9.The Grammar ofMiddle English and Rise of a Written Standard

HOMEREADING 9 questions

1. Explain and discuss the creolization scenario of ME. What are the arguments for and against it?

• a theory that explains the changes in grammar (most noun inflections lost, but an article system and obligatory subject place holders, it and there were acquired) and lexicon during the ME period are a result of creolization • Creolization = a process in which a pidgin evolves to become a native language, or creole • Pidgins develop when people, who speak different languages come into contact and need to communicate somehow. Therefore, pidgins are functionally limited, grammatically reduced and typically short-lived. They are not fully real languages, as they are not the native language of any community, but are usually used for trade etc. • But, if children begin to learn pidgin as their mother language, it becomes more complex and becomes a creole

• Thus, this theory proposes ME as a hybrid language – a creole of French and English (Germanic phonology and syntax, French affected lexicon). It suggests that the simplification of grammar resulted from interference between French and English and their inflections and also, another result of creolization -> the extensive borrowing of vocabulary from French

COUNTER ARGUMENTS However, this theory hasn’t been very widely accepted and there are quite many arguments against the theory in the chapter, basically saying that the influence of French was extensive in some ways, but not extensive enough for the situation to be called creolization, it was rather intensive language contact • French wasn’t used very extensively in eNGLAND – the aristocracy spoke French, but the rest of the people, around 90% of the population spoke English • Another argument against the theory is its rootedness in the vocabulary borrowing from French – there of course is an enormous influence of French on Middle English vocabulary, but vocabulary itself cannot be considered a main criterion for the creolization of a language (and, moreover, no structural changes can be attributed directly to French) Many of the changes of which we see the result in ME, originated already in OE, even though the contact with French sped up the developments • The minimal effect French actually had on English phonology, which can be seen in the ME dialects themselves – the ones that were most in contact with French – the Southern dialects – showed the least amount of change, and the Northern dialects, least in contact with the French showed the greatest amount of innovation • No phonemes were borrowed from French (not even ž, which was added by the process of palatalization and thus producing increased phonological symmetry š-ž), there was no French influence on English word order or rules of concord • the impact of French was limited to lexical borrowings, derivational affixes (able), the phonemicization of certain allophonic pairs (initial f/v)

ARGUMENTS FOR THE THEORY • Even though it cannot be really a convincing argument for the creolization theory, the impact of French on English vocabulary really is extensive. Out of some of the most common words, less than half (or around a quarter in larger samples) are of Germanic origin. • And what is also important is that the influence of French increases with the more common vocabulary (and the influence of other non-Germanic languages actually decreases) • So, to conclude, what perhaps gives rise to such theories of creolization is the fact that there is this much impact on the English vocabulary, therefore the situation isn’t any ordinary borrowing between languages – it is a combined cultural appeal and forced linguistic contact from the conquering power.

The creolization scenario argument started with French, but also can be thought of in relation with Old Norse or Welsh (Celtic)

2. Which factors contributed to the need for (or supported the rise of) Standard English?   • All ME dialects considered suitable for recording texts, even though their diversity sometimes made communication difficult, there was no strong need for a unified dialect (perhaps because Latin and later French could serve as a written standard among learned people) • After 1400 -> situation changes, 1476 Caxton’s printing press (multiple books instead of unique manuscripts -> the books had to use a conventional spelling) o Language becomes responsibility of the publisher, might be divorced from the author’s speech • Growing urban population, results of migrations, London -> necessary for people from different parts of the country to communicate easily • The major element of the Wycliffite program: translation of the Bible into the language of the “lewd”, unlearned people, the following Protestant Reformation: individual’s acces to the word of God o Both movements created the need for a universally understood dialect of English • National language also encouraged by a sense of English patriotism (following victories of the 100 years War)

• The standard perhaps developing out of a prestige dialect, the Chancery standard, centered in London • The influence of the merchant/middle classes may have been underestimated as well, als more northerly dialects accompanying migrants into the capital city

3. Give a summary of grammatical losses and gains related to nouns during the ME period.

ME nouns underwent processes of reduction and analogy. The complicated OE inflectional system was reduced

Summary of the inflectional changes in nouns • OE noun classes and genders stopped being distinct • Case was marked only in the sg. o Two cases were distinguished: genitive, common case (rather than four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative) • Analogical, or productive markers for the genitive and plural developed from the OE a-stem endings (they replaced many OE endings, although a few remnant forms continued in use)

In detail: • sg. nom., acc.: zero ending (e.g. hound), gen.: -(e)s (houndes), dat.: zero, -e (hound(e)), pl. all cases: -(e)s (houndes) • the dative sg. –e disappeared early in ME, which leaves us with more or less today´s inflections • the genitive sg. –(e)s was the analogical, productive genitive ending, added to nouns of all classes, including French loan words (the apostrophe of the genitive that we use now is a later convention) o a few remnant genitive forms from OE preserved non-productive inflections -> such as s-less genitives

