You are on page 1of 47



In the introductory chapter we are going to deal with things such as: The External and
Internal History of English, Synchrony and Diachrony, The Importance and Diversity of
the English language, The Discovery of Sanskrit, Grimms Law and Verners Law,
English within the Indo-European family, and From Pre-Roman Britain to the
Scandinavian Invasions.
Here, we will try to look at the past of Present Day English so as to see how we reached
this step. English does not belong to the same family of Latin languages, such as
French, Spanish, Romanian or Italian. Once upon a time, we had the INDOEUROPEAN tree of languages. This big tree had many branches: Romance (Latin,
Spanish, etc.), Celtic (English is not), Balto-Slavic (Hungarian, Russian), Germanic
(English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic). Do not confuse Germanic
with German, which is the offspring of the first.
It is the very first period in the history of English. It has three sub-periods:
Pre-Old English anything that goes before Old English. From 450 to 700, until the
apparition of the first written manuscripts. Before Englaland, the place was called
Britannia by the peoples who used to live there. Here we study about the different
civilizations who decided for one reason or another to conquer and settle the island. The
date of the middle of the fifth century for the beginning of this period is chosen because
it was then when the Romans left and the Germanic tribes begun to attack the island
(Angles, Saxons and Jutes).
Early-Old English 700 to 900 here we have the first written documents and
inscriptions. Beowolf is placed here. It is a period of full inflections. Cases also belong
to inflections, as well as the personal ending in a verb, or inflections in nouns. In this
stage in English, there used to be cases such as Nominative, Accusative, Dative or
Late-Old English 900 to 1100. In this period, we start finding the leveling of
inflections, which means that they start to weaken in the pronunciation, with the result
that all case endings start to disappear.


There are two sub-periods here:
Early-Middle English 1100 to 1300. The texts composed in this period sound very
archaic, as belonging to the OE Period. The Battle of Hastings (1066) is the historical
event which opened the new stage in the English language. After the battle, the Norman
Conquest begun. William Duke of Normandy won the battle and the English King was
killed, so the Duke took the throne of England. From that moment on England was ruled
by Normand Dukes, who made French the language of the court. Apart from it, the
lower classes spoke English, while the churchmen spoke Latin. Well, the English
vocabulary expanded a lot in this period by adopting French words.
Late-Middle English 1300 to 1500. Sir Gwain and the Green Knight, belongs to this
period. It was written in North-West Midlands, a part which in the 14 th century was
highly populated by the Scandinavians, Norwegians mainly. Chaucer also belongs to
this period. Here, we get more leveling of inflections, as well as an expansion of the
vocabulary due to the Norman invasion. French was imposed in England during the
Norman invasion (1066), after the Battle of Hastings. 60% of the English vocabulary
has Latin origin; however, they are pronounced as English words. These words come
from Latin but through French.
Early-Modern English from 1500 to 1650. Renaissance or Elizabethan literature. It is
a period of loss inflections and also Shakespeares period. However, to compensate for
the loss of inflections, they used more prepositions and more verbal tenses. It is also the
time when the auxiliary DO/DOES/DID appeared in the 16 th century and it was
consolidated in the 17th century. The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in
Germany in the 15th and its introduction in England, London by William Caxton in 1476
changed the English language fully. The printing press helped to homogenize the
various dialects existing at the time in England and with its help many people learned to
read and write. Before the printing press, if you wanted a book, it had to be copied for
you by scribes or monks, and you could never find two identical manuscripts. The
second advantage was that books became cheaper and more people had access to
knowledge with the consequence to learn how to read and write, thus they became
educated. This is the period when the Renaissance was opened. Thus, this is the opening
door to Renaissance.
Late-Modern English from 1650 to 1800. It is the time of a more sophisticated syntax,
prescription of grammar, books were written. The double negation started to be
considered a grammatical incorrect term.
Today we use what is called Present Day English (PDE) or Present English (PE).
We are going to study about all the stages and we are going to compare the External and
the Internal history of language. We are also going to study about the linguistic

consequences each tribe had on the language. The book is recommended due to its very
good external history.
TUTORIALS: Monday and Tuesday: 10:00 13:00.
EXTRA LECTURES: March and April

The difference between INTERNAL and EXTERNAL history. We are going to study
them both complementarily. INTERNAL history of the English language had to do with
the linguistic evolution of the structure of the language. As a language, we can
distinguish different fields.
Morphology (very simplified) Spanish marks both gender (feminine/masculine) and
number (singular/plural) in adjectives; in English we have no variation for adjectives, as
they are fixed. In the early stages of the language, adjectives were inflected; they had
different forms according to gender, number and case.
Phonology is also part of the internal history (evolution of sounds). OE bn bone
- (macron) it marks the length of the vowel, so it is pronounced as a long a. It has
evolved with the passing of time to the diphthong //. Hs is house /a/. The s
was not present in island before the Renaissance period, just as the b in doubt or
in subtle, but in that period they had a complex of inferiority with respects to the other
Latin languages which had, for example isla.
Syntax also changed a lot. For example I know not thee would be I do not know
you. The auxiliary do was created in the 16 th century and it was consolidated along
the 17th century. Thee is a personal pronoun for second person singular; as well as
thou you thy/thine yours they disappeared along the ModE period even
though they are still maintained in religious texts. They are collectively known as
th-forms. In Yorkshire, they still retain these forms, but they are dialectal.
On the other hand, EXTERNAL history has to do with social, economic, political and
cultural events which had a direct influence on the language. We cannot say that these
external forces have always and in all the periods a huge impact; for example, OE is
very influenced by the external events. Moreover, not all the internal parts of the
language are affected by these events, vocabulary is the main one.
Two more very important concepts are SYNCHRONY and DIACHRONY. The first one
refers to the study of PDE, while the second one treats with the study of language from
its beginnings and all the events which influenced, changed and helped it to develop.
We usually study synchrony language used here and now. This subject, however,
presents a different content, a diachronic one, more specifically. The diachronic
approach will help us acquire the tools to read for ourselves a piece of literature

composed in Englishs early days. Although we choose Standard English, there are
many more varieties. Negating twice in English had always been perfect until the 18 th
century when some grammarian decided that negating twice is illogical as it means you
affirm something. It is the same as double comparative formulae, which are very real
nowadays and also very popular until the 18 th century. Even though they are real
nowadays, they are not standard, but varieties. African-American Vernacular English is
the variety spoken by the African-American community in the United States; for them,
if you do not used double comparative formulae, you do not belong to the group.
Goose geese
Bag bags
Rope ropes
Child children
Ox oxen
Here, we can see different formulae for the formation of the plurals. Oxen, children
and geese are called irregular plurals. However, from a diachronic point of view, the
irregular plurals are the regulars from the past because they have always been like this,
so we call them irregular from a synchronic approach. We seem to be very much guided
by a synchronic view towards language. Umlaut Plural or FRONT MUTATED are the
irregular; for example, man men.

Why do languages change? All living languages are subject to change. Many linguists
distinguish between actuation or innovation, on the one side, and spread or diffusion,
on the other side. Innovation refers to the introduction of a variant form in the English
language. Very often, what happens is that the variant form is considered a mistake
because it has not been fully admitted by the group of speakers. When the variant makes
its way in the group, it is called innovation. Diffusion means that one form of the
established group travels to another place, for example from big cities to smaller towns.
For diffusion to exist we need the variant forms, so as to have something to diffuse.
Variants are terms to say one thing or another in different ways. For example, linguistic
variation in the phonological field would be in the word either, which could be
pronounced as /i:/ or /ai/; the first one is AmE, while the second is BrE. Another
example, tomato, which could be /a:/ or /ei/. The difference between voiced and
voiceless is that when a sound is voiceless we do not use our voice chords when
pronouncing it. The voiced sound for the representation th is / /, while the voiceless
is //. For the first one the point of articulation is interdental. Not only pronunciation is
affected by linguistic variation, vocabulary as well. Thus, we have film in BrE and
movie in AmE. Another example would be rest room AmE or toilet BrE. There is

also variation affecting syntax; for instance, Have you not met Mr. Jones? or
Havent you met Mr. Jones?. Spelling is also affected: colour BrE or color AmE.
There are three main engines which encourage linguistic change.
On the one side, we get the structural engine, which may affect any part of the
language system. For example, we have more bread, uncountable noun, and less
bread; thus, we use the quantifier for uncountable nouns. More loaves/fewer loaves
is used when the noun is countable. However, statistics say that there is a variant form,
less, which becomes more popular with countable nouns as well (due to the process of
analogy regarding the first -). This is a kind of change that we call structural.
Social engines also encourage linguistic change. The first use of a language is to give or
receive information from somebody. But there is another very important use of
language, which is social. When we choose to use some words in the detriment of
others, we are identifying ourselves with a group or an ideology. For example, many
times the non-standard speakers of English use the past participle of some verb so as to
express a past and finished action: I done it!. We goes is also used so as to make
narration more vivid. The final -es is in fact the mark of the plural which was always
there since OE period, in the North, I mean. So, someone who says this is classifying
her/himself as a non-standard speaker of English.
Moreover, we have functional factors. In this group we mainly find intensifiers, which
are used in a language as a means to be more expressive. In this order of ideas, we know
that there are some expressions which our forefathers used and we do not want to use
pretty cheap is subject to quicker change because people want to be creative. The
choice of an intensifier can determine our degree of emphatic. There is another subfactor in this last step, which we call economy of effort. It has an impact on
pronunciation; more specifically is the reduction of the consonant cluster in example
such as fasten/often/Christmas/subtle/receipt, where the t and b and p are not
Apart from these factors, there are also some extra-linguistic factors, such as changes
in the world which have an influence on the way languages are evolving. For example,
new inventions are extra-linguistic factors; for example, smart-phones/IPods/Podcasts. However, there seems to be more inertia than change, which is the
reason why we do not fully and easily understand texts written hundreds of years ago.
PDE is not fixed, as it is subject to continuous change. For example, sushi was
introduced in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for the first time in 1893. Back
then, it was a specialized term, while nowadays pretty everybody knows what it means
or what it is. Another example in this category could be LED, which is an acronym for
Light Emitting Diode; twenty years ago there was no such thing so people did not need
any word to name something which did not exist. Twoc(k) is another acronym
meaning taken without the owners consent. This word was created in the 1990s in

Britain. -gate used as a suffix is more and more often employed since the 1970s
Watergate Scandal starring President Nixon. It is mainly used in journalism.

Semantics is also changing. Cwean, which in OE meant to say, having a very
broad field, with the passing of time was limited, nowadays meaning to quote; thus,
the OE sequence cw was replaced in ME period by the French group qu. However,
the OE grapheme is still maintained today as a phoneme.
Synchronic grammar also passes through a phase of change. Thus, may/might is
being gradually replaced by can/could. With this, we can also add that in the 20 th
century the contracted form maynt was used.
In the field of phonology there are also changes related to intonation. It is very
important since different things can be transmitted using the same words but different
intonations. Here we have an intonation pattern called HRT (High-Rising Tone or
Australian Question Intonation). The usage of this intonation pattern is related to the
fact that a declarative sentence is used with the intonation as being an interrogative one.
It started to be used in Sydney, Australia in the 1960s by young women belonging to the
working class. It seems that from Australia it migrated to the United Kingdom by means
of a TV series called Neighbors. Some other critics believe that it originated in
California in the 1980s and it was used by Valley Girls. One thing is clear, it is gender
marked and it may be used so as to put emphasis on what is being said or to be polite or
to look for the interlocutors approval.
Some facts: in Shakespeares days, it is thought that English was spoken by 2-5 million
people in all around the world. Now, according to David Crystal, between Elizabeth I
and the beginning of Elizabeth IIs Reign, 51 million people speak English around the
world. According to D. Graddol, nowadays 375 million people speak it as a mother
tongue, while the same number of people uses it as a second language. EFL stands for
English as a Foreign Language. An average of 750 million people speaks it as a foreign
language. Pidgin English is a kind of hybrid language which has emerged from the
combination of English and the local language. It presents a very limited grammar and
vocabulary as it is not yet fully developed. It just has the basis. The IMPORTANCE OF
ENGLISH has to be related not only with the language per se, but with the people who
spoke it first and had influence in the world of politics, economy, culture or arts. This
language functions differently depending on the country it is used in; thus, it can be
used as a mother tongue, second language or official language or it may help to the
creation of Pidgin and Creole languages. However, another important usage is as
Lingua Franca because it is a language for intercommunication. It seems that there are
countries where people have to speak even more than two languages, they are trilingual.
Thus, in India, after achieving the independence (1947), chose as their official/national
language Hindi, English was retained as a second language because it proved to work

pretty good and if they happen to be born is a region with a language different than
Hindi, well they learn that language as well. And here we are talking about three
languages being learned so as to get along in the society. When the territories gain
independence from the British Crown, they either chose one of their local languages as
national language, or they maintained English as the national language because just
because it proved to function well; for practical reasons, mainly.
Adjectives are pretty easy as they only have one form, they are invariable (good
boy(s)/girl(s)). However, in OE they could be weak or strong. Nouns are also simple,
they only present singular and plural (boy/s). Verbs are also easy because for example
we only have go for almost all the persons, but the third person singular. Vocabulary
is also pretty simple as words mainly come either from Latin or German; thus, we may
use the German term hearty or the Latin one cordial, with different nuances. It
seems that approximately 350 languages enriched English. From Latin, via French, it is
estimated that more than 60% of the English vocabulary came. However, the language
is not a Romance, but a Germanic one. In the process of development, English has
acquired natural gender, in the detriment of grammatical one. It was born in the 14 th
century as until that point, in the OE period and part of the ME period, people had
grammatical gender. Thus, the morphology of English has been very simplified with the
passing of time.

