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Secondly: There was a like disregard of Gender, which had in most instances been fixed by termination, according to rules both difficult and uncertain, like those which still perplex learners in the continental Gothic tongues. Not only were the names of things without life masculine, feminine, or neuter, according to their endings; but some names of living creatures were neuter, the termination overbearing the meaning.*
Confusion was inevitable in a time when the language was neglected : and a very obvious remedy presented itself, after a while, in our modern rule of determining all genders by the signification of the words.
Thirdly: The Definite and Indefinite Declensions of Adjectives are confounded; and the Feminine terminations of adjectives and pronouns are neglected. We have seen, in the Chronicle, the inflectional terminations of the adjectives disappearing altogether; although some of these did not altogether lose their hold for many generations.t
Fourthly: There is an occasional use of the Weak preterites and participles of verbs, (the forms which our grammarians have been accustomed to call Regular,) instead of the Strong or Irregular forms.
Fifthly: There is a constant substitution of -en for -on in the Plurals of Verbs; and the final -e is often discarded.
Sixthly: There is great uncertainty in the Government of Prepositions.
Having already encountered all the corruptions thus enumerated, we have really few others to learn, and none that are nearly so important. A few there are, however, which throw light on the formation of the new tongue.
Besides the article an (still used also as a numeral, and declined), our other article à now appears, being used as indeclinable, and prefixed to consonants, as with us. The gender of nouns, pretty correct in the earlier text, is less so in the later; and the feminine is often neglected altogether. In respect of pronouns, the accusative him for hine, (already traceable in the Chronicle)
* Thus, wif, a woman, was neuter. The word was not promoted to the dignity of real gender till it was compounded in wif-man (literally, a female-man), whence comes woman.
+ “All the indefinite inflections of the adjective may be found in the manuscripts of the thirteenth century; but there is much inconsistency in the manner of using them, and that sometimes even in the same man. uscript. The only inflections (of the adjective) which survived long enough to affect the language of Chaucer and his contemporaries, were those of the nominative and genitive plural.” Guest: in the Transactions of the Philological Society; vol. i.: 1844.
appears frequently in the later text; and in it, too, the relative takes the undeclined form woche, instead of the older whilc or wulc. The conjugation of verbs is generally that of the AngloSaxon, with the exceptions already noted : but it suffers also certain other changes, which lead us fast towards English. The preposition to is inserted before infinitives; the common infinitive termination -an is changed into -en (as likewise elsewhere the final -a into -e); the final -n of the infinitive is omitted, sometimes in the earlier manuscript, and generally in the later; and a difficult gerundive form in-nne or ne, (which has not happened to occur to us,) is indeed retained, but is confounded with the present participle in-nde, the original of our participle in -ing.
5. A few lines of the Brut, with the scantiest annotation, may suffice to exemplify these remarks, and serve, in some degree, as a ground of comparison with the older diction of the Chronicle.
Our extract is from the account of the great battle of Bath, in which the illustrious Arthur is said to have signally discomfited the Saxons. The semi-stanzas are separated by colons.*
Ther weoren Sæxisce men: folken' alre? ærmest ;3
men of-folks all most-wretched;
Tháish Arthur: athelest1o kingen:11
For folca; genitive plural, of folc. * Ealra (sometimes alra) is the correct genitive plural of eall or all. * Literally, poorest (German). See Cædmon, Note 5. 5 For léoda; from leod (German, leute).
• Literally, fey-ship; Anglo-Saxon, fæge; Scottish fey. See Guy Mannering.
8 Good Anglo-Saxon from inf. abelgan. 9 Good Anglo-Saxon. The verb beon, to be, gives, in the present, ic beo, thú byst, he byth ; and vesan, to be, gives ic eom, thú eart, he is.
Superlative from the Anglo-Saxon, æthel or ethel (German edel). u The error marked in Note 1.
* Madden's Layamon, iii. 468–471; the text of the older manuscript.
1. Principle of the Cherise-Inferás is
Step alresiy esensies LTE
25 : -
22 ters. The LASS LG Santies-ar Angka beri The Scottish Tong is met 14 Grest Chrages ist F2 Lazat Das Rose
1. ESCAPISG frumrit reached an era
sa to English. The press 1 SMITH deviates from its Gam.. TITV
Some of tbe 1 15 12A us, suggest and 33531 17:55 lead us away íveis Iriar **smiy many of the said we are anaz The Anglo
em 14.1 turg 1 * tos sans tent, was rieb in ST EN 109 VI VA given word, mat * wscast ***pressed by channes ***on "*"11, *13* *., ***** other words. E srno *** tions disappearai Neuty கரவர itease of an idea dearies haya ஈடா- 1 anges ias as est to join with that worll other words Donations
Sueh a change or when the indlustuse só sai sety have the place by auxiliary vene, au tuse they nown by
plified when fue gaitu un
Whar?? Colgrim at-stod : and æc stal's wrohte:
Nú him is al swá there gat: ther hel' thene hul wat:
Ich am wulf, and he is gat: the gumelo scal beon faie : 20 I am wolf, and he is goat : the man shall be fey!
19 Modern spelling, for hw-. 13 Hence stall; perhaps here it means fight; whence stalwart, brave.
14 The word gat is first used correctly as feminine, being joined with there : and then it is held as masculine, being represented by he. But, possibly, he may be a corruption for the feminine heó, which seems to have sometimes taken that form in the later dialect of the west. See Transactions of the Philological Society: vol. i. p. 279: 1844.
15 A noun from windan, to wind or twine.
17 From man; as the Old English and Scottish word, menye or meinye, a company. 18 'Witan, to depart. 19 Anglo-Saxon, guma.
20 See Note 6.
The passage, with a translation, is also in Guest's “History of English Rhythms,” vol. ii. 1838.