The generalized plural marker vs. -en • The OE nominative and accusative plural –as changed into –(e)s in ME, it became the ending for the plural (all classes, but also all cases) = generalized plural marker, it replaced the dative plural –um > -en, the genitive plural –ena, -a > -ene, -e from OE o Its use occurred early in the Northern and Midlands dialects and later in the 14th century in the South. It was slowed by a rival plural marker deriving from the nominative and accusative plural of the weak declension, -an > -en (especially found in texts from the South – dev(e)len – devils, worden – words etc.) ♣ But –en is preserved in children, brethren, poetic kine, also oxen (a remnant OE weak noun) ♣ In Shakespeare´s time, -en remained popular, e.g. shoen

Other changes of plurals: o Umlauted plurals of the root-consonant stem declension remain in Middle English - foot/feet, but also are replaced with analogical s-plurals o Endingless plurals of the neuter a-stem also can be found – swyn/swyn, but also are replaced with analogical s-plurals later – hors/hors, horses / thing/thing, thinges o R-plurals of the z-stem declension survive in ME – lambre, children, often with the addiction of weak –en plural marker (children)

4. Summarize the developments in the pronominal system during ME.

Personal pronouns • Pronouns became obligatory sentence elements. They became important because of the loss of personal inflections on the verb • ME pronouns had 3 distinct case forms: nominative, objective, genitive (generalized objective case is based on the form of the old dative case, with the exception of 3rd-p neuter, which uses the old accusative). In Southern texts, accusative forms may be found along with the dative forms • Dual number was lost (by early ME) • Variant forms of 3rd-p sg fem pronoun appear in ME o (1) he/ho type – South, West Midlands, derives from OE, 2) scho type – North, perhaps from OE fem demonstrative, 3) sche/she type – East Midlands, obscure origin, source of the Modern English she • ON 3rd-p pl pronouns borrowed in late OE, appear in texts along with native forms • An unstressed variant of 1st-p sg. Pronoun developed (i or y), originated in the North, the uppercase I of today became standard only with printing • An unstressed variant of 3rd-p sg. neuter it also grew dominant in ME • ME genitive of 3rd-p sg neuter is his (from OE), the modern its is a later development • Two new genitive forms appeared in ME (n-less forms from min and thin: mi, thi. The n-form appears before a word with a vowel, the other appears before a word with a consonant. ME also uses the n-form in postposition, like the ModE a friend of mine) o The other persons and numbers developed additional genitive forms for use in postposition, adding a final –s if not already present

Demonstrative pronouns • A severe reduction in ME o In OE, the 2 demonstratives are inflected for 2 numbers, 3 genders, 3-5 cases • Only 5 distinct forms remain by the end of ME period • The became invariable (undeclinable), assumed a new function (demonstratives in OE have a deictic function – objects close/far from the speaker, the ME form developed an anaphoric function, referring back to something already mentioned, or what we might call something definite.) • The remaining demonstrative forms continue to serve a deictic fction today. o That derives from neuter sg nominative and accusative of the OE “that” o Those derives from the nominate and accusative pl of the OE “that”, + an analogical –s pl. ending o This derives from neuter sg nominative and accusative of the OE “this” o These derives by analogy with the addition of the adj. pl. ending –e to the masc. sg. nominative form of OE “this”

Interrogative pronouns • Little changed (a spelling change hw > wh, a few phonetic changes) • The objective forms of the interrogative pronoun derive from the masculine dative and neuter accusative, why derives from the neuter instrumental • In ME, interrogative pronouns began to be used as relative pronouns, first indefinitely, then more generally. The most common relative pronoun in ME is that • Also common are compound relative pronouns who that, whom that etc.

- Accompanying the loss of inflections in ME adj, nouns and demonstratives was the loss of grammatical gender - for internal and external reasons: o Inherent difficulties (grammatical x biological clashes in gender) o Phonetic weakening, prompted the collapse of noun classes (based on gener) o External: dual gender system of French may have been confusing for English system, sometimes the genders btw English and French differed (la lune vs masc. mona)

