as forced to follow their fee-giver's slayer,
lordless men, as their lot ordained.
"Sellan" (the weak verb of 1st class irregular, cf. with NE "to sell") was hardly ever used in OE in the meaning of exchanging something for money or other equivalent (the meaning characteristic of the NE period). Narrowing of its meaning took place between OE and ME periods, thus in "The Canterbury Tales" it is used purely in its present-day sense (cf. the following example from "Beowulf" with ones taken from "The Canterbury Tales" and "Don Juan"):
OE ond ??r on innan eall ged?lan
geongum ond ealdum, swylc him god sealde[2, p.2].
NE and within it, then, to old and young
he would all allot that the Lord gave him
ME But crist, that of perfeccion is welle,
Bad nat every wight he sholde go selle
Al that he hadde, and gyve it to the poore
And in swich wise folwe hym and his fore [5, p. 141].
NE Trust not for freedom to the Franks -
They have a king who buys and sells;
In native swords, and native ranks… [3, p. 85].
3.3.2. The Functioning of the Verbs with the Meaning of "to take" in Anglo-Saxon and Middle English.
During the contextual analysis of the above-mentioned texts, the total number of 489 cases of the verb "to take" usage was registered. It is used in "The Canterbury Tales" at the highest ratio of 0,177 %, the lowest ratio being 0,156 % ("Beowulf").
Table 2. The Diachrony of the Verb "to take" in the English Language.
№ Verb Text Period Number Percentage (of the word stock)
1 niman "Beowulf" OE 28 0,156 %
3 taken "The Canterbury Tales" ME 281 0,177 %
4 take "Don Juan" NE 173 0,164 %
Old English could boast of two verbs with the meaning of "to take," or "to get something in your possession" that often were used simultaneously in the text or discourse:
1) niman (Old Norse nema, Gothic niman) - strong verb, 4th class; e.g.:
OE For? near ?tstop,
nam ?a mid handa hige?ihtigne [2, p. 18].
NE Then farther he hied;
for the hardy hero with hand he took
2) tacan (Old Norse taka, Gothic t?kan) - strong verb, 6th class (no examples are found in "Beowulf", as niman was a preferred verb);
The verb "tacan" should be mentioned separately. The original Anglo-Saxon verb for "to take" was "niman" (found in the majority of West Germanic languages, cf. German nehmen). Tacan was a borrowing from Scandinavian languages that at first coexisted in English together with niman and crowded it out till the 14th century. Thus, "take" is the only verb with the meaning of "to take" found in "The Canterbury Tales" by G. Chaucer, e.g.:
ME To take a wyf it is a glorious thyng,
And namely whan a man is oold and hoor [5, p.186].
It is also interesting to trace the origin of the verb "tacan": its meaning in Gothic t?can is "to touch", thus first it was used to denote the process of touching a certain object with the aim of getting it in your possession. The data suggested by the early Indo-European languages (including Greek and Old English) proves that primarily "t?can" referred to touching captured people with the aim of enslaving them.
Finally, we can see that the verb "to take" is used more often in ME and NE than in OE (cf. the average percentage of 0,147 % in OE with 0,177 % in ME and 0,164 % in NE). It can be explained by the fact that starting from ME period the given semantic conversives has been actively used in various constructions like "to take keep", "to take regard of" or "to take one's leave", whereas in Old English it was used, as a rule, in its direct meaning of getting something in your possession, e.g.:
OE Dracan ec scufun,
wyrm ofer weallclif, leton weg niman,
flod f??mian fr?twa hyrde. [2, p.74].
NE The dragon they cast,
the worm, o'er the wall for the wave to take,
and surges swallowed that shepherd of gems.
ME And thus with good hope and with herte blithe
They take hir leeve, and homeward gone they ride
To Thebes, with his olde walles wide.
3.3.3. Diachrony of the Semantics of the Verb "to sell".
39 meanings of the verb "to sell" (including the Old English meaning of "to give") were realized in the three texts (see Supplement 3 for all the examples of the given verb's usage in "Beowulf").
Table 3. The Diachrony of the Verb "to sell" in the English Language.
№ Verb Text Period Number Percentage (of the word stock)
1 sellan1 "Beowulf" OE 25 0,139 %
2 sellen "The Canterbury Tales" ME 16 0,0101 %
3 sell "Don Juan" NE 8 0,0063 %
The quantitative data suggest that in comparison with OE period, the given verb is far less rarely used in ME and NE. It happened so because of the narrowing of its meaning: in Old English "sellan" was used simultaneously with the verb "?ifan", whereas ME "sellen" and NE "sell" belong to the sphere of LSP and are therefore used mostly in the special records or texts.
We suggest that the verb "to sell" (OE sellan, ON selja, OI selja) originated from the Gothic "saljan" that meant "to bring an offering to a god". This assumption is further verified by the following example from "Beowulf":
OE Ne gefr?gn ic freondlicor feower madmas
golde gegyrede gummanna fela
in ealobence o?rum gesellan.
NE For I heard of few heroes, in heartier mood,
with four such gifts, so fashioned with gold,
on the ale-bench honoring others thus!
Indeed, here the verb "sellan" has a meaning of honoring somebody with something (usually with an exuberant gift).
The original meaning was further transformed in OE. We can outline three major meanings of the OE "sellan":
1) to give;
2) to give up;
3) to sell.
It was already mentioned that the third meaning (which is dominant in NE) was rarely used in Anglo-Saxon, whereas the first two meanings were much more common. The textual analysis of "Beowulf" and "The Canterbury Tales" shows that OE sellan was hardly ever used in its present-day meaning of "to give up, deliver, or exchange (property, goods, services, etc.) for money or its equivalent". This meaning became dominant in the ME period. Instead, the more general meaning of "to give" was much more common. Cf.:
ME Well coud he in eschaunge sheeldes selle [5, p.6].
OE ?a he him of dyde isernbyrnan,
helm of hafelan, sealde his hyrsted sweord [2, p.16].
NE Cast off then his corselet of iron,
helmet from head; to his henchman gave.
OE Dyde him of healse hring gyldenne
?ioden ?risthydig, ?egne geseald.[2, p. 67]
NE From his neck he unclasped the collar of gold,
valorous king, to his vassal gave it.
We think that this narrowing of the meaning took place, because at first such an act of selling was