Learning English presents a series of advantages because the language itself is pretty
easy to learn, but it was not so in the past. Some easy aspects are those related to
vocabulary, as nearly 60% of it comes from Latin through French. Another advantage of
the English language is that it nowadays presents natural gender in nouns, which was
established all along Britain in the 14 th century, which forms part of what we call Late
ME; before that, only grammatical gender existed. Animate living beings were referred
by their natural gender as he or she, while inanimate beings as it. In languages
which still use grammatical gender, German for example, when learning nouns, we
learn them with a particle in front which corresponds to the grammatical gender; thus,
Madchen, which means maid and which has a semantically feminine gender,
receives the das demonstrative, which corresponds to a neuter grammatical gender.
Disadvantages of learning English are mainly the ones found in pronunciation, as
unlike Spanish, the English language is not pronounced the way it is written. There are
some reasons why spelling and pronunciation are so different. Lets take some
examples. On the one hand, /i:/, which is a phoneme, thus we pronounce it, can
represent various graphemes in spelling: ee, ea, e, ei, as in bee, sea, be or
receive. On the other hand, we have the // phoneme which in writing can be sh,
ch, t, c, and s, in words like shoe, Chevrolet, nation, ocean and

sugar. It seems that there have been attempts to simplify pronunciation in English;
Theodore Roosevelt, at the beginning of the 20th century, tried to simplify it by coming
up with the idea of stopping writing the final e in a word when it is not pronounced.
Now we are going to study about the work which has been done in the field so as to
discover the origins of the European languages. So we go back in time in the 19 th
century. Linguists were very keen in establishing phonological correspondences
between two languages and by doing so they could find the origin of both of them. For
instance, they compared OE and German. In OE we have bn, while in standard
German we have Bein (read /bain/); OE stn G. Stein. This happens in many
words and after a comparison of long lists of words; they came to the conclusion that
German and English had a common ancestor language. Moreover, they also compared
English with Latin; L. pater E. father; thus L. /p/ is E. /f/. L. nepos E.
nephew; thus L. /p/ is E. /ph/. In the case of Germanic languages, we have to carry out
a process of linguistic reconstruction so as to find out the origin of languages which
come from the branch of the Germanic languages (with the off-spring English, German,
Dutch, Icelandic). The problem with Germanic is that there are no written records of
Proto-Germanic, so we have to reconstruct them. In the case of Romance languages
there is no such a difficulty because there are lots of documents written in both Latin
and Vulgar Latin.
Now the teacher made the famous drawing with the Indo-European Tree/Family of
Languages, with its many branches. One of them is the Germanic/Proto-Germanic
Family with its off-springs English, German and Icelandic and many more. It seems that
at the beginning, the off-springs were just dialects, very similar between themselves as
they belonged to the same family of languages. So, English was spoken by
people/Anglo-Saxons living in Englaland, while Old-High German was spoken from the
8th to the 11th century by the Germanic tribes of what we call today central and southern
Germany and also Switzerland and Austria, but these tribes from the last two countries
developed distinct varieties. But, with the passing of time, the tribes migrated from one
place to another and due to natural/physical barriers such as difficult to be crossed
mountains, as well as migratory waves contributed to the different development of the
dialects coming from the same language until they in themselves formed a language.
Now we are going to talk about THE DISCOVERY OF SANSKRIT, which is the
language of ancient India. Until the later part of the 18 th century, the family relationship
of European on the one side and West Asiatic languages had not been worked out or
grasped and people did not know that they were connected. Until that moment, they
only knew that English, Dutch and German were connected, as well as Spanish, French
and Italian. The scholar Sir William Jones lived in India and he learned Sanskrit and
when he learned this ancient language he was surprised to discover similarities/the
connection/relationship between Sanskrit and European languages, such as Latin and
Greek. Thus, he put forth a theory that Sanskrit, Latin and Greek must have a common
ancestor language. And he went even further and said that even Germanic and Celtic

languages, also had a common ancestor language. So, for the first time in history, a
connection was established between European and Asiatic languages.

GRIMMS LAW. Rasmus Rask and Jacob Grimm in the 19th century discovered
different sets of phonological correspondences which are ever since known as Grimms
law. There are three different sets. What they saw was that there was a system of parallel
sound changes which differentiated the Germanic languages, all of them, from the other
Indo-European languages. This was only related to consonants, which Germanic
speakers pronounced differently from the Indo-European speakers. We are talking about
simple words. Thus, IE was compared with Germanic.

IE voiceless plosives /p/, /t/ and /k/ became in Germanic voiceless

fricatives /f/, //, /h/ if it is initially in the word, or [x] if it is medially.

So, when we talk about phonological correspondences, like here, we are talking about
sounds, thus we put them in between slashes (//); moreover, if we are talking about
the letter, we put it in between <>.
Examples of the law:
L. pes E. foot; L. piscis E. fish.
L. tres E. three.
L. centum E. hundred; L. cornu E. horn.
Honor, honest(y), heir(ess), these words are not English in origin and they are not
in the vocabulary from the very beginning; by the contrary, all the words starting with
h and the letter is aspirated, it means that they were there from the beginning.
Spelling-pronunciation change goes like following. In words like herb or humor,
which came from French and they always aspirated the h, with the massing of time,
due to the fact that the h was there people started to pronounce it.

IE voiced plosives /b/, /d/ and /g/ became in Germanic voiceless plosives
/p/, /t/ and /k/.

L. labium E. lip.
L. dens E tooth; L. duo E. two.
L. genos E. kin. L. genu E. knee. OE cneo (with macron in eo).
- IE voiced fricatives /B/, // and // became voiced plosives /b/, /d/ and /g/.
S. bhratar E. brother.

S. madhu E. mead.
L. hostis E. guest.
L. hortus E. garden.
We do not know why these changes took place but we know that they operated by the
fifth century B.C. this law kind of distinguishes Germanic languages from IndoEuropean ones. There were problems with the first set, even though the second and he
third went all right. Thus, we go back to the first set so as to see why it did not worked
properly. The person who revised it was VERNER. In 1875 he tried to explain in what
way the previous law did not work. Thus, he noticed that the Proto-Germanic (earliest
forms of Germanic) voiceless fricatives became voiced unless they were prevented by
any of the following three conditions:

Being the first sound in the word.

Being next to another voiceless sound.
Having the IE stress on the immediately preceding syllable.
IE voiceless plosives /p/, /t/ and /k/ became /B/, // and // respectively.

As English is a West Germanic Language, in that group of languages Grimms law did
not function as hoped. Thus, L. pater OE fder.
We call IE an ancient language. From it, there were various branches emerging. IndoEuropean languages are called like this because they were spoken from Europe in the
West to India in the East. Ten or eleven branches have been distinguished. Regarding
the Indian branch, The VEDAS or The Sacred Texts of India are the oldest written
texts in ancient Sanskrit. The most ancient go back to 1500 B.C. and the language they
are written in is Vedic Sanskrit. Iranian is located in North-West of India and covers the
Great Plateau of India. Migratory movements have taken Iranian to China and Russia.
Armenian, other branch, is found in a very small area to the south of the Caucasus
Mountains and the eastern end of the Black Sea. Another branch is called Albanian,
located north-west of Greece on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. The Hellenic
branch gave birth to Greek, while the Italic branch gave birth to Latin, which in its
popular form is the ancestor of Spanish, French, Portuguese, Romance languages in
general. There is one more branch called Balto-Slavic, which covers the area in Eastern
Europe. Here we have Baltic and Slavic languages, they form two sub-branches.
Tomorrow we are going to talk about CELTIC. English is not a Celtic language, even
though Celtic is still spoken in French Brittanie, Wheals and Ireland.

Today the teacher put that famous song in Irish Gaelic and gave us some more names of
singers and bands who try to recover the ancient Irish songs. Now we go on with the
Celts. They occupied places like Spain, part of France (Gaul), part of Italy and
Germany, as well as Great Britain. Celtic was the first language spoken in Britain, as far

as scientists know. In the British Isles there were two groups of Celts: Goidelic or
Gaelic Celts were the first group. They occupied for a time Britain and then they were
pushed west and established in Ireland, where they developed their own variety of Irish
Gaelic. From Ireland, some of them moved to Scotland were they developed other
variety of Celtic, known as Scottish Gaelic or Erse, which is still alive. Other small
groups moved to the Isle of Man (placed in between Ireland and Britain), were they
developed the Manx variety, which is now dead.
The second group of Celts was called Cymric or Britannic Celts. When the English
arrived in the 5th century with the Germanic invasions, pushed them to the west, as well.
Thus, they went to Wales and developed the variety Welsh Gaelic, which is still there
nowadays. Another group went to Cornwall and developed the variety called Cornish,
which extinguished in the 18th century. They also went escaping from the Tetons in
Britanie, developing the Breton variety, which is still spoken in France.
Now we are going to move to the most important branch of the Indo-European tree,
Germanic. The problem here is that there are no written evidences of this language. So
we have to reconstruct the language so as to see what possible kind of language it was,
as it antedates Old English. The Germanic languages are classified into three main
groups answering to geographic distribution
1. North Germanic Languages: in Scandinavia and Denmark. The earliest traces
of North Germanic are found in runic inscriptions which date from the 3rd
century after Christ. In its earliest form, it was called Old Norse. In the course of
the 11th century, some dialectal varieties became more important, so we find a
division between the east and the west. Thus, we have East North Germanic
(Old Swedish Modern Swedish; Old Danish Modern Danish and Modern
Norwegian in its most formal form called Riksmaal) and West North Germanic
languages (Old Icelandic Modern Icelandic; Old Norwegian Modern
Norwegian - Landsmaal).
2. East Germanic Languages: the main language which belonged to this division
is Gothic, which is nowadays dead. The main document which is preserved of
Gothic is a fragmentary translation of the Bible. The translation was made by
Bishop Wulfilas in the 4th century. He translated the Bible from Greek. Uppsala
is where the Silver Bible is kept in the Library Carolina Rediviva. There were
two more languages belonging to this division like Burgundian or Vandalic,
which are also dead but we do not have any evidences of them.
3. West Germanic Languages: English is a Low West Germanic language. West
Germanic is sub-divided into two more branches: The High and The Low. The
difference is that the High have underwent the High German Sound Shift. High
German, Middle Franconian, Rhenish Franconian or Bavarian are just more
dialects. In the Low sub-branch we have Old English, which evolved into PDE,
and Old Frisian, spoken in Friesland in Holland. Some believe that in the
category of Low West Germanic languages, there was once upon a time an


Anglo-Frisian branch, which later on separated into OE and Old Franconian. Old
Saxon (Low German) and Old Low Franconian (Dutch and Flemish).
There are two more branches of the IE tree: Hittite and Tokharian, but little is known
about them.
Now we are going to explain what the main topic that characterizes Germanic languages
is. The language that we now call English is the result of the fusion of three varieties
spoken by three different tribes, such as the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. These
are collectively known as THE ENGLISH. Each of the tribes spoke their own variety
and each contributed in its own way to the formation of the English language. It is hard
to say to which extend each of the tribe contributed as there are no written record of that
period. English shares features with the other West Germanic languages. These
characteristics are the following:

The shift of the consonants as explained by Grimms Law.

Like other West Germanic languages, English presented weak and strong
declensions in adjectives.
English presented weak and strong conjugations in verbs. Today we call them
regular and irregular.
The adoption of a strong stress on the root syllable of most words. This
characteristic is to be blamed for the gradual disappearance of inflections in
English. E. gate G. Gasse; E. water G. Wasser this is the difference
of the Second Sound Shift.

OE has started in the middle of the 5th century because it is then when the Germanic
invasions took place. The first written manuscripts appeared in the 8 th century. By the
time, OE was a synthetic language, which means that it was fully inflected. Early ME
was still sounding like OE, while Late ME was full of prepositions because case
endings disappeared. In ModE period, inflections had already disappeared but the use of
studying it lays in the fact that the vocabulary expanded in period with Latin and Greek
terms, more likely Latin ones.

