East-Midland and West-Midland

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East-Midland and West-Midland

The East-Midland and West-Midland dialects of ME are intermediate between the Northern and Southern/Kentish extremes. In the West Midlands there is a gradation of dialect peculiarities from Northern to Southern as one moves from Lancashire to Cheshire and then down the Severn valley. This dialect has left modern descendants in the working class country dialects of the area. The northern parts of its dialect area were also an area of heavy Scandinavian settlement, so that northern East-Midland ME shows the same kinds of rapid development as its Northern neighbor. In the 13th c. this part of England, especially Norfolk and Suffolk, began to outstrip the rest of the country in prosperity and population because of the excellence of its agriculture, and increasing numbers of well-to-do speakers of East-Midland began to move to London, bringing their dialect with them. Since the London dialect steadily gained in prestige from that time on and began to develop into a literary standard, the northern, Scandinavianized variety of East-Midland became the basis of standard ModE. For that reason, East-Midland is by far the most important dialect of ME for the subsequent development of the l-ge.


  1. Development of Consonants in OE

The OE consonant system consisted of some 14 consonant phonemes. The consonant system in OE manifested the following peculiarities.

  1. The relatively small number of consonant phonemes.
  2. The absence of affricated and fricative consonants which we now find in the language such as [t ], [d ], [ ], [ ].
  3. Dependence of the quality of the phoneme upon its environment in the word

If the first two require no particular explanation, the last point calls for a special comment.

Among the 14 consonant phonemes that exited in OE there were at least 5 that gave us positional variants which stand rater wide apart.

1. The phonemes denoted by the letters f, p, , or s are voiced or voiceless depending upon their phonetic position. They are generally voiced in the so-called “intervocal position” that is between vowels and voiceless otherwise.

2. The phoneme denoted by the letter calso gave at least two variant – palatal [k] and velar [k]. In the majority of cases it was a velar consonant and palatal generally before the vowel i.

3. Similar remarks can be made about the phoneme denoted by the letter : we have the voiced velar plosive variant [g] of it at the beginning of the word before back vowels or consonants or in the middle of the word after n.The voiced velar fricative variant [ ] in the middle of the word between back vowels. The voice palatal fricative variant [j]before and after front vowels.

The system of consonant phonemes that we observe in OE involves certain peculiarities that are typical of the majority of Germanic dialects, which set them apart from the majority of the Indo-European languages.


  1. Development of Non-finite forms of the Verb in the English language

The verb system in OE was represented by two sets of forms: the finitive of the verb and the non-finitive forms of the verb.Those two types of forms differed more than they do today from the point of view of their respective grammatical categories, as the verbals at that historical period were not conjugated like the verb proper, but were declined like nouns or adjectives. Thus the infinitive could have two case-forms, which may conventionally be called the “Common” case and the “Dative” case.

The Non-finite forms are: the Infinitive and the two Participles.

1.The Infinitive. There are two infinitive forms: one of them is called the dative Infinitive(the Indo-European infinitive had been a declinable noun). This infinitive is preceded by toand has the ending –anne; it is used in independent syntactic positions, mainly as adverbial modifier of purpose, but also as subject and predicative. The infinitive with the ending –an functions, as a rule, in combination with preterite-present verbs and in other verbal collocations.

2.Participle I. Has the ending –ende and is declined as a weak adjective. It is used attributively (in pre- and post-position) and predicative.

3.Participle II. Has the ending –n or –ed, -od, according to the type of verb (strong or weak). It is declined as adjective (according both to the strong and the weak pattern) and is used mainly as attribute and predicative.


A comparison of the verbals in OE and in Middle and New English shows that the number of verbals in OE was less than that in Middle English and New. At the end of the ME period a new verbal developed – the GERUND. In addition to the Infinitive and the Participle. The Gerund appeared as a result of a blend between the OE Present Participle ending in “-ende” and the OE Verbal noun ending in “-ing”. From the Verbal noun the Gerund acquired the form, but under the influence of the Participle it became more “verbal” in meaning. In the course of history the Infinitive (already at the end of the OE period) and the Participle (in Middle English) lost their declension. And at the end of the ME and in New English they acquired elements of conjugation – the grammatical categories of order and voice. The OE preposition topreceding the dative case of the infinitive loses its independent meaning and functions simply as a grammatical particle showing that the Verbal is an Infinitive.


  1. Grammatical categories of the Noun in OE.

The OE noun paradigm was composed by the following grammatical categories: gender, number, case.

The category of gender was formed by the opposition of 3 gender-forms: masculine, feminine, neuter. All nouns. All nouns no matter whether they denoted living beings, inanimate things or abstract notions belonged to one of the 3 genders. The subdivision of OE nouns in accordance with their grammatical gender is traditional, the correspondence between the meaning of the word and its grammaticla gender being hard to trace.

Some nouns denoting animals were also treated as neuter, such as cicen (chicken), hors (horse)

The grammatical gender did not always coincide with the natural gender of the person and sometimes even contradicted it (for instance, the noun wifman was declined as masculine).


The grammatical category of number was formed by the opposition of two category forms: singular and plural.


In the course of the development the original paradigm had undergone great changes due to the fusion of the origin suffix and the origin gram ending into the element which from the point of view of OE is to e regarded as a gram ending. As a result of that fusion nouns that are known to have had different stem-suffixes originally in OE acquired materially different endings in the same case.The original stem suffixes were formed both by vowel and consonants. Thus there were two respective principal groups of declensions in OE: the vowels declension (strong – comprises four principal paradigms: a-stem, o-stem, u-stem i-stem ) and the consonant declension (weak – it comprises nouns with the stem originally ending in –n, -r, -s and some other consonants).In rare cases the new forms is constructed by adding the ending directly to the root – so-called root-stem declension.



  1. Development of perfect forms in English


  1. The pronoun in OE

There were the following classes of pronouns in OE: personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, relative and indefinite. The system of declension was not the same for all the classes. It has at least two subsystems that should be singled out: the declension of personal pronouns on the one hand and the declension of other pronouns. Although the grammatical categories of each subsystem were the same (gender, number, case, the number of the categorial forms composing those categories was different.)

The personal pronouns


3 genders could be distinguished in the prominal paradigm: masculine, feminine, neuter, but different forms for different gender were found only in the 3rd person sing, the rest of the forms being indifferent to gender.


The category of number differs from that of the noun as in the1st and 2nd person we find 3 categories forms: sing, dual, plural.

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