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Compound and Complex Sentences. Connectives

§ 219. Compound and complex sentences existed in the English lan­guage since the earliest times. Even in the oldest texts we find numerous instances of coordination and subordination and a large inventory of subordinate clauses, subject, clauses, object clauses, attributive clauses, adverbial clauses. And yet many constructions — especially in early original prose — look clumsy, loosely connected, disorderly and wanting precision, which is natural in a language whose written form had only begun to grow.

§ 220. Coordinate clauses were mostly joined by and, a conjunc­tion ofa most general meaning, which could connect statements with various semantic relations. The ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLES abound insuccessions of clauses or sentences all beginning with and, e.g.;

And pā onʒ eat sē cyninʒ pæ t ond hē, on pa duru ē ode, and pā unbē anlice hine werede, op hē on pone æ peling lō cude, and pā ū t rǣ sde on hine, and hine miclum ʒ ewundode; and hie alle on pone cyninʒ wǣ ron feohtende, op pæ t hie hine ofslæ ʒ nne hæ fdon, 'and then the king saw that, and he went to the door, and then bravely defended himself, until he saw that noble, and then out rushed on him, and wounded him severely, and they were all fighting against that king until they had him slain' (from the earliest part ofthe CHRONICLES A.D. 755).

§ 221. Repetition of connectives at the head of each clause (termed " correlation" ) was common in complex sentences:

pā hē pǣ r tō ʒ efaren wæ s, pa ē odon hie tō hiora scipum 'then (when) he came there, then they went to their ship.'

Attributive clauses were joined to the principal clauses by means of various connectives, there being no special class of relative pronouns. The main connective was the indeclinable particle pe employed either alone ortogether with demonstrative and personal pronouns:

and him cӯ pdon pæ t hiera mǣ ʒ as him mid wǣ ron, pā pe him from noldon 'and told him that their kinsmen were with him, those that did not want (to go) from him'.

The pronouns could also be used to join the clauses without the par­ticle pe:

Hit ʒ elamp ʒ io pæ tte ā n hearpere wæ s on pǣ re ð iode ð e Dracia hā tfe, sio wæ s on Crē ca rice; se hearpere wæ s swið e unʒ elrǣ ʒ lice ʒ ō d, ð æ s nama wæ s Orfeus; hē hæ lde ā n swið e ǣ nlic wif, sio wæ s hā ten Eurydice 'It happened once that there was a harper among the people on the land that was called Thrace, that was in the kingdom of Crete; that harper was incredibly good; whose name (the name of that) was Orpheus; he had an excellent wife; that was called Eurydice' (see also § 182for the use of pronouns).

The pronoun and conjunction pæ t was used to introduce object clauses and adverbial clauses, alone or with other form-words: oð ð æ t 'until', ǣ r, pæ m pe 'before', pæ t 'so that' as in:

Isaac ealdode and his ē aʒ an pӯ strodon, pæ t hē ne mihte nā n pingʒ esē on 'Then Isaac grew old and his eyes became blind so that he could not see anything'.

§ 222. Some clauses are regarded as intermediate between coordi­nate and subordinate: they are joined asyndetically and their status is not clear:

'pā wæ s sum consul, Boethius wæ s hā ten 'There was then a consul, Boethius was called' (perhaps attributive: '(who) was called Boethius' or co-ordinate '(he) was called Boethius').

In the course of OE the structure of the complex sentence was con­siderably improved. Æ lfric, the greatest writer of the late 10th — early 11th c, employed a variety of connectives indicating the relations between the clauses with greater clarity and precision.