Today we are going to concentrate on Historical matters. History goes hand in hand
with the history of the language of the tribes which have been to that territory. So there
are external, thus historical, forces that influenced the language.
Celtic is the first language spoken in Great Britain. The Romans seem to have been very
interested in the agriculture, mineral resources and the kettle in Britain. Thus, Latin is
the second language spoke in the territory and for a period of time it co-existed with
Celtic. In the 5th century A.D., the English (the Angles, Saxons and Jutes) were also
interested in Britain. It is not until they came that we start talking about the birth of the

English language, nor the territory was called Englaland before their coming, it was
called Britannia. So, before the English came, so other people lived there. The Romans
had abandoned the Roman Province, so the Celts were left alone to face the invasions of
the English. So, Celtic was the first language spoken there and then Latin, for more than
300 years in the same place. Both these languages left an influence in the English
language. Thus, regarding Celtic words, we find just a few, some dozen words or so:

Bannuc = a bit. bratt = a cloak. cumb = Cumbria, Holcombe, Duncombe

(valley a Romance word borrowed from French). torr = peak. bre = hill.
river names like Thames, Wye, Esk, Avon.

When the English came, the first part they occupied was the south-eastern corner of the
island, because they came from the continent. The name of that region is Kent, which is
also a Celtic name. The capital city of the region is Canterbury, which in OE would be
Kent-wara-byrig (Kent-citizen-city; citizens of the city of Kent). So, when the English
came, the Celts took refuge in the west and the northern part. London and York are
other Celtic place names which were respected by the English when they invaded. Other
Celtic words are: loch [x], the Celtic equivalent for lake; whiskey; Whig/Tory (the
main political parties). So, we can conclude that the Celtic presence is more important
in place names than any other things.
We are now going to talk about the Roman presence in Britain. The lands, the minerals
and the potential for kettle were seen with envy from the continent. The first Roman
invasion was made by Julius Caesar in the year 55 B.C. The expedition was a complete
disaster because while the Roman Legions were crossing the Channel from the
continent to Britannia, they faced a storm and due to it the Emperor lost a large part of
his cavalry. This led to the disaster. However, they eventually got to Britain and once
they were there, exhausted and with few people, they had to face the unexpected
resistance of the natives (the Britons). The result is that Caesar had to go back to Gaul
with no material gains and with a considerable loss of his military prestige. The
following year, 54 B.C., he attempted again and he succeeded in establishing himself in
the south-east. And as the Romans always did, he started a recollection of tributes or
taxes from the natives. That was the first Roman colony. The first settlement, thus, dates
from 54 B.C. In the year 43 A.D. (Annus Domini), Emperor Claudius had an
army/Roman Legion of 40.000 men, or at least this is what historians say, so they
conquered the southern, eastern and central part of the isle. This is how the Roman
Conquest begun. The Celts were not happy with their coming and there were several
uprisings, the most important one being in the year 61 by the widow of a Celtic king,
Queen Boudicca. 70.000 men are said to have died from both parties, but she did not
manage to expel the Romans, so they stayed. At the beginning of the 80s, Governor
Agricola advanced the northern border up to southern Scotland. In 123, Hadrian had a
stone wall built there so as to protect the Roman Empire form the coming/invasions of
the barbarians who lived to the north of that frontier (Picts and Caledonians). Hadrians
Wall crosses the island from West to East. Vindolanda is one of the most interesting
places along the wall and it is where we can find a reconstructed Roman Fort. Other

one is Housesteads. In 143, another Emperor, this time Antoninus, had a second wall
built and he gave it his name, thus we have Antonines Wall/the Scottish-Roman Wall.
So what happened is that the Roman Legions went further and occupied more land to
the north. This new frontier is different; even though people expect to find stones on top
of other stones, what we can actually see is a rampant covered by turf and on the other
side a ditch. History has proved that this has not been enough so as to protect the
territory because when the Legions temporarily left in 193, the barbarians from the
north crossed the Antonines Wall, but they were never allowed to cross Hadrians Wall.
The end of the Roman occupation in Britain was in 410, so by the end of the 5th century
when Emperor Honorius took his Legions and left. So, due to the fact that the Romans
were there to care for their protection, the Britons never cared about it before and now
with the Romans left, they had to protect themselves and could not. So the barbarians
from the north begun to attack the Britons and the Celtic king shouted for help from the
However, the teacher is now going to give us some reference points about the things the
Romans left behind when they left the place.

Bath is one of the most famous cities in England due to the reconstruction of the
Roman baths there; they were discovered by the Victorians. The name was given
precisely due to the baths. The remnants the Romans left in Britannia are similar to
those left in all other Roman provinces.
Regarding the languages, while the Romans were in Britannia they spoke Latin; more
precisely, the language was spoken more widespread in cities and towns, while in
smaller places and villages, Celtic was spoken. However, the Britons who, for example,
need to sell something to the Romans, they had to learn Latin. We tend to believe that
the south and the eastern part of the island were populated by the Romans, while the
north and the western part were more populated by the Celts.
There have been four stages on which Latin has had an influence on the English
1. Period Zero/Continental Period: the product of the linguistic contact or
exchange between speakers of Germanic and speakers of Latin on the continent.
The words borrowed are very short and basic; they make reference to tools that
the Romans used and that the Germanic people borrowed from them. For
example: cup (< L. cupa); so, the Germanic tribes did not have nor use cups
and when they borrowed the thing, they also borrowed its name with it. Before
this, they were drinking from animal horns. Dish (< L. discus) as the
Germanic tribes did not have dishes before; they used to put their hands into the
melting pot. Wine (< L. vinum), plum (< L. pruna), cheese (< L.

caseus), mill (< L. molina), kitchen (< L. coquina), pound (< L.

pondo) and inch (< L. uncial). They also imported terms related to
infrastructure: OE strt (< L. strata via), wall (< L. ualum) and mile
(< L. millia). There are about 50 words that originated in this period from
Latin; they are not many but are highly important, specific and concrete. So this
is before the coming of the English.
2. Latin through Celtic Transmission: after the Roman occupation of Britannia
and the extend of Roman occupation of the country, one can expect to find many
words belonging to this period, yet this is not the case. However, once the
Romans have left (beginning of the fifth century), their language also left with
them and the Britons kept speaking their mother tongue, Celtic, even though
they still have some Latin words they used. So, when the English came, the
peoples they encountered were the Britons, who spoke (Celtic) little English,
with the result that there was no direct contact between the English and the Latin
language. So, the few terms the English borrowed from Latin, were taught to
them by the Celts. This period is the poorest regarding Latin borrowed words.
However, there are some place names which maintained their Latin origin: OE
ceaster (< L. castra) = camp Leicester /lest/, Gloucester /glust/,
Worcester /u:st/; Manchester, Chester, Lancaster, Doncaster. EXAM
QUESTION: provide the origin and the meaning of place names; whether they
were Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Scandinavian or French settlements. The
combination /k/ + /a/, like in Doncaster, was maintained in the Northern part of
the island; while the Southern used the affricate /t/ because a front vowel
produced a change in the point of articulation of the consonant /k/ + /a/ > /t / +
/a/. OE wic (see front vowel) < L. vicus which means village, like in
Norwich, Ipswich, Sandwich (in the south). In the north we find Warwick
(disguised element, at the end we find a plosive), Garrick. Port (< L.
portus) like in Newport, Portsmouth /portsm/ or Bournemouth. Munt (<
L. mons). We also find some words of Latin origin which have nothing to do
with place names: OE candel (< L. candela) PDE candle; process of
metathesis (change in the order of letters). OE mgester (< L. magister) or
OE sealm (< L. psalmus, Greek in origin).
3. Period of Christianization.

THE GERMANIC INVASIONS The Romans left at the beginning of the 5th century;
Emperor Honorius took his legions and left in 410. At the middle of the 5 th century, 449,
the Germanic peoples begun to invade Britannia and their invasion lasted more than one
hundred years. The English came from the continent as normal people, conquerors,
settlers, who came from Denmark and the Lower Countries. They first occupied the east
and the south of the island and then they gradually extended the territory. We know all
these due to some written evidence. The oldest prose text written in a Germanic
language, Anglo-Saxon, is The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In the 8th century, the year 731,
Venerable Bede wrote Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in Latin. According to

it, the tribes that conquered Britannia were the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. Thus,
three different tribes are mentioned. It seems that the Jutes had their land in the northern
half of Denmark; the Angles came from the southern half, while the Saxons came from
an area limited on one side by the river Elbe and on the other by the river Ems. The
Frisians occupied the costal part of the Lower Countries, but they are not mentioned in
neither book so we do not know if they had an active part in the conquest.
Regarding the reasons of the invasion, we have to mention that before the fifth century
the English also tried to invade the island with the difference that in the 4 th century, for
example, the Roman legions were still there and they fought back the English. The
Romans established a General to save the Saxon Shore in the east coast. So, when the
Romans left, the Celts had to see for their own defense. The Picts and the Scots in the
North begun to attack them more frequently thus they first asked the Romans for help;
while the Romans said no, the Celtic King Vortigern asked the Jutes for help in change
of a piece of land. The payment was the Isle of Thanet, which was the very first
occupation of the Jutes. However, this tribe which seemed to be an ally of the Celts was
in no time their biggest enemy and the first one to begin the invasion. The Jutes
invasion had no similar with the Roman settlement, as the Romans only came to rule the
Celts, not to dispossess them, while the Jutes killed and robbed and murdered.

We place ourselves in the 5th century. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first
Saxons came in the year 477 and they established in the south, in Sussex (Saxons of the
South). In 495 another group of Saxons came in Wessex (Saxons of the West). In 547
some more came and established in the eastern part in East Anglia. These were future
kingdoms. The process of driving the native Britons to the west took a large time for the
English and there were various resistances from the part of the Celts. King Artorius was
a Celtic King who fought back the English and reached a kind of peace during one
generation, as the life expectancy was very short. However, the Celts were pushed to the
west finally. In the course of 150 years, the English established seven kingdoms
(Heptarchy), which lasted longer than the rest. From north to south we have:
Northumbria (Humber is the river giving the place its name, thus to the north of the
river Humber), Mercia (in the Midlands), Sussex, Wessex, Essex, East Anglia and
Kent. The English called the invaded people as a group Wealas (Welsh), which means
foreigners. The invaders, at the beginning, were called Saxons, with no difference
between Saxon, Angles and Jutes. With the passing of time, other terms came up such as
Anglii (people from East Anglia, territory occupied by the Angles). At the beginning of
the 7th century, the king of Kent, AEthelbert, was named by Pope Gregory Rex
Anglorum. Angelcynn was a new term generally referring to the people of the territory,
while the language they spoke was Englisc //. Around the year 1000 we get the name of
the territory as Englaland (the land of the Angles). For a period of time, there was a
certain political stability; this is why we are talking about the Heptarchy. In the 7 th

century, Northumbria was the political and cultural leader of the rest. In the 8 th century,
that leadership passed to Mercia. In the course of the 9 th century, the leadership passed
over to Wessex. The 9th century was a very important one because Wessex under the rule
of Egbert, the first man to be acknowledge as the common overlord of the English and
the Welsh. From the 9th century on, all the Wessex kings were also kings of everything.
Under Egbert Wessex extended its influence. During this century, the English had to
fight hard against the Vikings, the Scandinavians, and it is then when we find one of the
greatest kings of England, King Alfred the Great. In between the beginning of the 5 th
century and the middle of the same one, after the Romans left and before the English
came, we only find the Latinized Celts and the Celtic language. The English were very
different from the Romans; they were not urban people, but liked living on the open air
and their economy was based on hunting and agriculture. So they destroyed pretty
everything. This is why the words that go back to this period, OE, are concerned about
their habits. Thus, we have words such as work, field, wood, plough, dog,
ox/oxen, only 15% of the words used in that period (OE) are still alive. In OE we do
not usually find polysemantic terms or abstract ones, as they are all related to facts.
In origin, the English were pagans until they were Christianized. We are studying this
because due to this process there came many Latin words. The process of
Christianization begun in the 6th century (in 597, more precisely). Venerable Bede tells
us about the process. There was a pope, Pope Gregory the Great, who had the idea of
converting the pagan English to Christianism. He had the original idea and he sent
Augustine along with 50 monks. The issue was harsh but they were lucky that they set
foot in Kent which had a small Christian community. The fact is that the King of Kent,
AEthelbert married a European Princess, Bertha (from the nation of the Francs). She
was given to him on the promise that he should respect her Christian faith. And so he
did; and he built a small chapel very near his palace in Kentwarabyric (Canterbury).
The King welcomed Augustine and his monks and he was baptized in three months. In
the past, when a king converted to a religion, many of his subjects did the same.
Augustine died seven years later and by that time all the region of Kent was baptized.
The process of Christianization of the English was not violent. In the year 635, preacher
Aidam, from the Celtic church of Ireland, begun to convert the English from north to
south. In one hundred years from the coming of Augustine and his monks, England was
fully Christianized. With this begun the building of monasteries and abbeys and this is
very important in the Middle Ages. In the past, monasteries were the schools; thus, it
was there that the children of the few privileged went and learned something. They
provided education in Arithmetic, Mathematics, Astronomy, Music and Arts and even
Poetry and Prose (related to religion, of course). Jarrow was one of the better
monasteries in England in the Middle Ages and Bede studied there. The Christians from
Europe were green with envy as the monasteries from England were so fruitful that they
passed through a stage of hand-written illuminated manuscripts (in silver and gold ink).
This is the THIRD Period of finding Latin words in English; they came after the
Christianization of England. We have about 400 words belonging to this period.