5. Summarize the changes in the verbal system during ME.

verb classes - a few losses from OE - 7 classes of strong verbs remained intact, affected only by vowel shifts and open syllable lengthening - Ablaut appears to work according to the expected in ME strong verbs, though analogy regularizes certain forms (e.g. analogical tendency to reduce the four-way vowel gradation to a three-way one) - A number of ME verbs have both strong and weak past tense forms (strong verbs began to take weak endings) - Other types of verbs (weak, anomalous, preterit-present, impersonal) are retained in ME but with changes o Only 2 classes of weak verbs in ME (OE has 3), 2 forms of the dental suffix: -ed(e), -de or –te o The anomalous verbs remain irregular in ME (e.g. be) o The preterite-present verbs underwent changes in meaning and syntactic function, began to be used more often as auxiliary verbs, acquired some of the modal meanings they have in ModE o Impersonal verbs (no personal subject, but the experiencer in the dative) remained quite common in ME, perhaps reinforced by the French reflexive: me mette – there was a dream to me. In ModE, these are persona constructions with an experiencer subject (I dreamed) - By ME period, the weak pattern is the productive/analogical verb pattern for English (when new verbs are added, they take the dental suffix for past tense, such as verbs from French: crie/cryede/cryd, preye/preyede/preyd)

Inflectional endings - Undergo severe levelling in ME because of phonological reduction - The conservative South. dialect develops its verb inflections as expected - The more innovative Northern dialect adopts the ending –es (-is) everywhere but the 1st-p sg - The Midlands dialects reach a compromise: they use both the Northern ending and the inherited OE ending in the 3rd-p sg and in the plural, they employ the Northern ending or substitute the plural inflection from the subjunctive, restores a distinction lost by phonetic change - The only really distinct ending is the 2nd-p sg of weak verbs, –est - The infinitive gradually lost its ending by phonetic change, the inflected infinitive of OE survived into ME, with the resulting for known as the “to-infinitive” (there was also the plain/bare infinitive and the for-to-infinitive) - The expected form of the present participle in ME is –end(e), but there are other forms - The past participle: -en for strong verbs, -ed, -d, -t for weak verbs

6. Discuss the rise of periphrastic constructions in ME.

- The loss and levelling of inflections in ME accompanied 2 changes in grammar: rise in periphrasis and the development of a more fixed word order (typical of a shift from a highly synthetic to an analytic language) - Periphrases in ME: the to-periphrasis, the of-periphrasis, passive, perfect, future, progressive, modal subjunctive - With no distinction between nominative and accusative case in nouns, word order came to mark the S (placed before the V) and the O (placed after the V) - The to-periphrasis appears in late OE, but may have been reinforced by the comparable French Oi construction with à “to” - The of-periphrasis may have been reinforced by the French genitive construction with de “of” - Genitive continued to be marked inflectionally, the of-genitive became increasingly common in ME, especially to express the non-possessive genitive functions (subjective the story of Troye, objective delit of synne, partitive one blodes drope) - Periphrases of the passive and the perfect already existed in OE, underwent minor changes in ME, in the passive, the OE verb worthe “become” was gradually lost, leaving only be as the auxiliary of the passive - 3 additional verbal periphrastic forms: the future, progressive and modal subjunctive developed in the ME period, formed with a finite auxiliary + an infinitive / participle o Though ME allows the future to be expressed by the simple present (as in OE) o However, the future is increasingly expressed by periphrases with auxiliaries will (originally: intention), shall (originally: obligation) + an infinitive (Y shal rise vp, and go to my fadir) - The progressive, a periphrase of auxiliary be + present participle, developed gradually

7. What is meant by the "modal subjunctive" on p. 301? How do the changes in subjunctive forms relate to the rise of importance of preterite-present verbs?

• It’s an additional verbal periphrastic form with a finite auxiliary + an infinitive/participle (-> a subjunctive with a modal verb) • Because the inflectional ending for the subjunctive ceased to be distinctive and fell out of use, the OE preterit-present verbs become increasingly important for expressing non-factual actions and states, functioning as auxiliaries in combination with an infinitive: o demeden thei schulden take more (Matthew 20: 11) ‘they expected they should receive more’ o And he was wrooth, and wolde not come in (Luke 15: 28) ‘And he was angry and was not willing to go in’

8. Why do you think we may find cases of OV word order in main clauses especially with pronominal objects?

• The word order of Middle English is more fixed than that of Old English but more flexible than that of Modern English • Unmarked WO : S + (auxiliary) + V + (O) • Remnant OV word order especially with object pronouns, it is especially common with impersonal verbs -> a change developing in the impersonal construction in ME (the appearance of a dummy it S : me thynketh it – « it seems to me »