Word Order

§ 223. The order of words in the OE sentence was relatively free. The position of words in the sentence was often determined by logical and stylistic factors rather than by grammatical constraints. In the following sentences the word order depends on the order of presentation and emphasis laid by the author on different parts of the communication: pā Finnas, him pū hte, and pā Beormas sprǣ con neah ā n ʒ epē ode 'the Finns, it seemed to him, and the Permians spoke almost the same language' — direct word order

Fela spella him sǣ don pā Beormas ǣ ʒ per ʒ e of hiera ā ʒ num landeʒ e of pǣ m landum pe ymb hie ū tan wǣ ron 'many stories told him (lit. " him told" ) the Permians either about their own land or about the lands that were around them' — the objects spella, him are placed at the beginning; the order of the subject and predicate is inverted and the attention is focussed on the part of the sentence which describes the content of the stories,

§ 224. Nevertheless the freedom of word order and its seeming in­dependence of grammar should not be overestimated. The order of words could depend on the communicative type of the sentence — question versus statement, on the type of clause, on the presence and place of some secondary parts of the sentence.

Inversion was used for grammatical purposes in questions; full in­version with simple predicates and partial — with compound predi­cates, containing link-verbs and modal verbs:

Hwanon feriʒ eap ʒ ē fǣ tte scyldas? 'From where do you bring (lit. " bring you" ) ornamented shields? '

Eart pū Ē sau, min sunu? 'Are you Esau, my son? '

Hwæ t sceal ic sinʒ an? 'What shall I sing? '

If the sentence began with an adverbial modifier, the word order was usually inverted; cf. some common beginnings of yearly entries in the ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLES:

Hē r cuō m sē here tō Rē adinʒ um... 'In this year came that army to Reading'.

Hē r on pyssum ʒ ē are fō r sē micla here... 'in this year went that big army'

with a relatively rare instance of direct word order after hē r:

hē r Cynewulf benam Siʒ ebryht his rices ond Westseaxna wiotan for unryhtum dǣ dum, bū ton Hā mtū nscire 'In this year Cynewulf and the councillors of Wessex deprived Sigebryht of his kingdom for his wicked deeds, except Hampshire (note also the separation of the two coordinate subjects Cynewulf and wiotan).

§ 225. A peculiar type of word order is found in many subordinate and in some coordinate clauses: the clause begins with the subject following the connective, and ends with the predicate or its finite part, all the secondary parts being enclosed between them. Recall the quo­tation:

Ohthere sǣ de hishlā forde, Æ lfrē de cyninʒ e pæ t ealra Norð monna norpmest bū de (see the translation in § 113. ) But the very next sentence in the text shows that in a similar clause the predicate could be placed next to the subject:

Hē cwæ p pæ t hē bū de on pǣ m lande, norpweardum wip pā Westsǣ 'He said that he lived on the land to the North of the Atlantic ocean'.

In the following passage the predicate is placed in final position both in the subordinate and coordinate clauses:

Æ fter pǣ m pe hē hie oferwunnen hæ fde, hē fō r on Bretanie pæ t iʒ lond, and wið pā Brettas ʒ efeaht, and ʒ efliemed wearð 'After he had overcome them, he went to Britain, that island, and against those Brit­ons fought and was put to flight'. (Note also the place of the object hie — objects were often placed before the predicate or between two parts of the predicate.)

§ 226. Those were the main tendencies in OE word order. They can­not be regarded as rigid rules, for there was much variability in syntactic patterns. The quotations given above show that different types of word order could be used in similar syntactical conditions. It appears that in many respects OE syntax was characterised by a wide range of varia­tion and by the co-existence of various, sometimes even opposing, tend­encies.


1.Explain why OE can be called a " synthetic" or " inflected" lan­guage. What form-building means were used in OE?

2. Speak on the differences between the categories of case, number and gender in nouns, pronouns and adjectives.

3. Why are noun declensions in OE referred to as " stems"? Point out relics of the stem-suffixes in the forms of nouns.

4. Explain the difference between the grouping of nouns into declen­sions and the two declensions of adjectives.

5. Which phonetic changes account for the alternation of consonants in the following nouns: mū p — mū pa (Nom. sg, Gen. pl N. -a); hū s — hū sunt (Nom. sg, Dat. pl N. -a); wif — wife (Nom., Dat. sg N. -a); (NE mouth, house, wife). Were these consonant interchanges confined to cer­tain declensions? Decline ʒ lō f (F. )and ʒ ō s (F. -root-stem) according to the models to confirm your answer (NE glove, goose).