The Christianization of England provided English with a very large religious

It introduced words and ideas from very far away countries were missionaries
had already been (India and China).
It stimulated the Anglo-Saxons to apply new Christian concepts to already
existing terms.

Thus, we have words such as disciple, shrine (burial place of someone famous),
priest (OE preost), monk (OE munuc), nun; also from Greek origin,
apostle, pope, psalm, psalter, etc. so words were attributed new meaning;
words like God, Heaven and Hell were already there in pagan Englaland. For example,
the concept of God, even existing, was given new meaning. L. spiritus sanctus > OE
Halig /d/ Gust (Ghost, due to the Dutch printers, who also had a small influence). L.
Evangelium (good news) > OE go(o, macron)d spell > PDE gospel (compound).
More than 400 words are still there from a Latin origin since that third period. However,
the fourth period is by far the most important one.
THE SCANDINAVIAN INVASION took place near the end of the OE period. The
mass advance is placed between 750 and 1050 and it was one of the greater migratory
movements taking place in Europe. Some of the Scandinavians went from Sweden to
European Russia. The Norwegians set foot in Scotland; they were land seekers. Some
other Norwegians went to Faroes Islands, Iceland and Greenland and even to the Coast
of Labrador. The Norwegians also settled on the east coast of Ireland.

The Danes settled in the east part of the island. When we are talking about the
Scandinavian Invasions we are mainly talking about the Danes and the Norwegians. In
793 is when the Viking Invasions really started. Jarrow and Lindisfane were the first
attacks. Thus, we are talking about the end of the 8th century; but by the middle of the 9th
century, the Vikings had already conquered the eastern half of the country and then they
focused on Wessex. Egbert, the King of Wessex, had a son, Ethelwulf, who had four
sons, the youngest being Alfred. Alfred never thought that he could become a king so
he dedicated himself to religious and cultural matters. Just before he had to become a
monk, the Court summoned him because Ethelred, the then-present King of Wessex and
his elder brother, had an accident. So Alfred became King just when the Vikings came
to attack Wessex. He took refuge in Summerset in the hills and he raised a huge army of
peasants and fought the Vikings in the Battle of Ethandune, nowadays Edington. The
Vikings were surprised and they decided to sign a very famous treaty, the Treaty of
Wedmore (879). The leader of the English was Alfred, while Guthrum was the leader
of the Danes. It said that from that day onwards the Danes could stay in England but to
the east and the north of the line (an ancient Roman road, one of the four major roads
built by the Romans while there, named Watling Street). From that time onwards, the

territory occupied by the Danes was called the Danelaw District. Guthrum was a
pagan, like all the Danes, and he was baptized after the treaty; along with him, many
Danes also baptized. After the treaty, Alfred used for the first time in England, the
English language, his mother tongue, so as to create national identity. This was a kind of
way to make the difference between the Danes (Norse language) and the English. Alfred
also started to rebuild the monasteries destroyed in the battles, as they were of huge
importance being the places of learning. He learned Latin and he took part personally in
the translation of some key texts which have been composed in Latin. He took part in
the translation of Bedes Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum into History of the
English Church and People; his idea was to facilitate the access of culture and books to
as many citizens as possible. Alfred maintained a certain level of peace with the Danes
but there were more Scandinavian invasions and he had a lot of trouble due to the fact
that Guthrum broke faith. For a certain time, the English were able to resist to the
Scandinavian throats (Scandinavian word). Alfred was succeeded by his eldest son,
Edward the Elder, who was succeeded by his eldest son Athelstan. The Battle of
Brunambourg (937) was won by the English and it was the last English victory.
However, everything changed with the Battle of Maldon (991); the English lost their
leader, Athelstan, and from those days onwards the English were ruled by the Danes.
The last Anglo-Saxon King of Wessex, Ethelred, was exiled to France, Normandy. He
received the surname of Ethelred the Unready. Now we have a line of Danish rulers.
Svain was the first Danish King, then his son Cnut, then Harold I and the last Danish
King of England was Hardicanute.
The high number of place names which have a Scandinavian name can tell us about the
huge number of migrants. More than 1400 names have a Scandinavian origin. Most of
them are in the east and north of England, because it was there that the Danish District
was. So the greater density of Scandinavian place names is there. There are about 600
place names that contain the suffix by. This was a Scandinavian word and it means a
farm. Whitby is one of the most important as it is related to the Jarrow monastery.
Another example is Derby. There are about 300 place names that contain the
Scandinavian element thorp(e) which means farmstead. Examples: Linthorpe.
Thwaite is another one: Applethwaite. There are 100 places which contain toft
which is a piece of ground: Easttoft, Lowestoft. The Danes also left the patronymic
suffix in England (Fernando Fernandez, those who come from Fernando); so the
Danes had son, like in Richardson, Johnson. The English form was -ing and it has
an Anglo-Saxon origin; AEthelwulfing. So now the English have two.
VOCABULARY of Scandinavian origin
The words are very ordinary and they form part of everyday English. Nouns, adjectives
and verbs are the first categories to be transferred from one language to another when
we have the co-existence of Scandinavians and English. Bull, leg, window,
raise, skull, skirt, skill. As well as adjectives: weak, tight, odd, meek,

and scant. And verbs such as call, die, clip, thrive, thrust, give, get,
and take. Thus, we very often find an English word and a Scandinavian word and this
is why many words disappeared because one was favored in the detriment of the other.
This happened the same with the Norman Invasion. However, what made this linguistic
context more special that the rest is that not only adjectives, nouns and verbs made their
way in the English language, but also prepositions, pronouns and adverbs. One
example, they, them, their are Scandinavian. Before the Scandinavians came, the
English used their own words: hie, him and hiera. The fact was that in the
Danelaw people used the Scandinavian forms, while in the south, the English ones were
used. By the 14th century, they were used even by the people in the south. Authors like
Chaucer used the Scandinavian they form as the subject one, but when he had to use
the object, he used the English one. In the 15 th century, people used the Scandinavian
forms in the whole country, thus the three words within the personal pronoun system
disappeared in the 15th century. Spelling <sc>, pronunciation //; Englisc.

SCANDINAVIAN had an unusual influence in English, as it brought prepositions,
adverbs and non-lexical words. For example:
-At (In ME, at do, as in the contracted form in Shakespeares play Much Ado About
-Till (Originally, it had a broader meaning, not exclusively related to time).
-From (Remember the expression To and Fro).
-Seemly (Unusual, but it still today exists)
-Both/Same (they meant the same in Scandinavian).
-And, of course, They/Them/Their, which was admitted by Southerners by the 15th



Anglo-Saxon English has 4 main differences with PDE: Pronunciation, Spelling,

Vocabulary and Morphology.
One of the basic differences of pronunciation is about long vowels, for they had not yet
undergone the GVS (Great Vowel Shift). Here, long vowels will be written as double
vowels. Words such as Baan, Raap, Haalig, and Huus become Bone, Rope, Holy and
As for spelling, differences are fewer but also noticeable.
There are three graphemes that do not exist nowadays.
-The aesc <>, which represents the phoneme //.
-The thorn <> (the symbol does not exactly look like this, but pretty much like). It
often stands for the sound //, though not always, and it was substituted in the 14 th
Century by the digraph <th>.
-The eth <>, sometimes stands for the same as the thorn.
-The digraph <sc> is like nowadays digraph <sh>.
-The grapheme <c> has two possible sound values, either as plosive /k/ (as in cynn)
or, if followed by a front vowel, we get the affricate /tch/ (I cant find the symbol, but
its like in cheese), as in cild.
In OE, vocabulary is almost purely Germanic. However, only 15% of OE has made it
to our days. I dont know what percentage that makes for todays lexicon.
Regarding morphology, OE was a synthetic language, as it used inflections to mark
sentence functions of the words rather than using word order. See, for example:



Nowadays, English is an analytic language, so word order is important, as word endings

do not specify grammatical and syntactic relations.
OE used two different writing modes. One of them was the Insular Hand (which used
Latin symbols, plus the symbols we mentioned before), and the Runic System.
Germanic tribes were mainly illiterate till Christianization, but they did have the Runic
Alphabet. There exist runic inscriptions of Frisian, Gothic, Norwegian, OE, etc. The
earliest known runic inscriptions are from the 2nd Century A.D.


The word rn would later become writan, which in OE means to inscribe or to

incise in stone or wood mainly, though also on bone and iron.
The name of the alphabet was called the Futharc, as each sound stood for each of the
six first letters of the alphabet (the th counts as only one).
In England the alphabet was modified into the Futhork, with 31 rather than 24
The Germanic Tribes had an oral culture, so they did not require written texts. However,
scholars believe that Runes held not a linguistic function, but a magical, religious and
mystic purpose.
Run, in Germanic, can also mean Mystery.
Rune Masters, the few capable of reading and interpreting the Runes, were the shamans,
soothsayers and oracles of their tribe.
However, outside Scandinavia, this mode of writing disappeared soon enough. In
England, that happened around the 10th Century, substituted by the Insular Hand.
Each rune had attached to it a sound, a name and a mystical meaning (the rune for m
also stood for man, for instance), and were used for riddles. This happens, for
instance, in the poem Saloman and Saturn, in which the former is called Salo(Mrune).
Another case is the rune for d, which also stands for day.
There is an important Rune Stone at Ruthwell (Dumfries, Scotland), the oldest there is
in the UK. It has a cross carved on it, and it contains fragments of the poem The Dream
of the Rood, though written in Northumbrian dialect, rather than in West-Saxon Old
English, which is the one we are studying.

Today we are seeing the sounds of OE. Well deal with vowels, diphthongs and
consonants, in that order.
Vowels and diphthongs can be long or short. You can have e or .


/a/ (long or short)
/e/(long or short)
/i/(long or short)
/o/(long or short)
/u/(long or short)
///, like /i/, but rounded

Vowels, even in unstressed positions, were pronounced clearly. Like eorles and
eorlas. It makes sense that vowels would be easy to distinguish since case endings are
Eventually, both eorlas and eorles would end up being pronounced with a
schwa //, so case endings were starting to fade away. It was the Blending Process, or
Leveling Process. It happened around the 10th Century, around the period of Early
Middle English.


All consonants were pronounced, as in night and subtle.

Knight was cniht. Todays silent vowels are pronounced; including RP silent rs
(it had a rhotic pronunciation).
Double consonants are pronounced double.

-[h] (aspirated h, appears in initial
position in a word, as in hal or hnutu.
Words nowadays also have an aspirated,
initial h, but not those that come from
French. The first in Hall, the second is
Nut, though it doesnt have an h).
-[], fricative palatal voiceless, as in
riht, which nowadays is right. Its
quite like in German.

-[x], next to (after) a back vowel, a

diphthong or a consonant, as in Brohte
(from the verb Bringan, to Bring), or as in
Neah, or in Wealh.
Sound determined by position.
-Initial/Final: /f/, normal, voiceless f, as

in Full or Hlaf (Loaf).

Between Vowel (always Voiced) and
Voiceless Consonant, the consonant
becomes Voiceless. Aefter.
-But between two Voiced, as between two
Vowels, it becomes Voiced /v/, as in
Heofon (Heaven).

-Double-consonants are voiceless even in

voiced environments, as in Offa.
Sound determined by position.
-Initial/Final: /s/, voiceless, as in Sunu and
Gos (Goose).
Between Vowel (always Voiced) and
Voiceless Consonant, the consonant
becomes Voiceless. Last.
-But between two Voiced, as between two
Vowels, it becomes Voiced /z/, as in Risan


-Double-consonants are voiceless even in

voiced environments, as in Blissian.
Sound determined by position.
-Initial/Final: //, voiceless, interdental,
fricative, as in eaw and wi. It would
eventually be substituted by t.
Between Vowel (always Voiced) and
Voiceless Consonant, the consonant
becomes Voiceless. breca.
-But between two Voiced, as between two
Vowels, it becomes Voiced //, as in
Cwean (to say, to quote).


-Double-consonants are voiceless even in

voiced environments, as in Cwidon.


Sound determined by position.

[k]: Plosive, next to a, o, u, y, as in Cynn.
[ts]: The rest, as in Cild, or as in Breca.
[sh], as in Fersc (Fresh. It has had a
Metathesis, by which the position of two
letters is exchanged during the evolution
of the word). Or as in Sceotan (to shoot).
[d], as in Hecg, (Hedge, pronounced
exactly the same).

