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end of the clause. Thus the Anglo-Saxon wrote (though in different form and spelling)—
"When Darius saw, that he overcome be would.”
The newer English, under French influence, wrote—
"When Darius saw that he was going to be overcome."
This change has made an English sentence lighter and more easy to understand, for the reader or hearer is not kept waiting for the verb; but each word comes just when it is expected, and therefore in its "natural" place. The Old English sentence -which is very like the German sentence of the present day— has been compared to a heavy cart without springs, while the newer English sentence is like a modern well-hung English carriage. Norman-French, then, gave us a brighter, lighter, freer rhythm, and therefore a sentence more easy to understand and to employ, more supple, and better adapted to everyday use.
12. The Expulsion of Gutturals.-(i) Not only did the Normans help us to an easier and pleasanter kind of sentence, they aided us in getting rid of the numerous throat-sounds that infested our language. It is a remarkable fact that there is not now in the French language a single guttural. There is not an h in the whole language. The French write an h in several of their words, but they never sound it. Its use is merely to serve as a fence between two vowels-to keep two vowels separate, as in la haine, hatred. No doubt the Normans could utter throatsounds well enough when they dwelt in Scandinavia; but, after they had lived in France for several generations, they acquired a great dislike to all such sounds. No doubt, too, many, from long disuse, were unable to give utterance to a guttural. This dislike they communicated to the English; and hence, in the present day, there are many people-especially in the south of England-who cannot sound a guttural at all. The muscles in the throat that help to produce these sounds have become atrophied -have lost their power for want of practice. The purely English part of the population, for many centuries after the Norman invasion, could sound gutturals quite easily-just as the Scotch
and the Germans do now; but it gradually became the fashion in England to leave them out.
13. The Expulsion of Gutturals.—(ii) In some cases the guttural disappeared entirely; in others, it was changed into or represented by other sounds. The ge at the beginning of the passive (or past) participles of many verbs disappeared entirely. Thus gebróht, gebóht, geworht, became brought, bought, and wrought. The g at the beginning of many words also dropped off. Thus Gyppenswich became Ipswich; gif became if; genoh, enough. The guttural at the end of words-hard g or c-also disappeared. Thus halig became holy; eordhlic, earthly; gastlic, ghastly or ghostly. The same is the case in dough, through, plough, etc.—the guttural appearing to the eye but not to the ear.-Again, the guttural was changed into quite different sounds-into labials, into sibilants, into other sounds also. The following are a few examples:
(a) The guttural has been softened, through Norman-French influence, into a sibilant. Thus rigg, egg, and brigg have become ridge, edge, and bridge.
(b) The guttural has become a labial—f—as in cough, enough, trough, laugh, draught, etc.
(c) The guttural has become an additional syllable, and is represented by a vowel-sound. Thus sorg and mearh have
become sorrow and marrow.
(d) In some words it has disappeared both to eye and ear. Thus makëd has become made.
14. The Story of the GH.-How is it, then, that we have in so many words the two strongest gutturals in the language-g and h-not only separately, in so many of our words, but combined? The story is an odd one. Our Old English or Saxon scribes wrote-not light, might, and night, but liht, miht, and niht. When, however, they found that the Norman-French gentlemen would not sound the h, and say-as is still said in Scotland -licht, &c., they redoubled the guttural, strengthened the h with a hard g, and again presented the dose to the Norman. But, if the Norman could not sound the h alone, still less could he sound the double guttural; and he very coolly let both alone
-ignored both. The Saxon scribe doubled the signs for his guttural, just as a farmer might put up a strong wooden fence in front of a hedge; but the Norman cleared both with perfect ease and indifference. And so it came to pass that we have the symbol gh in more than seventy of our words, and that in most of these we do not sound it at all. The gh remains in our language, like a moss-grown boulder, brought down into the fertile valley in a glacial period, when gutturals were both spoken and written, and men believed in the truthfulness of letters-but now passed by in silence and noticed by no one.