6. Account for the vowel interchange in hwæ l — hwalas (Nom. sg and pl, M. -a); pæ p — papum (Nom. sg, Dat. pl, M. -a)(NE whale, path).

7. Determine the type of noun declension and supply the missing forms:

  Sg Pl Sg Pl
Nom. word word earm earmas
Gen. wordes ? earmes ?
Dat. ? ? ? ?
Acc. ? ? ? ?
Nom. bō c bē c cuppe ?
Gen. bē c, bō ce ? ? ?
Dat. ? ? ? ?
Acc. ? ? cuppan ?
(NE word, arm, book, cup)      

8. Point out instances of variation in the noun paradigms. From which stems were the new variants adopted?

9. Which forms of the nouns originated due to palatal mutation? Describe their history in Early OE.

10. Prove that suppletion is an ancient way of form-building that can be traced to PIE.

11. Which forms of adjectives, weak or strong, should be used in the following contexts? Fill in the blanks with appropriate endings:

and pā pone hā lʒ — mann ā tuʒ on ū t of his hū se 'and they drove that holy man out of his house...'; Ic eom ʒ ō d — hierde 'I am a good shepherd'.

12. Account for the interchange of vowels in the forms of the degrees of comparison:

smæ l smæ lra smalost 'slender'
hē ah hierra hiehst NE high
brā d brā dra brā dost NE broad
  brǣ dra brǣ dest  

13. In what respects was the OE verb system " simpler" than the Mod E system?

14. Would it be correct to say that the strong verbs formed their principal parts by means of root-vowel interchanges and the weak verbs employed suffixation as the only form-building means? Make these de­finitions more precise.

15. Build the principal forms of the verbs for lē osan (str. 2), weorpan (str. 3) and drifan (str. 1) and explain the interchange of vowels and consonants (NE lose, 'throw', drive).

16. Determine the class of the following strong verbs and supply the missing principal forms:

Pres. Tense stem. Past sg. Past pl. Part. II NE
stelan ? ? ? steal
? scā n ? ? shine
? ? ǣ ton ? eat
? ? ? sunʒ en sing
ceorfan ? ? ? carve
? wearð wurdon worden 'become'
? sanc ? ? sink
? ? ? ʒ liden glide
? wō c ? ? wake
? ? ? bacen bake

17. Find instances of " breaking" in the principal forms of strong and weak verbs.

18. How was gemination of consonants and the loss of reflected in the forms of weak verbs?

19. What traces of palatal mutation can be found in the weak verbs?

20. Prove that the non-finite forms in OE had more nominal fea­tures than they have today.

21. Define the form and class of the verbs and nouns in the follow­ing phrases and reconstruct their initial forms: Nom. sg of nouns and the Infinitive of the verbs:

... wiciað Finnas... fō r hē...pā Beormas sprǣ con... Ō hthere mē tte...he bad... his ē aʒ an pӯ strodon... hē clypode... wē willað secʒ an...

Chapter X

Preliminary Remarks

§ 227. The full extent of the OE vocabulary is not known to present-day scholars. There is no doubt that many words have not been recorded in the extant texts at all. The evidence of the records has been supple­mented from other sources: from the study of the words of closely related OG languages and from later, more extensive ME texts.

Modern estimates of the total vocabulary of OE range from about thirty thousand words to almost one hundred thousand (A. I. Smirnitsky, M. Pei), — the latter figure being probably too high and unreal­istic. (Among other causes the differences in the estimates depend on the treatment of polysemy and homonymy. But even the lowest esti­mates show that OE had already developed about as many words as used by a present-day cultured English speaker.) Despite the gaps in the accessible data, philological studies in the last centuries have given us a fairly complete outline of the OE vocabulary as regards its etymology, word structure, word-building and stylistic differentiation.



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