Hilt: [h]
-Hraefn: [hravn]
-Ruh: [rux]
-Folc [folk]

Stress Patterns in OE.
If there is just one element in the word (non-compounded, simple word), put the stress
in the beginning. In case it is prefixed, do not stress the prefix syllable, but the first
syllable after the prefix.
feohtan, vs wifeohtan, attack and counterattack.
Replace the primary stress from the first syllable of the primary element, and the
secondary stress on the first syllable of the secondary element. As in scir,gerefa (shire
authority, the shire reeve or sheriff), or man,cynn (mans kin, mankind), or
leorning,cniht (learning knight, an Apostle), mynster,mann (minister man, monk).
OE words, though only 15% have survived, are core words nonetheless.
Words were created by means of compounding and affixing, apart from importing
from Latin, Greek (via Latin), and Scandinavian.
Compounding is joining two previously separate words. The first element is never
inflected; only the second can be, and not always.

ADV+N: aer,daeg (early day, the dawn).
N+A: aelmes,georn (alms eager, a generous person)
Kennings: They existed because it was an oral culture. It has to do with alliteration. It is
a metaphor, a type of compound word, like y,engest (wave-horse, a metaphor for
scip, a ship), or bae,weg (bathway, the sea), hwael,weg (whale-way, also the sea),
segl,rad (sail-road, guess what, its the sea).
AFFIXING involves adding prefixes or suffixes to previously-existing words, as in
wiceosan (to with-choose, to reject), wisprecan (to with-speak, to counter-speak, to
contradict), wistand (to withstand, the only word of this construction that has
survived, along with withhold and withdraw).
Aeg-: it generalizes the meaning of the pronoun or of the adverb to which it is attached.
As in aeghwa, anywho, or aeghwaer, anywhere.
Ge-: It can either mean together (as in gefera), or a perfective sense of action
(geascian, to find out), and the one that is always present in OE Past Participles
(geendod [it has the beginning and the ending of a past participle, and that of a weak
verb, by the way-this system disappeared by ME period])
On-: With a negative (not in a pejorative) sense, as in onbindan (to unbind).
As for suffixes:
-Had: Recurrent Noun suffix, equivalent to PDE -hood as in nationhood, manhood,
womanhood, childhood (cildhad). Remember that the suffix cannot be stressed.
-Ig: As in Halig (Holy).
-Lic: For adjectives, as in heovonlic, heavenly.
-Lice: For adverbs, like ly, as in hraedlice, quickly.

Today we had a look at the paper with the days of the week and the months of the year.
The teacher stresses that PDE months of the year have a Latin origin either coming from

the names of the Roman gods and goddesses or from the Roman Emperors. h at the
beginning is aspirated, while when it comes after a back vowel, a diphthong or a
consonant it is velar. Scip is ship. The grapheme <ae> disappeared in the ME
period. c before a front vowel is voiced.
Now we begin to see OE GRAMMATICAL GENDER. It means that any noun must be
masculine, feminine or neuter without necessarily any reference to the nature of the
thing the noun may refer to. For example, wif, with macron, means both wife and
woman; well, one may think that semantically this noun may point to a female, but
grammatically this noun was neuter in OE. German still retains grammatical gender,
unlike English, thus Madchen refers to a woman, even though grammatically it is
classified as a neuter noun nowadays. Seeo moona, both with macron, means the
moon; moona was a feminine noun, thus the demonstrative had to be in concordance
with it. In the course of the ME period, the grammatical gender changed to the
NATURAL GENDER, and this is what we use today. So, during the 14 th century, Late
ME period, grammatical gender started to fall into disuse and the natural one begun to
be used. It means that the beings that are biologically/naturally male or female are also
grammatically masculine or feminine. There are exceptions, nevertheless. The
demonstrative, the adjective and the noun agreed in gender and in number. So in order
to find out the gender of a noun, we look in an Anglo-Saxon dictionary. In the exam we
may come across a sentence made by a demonstrative, an adjective and a noun and we
will be asked to say the gender of the noun by looking at the demonstrative and the
adjective. Adult male humans and adult male animals have the demonstrative see,
with macron, like in see faeder, which means the/that father. see mearh means
the/that horse. Feminine nouns are preceded by seeoo, with macron above both, like
in seeoo moder or seeoo cuu (adult female human beings and animals). For young
beings we use the demonstrative aet, like in aet cild and aet cycen.
Regarding NUMBER, in OE we do not only have singular and plural, but also dual.
The last came from the Indo-European languages. It actually proceeds the OE period. In
this stage of OE, the one we are seeing here, the dual category of number was only
present in the personal pronoun system.
DEMONSTRATIVES had two systems: see/seeoo/aet pattern (always in
Nominative) and es/eos/is pattern.
As they had cases everywhere and they are indicating the function of the nouns, they did
not have to be in a very strict order in the phrase, unlike today.
At the end of the OE period, a process of analogy took place and since there were two
forms in the system of the demonstratives which were different from the rest,
see/seeoo, they changed to e/eo and in the 14th century, ME period, apart from a
change in orthography, the, there also came a change in function and the
demonstrative begun to be used with any gender.


In OE, the demonstratives could function as definite articles, proper demonstratives and
as a relative pronoun when it was missing; and in that case, it had to go hand in hand
with the number and gender of the noun. At the beginning of the OE period, see and
seeo were different, but at the end of the first stage, due to the process of analogy we
find e and eeo. The thorn ended up disappearing along the 14th century and it
transformed to the group th, thus the, which is nowadays the definite article, which
originated in the masculine nominative singular of see. So we are using a 14 th century
spelling for the definite article. In OE it was only a masculine demonstrative form,
while in ME both forms coexist (Early ME e, Late ME the) until the started to
be used for all forms. The ash ae died along the 13 th century. In ME the distinction of
gender started to disappear, so that served any gender in ME.
es/eos/is is the second pattern of the demonstratives. In OE, is was only a
neuter, while in ME this started to accompany all genders as well. as was the
plural for all genders. oos appeared in ME because people started confusing aa
with aas. Then the thorn disappeared in the 14 th century and so we get those, the
final e indicating that the previous vowel was long. ese in ME is these and it is
the form from the es with the e indicating the plural.
We are now going to study the NOUN. In OE, nouns had only four cases: Nominative,
Accusative, Genitive and Dative. The most important declension is the Masculine and
Neuter a-stem; 50% of the nouns were declined according to this type. The historical
reason why it is called a-stem is that it is believed that in a Pre-Old English Period
(Germanic one) there has been an a as in wulfaz in Nom. and Acc. wulfan. Thus,
in OE we find wulf both for Nom. and Acc. The regular mark of plurality in PDE
comes from OE masculine a-stem plural of Nom. and Acc. In the OE period, case
endings were pronounced entirely because they made the difference between cases. In
ME, they started to relax the final vowels in declensions into a schwa, which in spelling
was an -es, this is the leveling process and this is how case endings disappeared. The
Saxon Genitive has its origin in the Gen. singular of masculine nouns belonging to the
a-stem. Endingless plural in OE is deeor, while in PDE deer is the corresponding
form of endingless plural, or irregular one, even though from a historical point of view
it is not irregular, it has always been like that. All neuter nouns that presented a long
vowel or a diphthong in the root were endingless.
Regarding the z-stem, due to the process of rhotacism in Pre-Old English period, the
z changed to r. OE Nom. and Acc. plural cildru > ME, French scribes went to
England and maintained the sound /t/ but introduced their own spelling childr e

(because instead of u we get schwa due to the leveling process) n (in ME it was added
due to plurals in n-declensions). So there are two indications of plurality in just one
word. The -n was added because people did not had the impression that the plural was
clear enough. Metathesis is the change in the order of the letters of a word, thus in the
north, the non-standard form was childer.
The n-stem was also of huge importance. Here we can find nouns belonging to all of
the three genders.

Masculine nouns of Nominative and Accusative plural of a-stem give birth to the
plurality mark. OE cildru > ME childre due to the process of leveling and the
French spelling. The final n was added in the ME period as a second mark of plurality
because people believed that the word did not show plurality properly. The r is the
original mark of plurality and comes from the OE period. The plurals in -n, which are
in minority today, originated from the n-stem. The number of plurals in -s became
bigger and bigger in ME period and in the early ModE period, the number of plurals in
-n decreased even further. In PDE we find plurals in -s as the regular ones, while
the ones in -n are labeled as irregular, which is non-sense from a diachronic point of
Regarding the declension of root consonant stem, here we find the process of front
mutation or umlaut, thus the first time we find the plural of foot as feet is in the
Dative singular form ft. Even more precise is the fact that the Nominative and
Accusative of ft as ft. The reason we call them front mutated plurals or umlaut
plurals is because we think that in a period previous the OE one, the Dative singular was
fti, thus there was a front vowel i which with the passing of time made change
to the front and turn into , thus fti > OE ft. Another example of this time a
feminine noun is bc, meaning book, and which from the ME period acquired a
new plural in -s. Thus we have bkes in ME. From hund/hundas, due to the
leveling process what we get is -es.
The -stem is as follows: OE lufu > ME love. In the ME period, the French scribes
changed the u before a consonant which contained curves (m, n, v, r); the v was just
the way f in between vowels was pronounced, while due to the leveling process, the
final u weakened into a schwa. OE sunu > ME sone > PDE sun. OE tunge >
tongue these are all changes we attribute to the French scribes. All the nouns in here
were feminine nouns and they were not so important.
Nowadays, when we use adjectives we only have to remember to place them in front of
the nouns, as well as the fact that they are invariable in form. Well, in OE the picture is
not so simple. There were a weak and a strong declension in adjectives. The weak one

was used after the demonstrative and the possessive. The strong declension was
preferred when the adjective was not preceded by anything. The system of the
adjectives was definitely more complex than it is today. The possessive adjectives we
know today are my, your, his, her book. The Genitive forms of the table if personal
pronouns are the one giving birth to the possessive adjectives. OE mn > PDE my.
OE in > ME thine /i:n/, the final e was added as a length mark to indicate that
the vowel it preceded was long. 3rd person masculine OE his is the same form we use
today, while the feminine form is hire, the neuter and the masculine are the same
his. PDE form for a possessive neuter is its, while in OE it did not exist. However, a
form was created in the early ModE period, and that form is its. It was the form of
the personal pronoun neuter and it was taken and people added an s due to the fact
that it was the mark of the Genitive. Regarding plurals, 1 st person plural OE re > ME
our(e) due to the French scribes who wrote ou for a long u, the pronunciation was
maintained. With the passing of time, the final schwa was dropped. For the 2 nd person
plural, OE ower > your. 3rd person plural comes from the Scandinavian forms of
they/them/their, which first appeared in the north of England, where there was the
Danelaw. Then the forms were beginning to be used by the midlanders and the
southerners. Thus, the origin of their, possessive, is Scandinavian, unlike the English
one hira/heora, which died by the 15th century, the one that closes the ME period.
Regarding the comparative form, in OE they had the -RA suffix, which due to the fact
that it was a suffix, leveled to -RE, and which due to a process of metathesis changed
to the present form -ER. The periphrastic construction more + Adj. was put into
practice in the ModE period. The double-comparative formulae (more beautifuller than)
are still produced nowadays. The bestest was considered good English before the 18 th
century, and it was used so as to put emphasis on things. The superlative in OE was ost/ast/est/st, which in PDE is -(e)st, after the leveling process affecting all final
vowels in suffixes in this case. The suffix -(e)st comes from early ME period after the
leveling process. OE eald, meaning old, has the comparative form as ieldra, while
the superlative is ieldest. lng/lengra/lengest. gd/betera/best.
yfel/wiersa/wierest (worse/worst). micel (much)/mra (more)/mst
Their system is much more complex than any other system. Here we find variations
depending on gender, number and case. The 1st person singular in the Nominative is

