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Вопрос 44 The evolution of syntax.


The syntax of Old English was much more flexible than modern English because of the declensions of the nouns. The case endings told the function of the word in the sentence, so word order was not very important. But as the stress began to move to the first syllable of words, the endings were not pronounced as clearly and began to diminish from the language. So in modern English, word order is very important because we no longer have declensions to show case distinctions. Instead we use prepositions. The general word order was subject - verb - object, but it did vary in a few instances:1. When an object is a pronoun, it often precedes the verb. 2. When a sentence begins with an adverb, the subject often follows the verb. 3. The verb often comes at the end of a subordinate clause.

ME - Syntax was stricter and more prepositions were used. New compound tenses were used, such as the perfect tenses, and there was more use of the progressive and passive voice. The use of double negation also increased as did impersonal constructions. The use of the verbs will and shall for the future tense was first used too. Formerly, will meant want and shall meant obliged to.

The most obvious difference between OE syntax and the syntax of the ME and NE periods is that the word order became more strict and the use of prepositions more extensive.

In ME is used the direct word order. But in the sentences which began with adjunct (обстоятельственное) word, it was indirect word order. The synthetical word order gradually disappears. The word order in ME is not so fixed, as in NE, but has important meaning. Then a direct word order becomes obligatory. The indirect word order begins to be used in questions. The auxiliary word do is entered, which was fixed in questions and negations.


In OE is distinguished part of the sentence, as in the modern language: the main and minor clause.

In ME The word order from a rhetorical category becomes syntactic. A subject is absolutely obligatory member of the sentence. If it is absent there is a formal subject. The model with a formal subject “there” is traced already in OE.

In EarluNE the simple sentence develops basically on a way of ordering of all rules connected with an arrangement of all members, questions and negation.

Вопрос 45 The evolution of Gerund

Gerund appears in the 12th century. OE verbal noun(отглагольное сущ)with suffix —ung, -ing and P1 overlapped(частично совпад); verbal noun later turned into Gerund and could 1) take direct object (ex. buying the book) - verbal feature; 2) preceded by article or possessive pronoun – nominal(именной)feature. The gerund can be traced to three sources: the OE verbal noun in -uns and -ins, the Present Participle and the Infinitive. In OE the verbal noun derived from transitive verbs took an object in the Gen. case, which corresponded to the direct object of the finite(личных) verb. The syntactic functions of the verbal noun, the infinitive and the participle partly overlapped.

This verbal feature — a direct object as well as the frequent absence of article before the -ing-form functioning, as a noun — transformed the verbal noun into a Gerund in the modern understanding of the term. The nominal features, retained from the verbal noun, were its syntactic functions and the ability to be modified by a possessive pronoun or a noun in the Gen. case.

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