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The history of Old English and its development. - Реферат

The Old English Pronoun.

Pronouns were the only part of speech in Old English which preserved the dual number in declension, but only this makes them more archaic than the rest parts of speech. Most of pronouns are declined in numnber, case and gender, in plural the majority have only one form for all genders.

We will touch each group of Old English pronouns and comment on them.

1.Personal pronouns

Through the last 1500 years mn became mine, g turned into you (ye as a colloquial variant). But changes are still significant: the 2nd person singular pronouns disappeared from the language, remaining only in poetic speech and in some dialects in the north of England. This is really a strange feature - I can hardly recall any other Indo-European language which lacks the special pronoun for the 2nd person singular (French tu, German du, Russian ty etc.). The polite form replaced the colloquial one, maybe due to the English traditional "ladies and gentlemen" customs. Another extreme exists in Irish Gaelic, which has no polite form of personal pronoun, and you turn to your close friend the same way as you spoke with a prime minister - the familiar word, translated into French as tu. It can sound normal for English, but really funny for Slavic, Baltic, German people who make a thorough distinction between speaking to a friend and to a stranger

2. Demonstrative pronouns ('I' means the instrumental case)

3. Interrogative pronouns

N hw hwtG hws hwsD hw'm hw'mA hwone hwt I - hw, hw

These pronouns, which actually mean the masculine and the neuter varieties of the same pronoun, derive from Proto-Indo-European *kwis, with *kw becoming hwin Germanic languages. In Gothic the combination hw was considered as one sound which is another proof that the Indo-European the labiovelar sound kw was a single sound with some specific articulation.

Later Germanic languages changed the sound in a different way: in Norwegian it remained as hv, in German turned into w (as in wer 'who', was 'what'), in English finally changed into wh pronounced in most cases [w], but somewhere also like [h] or [hw].

Interesting that the instrumental of the word hwt, once being a pronoun form, later became the word why in English. So 'why?' is originally an instrumental case of the interrogative pronoun.

Other interrogative pronouns, or adverbs, as they are sometimes called, include the following, all beginning with hw:

hwilc 'which?' - is declined as the strong adjective (see adjectives above)hwonne 'when?' - this and following are not declined, naturallyhw'r 'where?'hwider 'whither?'hwonan 'whence?'

4. Other kinds of pronouns

They include definite, indefinite, negative and relative, all typical for Indo-European languages. All of them still exist in Modern English, and all of them are given here:

a) definitegehw (every) - declined the same way as hwgehwilc (each),ger (either),'lc (each),swilc (such) - all declined like strong adjectivess ylca (the same) - declined like a weak adjective

b) indefinitesum (some),'nig (any) - both behave the same way as strong adjectives

c) negativenn, n'nig (no, none) - declined like strong adjectives

d) relativee (which, that)se (which, that) - they are not declined

In Proto-Indo-European and in many ancient Indo-European languages there was a special kind of declension calleed pronominal, using only by pronouns and opposed to the one used by nouns, adjectives and numerals. Old English lost it, and its pronouns use all the same endings as the nouns and adjectives. Maybe the only inflection which remembers the Proto-language times, is the neuter nominative -t in hwt and t, the ancient ending for inanimate (inactive) nouns and pronouns.

The Old English Numeral.

It is obvious that all Indo-European languages have the general trend of transformation

from the synthetic (or inflectional) stage to the analytic one. At least for the latest 1,000 years this trend could be observed in all branches of the family. The level of this analitization process in each single language can be estimated by several features, their presence or absence in the language. One of them is for sure the declension of the numerals. In Proto-Indo-European all numerals, both cardinal and ordinal, were declined, as they derived on a very ancient stage from nouns or adjectives, originally being a declined part of speech. There are still language groups within the family with decline their numerals: among them, Slavic and Baltic are the most typical samples. They practically did not suffer any influence of the analytic processes. But all other groups seem to have been influenced somehow. Ancient Italic and Hellenic languages left the declension only for the first four cardinal pronouns (from 1 to 4), the same with ancient Celtic.

The Old English language preserves this system of declension only for three numerals. It is therefore much easier to learn, though not for English speakers I guess - Modern English lacks declension at all.

Here is the list of the cardinal numerals:

Ordinal numerals use the suffix -ta or -a, etymologically a common Indo-European one (*-to-).

The Old English Adverb.

Adverbs can be either primary (original adverbs) or derive from the adjectives. In fact, adverbs appeared in the language rather late, and eraly Proto-Indo-European did not use them, but later some auxiliary nouns and pronouns losing their declension started to play the role of adverbial modifiers. That's how thew primary adverbs emerged.

In Old English the basic primary adverbs were the following ones:

a (then)onne (then)'r (there)ider (thither)n (now)hr (here)hider (hither)heonan (hence)sna (soon)oft (often)eft (again)sw (so)hwlum (sometimes).

Secondary adverbs originated from the instrumental singular of the neuter adjectives of strong declension. They all add the suffix -e: wide (widely), dope (deeply), fste (fast), hearde (hard). Another major sugroup of them used the suffixes -lc, -lce from more complexed adjectives: bealdlce (boldly), freondlce (in a friendly way).

Adverbs, as well as adjectives, had their degrees of comparison:

wde - wdor - wdost (widely - more widely - most widely)long - leng (long - longer)feorr (far) - fierrsfte (softly) - sftae (easily) - ewel (well) - betre - bestyfele (badly) - wiers, wyrs - wierstmicele (much) - mre - m'st

The Old English Verb.

Old English system had strong and weak verbs: the ones which used the ancient Germanic type of conjugation (the Ablaut), and the ones which just added endings to their past and participle forms. Strong verbs make the clear majority. According to the traditional division, which is taken form Gothic and is accepted by modern linguistics, all strong verbs are distinguished between seven classes, each having its peculiarities in conjugation and in the stem structure. It is easy to define which verb is which class, so you will not swear trying to identify the type of conjugation of this or that verb (unlike the situation with the substantives).

Here is the table which is composed for you to see the root vowels of all strong verb classes. Except the VII class, they all have exact stem vowels for all four main forms:

Now let us see what Old English strong verbs of all those seven classes looked like and what were their main four forms. I should mention that besides the vowel changes in the stem, verbal forms also changed stem consonants very often. The rule of such changes is not mentioned practically in any books on the Old English language, though there is some. See for yourselves this little chart where the samples of strong verb classes are given with their four forms:

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