In OE we had ic > ME ich, French spelling, but there were also forms such as I or
ik. Thus, the I we use nowadays was born in ME period, regarding spelling, but the
pronunciation was different. Due to the Great Vowel Shift, which ended in the 18 th

century, the word was first pronounced /i:/, then /ei/ > /i/ > /ai/. Thus, the spelling is
ME, while the pronunciation is late ModE. The GVS applied to late ME long vowels.
Regarding the second person, /u:/ > 14th century (ME) thou /u:/, different
spelling, same pronunciation > GVS /u:/ > /e/ > // > /a/ in the 18 th century. >
thee; n > thine. OE g > early ME yoghe > late ME ye. The form you
comes from OE ow. When the th- forms and the e form disappeared in the 14 th
century, they were replaced by you.
Concerning the third person, its was a form created in the ModE period. The basic
form was OE hit > ME it > PDE its, the final s being the mark of the Saxon
Genitive. Regarding the plural, they/them/their were borrowed in the course of ME
period from the Scandinavians; they started being used in the Danelaw District. From
the end of the 8th century onwards, Scandinavian settlers came to England and the
English who co-existed with them had to borrow words from them. They was fully
accepted by all the population by the 14 th century. Them/their were also accepted by
the 15th century. When these forms were accepted, the others were lost, the OE ones.
Another shocking difference is to be found in the dual number, which is not exclusive of
English, as it was also present in other Indo-European languages. The dual number
disappeared by the end of the OE period, but its presence in the personal pronoun
system is important.
In OE, verbs we conjugated. Today they are not conjugated any more. In OE, there were
only two tenses, present and past, or preterit. Verbs in OE were classified into two
groups, strong and weak. Nowadays, we refer to verbs as being regular or irregular. A
weak verb has to be in its preterit tense or in its past participle form, otherwise it is
impossible to say whether it is weak or not. If the preterit presents a -d/t then we are
talking about a weak form, like fremede. The strong verb has to be in its past tense
and its root vowel is modified, the process being called gradation, thus the vowel is
other than usual, like in present sing/sang/sung. These strong verbs are called
nowadays irregular. In English we also talk about moods of the verbs. Indicative
(statements of facts), Imperative (orders and commands), Subjunctive (to express
hypothetical situations or doubts and wishes) are all moods.
OE cpan /tepe/ > ME (we apply the leveling process to any final vowel) kepen
/kepn/ > because the French scribes introduced k before e/i. This is a case of
spelling-pronunciation because a new change in spelling takes to a change in
pronunciation > ME kepe(n), by the end of the ME period, the n, the mark of the
infinitive OE verbs, started to be dropped, by the late 14 th century. When the final n
was dropped, the final vowel was also dropped, and so the schwa was dropped and we
find keep(e) /ke:p/. In the 14th century, in London and its surroundings was becoming
to be fashionable to reduplicate a vowel such as e/o, so as to indicate that it was a
long vowel; then the fashion expanded. Then the GVS, by the end of the ME period,

made /ke:p/ sound as /ki:p/. In OE, we study the West Saxon dialect; however, the final
s in the third person singular present comes from the Northumbrian dialect, which
also existed in the OE period, but with the difference that the manuscripts are so few.
The Dream of the Rood from the Ruthwell Cross was written in the Northumbrian
Present participles in OE are easy to identify as they end in -end, while nowadays
they end in -ing, which was born in the south of England.
Regarding the preterit system,
In strong verbs we distinguish four basic parts:

The infinitive (cp/stem/an/ending weak verb); helpan strong verb.

1st and 3rd person singular preterit
In strong verbs we find here a different stem, hulp-. Weak verbs only had a
past form: cpt-.
Just in the case of strong verbs we find a fourth part, and this is that of past
participle geholpen. We know it is past participle because we always find
ge-at the beginning. Driven/frozen/written are all strong verbs. In the weak
verbs we had geceped.

Example of weak verbs: inf. heran; past (sg. or pl.) herde; past participle
gehiered. Endian; past endode; past participle geendod.
Example of strong verbs: inf. drfan; preterit sg. drf; preterit pl. drifon; past
participle gedrifen.

Verbs in the OE period were classified into weak and strong. If we are asked whether a
verb was strong or weak, we have to have the preterit or the past participle form, not
the infinitive. However, the majority of verbs in that period were weak and they
presented a dental ending (-d/-t) in the preterit form; for example, the verb hieran, or
all verbs ending in -ian/-n, had the preterit hierde and the past participle gehiered.
Another example of a weak verb: endian; the preterit was endode, while the past
participle (always the ge- prefix) was geendod.
Strong verbs presented a higher complexity. They formed their preterit (past tense) by a
vowel change, thus by mutating the vowel in a process that we call gradation (a very
ancient process affecting all Indo-European languages). Examples are
ride/rode/ridden. In OE there were up to seven classes of strong verbs, depending on
the mutation the vowel suffered. They had four main parts, so one of the parts: rdan
(infinitive part), singular preterit rd, plural preterit ridon (all strong verbs in the
preterit plural form had this ending); in the ME period, there is only one preterit form
for strong verbs and it sometimes comes from either the singular or the plural or neither

of them. However, there is still one verb which has both, to be as in was/were. The
past participle form was geriden (all strong verbs in the past participle had this
There was one anomalous verb in OE and its infinitive form was BEON. In the
present tense there were two forms: ic eom and ic beo. The second person was
eart and bist. In OE ew was an object plural form and it gave birth to you.
The third person singular masculine, feminine and neuter was h, ho, hit is/bi. First,
second and third persons plural were w, g, h sindon/beo (the last one, h, being
the Anglo-Saxon form; we use a Scandinavian form they, which was introduced at the
end of the OE period). The preterit forms were ic ws, wre, h, ho, hit
ws, with the plural w, g, h wron.


It was opened by the Norman Conquest of 1066. First we are going to deal with the
external history. Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) was the last Anglo-Saxon King of
England. His father was English, his mother was French. Ethelred the Unready was the
father of Edward and as he could not face the Scandinavians, he went to France,
Normandy, more specifically. There he married Emma and had Edward. Edward
became King of England when the last of the Danish Kings died. Thus, after the Danish
rule, there came the English line again, with the only difference that he was more
French than English, being brought up at the French court. He married but had no
children; this is why he was called the Confessor. He decided to build Westminster
Abbey. Before dying, apparently he promised the throne of England to his cousin,
William (Guillaume) 7th Duke of Normandy. However, the English court decided to
name Harold Godwinson king. Thus, William decided to invade the isle. Harold was
named king in January 1066. In September, the Vikings produced trouble in the north, in
York. So Harold had to go there. There was a very brilliant battle at Stamford Bridge
and the English won the Scandinavians. However, while celebrating, the English
received the news that the French were landing, so they had to rush to the south so as to
meet the other invaders. They met the Normans at Hastings on the 13th of October,
1066. The battle received the name of the Battle of Hastings. The French came with
their cavalry, their spears and their bows and arrows, while the English still fought with
their axes. Harold was killed; it seems that an arrow went through his eyes. The real
place were the battle took place is some miles near Hastings and it is called Battle. Once
William won the battle, he was called William the Conqueror and he had an abbey
built where Harold died. However, we cannot speak of a battle in the right sense, as just
when the English realized their king was dead, they abandoned. Bayeux Tapestry
represents scenes of the different stages that caused the battle and also the battle itself. It
is a 70 meters long tapestry. Normandy lies in the North-West of France and it was
invaded in the course of the 9th and 10th centuries by the Scandinavians. Rollo was the

first Duke of Normandy, while William was the 7 th; however, it seems that the
Scandinavians became both mentally culturally and linguistically French in between
those generations. Norman French was the dialect they spoke. After the conquest, there
came the settlement. The south surrendered to the French first; Winchester surrendered
first, and it was a very important city as the kings had their court there. William set fire
to London when entering the city and he was crowned King of England on Christmas
Day. They established a system of confiscation of the Saxon estates/properties. The
English landlords were deprives of their property and it was given to Williams barons
and followers. By the end of 1068, he was acknowledged as the King of southern
England. In the Midlands (Mercia) and the North (Northumbria) people were not happy
with this new ruler and two Earls, Edwin and Morcar rebelled against the French.
William suppressed the rebellion and he forgave the Earls. They were so stubborn that
they rebelled for a second time and this time their uprising was brilliant because they
were backed by the Scandinavians. But, the French power was stronger and they began
a very cruel campaign against the north, its name was Harrying of the North. Between
York and Durham, the French destroyed everything (buildings, cattle, human beings,
everything). The Doomsday Book gives account of all this. This massacre was very
convincing for the French with the result of convincing everybody that they could force
the English into a new way of life. It was not a question of numbers, but of quality. The
Harrying of the North also put an end to the division of the Danelaw District. Thus, in
the 9th century, King Alfred of Wessex and Godrow, signed the Treaty of Wedmore and
established the fact that the Scandinavians should settle west and north of Watling
The French introduced the feudal system and the Doomsday Book/Survey (Hacienda).
The latter gives account of all the properties the citizens of England had. It is kept at the
Public Record Office in London and it is an eleventh century book.

Linguistically speaking, in the time we call the Middle Ages, French had been very
practical for the English people in contact with the French power. From the 13 th century,
the use of French became more artificial. After Hastings, William was both the King of
England and the Duke of Normandy until 1204, when the Loss of Normandy took
place. In 1204, John, the King of England at that time and the brother of Richard the
Lion Heart, son of Henry II, fell in love with Isabelle of Angouleme. She had already
been promised to another man in France, Hugh of Lusignan. John took the girl and
attacked the Lusignan family, which was a very powerful one. Thus, we have a
diplomatic problem. Both families took advice at the King of France, Phillip. For him, it
was a good opportunity to humiliate the English King and he summoned him at the
court. John did not turn up, that was very bad manners. Being the Duke of Normandy,
John had to appear before Phillip; however, John felt more of a King than a Duke. Thus,
the French King invaded Normandy and it was lost by the English crown. John won the

nickname the lackland. Some French nobles still had property in the south of France;
this lasted a while. The French king asked them to decide and by the middle of the 13 th
century, the English nobility was mainly English. The royal family in England still had
connection with France by means of marriages. Thus, every time the King of England
married a French girl, many people came with her from France. King Johns son, Henry
III, also married a French lady from La Provence, Eleanor of Provence. All these new
people coming from France were occupying all the best religious and political fields.
One of the criticisms these French received was that they were not speaking English.
The middle of the 13th century can be considered a turning point because from that time
onwards there was a renewed interest in the use of English in England. Thus, the
English upper-classes begun to use English more naturally. It is from this time
onwards that more French words were borrowed. The English nobility was always
in contact with the French people in power, thus they spoke French, and sometimes
when they did not find the word when speaking English, they just borrowed the French
term. There are three factors why French was in decline and English was increasing: the
linguistic, political and social.
The linguistic factor had to do with the provincial character of the French use in
England. The kind of French used there was a mixture of different northern dialects,
with Norman predominating, and some from the south. The time came when people in
England felt that there French was not pure.
The political factor has to do with the 100 Years War (1337-1453). The King of
England, Edward III, claimed the throne of France. The fact that many generations had
to fight the war was decisive as French was the language of the enemy.
The social factor has to do with the rise of the middle class/bourgeois/strata. They all
spoke English and as they improved their social position, their language also improved.
The middle layer in the Middle Ages was rural, peasants, merchants, craftsmen or
women. When the French introduced feudalism, at the top of the pyramid we have the
King and at the bottom the serfs. The feudal system disappeared little by little and the
serfs became free tenants and they were paid for their services instead of being
subjected to a single royal family. The Black Death of 1348 appeared in the south-west
of England and it lasted three years, spreading in the whole country. According to
different Chroniclers of the 14th century, only 1/10 of the population survived. One out
of every 10 people lived. As very few people were left alive due to the fact that there
was no quarantine in the free tenants families, the one who were left alive, left their
small villages and went to towns because they knew that they will get better jogs and
better paid. There was a shortage in workers, obviously. Thus, from a shortage of
workers, we have a rise of wages and a better economic and social position for the free
tenants. In the 14th century, we see a growth of the merchant class. Now, we can talk
about a general use of English, by the end of the ME period, 14th century.
Spoken English came first; during a long time in the 14 th century, people at court spoke
at last English but they still wrote and read in French. That means that documents were

still written in French and it continued to be the language of administrative documents

and the law. 1362 also marks a turning point, as the Lord Chancellor opened the
Parliament for the first time in English. There was a decree that from then on all process
should be conducted in English. We still have to wait until the beginning of the 15 th
century so as to see written English documents. This may be the reason why we do not
find many documents written in English from the middle ages. Latin functioned as a
Lingua Franca in those times.
The reason why we find such a difference between spelling and pronunciation in
English is due to the influence of French.
A (ash) b c d e f (yogh) h i k l m n o p r s t (thorn) (eth) u p (wynn) x y. These
were the letters before the French scribes modified the alphabet.
A b c d e f g h i k l m n o p q r s t () u v w x y z. This is the alphabet after the scribes
touched it.

The <> as a grapheme disappeared in the second stage of ME. In that period
we find e/a/ea, depending on the regional influences.
The <>, it is an indication of early ME, stopped being used in the 14 th century
and instead of it we find the <> or the <th>.
The wynn was replaced with <u>, <uu> or <w>.
The yogh is very ME. <> it could be used initially in a word as in er or
ong, pronounced as /j/ (i). By the late ME period, initial yogh was replaced
by <y>. Medially in a word, such as in rit, and next to a front vowel, it was
pronounced as a palatal fricative [c]. OE riht > ME rit. Suppose the yogh
goes next to a back vowel or a consonant, as in ur (through), it is
pronounced as a velar fricative (the Spanish jota) [x](hhhhh). In the 14th century,
we are going to find a y in initial position. The yogh appeared in the ME
period, not before. It also disappeared in the same period.
The < > disappeared in the course of the 14 th century because it was replaced
by th. Metathesis is the change in the position of two graphemes. Thus
through, instead of the yogh we start finding gh. However, the sound [x]
disappeared in the 16th century (early ModE), even though the pronunciation did
earlier. Both the velar and the palatal sound disappeared in the same period.
Thus, we continue to spell gh but we do not pronounce it.

