The Development of the Syntactic System



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ЗНАЕТЕ ЛИ ВЫ?

The Development of the Syntactic System



OE

Old English was a synthetic language, i.e. there were a lot of inflections that showed the relations between the words in a sentence.

Syntactic Connections between the Words

1. Agreement – a correspondence between 2 or more words in Gender, Number, Case, Person:

· relation –correspondence between the Subject and the Predicate in Number and Person;

· correlation –agreement of an adjective, a demonstrative pronoun, a possessive pronoun, Participle 1, 2 with noun in Gender, Number, Case.

2. Government –a type of correspondence when one word (mainly a verb, less frequently – an adjective, a pronoun or a numeral) determines the Case of another word:

e.g.: OE niman (to take) à noun in Acc;

OE secζan (to say) à noun in Dat (to whom?), noun in Acc (what?);

OE hlusten (to listen) à noun in Gen.

Functions of Cases


Nominative:

· Subject of the sentence;

· Predicative;

· Direct Address.

Genitive:

· possessive meaning;

· partitive meaning;

· objective meaning;

· subjective meaning;

· qualitative meaning;

· adverbial meaning.

Dative:

· Indirect Object;

· Instrumental meaning;

· Passive Subject of the sentence (Me lycige).

Accusative:

· Direct Object;

· adverbial meaning denoting long periods of time (þone winter – той зимой).


Word Order

In OEthe word order was free as far as there were a lot of inflections that showed the relations between the words in a sentence.

Most common word-order patterns were:

1. S + P + O(in non-dependent clauses);

2. S + O + P(when the Object was a pronoun, e.g. OE Ic þe secζe – literally “to you say”);

(in dependent clauses, e.g. OE þis wæs ζefohten siþþan hē of Ēāst Enþlum cōm – literally “This battle was held when he from eastern England came” – such word order was called “frame” –after a connective went the Subject, it was followed by all the other parts of the sentence and the last place was occupied by the Predicate which thus created a frame together with the Subject);

3. P + S + O(in questions, e.g. OE Hwat sceal ic sinζan – “What shall I sing?”);

(in sentences starting with adverbial modifier, e.g. OE Nū synt ζeþrēāde þeζnas mīne – literally“Now were threatened my servants”).

In MEand NE, due to the loss of the Cases and, as a result, loss of the inflections the distinction between the Subject and the Object of a sentence was lost. Thus the word order became fixed and direct (S + P + O – The Subject almost always took the first place and was followed by the Object).

Such word order led to the appearance of the formal Subject (formal it, there, e.g. It was winter; There is a book.) that took the place of the Subject if a sentence did not have one and thus preserved the direct word order.

Inversion was used only in questions and for emphasis.

Negation

In OEthe common word for negation was ne (IE origin). It was simply placed before a word that was to be negated:

e.g. OE Ne can ic (“I don’t know”, or literally “Not know I”).

As a result of this position before a word the particle ne often fused with:

· a verb (e.g. OE nis ← ne is; næs ← ne wæs; næfde ← ne hæfde (had), etc);

· a numeral (e.g. OE nān ← ne an (none));

· a pronoun (e.g. OE nic ← ne ic (not me));

· an adverb (e.g. OE nēfre ← ne āfre (never)).

Multiple negation was perfectly normal:

e.g. OE Nis nān wisdom ne nānrēad naht onean God. – “There is no knowledge concerning God.”

Often the particle ne was strengthened by the particle naht.

In MEparticle ne fell out of use and was replaced completely by the particle naht that later developed into not, stood manly after a verb (V + not) and negated it:

e.g. I fell to earth I knew not where.

In NE, during the Normalisation Period, no-double-negation rule appeared that prohibited more than one negative word in a sentence.

Grammatical categories of the Noun in Old, Middle and New English periods.

The Development of the Noun

Old English

As it has been mentioned in Lecture 14, the Noun had the following categories in OE:

er –Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl).

Case –Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc).

Gender –Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N):

· Originally (in PG) it was a semantic division (he/she/it – associated with the lexical meaning of a noun), but in OE this principle did not work any more (e.g. wīf (wife) = Neuter);

· In OE the nouns started to grouped into genders according to the suffix:

- -þu (F) – e.g. lenζþu (length);

- -ere (M) – e.g. fiscere (fisher).

System of Declensions

Though the stem-suffixes merged with the root, declensions were still existent in OE and were based on the former IE stem-suffixes:

a-stem –the most numerous declension (M, N):

 

Case Masculine Neuter
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Nom, Acc fisc fiscas dēor dēor!
Gen fisces fisca dēores dēora
Dat fisce fiscum dēore dēorum

Traces of a-stem in Modern English:

· -es (M, Sg, Gen) à ‘s (student’s book) – Possessive Case;

· -as (M, Pl, Nom) à -(e)s (watches, books) – plural ending for the majority of nouns;

· -(N, Pl, Nom) à zero ending(deer, sheep) – homogeneous Sg and Pl.

n-stem(M, N, F):

 

Case Masculine
Singular Plural
Nom nama naman
Gen naman namena
Dat naman namum
Acc naman naman

Traces of n-stem in Modern English:

· -an (M, Pl, Nom) à -en (oxen, children, brethren) – irregular plural ending.

root-stem –never had stem-suffix, words consisted of just a root(M, F):

Case Masculine
Singular Plural
Nom, Acc fōt fēt
Gen fotes fōta
Dat fēt fōtum

Traces of n-stem in Modern English:

· root-sound interchange (M, Pl, Nom) à root-sound interchange (men, geese, mice) – irregular Plural.

Middle English

Most changes occurred to the Noun in ME.

System of Declensions

In ME the declensions disappeared due to the reduction of endings. As far as the Case endings were reduced to one or two, there remained no distinction between the Case forms of different declensions and there was no necessity any more to distinguish these declensions.

Gender

The Gender in OE was not supported semantically. It was only a classifying feature for the declensions and as far as the declensions disappeared there was no necessity to preserve the Gender. It disappeared by the 11th – 12th c.

Number

The quantity of the Number endings was also reduced as far as the declensions disappeared. The markers of the Plural became more uniform (-s, -en, root-sound interchange). The preference of the consonantal endings can be explained by the fact that the vowels were more apt to change and reduction then the consonants that in general proved to be more stable.

Case

The Case system was contracted in ME due to the reduction of endings. As far as the Case endings were reduced to one or two, there remained no distinction between the Case forms and there was no necessity any more to distinguish 4 Cases:

 

OE Cases ME Cases Peculiarities
Nominative à Dative à Accusative à   Common à (Subject) (former Nom) à (direct Object) (former Acc) à (prepositional/indirect Object) (former Dat)
Genitive à Genitive (Possessive) The usage of the Genitive became more limited. In Singular it was marked by -‘s. In the 17th – 18th c.the apostrophe (‘) started to be used in Pl, Gen as far as the plural Genitive ending was lost but some distinction between the Common and the Genitive case in Plural should be preserved.

Causes for Decay of Case System:

1.Influence of the Scandinavian Dialects that were grammatically simpler in comparison with OE Dialects and this influence led to the minimization of grammar.

2.Phonetic reduction of final unstressed syllables (inflections).

Consequences of Case System Decay:

1.The number of prepositions started to grow to help to replace the former Case forms.

2.As far as there was no distinctions between the Cases, the distinction between the Subject and the Object of a sentence was lost à fixed word order appeared (The Subject almost always took the first place and was followed by the Object).

Grammatical categories of the Verb in Old, Middle and New English periods.

The Development of the Verb



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