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Anomalous verbs willan, dōn

Anomalous verbs are verbs with irregular forms: willan, dōn, būan. They have some individual peculiarities.

Willan with the meaning of volition, desire resembles the preterite-present verbs in meaning and function as it indicates an attitude to an action and it was often followed by an Inf. The form of the Past T. wolde is similar to the Past T scolde of the prêt.-pres. verb sculan. Eventually, on analogy with prêt.-pres. verbs it developed into a modal verb and later together with sculan – into an auxiliary verb.

The verb dōn combined the features of weak and strong verbs.

dōn – dyde – ʒe-dōn

Like weak verbs it formed its Past tense with the help of a dental suffix (d) and had a vowel interchange (ō–y) and –n in Part. 2, which is characteristic of strong verbs.

Syntax in Old English

In treating syntax 2 levels are singled out – that of phrases and that of sentences.

Phrases in OE are of different kinds. We can distinguish between noun phrases and verb phrases.

Noun phrases had a noun as the head word and pronouns, adjectives, numerals, nouns as modifiers. Most modifiers agreed with the noun in gender, number, and case.

on þuðeweardum þam lande(line 3. Ohthere)

Nouns that served as attributes to other nouns usually had the form of the Gen. case.

hwāles bān (whale’s bone)

Verb phrases included a great variety of dependant components: nouns, pronouns, adverbs, Infinitives, participles. Infinitives and Participles were often used with verbs of incomplete prediction. Some of these phrases were later transformed into analytical forms.

hē wolde fandian ( he wanted to find out)

A sentence is a unit different from a phrase. It’s a unit of communication.

In OE there were simple and composite sentences.

In an OE simple sentences we find principal (subject, predicate) and secondary parts of speech (attr., object, adv. mod).

The connection between the parts of the sentence was shown by the forms of the words as they had formal markers of gender, case, number, and person. The presence of formal markers made it possible to miss out some parts of the sentence which would be obligatory in an English sentence nowadays. For example, the formal subject hit could be lacking in impersonal sentences:

him þūhte (it seemed to him)

One of the conspicuous features of OE syntax was multiple negations within a sentence or clause. The most common negative particle was ne, which was placed before the verb. It was often accompanied by other negative words, mostly nāht or nōht which had developed from ne+ā-whit (nothing). Eventually the negative particle ne was dropped, and the negative meaning came to be expressed by nōht only.

Another peculiarity of OE negation was that the particle ne could be attached to some verbs, pronouns and adverbs to form single words:

nān man ne būde benorþan him

NE none, never, neither are traces of such forms.

Composite sentences are presented in OE by compound and complex sentences. They are found even in the oldest OE texts.

Compound sentences had different kinds of coordination, and complex sentences revealed different kinds of subordination. There was a large inventory of subordinate clauses such as attributive, object, and adverbial clauses. And yet many constructions look clumsy, loosely connected, somewhat disorderly, which is natural in a language whose written form had only begun to grow.

For complex sentences a common feature was repetition of connectives at the beginning of each clause, for ex. þā (then)

þā hē þær ʒefaren wæs, þā eodon hı¯e tō hiora scipum. (then/when he came there, then they went to their ships)

The particle þe was often employed in attributive clauses:

sı¯o scir hātte Halʒoland þe hē on būde

As to the word order in OE it was relatively free. The position of words in the sentence was often determined by logical and stylistic factors. In other cases grammatical factors were taken into consideration. The word order could depend on the communicative type of the sentence, (i.e. whether it is a statement or a question), on the type of the clause, on the presence and place of some secondary parts of the sentence. For example, if a sentence began with an adverbial modifier, the word order was usually inverted.

þonne is ān port on sūðeweardum þæm lande (Ohthere, line 3)

Thus, in many respects OE syntax was characterized by a wide range of variations.

Old English Vocabulary

Native words

Means of enriching vocabulary

Учебное издание

Максимова Татьяна Дмитриевна

Spotlight on History of English

Учебно-методическое пособие

Отв. за выпуск – Л.В.Скорлупина

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