9. Discuss the word order in ME negative sentences, questions, subordinate clauses and comment on cases of inversion.

• Negation differed from OE, one of these three patterns: 1. subject + ne +{auxiliary, verb} + (object) . . . 2. subject + ne +{auxiliary, verb} + nat + (object) . . . 3. subject + {auxiliary, verb} + nat + (object) . . . o In later ME, it was more common to use a reinforcing particle, after the verb or auxiliary o By mid 14th cent, the pre-verbal negative usually omitted o But multiple negation remained common throughout the period • Inverted WO: adverb + (auxiliary, verb) + S + (O) … o Inversion may occur with an initial adverb of time, directional adverb (ME thanne, now, up) o Also takes place when the O is moved to the beginning of the sentence for emphasis, and when the ModE sentence would begin with a there-S (developed during ME) o The inversion of S and V is a tendency rather than a rule • Questions: in both yes/no questions and content questions, inverted WO is the rule: (inter.pronoun) + (auxiliary, verb) + S + (O). Auxiliary verb is not obligatory. • Subordinate clauses: generally SVO. A few remnant examples of “verb final” order: subordinating conjunction + S + (O) + V • Imperative sentences: begin with the verb: (verb, auxiliary) + (S) + (O). Trusteth me wel.

10. Discuss the change from synthetic to analytic language system in relation to pull and push chains.

• The structural changes which took place in Middle English—the leveling and loss of inflections and the development of periphrases and fixed word order—are the most significant and far-reaching grammatical changes in the history of the language. !! • We are not certain of the causal relationship among them • Conventional view: inflections started disappearing first as a result of phonetic change, which created a need for new constructions to mark grammatical distinctions. o This view sees the shift as a drag chain (certain changes leave gaps, other forms are dragged to fill them.) o But - this view postulates either a sudden changeover from inflections to periphrases or a period in which the language may have had neither means available, since inflections had been lost but periphrases had not developed fully • Opposite view: inflections were lost because they ceased to be functional, not because sound change eroded them. Periphrases predated the loss of inflections and competed with them, often providing greater clarity & utility. o This view sees the shift as a push chain (a more effective form pushes out a weaker one.) o But – scholars can’t prove that inflections are inherently unclear of ineffective, and unless this assertion can be properly established, we have no reliable way to explain the loss of inflectional fction • The shift from synthetic to analytic processes is basically a conservative change in that the same grammatical distinctions are expressed, even though different means are used. While most noun inflections are lost, we can signal the role or case of a noun by its position in the sentence or its occurrence after a preposition; while person and number distinctions on the verb are severely reduced, we denote these by means of obligatory subjects. • Despite the major conservative shift from synthetic to analytic in the Middle English period, we can nonetheless point to a number of innovative changes. Here, some grammatical distinction was gained or lost: the dual number, grammatical gen der, noun classes, and two declensions of the adjective were lost; an article system and obligatory subject place holders (it and there) were acquired.

11. What is a standard dialect and what features does it usually have? List the four competing dialects which, according to Samuels, contributed to Standard English.

• A standard is not usually one pure regional dialect, but a compromise dialect, widely intelligible and incorporating linguistic elements from other areas. o It occupies a geographically central position and does not have extreme features, either of an innovative or a conservative kind o the standard is associated with prestige

• strong support for the traditional view that the East Midland dialect, spe cifically that of London, became the standard. The East Midlands was the largest and most populous region, and also the wealthiest • The East Midland dialect had features which made it a suitable basis for the standard. • The East Midland dialect had all of the necessary qualities, not being as conservative as the Southern dialect nor as innovative as the Northern. It was spoken in a central part of England, and used by those in high political and social positions.

• This view is undoubtedly simplified. 4 competing dialects contributed : o the early London dialect, reflecting primarily Essex features;

o a later London dialect, incorporating the dialect of different immigrant groups, first those from surrounding areas, then those from East Anglia, and later those from the Central and East Midlands;

o the dialect used by John Wyclif and the itinerant priests who distributed his Bible translation; this was a Central Midlands variety from the Oxford region; and

o the Chancery standard, the form of written English used in state documents produced at the Exchequer in Westminster (next to London on the Thames) and later in Chancery Lane in London when English began to be used for official purposes after 1430; more Central in nature, the texts of this dialect incorporate conservative West Saxon practices but few East Anglian features.

• 4 linked stages in the process of standardization: selection of a dialect as the dominant variety, acceptance of that dialect by the educated and powerful classes, elaboration of that dialect’s functions, codification of that dialect

12. Explain the terms: inorganic ‘e’, absolute superlative, compromise dialect.

• Inorganic “e”: an “e” added to a word which etymologically never had one, often for the purposes of poetic meter in the more conservative ME poetry (e.g. OE lar > ME lore) • Absolute superlative: a common construction to express high degree, consists of an intensifying adverb with the adjective in the positive degree (e.g. ful good, ryght yong) • Compromise dialect: usually the case of a standard (dialect), not a pure regional dialect, but a dialect which is widely intelligible and incorporates linguistic elements from other (multiple) areas