-grammatical category, that is a w could belong to one gender only, which was not shown by any formal marker and did not depend upon the consideration of sex. It was pure traditional.

There were 3 grammatical forms:

e.g. wif (wife) – neutral

stan (stone) – masculine

tunge (tongue) – feminine

In OE the gender of nouns was mainly indicated by the ws defining them (adj or pronoun).


Nouns, adjs & pronouns distinguished 2 numbers: singular & plural. But the personal pronouns of the 1st and 2nd persons preserved a set of forms for 2 things – the dual number.

1st p. Ic (sg) wit (dual) we (pl)

2nd p. pu (sg) it (dual) e (pl)

Case It was a grammatical category.

Nouns had 4 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative

Adjectives had 5 cases as well as pronouns: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative + Instrumental. The Instrumental case of nouns coincided with the Dative case.

e.g. Dat.sg. miclum stane (a large stone - большому)

Inst. Micle stane (большим)

Nouns. A well-developed case sys with (4 cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative). Two number forms (singular, plural). Have the category of gender (feminine, masculine and neutral). The same categories: gender, case, number. Acc to the ending of their stems 3 types of declension: - a-stem (mostly masc and neutr); n-stem; root- declension (masc with the help of suff as well as by changing roots – man-men)

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