9. Old English Syntax

1.What is meant by saying that some features that define the syntax of PDE can be in OE found but “in an embryonic form”? How does this relate to the idea/process of grammaticalisation?

Embryonic form = the form is already present in the language, but it usually has a different function.

Grammaticalization = process when lexical words become grammatical markers Example: pre-modals; articles → lexical “anum” (one) used sometimes in situations when it may function as indefinite article “an” (but often both interpretations are possible)

2. Explain the functional difference between the strong and weak adjectives in the syntax of OE.

When the ADJ functions as a premodifier of a NP, it indicates the NP's reference.

weak adjectives – have to occur with a determiner (demonstrative, possessive pronoun) → they functionally correspond with the PDE definite reference (in fact, the definite article has developed from OE demonstrative (viz OED)).

Hē wæs se spēdiga (WEAK) mann... (“He was the very rich man…“)

strong adjectives – don't occur with a determiner as the ending expresses all grammatical categories on its own, they functionally correspond with the non-specific reference

Hē wæs swȳðe spēdig (STR) mann... (“He was a very rich man…“)

3. Using an example, explain the syntactic function(s) of the subjunctive in OE.

Subjunctive = verbal mood expressing unreality, supposition, volition...

In non-dependent clauses it expresses wishes and commands (God ūre helpe – May God help us)

In noun clauses after verbs of saying/thinking/suggesting (“se prēost cwæð þæt ān wer wǣre on Īrlande” = PDE the priest said that + subjunctive)

In adverbial clauses of concession (introduced by þēah (þe))

4. How did sound change and morphological analogy affect the syntax of OE?

Sound change leads (in most cases) to simplification of pronunciation → simplification of spelling → shorter, easier forms in language

Analogy leads to morphological leveling (generalization of inflections).

As the number of endings decreases, there is a growing need for a grammatical word order which would express grammatical categories which were previously expressed by the endings.

5. Describe briefly the character and systemic role of word order in OE.

‐ The word order of OE is (relatively) free and it rests heavily on grammatical concord

Sometimes there is a variation in the grammatical concord, the variation signalizes the forthcoming change

However, sometimes there are ambiguities, which are in PDE sorted by the fixed WO, example: He fulworhte on Eferwic ðæt ǣnlice mynster ðe his mæg Eadwine ǣr begunnen hæfde. („He completed in York the noble minster that his kinsman Eadwine had previously begun.“) in OE, it can be read in two ways ↓ but in PDE there is no such ambiguity

a) he had started it = perfect

b) he had it started = causative

Similar case of ambiguity: scribes were sitting (progressive) X sitting scribes (modification) → in OE, both forms are identical

Subject: may be empty, SV and VS

Object: OV (originally) and VO (SOV, SVO)