- <k> was preferred before <e>, <i>, <n> and <l>. OE cpan /t/ > ME kepen; we
write e instead of a because a begun being pronounced as a //, due to the fact
that it was present in an unstressed position, and because of the leveling process, the
change in sound was transferred to spelling as well. Later on in the period, the final n

disappeared in all strong verbs; thus, we have kepe. We also find keep(e), because
the double e for a long e sound (and double o for a long o sound) started as a
fashion, as a spelling habit, in London in the 14 th century. But as soon as they started
printing any kind of documents and they were widely read, the change spread. Because
there was a change in spelling, there was a change in pronunciation (spellingpronunciation change), because as people saw k, they started pronouncing it as it was,
and not as in OE. OE cniht (palatal) > ME spelling changes knit (same
pronunciation as in OE) > late ME knight (same pronunciation). We are using a late
ME spelling for many words, but the pronunciation early ModE. Thus, long vowels at
the end of the ME period were affected by the GVS and this is why we have a
diphthong instead of a long i. Another change is that affecting the group gh, which
had the palatal fricative sound, but it disappeared in early ModE, along the 16 th century;
the group stopped being pronounced.
As a consequence of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Invasion, many French
scribes found a job in the scriptoria of the English monasteries and they introduced
many changes in the spelling of English:

<y> (letter y): it was used interchangeably with <i>, thus we have ME
mynyster or minister. We also attribute to the French scribes the using of the
<y> in the final position.
<o> was used from the middle 13 th century to indicate // (short u). OE
lufu /v/ > ME love //. <o> due to the French scribes, <v> because the
spelling started to show the voicing in ME and <e> due to the leveling process,
pronounced as a schwa. However, the alteration was in spelling, not in sound, as
they used to pronounce it /lv/. If we wipe the schwa out, we get /lv/ (thus, we
use a ME spelling and a ModE pronunciation; thus, the process from a back
vowel // to a central vowel happened in that period). OE sunu > ME s one
>ModE son.
<ou>, or before a vowel or in final position they preferred <ow> for [u]. OE
hs > ME hous (with no variation in OE sound!!! This is important!). The
final e in house was a creation (as a diacritic mark, so as to indicate that the
previous vowel was long) of the ME period. The pronunciation is due to the
Great Vowel Shift, which affected long vowels.
<ie> (spelling) for long [e] (sound). It was only applied to French borrowings at
the beginning and then it was transferred to all English words. OE feond > ME
fiend /feend/, not a diphthong. It was affected by the GVS, thus we have
<ch> for /t/; the sound was already there in OE. OE cild /t/ > ME child.
The pronunciation was the same, /tild/, and then we have /taild/.
// (fricative voiceless). OE scip > ME schip, sship, ship. One of the
three was established and that was sh. Examples: ocean, nation, etc.
<cw> begun <qu> OE cwean > ME quethen /cuen/. The ash, eth and
yogh are indicators of early ME.


How vowels changed from OE to ME.


Short vowels (a, e, i, o and u) in stressed syllables remained the same as they
have been in OE. OE sinkan > ME sinken. Short <ae> as in OE saet (in a
closed syllable); from the beginning of the 12th century, early ME, its
pronunciation was retracted (the point of articulation moved backwards), thus
we have /a/ sound. However, it seems that first speakers modify their
pronunciation and then the spelling. Thus, we find the spelling ash in the 12 th
century, and in the 13th century it started disappearing. There was a previous
change in pronunciation, and only later on there came the change in spelling.
Long vowels in stressed syllables (a, e, i, u) remained the same in ME (regarding
only pronunciation), there were differences in spelling. OE wn > ME wine
(same pronunciation /i:n/), the diacritic e indicates that the previous vowel
was long. OE cwn > ME quene; queen started as a reduplication of e
as a long vowel, but the sound was still long OE e. Long a sound was not
modified in the North but in the Midlands and South in the ME, it was retracted
to [:]. OE stn > Southern ME stone, being long vowel it was affected by
the GVS, thus /ston/; Northern ME

The ashes are very particular of early ME. After some decades, the ash was retracted to
a. Long a ( [a:] > [:] ) was not pronounced differently in the north; in the south and
the midlands, the vowel was retracted, its point of articulation went backwards. There
seems to have been a change in pronunciation and then in spelling. OE stn > ME
ston(e) the final e is a diacritic mark put there in the ME period so as to show that
the previous vowel was long. The long vowel was later on affected by the GVS; thus,
nowadays we get a diphthong [].
OE [:] > ME a) closed [e:], spelled <>. The hypothesis is that the vowel comes from

West Germanic a. ME strt(e). b) open e [ :], spelled <>; ME tche.

DIPHTHONGS. There were only two diphthongs in OE, ea and eo. The long
diphthong ea: was reduced (only one vowel was left) [:]. Eo: was also reduced to
the first element maintained and the second one was rounded; thus, we have [:]
(pronounced as e with lip rounding). In the East Midlands, the vowel was fronted and
it lost the lip rounding [e:]. OE deop > ME dp. Long closed [e:] raised in its point
of articulation, thus [i:].
New diphthongs were created in the ME period.

Vocalization of palatal g after ash <> and <e>. OE dg > ME dai. We

attribute to the French scribes the presence of the final y in day. OE
wegan > ME weien. Vocalization means that a consonant turns into a vowel.

Before a palatal fricative [c] and a velar fricative [x] we get an i-glide and a uglide, respectively. OE dohtor [x] > ME douter.
Vocalization of velar g after <a> or <o> in the middle of a word. OE dragan
> ME drawen (w because it was preferred before a vowel). In the 14 th
century the final n as a mark of the infinitive disappeared. The final schwa
also disappeared and with it also went the final e. OE plogas > ME

There were also vowels borrowed from French. For instance, vowels next to nasal
consonants were nasalized. Danger [] is one example. The English introduced the
u before the consonant and the vowel. For example, daunce, chaunge,
chaumbre. The diphthong <oi> comes from French and it was maintained as in
joy, join. The triphthong <eau> was also adopted but it was reduced to a
diphthong [eu] > [iu] >[ju].
Now we are going to talk about what happened to vowels in unstressed syllables, and
this is the LEVELING PROCESS. OE dogga > ME dogge, pronounced schwa //.
At the beginning, the final a was relaxed to a // in pronunciation, but the schwa was
lost in the 14th century. When the schwa was dropped in pronunciation, the final e was
also dropped in spelling. OE sunu > ME sone (the u before m, n, w and r was
changed to o because the French scribes thought it was better!!!). The pronunciation
of the o was maintained to //. > son /sun/, when the sound of the schwa
disappeared, also did the final e. In ModE, we passed from // to //. OE talu > ME
tale [a:] [ei] due to the GVS.

Last week we were talking about phonology, changes in vowels, more precisely. Today
we are going to talk about the changes in consonants. Even though consonants
remained pretty the same, we are going to focus on the changes.
One of them is the voicing of the voiceless fricative. Thus, we have <f>, <s> and <>,
which were /f/, /s/ and //. Medially in a word and in between vowels, in a voiced
environment, we find the following changes in spelling /v/, /z/ and //. For example, OE
wifes > ME wives.
Another change is the vocalization of consonants (the consonant turns into a vowel).
OE past participles contained the prefix ge-(it is a palatal g); the vowel was raised
in its point of articulation and speakers started to pronounce i. Then, the g
consonant turned into a vowel of the same quality of the other vowel, thus we have
gi- > ii > (short i) and then it disappeared.
Moreover, from OE times, an i-glide tended to develop in the context of a liquid
consonant plus g plus vowel. For example, OE myrge > ME mirige > mirie.
However, the form we inherited nowadays comes from the south and it is merry. OE

hlig > ME holi. In the Midlands and South, in the ME period, the o was
retracted to //, which after the GVS turned into //.
The process of Metathesis (the change in two letters position) mainly concerned the
<r>. OE ridda > ME thirdde > third. When the schwa disappeared in sound, the
final e also disappeared. OE hwt /hut/ > ME what /huat/; the ash was
beginning to die off in the course of the 13th century and it was replaced by a. The h
continued to be aspirated in ME, but it stopped being pronounced with the passing of
time. When/where/who were passing through the same process.
Some consonants were dropped (they disappeared). C + <w> + <a/o/u>, the w was
dropped in spelling. OE sw > ME s /so:/ to /s/; the retraction of the a in the
Midlands and South. Spelling has been usually slower than changes in pronunciation.
Sword /sord/, the w is dropped in pronunciation. Answer is being pronounced
as /ans/. The w does not sound but we continued writing it.
More droppings of consonants represent the <l> + voiceless affricate /t/, written as
<ch>. OE hwylc /huilt/ > ME which /huit/, because the l disappeared.
Droppings of the infinitive mark in verbs; OE sittan (-ian, -n) > ME sitten (e as
a result of the leveling process) > by the very end of the ME period, the -n mark of
the infinitives was dropped; thus we have sit. First, the -n was dropped, then the
schwa in sound and then in spelling and then the second -t.
OE suffix -lic /lit/ > ME -lich, and then /t/ disappeared as a result of the economy
of effort. Thus, we may find -li or -ly. Only the second one survived.
Another dropping is that of the <h>. In OE, an <h> in initial position was aspirated.
The <h> followed by l, n or r, like in OE hnutu > ME nute, nut // to //.
The development of a consonant means that a consonant has appeared. This is the case
of the <d> between n l, l r, or n r. OE unor > ME thunder. At the end of a
word, a <t> usually developed after a final -n or -s, so we still get a final t after
them. OF ancien > ME ancient or auncient. The French passion of introducing
the u-glide before an n or m.
Regarding MORPHOLOGY, there are not many changes. Throughout ME, there was
the tendency to simplify the morphological system, as well as all elements of grammar,
such as the nouns declensions.
Sg. Acc. (e)

Pl. (e)s

G. (e)s
D. e
In the south, people were more conservative and they used a plural in -n, which came
from the -n declension in OE. Thus, they used -e for all the cases in singular, and n for the plural, with no distinction between cases. By the 15 th century, all plurals were

in -s, with no distinction between the region. The table above comes from the -a
stem in OE. Nowadays, there are very few plurals in -n still alive; and there are even
fewer umlaut plurals (foot/feet).
Regarding adjectives, we will have a look at the comparatives and superlatives. OE
comparative forms used -RA > ME -RE /-r/, due to the leveling process >
Metathesis and we get -ER. OE superlatives were -OST/-AST/-EST/-ST > ME
leveling process gets them all a schwa; -(e)st.

Regarding the personal pronoun system, it was simplified in that there was no more
distinction between genders. The most important change concerns the third person. For
the masculine, we have h, pronounced /he:/ in early ME and /hi:/ after the GVS.
There was also a distinction between the Accusative and the Dative; thus, we have
hine and him, respectively. In late ME, after the 14 th century, the Accusative form
disappeared and so we talk about the subject form (the Nominative forms) and the
object forms (with no distinction between Accusative and Dative). The first person was
ich, pronounced as /it/, and it came from OE ic. In the south, people also used ik.
The form we use nowadays appeared in ME and it was used when the following word
begun by a consonant. Being an unstressed form and being limited when it was
invented, I pronounced /i/, begun to be generally used in any context, no matter the
consonant or vowel of the following word. Thus, it underwent the GVS and we get a
rising diphthong /ai/. The second person singular forms represent a contrast in relation
to what we use today. OE > ME thou, pronounced just the same as in OE. OE
> ME thee (due to French scribes). The plural was e and ye for the subject
form and eu/oi/you for the object. Thus, the forms that we use today are not these
precisely. All singular forms disappeared in ME period (thou/thee), as well as the
subject plural forms (e/ye). The Battle of Hastings marked a turning point for the
English people and the history of the English language. The English begun to imitate
certain patterns. Thus, any of the plural forms (e/ye/you) were used so as to show
respect and distance towards your listeners (French vous, plural form).
H meant he in an unstressed position, while a could mean both he/she. The
form for the third person singular neuter gender had the form hit as in OE. The news
is that the it form appeared in an unstressed position in ME period (12 th century). It
gained ground gradually and by the end of the period only one of the two entered in the
standard of English.
The feminine forms for the third person singular are divided into three patterns. First we
have heo /heo/, with lip-rounding, in the West Midlands. Forms like sch were used
in the North, while the sh /e/ type was used in the East Midlands. The last one was
the one to survive.


