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Danes—was not in use, except for the dative of the infinitive. This dative infinitive is still preserved in such phrases as "a house to let;""bread to eat;" "water to drink."—The present participle ended in ende (in the North ande). This present participle may be said still to exist-in spoken, but not in written speech; for some people regularly say walkin, goin, for walking and going. The plural of the present indicative ended in ath for all three persons. In the perfect tense, the plural ending was on. There was no future tense; the work of the future was done by the present tense. Fragments of this usage still survive in the language, as when we say, "He goes up to town next week." Prepositions governed various cases; and not always the objective (or accusative), as they do now.
6. Grammar of the Second Period, 1100-1250.—The English of this period is called Early English. Even before the coming of the Normans, the inflexions of our language had- -as we have seen-begun to drop off, and it was slowly on the way to becoming an analytic language. The same changes-the same simplification of grammar, has taken place in nearly every Low German language. But the coming of the Normans hastened these changes, for it made the inflexional endings of words of much less practical importance to the English themselves.-Great changes took place in the pronunciation also. The hard c or k was softened into ch; and the hard guttural g was refined into a y or even into a silent w.-A remarkable addition was made to the language. The Oldest English or Anglo-Saxon had no indefinite article. They said ofer stán for on a rock. But, as the French have made the article un out of the Latin unus, so the English pared down the northern ane (= one) into the article an or a. The Anglo-Saxon definite article was se, seo, þaet; and in the grammar of this Second Period it became pe, þeo, pe. The French plural in es took the place of the English plural in en. But housen and shoon existed for many centuries after the Norman coming; and Mr Barnes, the Dorsetshire poet, still deplores the ugly sound of nests and fists, and would like to be able to say and to write nesten and fisten.—The dative plural, which ended in um, becomes an e or an en.
however, still exists in the form of om in seldom ( at few times) and whilom (= in old times).-The gender of nouns falls into confusion, and begins to show a tendency to follow the sex. --Adjectives show a tendency to drop several of their inflexions, and to become as serviceable and accommodating as they are now when they are the same with all numbers, genders, and cases.-The an of the infinitive becomes en, and sometimes even the n is dropped.—Shall and will begin to be used as tense-auxiliaries for the future tense.
7. Grammar of the Third Period, 1250-1350.—The English of this period is often called Middle English.—The definite article still preserves a few inflexions.-Nouns that were once masculine or feminine become neuter, for the sake of convenience.-The possessive in es becomes general.-Adjectives make their plural in e.- -The infinitive now takes to before it-except after a few verbs, like bid, see, hear, etc.—The present participle in inge makes its appearance about the year 1300.
8. Grammar of the Fourth Period, 1350-1485.-This may be called Later Middle English. An old writer of the fourteenth century points out that, in his time—and before it—the English language was "a-deled a thre," divided into three; that is, that there were three main dialects, the Northern, the Midland, and the Southern. There were many differences in the grammar of these dialects; but the chief of these differences is found in the plural of the present indicative of the verb. This part of the verb formed its plurals in the following manner :—
In time the Midland dialect conquered; and the East Midland form of it became predominant all over England. As early as the beginning of the thirteenth century, this dialect had thrown off most of the old inflexions, and had become almost as flexion
1 This plural we still find in the famous Winchester motto, "Manners maketh man."
less as the English of the present day. Let us note a few of the more prominent changes.-The first personal pronoun Ic or Ich loses the guttural, and becomes I.-The pronouns him, them, and whom, which are true datives, are used either as datives or as objectives.-The imperative plural ends in eth. "Riseth up," Chaucer makes one of his characters say, "and stondeth by me!"-The useful and almost ubiquitous letter e comes in as a substitute for a, u, and even an. Thus nama becomes name, sunu (son) becomes sune, and withutan changes into withute.-The dative of adjectives is used as an adverb. Thus we find softë, brightë employed like our softly, brightly. -The n in the infinitive has fallen away; but theë is sounded as a separate syllable. Thus we find brekë, smitë for breken and smiten.