15. The Letters that represent Gutturals. -The English guttural has been quite Protean in the written or printed forms it takes. It appears as an i, as a y, as a w, as a ch, as a dge, as a j, and in its more native forms
as a g, a k, or a gh. The following words give all these forms: hail, day, fowl, teach, edge, ajar, drag, truck, and trough. Now hail was hagol, day was daeg, foul was fugol, teach was taecan, edge was egg, ajar was achar. In seek, beseech, sought—which are all different forms of the same word-we see the guttural appearing in three different forms-as a hard k, as a soft ch, as an unnoticed gh. In think and thought, drink and draught, sly and sleight, dry and drought, slay and slaughter, it takes two different forms. In dig, ditch, and dike-which are all the same word in different shapes-it again takes three forms. In fly, flew, and flight, it appears as a y, a w, and a gh. But, indeed, the manners of a guttural, its ways of appearing and disappearing, are almost beyond counting.
16. Grammatical Result of the Loss of Inflexions.—When we look at a Latin or French or German word, we know whether it is a verb or a noun or a preposition by its mere appearance -by its face or by its dress, so to speak. But the loss of inflexions which has taken place in the English language has resulted in depriving us of this advantage-if advantage it is. Instead of looking at the face of a word in English, we are obliged to think of its function,—that is, of what it does. We have, for example, a large number of words that are both nouns and verbs-we may use them as the one or as the other; and,
till we have used them, we cannot tell whether they are the one or the other. Thus, when we speak of "a cut on the finger," cut is a noun, because it is a name; but when we say,
Harry cut his finger," then cut is a verb, because it tells something about Harry. Words like bud, cane, cut, comb, cap, dust, fall, fish, heap, mind, name, pen, plaster, punt, run, rush, stone, and many others, can be used either as nouns or as verbs. Again, fast, quick, and hard may be used either as adverbs or as adjectives; and back may be employed as an adverb, as a noun, and even as an adjective. Shakespeare is very daring in the use of this licence. He makes one of his characters say, "But me no buts!" In this sentence, the first but is a verb in the imperative mood; the second is a noun in the objective case. Shakespeare uses also such verbs as to glad, to mad, such phrases as a seldom pleasure, and the fairest she. Dr Abbott says, "In Elizabethan English, almost any part of speech can be used as any other part of speech. An adverb can be used as a verb, ‘they askance their eyes'; as a noun, 'the backward and abysm of time'; or as an adjective, a seldom pleasure.' Any noun, adjective, or neuter verb can be used as an active verb. You can 'happy' your friend, 'malice' or 'fool' your enemy, or 'fall' an axe upon his neck." Even in modern English, almost any noun can be used as a verb. Thus we can say, "to paper a room"; "to water the horses"; "to black-ball a candidate"; to "iron a shirt" or "a prisoner"; "to toe the line." On the other hand, verbs may be used as nouns; for we can speak of a work, of a beautiful print, of a long walk, and so on.
SPECIMENS OF ENGLISH OF DIFFERENT PERIODS.
1. Vocabulary and Grammar.-The oldest English or AngloSaxon differs from modern English both in vocabulary and in grammar-in the words it uses and in the inflexions it employs. The difference is often startling. And yet, if we look closely at the words and their dress, we shall most often find that the words which look so strange are the very words with which we are most familiar-words that we are in the habit of using every day; and that it is their dress alone that is strange and antiquated. The effect is the same as if we were to dress a modern man in the clothes worn a thousand years ago: the chances are that we should not be able to recognise even our dearest friend.
2. A Specimen from Anglo-Saxon.-Let us take as an example a verse from the Anglo-Saxon version of one of the Gospels. The well-known verse, Luke ii. 40, runs thus in our oldest English version:
Sóplíce daet cild weox, and waes gestrangod, wisdómes full; and Godes gyfu waes on him.
Now this looks like an extract from a foreign language; but it is not it is our own veritable mother-tongue. Every word is pure ordinary English; it is the dress-the spelling and the inflexions that is quaint and old-fashioned. This will be plain from a literal translation :
Soothly that child waxed, and was strengthened, wisdoms full (=full of wisdom); and God's gift was on him.