Regarding the third person plural, there was no difference between genders and the
pronouns used were divided into three parts corresponding to the region. In the North,
the Scandinavian type of they/them/their was use, while in the South people used the
English type of hi/hem/hie. Meanwhile, people in the Midlands used a mixed type
depending on the region they lived (either more to the north or to the south). They used
they/hem/hire. Chaucer wrote in the 14th century, in the East Midlands variety with
the touch of the south, so he was pretty conservative. Thus, when we use the standard
forms nowadays, we have to know that we use the Scandinavian forms, not the English


The period was opened by the introduction of the printing press in London. It was
invented in Germany by Gutenberg. William Caxton introduced it in England in 1476,
in District One next to Westminster Abbey. Eduard the Confessor had it charged from
Germany. This is the beginning of a new era in the history of the English language. In
English historical linguistics we call this period Early Modern English. The introduction
of the printing press made books cheaper. They all looked the same and it was cheaper
than ordering a scribe to write it for you during many days. Moreover, until this time,
there were no identical manuscripts. However, now when books were printed, they
showed the same letter. As a consequence, we find a growth in schools. In
Shakespeares days, somewhere between a third and 50% of the population could read
and write. Renaissance is a time when people wanted to learn more and more in any
subject. Thus, came the necessity to translate many important books from classical
languages (Latin and Greek). When translator begun to work with a text, they more
often than not found that there was no exact and accurate term in the English language
so as to express so accurately what was firmly stated in Latin. Thus, they borrowed
many terms from the classical languages. This is what we call enriching the English
language because the vocabulary expanded; they borrowed thousands of words from
Latin. 10,000 new words came from Latin and Greek to English. By the middle of the
17th century, the vocabulary had grown in its dimensions to a large extent. THIS IS THE
happened in the 16th and 17th century, in 1650 more precisely. This enriching lead to the
inkhorn/inkpot controversy; the inkpot terms which were specific terms borrowed from
the classical languages were thought to be too bookish, considered that no one used
them in everyday life; they were thought to belong to a certain kind of minority people
and of a specific type. Many Cambridge and Oxford teachers of Greek and Latin did not
approve them.
Now we are going to consider the GVS and the rise of the Standard English, which
along with the inkpot controversy were the most important point of the Modern
English period. The GVS is very important and it is concerned with differences in

pronunciation between the end of the ME period and PDE. Only long vowels were
affected by it. They were raised in their point of articulation. We will see this the next
Regarding the rise of Standard English, we have to say that about the end of the ME
period, the dialect of East Midland London became something of a standard. What
helped in its choice so as to be representative for all the English was the fact that
London was the capital city (very important politically, socially and economically).
However, the choice was also due to the fact that Oxford and Cambridge were very near
and they were the center of culture and education.
We are going to introduce the problem of spelling in the Modern English period. After
the Norman Invasion, the use of English as a written language was limited because it
had to compete with French and Latin. French influenced the spelling of English to a
large extent because of the French scribes who changed it by introducing their own
spelling habits. The presence of French thus is highly important. In the Renaissance,
there was no dictionary that all people followed and which could prescribe the correct
spelling of English. More or less until the middle of the 17 th century, we find for a great
number of words still different spellings. Tongue presented up to nine different
spellings. Shaksper/Shaxpere/Shackspear was the three different ways Shakespeare
The influence of the classical languages was as it follows: late ME dette > early
ModE debt, pronounced /det/. Ever since the Modern English period, people started
introducing changes in spelling but which did not changed pronunciation. English
debt comes from Latin debit, so they introduced the b. ME boute /dut/ > early
ModE doubt /dat/, from Latin dubit.

Regarding spelling, we also have to mention that the word island in OE was igland,
and then it changed to iland and due to the influence of the classical languages (e.g.
Latin insula), an s was added to the word in the early Modern English period
(Renaissance). More spelling habits, this time introduced by the Dutch printers, were
those regarding the addition of an h after a g, like in ghost or ghess. However,
regarding the last word, the French influence was bigger and thus we say nowadays
guess. Another change in spelling which provoked a change in pronunciation was that
of an h after a t; like in theatre, anthem or Anthony. Sir John Cheke was a
very important figure because he suggested to extinguish the final e in many words,
as the final e was not pronounced, it just laid there; for example, girl(e), doubt,
whole, my or would. The spelling reform was an important movement in the
period and John Hart, Thomas Wilson and William Bullokar were just some of the
reformers who proposed to change the spelling of English so as for it to accommodate
to the pronunciation. Many things they proposed were changed and many were not. In

the Renaissance period, the English language changed a lot. By the mid-17 th century, the
spelling of English was kind of stabilized. By the mid-18 th century, Samuel Johnson
wrote the first dictionary. Still, the distinction between i and j in pronunciation was
not being made, neither the one between u and v. Nobody made a difference in
between them. These are some things to remember about spelling.
Today we are going to see THE GREAT VOWEL SHIFT (phonology the evolution of
sounds). Only long vowels were affected by the GVS. We are going to see them one by
one how they were affected. Thus, long vowels raised their point of articulation.
(open e), . (close e), (open o), . (close o), , and (being the
very high, they diphthongized, turned into diphthongs). It is in late ME when the GVS
started. The Midlands was the cradle of Standard English. There are two possibilities so
as to obtain a long a in ME: Anglo-Saxon words that in OE had a short a in an open
syllable (one which ends in a vowel is an open syllable). Thus, OE name > ME
nme, being long, it suffered the GVS. The other possibility is from loan French
words (fame).

We go on practicing on the GVS on paper. In the exam, we are going to be given a word
in its form before being affected by the GVS. We have to state the changes of the vowel
and the periods when they occurred. Moreover, we can also be given the transcription of
a word in PDE and we have to go backwards in time and see the origin.
There were also changes affecting consonants in the Modern English period.
- Voiceless fricative palatal []. OE niht (hhh) (after a front vowel i was pronounced
palatal). Early ME nit > Late ME night /hhhh/. In Early Modern English de sound
disappeared in pronunciation, even though showing the Late ME spelling. The cluster
became mute depending on the speaker but more generally along the 16 th century. In the
16th century, the word was pronounced /neit/, because we have applied the GVS to the
long vowel.
- Voiceless fricative velar consonant [x]. OE broht (o is a back vowel; thus, after a
back vowel/diphthong/consonant, the h was pronounced velar) > Early ME brout
> Late ME brought > Early Modern English brought /brot/. Nowadays, there are
still a few words in which the group <gh> is being pronounced (laugh, cough, enough).
- When the b came after an m finally in a word, the b was dropped in
pronunciation and then in spelling as well. Thus, OE lim > ME lim > ModE limb.
The same happened with the group -nd. ME laund > EModE laun/lawn. ME
soun > Early ModE sound; at first the d was not pronounced.


- < al > + consonant takes to the vocalization of the l. Talk was ME [talk] > [al] >
[] > [:]. If the was an f/n/m we have exceptions as in half /a:/ or have //.
However, in the United States they say half as /hf/.
- < ol > + consonant is another change. ME folk /folk/ > in ModE it was vocalized
to /fok/. The l always vocalized to u. Sherlock Ho lmes is /homs/. L plus
consonant always vocalizes.
- < gn- >, < kn- >. OE cniht [] /knit/ > Early ME knit > Late ME knight. In
the Early modern English period (16th century), the pronunciation of the k
disappeared. In the 16th century, the word sounded something like /neit/; from knight.
With PDE gnat /nt/ happens the same.
Present participle of any verb is ending in -ing; for example, listening with the
pronunciation /in/. In the 19th century, working-class people who could not read or write,
started a new pronunciation of the ending and it is nowadays the standard one; they
introduced a velar n.

Today we are going to talk about MORPHOLOGY in the Modern English period. Even
though people believe that OE is very difficult, the teacher believes that ME is far more
difficult because of the variety we find in respects to language. By the end of the ME
period, regarding nouns, we talk about the leveling process, thus we have caseless
plurals, with the form ending in (e)s. In Modern English, the picture is even easier. The
apostrophe appeared for the first time in the 17th century and it is there so as to
facilitate the understanding of the language (e.g. mothers suit). Moreover, the plurals
that we nowadays call irregular from a synchronic point of view, they we umlaut or
front mutated plurals. There also existed plurals in n, in words such as eyen and
toen. The -s mark of plurality moved from the north to the Midlands and then to the
south, so the southerners were the most conservative people. These plurals disappeared
with the passing of time, still in the Modern English period. Brethren is another old
example of the plural in n and we still use this term; it refers to a religious community.
Children is another example, as well as one of those words presenting a double mark
of plurality. We still have one more group of plurals, the uninflected ones in words such
as OE dor > ME dr; deer. Regarding spelling, we still use a ME spelling, while
pronunciation is Modern English. Other examples are sheep, horse, which used to
be uninflected until the 17th century, fish, fowl, antelope, and buffalo. Even
though the majority of nouns formed their plural in the easy way, by adding (e)s, there
seemed to also be other nouns which did not follow the analogical process. The HIS
Genitive construction is something new. The historical ending of the Genitive s was
beginning to be regarded as a variant form of his. This was confusion because of, for
example, if we have the sentence Jamess friends and James his friends, the his in
the unstressed position implies the dropping of the h and this makes them sound the

same. So people begun to write his/is/ys instead of the Genitive. Some more things
people did was putting her/their in the Genitive position, as in Augustus her
daughter. This construction disappeared by the Late Modern English period. Another
construction is the group genitive one; it was an innovation of the Modern English
period. So, the Genitive was attached to the last word of the group, the one that came
before it. We more often than not find a pronoun plus s, like in somebody elses,
which still exists today. Moreover, we can also find a group linked by a conjunction,
like in Hatin & Masons book. The Genitive refers to both terms, not just to the one it
is attached. Furthermore, we still find the uninflected Genitive in Early Modern
English in nouns coming from OE and also in nouns that ended in an s or preceding
words that started in s. For example for God sake may imply economy of effort.
More examples are Lady Chapel or Lady Day. We do not produce uninflected
Genitives today, even though we can use the fossilized forms. However, there are other
non-Standard varieties of English which do not produce the Genitive case. For the
African-American Vernacular speakers of English, the rule is not to use the Genitive
form. My brother house is a good example of this.
Now we are going to talk about ADJECTIVES. In OE we find weak and strong
adjectives. Any adjective could follow one or another pattern, depending on the fact that
if it was preceded by a demonstrative or a possessive it followed the weak pattern, and
if it was not preceded by anything it was strong. In the ME period, due to the fact that
the diversity of case endings was reduced, we only find differences in monosyllabic
adjectives ending in a consonant. By Late ME period we find singular strong form as
long and plural as longe. Weak singular adjectives as longe and plural longe.
This was paving the way to a fixed form for adjectives; at the end of the ME period, we
only find one form for the adjectives, an invariable one. Regarding comparative and
superlative forms, we will draw a line of comparison between the periods.
In the comparative form in OE we have - RA (the Germanic device) > ME - RE
/r/ in pronunciation due to the leveling process. Still in ME, the metathesis process
affected the letters and thus we have - ER. In ME, we find more often than not the
periphrastic construction and that meant the use of MORE + ADJ./ADV. + THAN.
Today we use both. However, if the adjective is long/polysyllabic, then we have to use
the periphrastic construction, and if it is short, we have to use the Germanic
construction. In ME there was not the case, as we can find something like more fair.
At that time, they even used the double-comparative formula, as in more
beautifuler/fairer than, up until the 18th century, when someone regulated the norm into
the use of one of another form.
Regarding the superlative, in OE we had different endings: -EST/OST/AST/ST. In
the ME period, due to the leveling process, the picture was very much simplified. Thus,
we have the ME form - (E)ST. in Modern English period, regarding adjectives, the
number of syllables was irrelevant; thus, we could find something like the most
brightest student. This was also considered bad English in the 18th century with the
emergence of grammars.

THE PERSONAL PRONOUN SYSTEM goes as follows: 1 st person singular subject

form I. OE ic /it/ > ME ich /it/, with the unstressed form of I. thus, when we
talk about the Early Modern English period, we talk about I with its pronunciation
depending on the century, because it was affected by the Great Vowel Shift. The object
form was me, since the OE period, while the possessive forms were my/mine, for
both the Attributive and the Nominative, with no differentiation.
The second person singular subject was thou and it came from OE > ME thou.
The object was thee from OE > ME th/thee (the pronunciation was all the
same until the vowel was affected by the GVS): the possessive forms were thy/thine,
without distinction. My/thy were preferred when the following word started by a
consonant or before a pause. The Mine/thine were used when the following word
started with a vowel. Thus, we are going to talk about a phonological distinction. In the
18th century, Late Modern English, the first forms my/thy started having an Attributive
function. The forms with the - n was preferred for the Nominal use (e.g. I forgot
mine in the car). However, important to remember is the fact that all the forms for the
second person (the th-forms) disappeared from the Standard of English in the 18 th
century, we no longer use them today.
Something which was established in the ME period, lived along the Modern English
one and died until today is the difference between the French uses of tu/vous. So as to
imitate this trend, the English used the th-forms for the informal use and the
y-forms (ye - subject/you - object/your - possessive) when they wanted to be polite
and to mark a distance youre your addressee. With the passing of time, the formal
y-forms prevailed and nowadays they are used with no distinction.