9. General View. In the time of King Alfred, the WestSaxon speech-the Wessex dialect took precedence of the rest, and became the literary dialect of England. But it had not, and could not have, any influence on the spoken language of other parts of England, for the simple reason that very few persons were able to travel, and it took days—and even weeks—for a man to go from Devonshire to Yorkshire. In course of time the Midland dialect—that spoken between the Humber and the Thames - became the predominant dialect of England; and the East Midland variety of this dialect became the parent of modern standard English. This predominance was probably due to the fact that it, soonest of all, got rid of its inflexions, and became most easy, pleasant, and convenient to use. And this disuse of inflexions was itself probably due to the early Danish settlements in the east, to the larger number of Normans in that part of England, to the larger number of thriving towns, and to the greater and more active communication between the eastern seaports and the Continent. The inflexions were first confused, then weakened, then forgotten, finally lost. The result was an extreme simplification, which still benefits all learners of the English language. Instead of spending a great deal of time on the learning of a large number of inflexions, which are to them arbitrary and meaningless,
foreigners have only to fix their attention on the words and phrases themselves, that is, on the very pith and marrow of the language indeed, on the language itself. Hence the great German grammarian Grimm, and others, predict that English will spread itself all over the world, and become the universal language of the future. In addition to this almost complete sweeping away of all inflexions,-which made Dr Johnson say, "Sir, the English language has no grammar at all,”—there were other remarkable and useful results which accrued from the coming in of the Norman-French and other foreign elements.
10. Monosyllables.-The stripping off of the inflexions of our language cut a large number of words down to the root. Hundreds, if not thousands, of our verbs were dissyllables, but, by the gradual loss of the ending en (which was in Anglo-Saxon an), they became monosyllables. Thus bindan, drincan, findan, became bind, drink, find; and this happened with hosts of other verbs. Again, the expulsion of the guttural, which the Normans never could or would take to, had the effect of compressing many words of two syllables into one. Thus haegel, twaegen, and faegen, became hail, twain, and fain.In these and other ways it has come to pass that the present English is to a very large extent of a monosyllabic character. So much is this the case, that whole books have been written for children in monosyllables. It must be confessed that the monosyllabic style is often dull, but it is always serious and homely. We e can find in our translation of the Bible whole verses that are made up of words of only one syllable. Many of the most powerful passages in Shakespeare, too, are written in monosyllables. The same may be said of hundreds of our proverbs—such as, "Cats hide their claws"; "Fair words please fools"; "He that has most time has none to lose." Great poets, like Tennyson and Matthew Arnold, understand well the fine effect to be produced from the mingling of short and long words—of the homely English with the more ornate Romance language. In the following verse from Matthew Arnold the words are all monosyllables, with the exception of tired and contention (which is Latin) :
"Let the long contention cease;
Geese are swans, and swans are geese;
Best be still!"
In Tennyson's "Lord of Burleigh," when the sorrowful husband comes to look upon his dead wife, the verse runs almost entirely in monosyllables :—
"And he came to look upon her,
And he looked at her, and said:
An American writer has well indicated the force of the English monosyllable in the following sonnet :
"Think not that strength lies in the big, round word,
The cry for help, the tongue that all men speak,
So that each word gasped out is like a shriek
Sung by some fay or fiend! There is a strength,
Which has more height than breadth, more depth than length; Let but this force of thought and speech be mine,
And he that will may take the sleek fat phrase,
Which glows but burns not, though it beam and shine;
It will be observed that this sonnet consists entirely of monosyllables, and yet that the style of it shows considerable power and vigour. The words printed in italics are all derived from Latin, with the exception of the word phrase, which is Greek.
11. Change in the Order of Words.-The syntax-or order of words of the oldest English was very different from that of Norman-French. The syntax of an Old English sentence was clumsy and involved; it kept the attention long on the strain; it was rumbling, rambling, and unpleasant to the ear. It kept the attention on the strain, because the verb in a subordinate clause was held back, and not revealed till we had come to the