Early Modern English grammar: morphology & morphological changeMain source Campbell's book on historical linguistics.
Sorry that I didn’t budget time well enough to have delivered this in person.
I hope that the conversion to html won’t have killed the hierarchy of points!
· to sketch a few facts about EModE morphology (but you will all be reading Crystal and Millward)
· to draw your attention to some resources (in ascending order of horror)
· books on early modern English by Charles Barber, Manfred Gorlach
· the Cambridge History of the English Language volumes (particularly recommended!)
· for the obsessive: abstracts of articles found in the e-index “Linguistics & Language Behavior”
· to outline a common process of morphological change: analogical change
· will do this simultaneously
· to get you thinking about linguistic variation. If variants survive EModE, are they like:
· “They’ve got(ten) more interested now that she’s finished with spelling.” (UK/US)
· “graven images” (archaic, adjectival)
Distinguish “descriptive” and “prescriptive” grammar
· prescriptive (Crystal 366): subjective evaluation of one variety of a language as better and more correct than another
· the “better” variety is usually the formal, written variety presented in dictionaries, grammars
· prescriptivism at least partly responsible for eliminating variant forms of, e.g., strong verbs
· strong verbs (have vowel alternation), ex:
· steal; past tense I stole; past participle: I have stolen (the –en is historical)
· in EModE different forms could coexist, but the nonhistorical ones were eventually branded as incorrect
· Cap’n Cook, late 1760s: “to be stole”, “have been drove”; his editor substituted the correct forms “stolen” and “driven”
· descriptive (Crystal 366): objective, systematic description of “the patterns of usage which are found in all varieties of the language, whether they are socially prestigious or not”
· ask if anybody’s aware of consistently using grammar that they know is technically incorrect, and when they do!
· really common example: “I’m laying on the bed” (lay should have a direct object; it’s the “transitive” form)
· lexicographers now use corpora when compiling dictionaries
· if lots of people spell <judgement> with two <e>s or use flaunt to mean “flout”, should those forms go in the dictionary?
Division of “grammar”
· morphology (word form: noun plural –s, verb past tense –ed)
· syntax (word arrangement, order: use of do in questions)
· not for a while
· relatively few inflections
PRONOUNS have more forms
· number: big thing in EModE: implications of the eventual loss of thou
· OE second person singular form
· how does PDE cope with not distinguishing number in the second person?
· gender: which “person” distinguishes gender? 3rd
· are there any EModE 3sg forms that cause ambiguities?
· case: pronouns change shape to distinguish subject and object
· professor, but she/her
· are there any EModE changes that level or extend case distinctions?
· some minor plural paradigms
· loanwords like cactus, -i
· to what extent are these productive?! Ask Zach!
· native: ox, goose, sheep
· healthy enough that the loanword moose entered the sheep class. Perceived analogy:
· similar meaning: denoted an animal
· not dissimilar sounds: long vowel
· most nouns mark plural, possession with –s
· apostrophe can be discussed in the context of disambiguiation
· it’s the “productive” plural marker
· some words ending in –s have had that –s removed to form new singulars: loanwords sherry, cherry, native word pea
· specific kind of analogical change: a kind of folk etymology called back formation
· people assume that a word has a morphological composition that it didn’t originally have (root + affix, usually) and remove that affix, creating a new word: back formation
· e.g., the assumed model was the class of regular plural nouns ending in -s
· another model is agent nouns in -er
· -er usually added to verbs to form an agent noun
· sometimes removed from nouns to form new verbs
· letch from lecher
· ADJECTIVES can mark comparative and superlative in two ways
· “periphrastic” strategy with more, most appeared in ME: most wonderful!
· variation in EModE: Millward’s exx are Shakespeare’s more bold and violentest
· inflections -er and –est native to OE: exx monosyllables older, oldest
· historically the inflections had caused mutation of the vowel before them (o to e from old to eldest)
· survives in a very few relics: elder, eldest
· restricted in meaning
· mostly subjected to levelling, analogical: forms reduced
· OE lang, leng-: from 2 to 1 -> long, longer, longest
· prompt them to cough up length and strength
· lexical verbs mark present 3 sg with –s
· I’m distinguishing these from modals (He will)
· OE marked it with –th
· Sidney’s poem “The nightingale” has convenient variation!
· originally regional: -s from the north
· by C16th, formality: prose, biblical stuff
· by C16th, lexical: -th hangs on longer with common verbs doth, hath
· phonological: -th hangs on longer with certain base-endings (washeth, teacheth)
· meter: -th gives poets an extra syllable (“Nightingale” set to a song)
· rhyme: -s rhymes with more things!
· prompt them to cough up plural nouns
· regular verbs like help mark past tense with –ed
· past tense and past participle have the same form
· past tense:
· “She bored her students.”
· past participle: combined with BE to form the passive in:
· “A tunnel was bored under the English Channel.”
· irregular verbs include
· “strong” verbs like speak, spoke, spoken
· don’t mark past with suffix (vs heard)
· have vowel alternation (ablaut)
Let’s look at some changes in the English verbs to see how they illustrate processes of analogy
· main model: “productive” class of regular verbs form past tense with ed
· “to those that have...”: regular verb class absorbs verbs from other sources
· tendency for old strong verbs to go weak, with the regular verbs as models
· levelling: reduces number of forms
help used to be strong (holpen was past participle!)
· almost always model for loanwords
· She illustrated the lecture with examples plundered from textbooks.
· but not all new/irregular verbs become regular
· EModE: past participle of verbs from Latin participle often –ate
· ...that children be catechised and educate in the knowledge of the grounds thereof (Gorlach 53/40)
· how the Latin participle in –at- tended to get adapted at first
· reinforced by native words whose roots ended in a t sometimes don’t have –ed
· The example was put on the board.
· They had cast their lot with a loser.
· the loanword strive came in strong: analogical extension (extends an alternating pattern to new forms that hadn’t undergone the alternation)
· analogy with model: strong verbs like drive, ride, rise
healthy old class (cf zero plurals like sheep)
· indeed, strong verbs old but common and not unhealthy!
· some strong verbs stay strong but get remodelled
· some strong verbs stay strong but level the number of forms
· via prescriptivism: EModE I have stole, I have stolen -> PDE I have stolen
· some regional variation between got and gotten (US has both)
· got “possess”: I’ve got brains
· gotten denotes less static concepts: “obtain”, “become”, “move”
· They’ve gotten a new boat
· They’s gotten interested recently
· He’s gotten off the chair
· sometimes archaic past participle survives as adjective:
· “graven image”
· OE stelan, stael, stolen: the past participle vowel eventually moved into the past, so that we now have only two vowels, steal, stole, stolen
· regular verbs have same form in past and past participle
· so do irregular weak verbs: hear, heard
· OE specan, spaec, specen “(infinitive, past sg., and past participle of speak” got its o by analogy with a very similar class, identical in infinitive, past, but NOT in the past participle
· OE stelan, stael, stolen (l or r: bear, tear, etc.)
· some weak verbs have gone strong: analogy with hardy class of strong verbs
· formerly weak: dig and stick
· modelled on strong verbs like drink, sing?
· why am I giving these ex? (short vowels)
· but same vowel levelled into both past forms
· analogical levelling: reduces alternation within a paradigm
· help goes weak
· analogical extension: introduces alternation
· dig goes strong
· folk etymology: changing a form on the basis of imagined associations
· back formation: assuming that a word has a morphological composition that it didn’t originally have, usually a root + affixes, and removing the “affix” to make a new form
· sherry from sherris