« VorigeDoorgaan »
3. A Comparison. This will become plainer if we compare the English of the Gospels as it was written in different periods of our language. The alteration in the meanings of words, the changes in the application of them, the variation in the use of phrases, the falling away of the inflexions-all these things become plain to the eye and to the mind as soon as we thoughtfully compare the different versions. The following are extracts from the Anglo-Saxon version (995), the version of Wycliffe (1389) and of Tyndale (1526), of the passage in Luke ii. 44, 45:
The literal translation of the Anglo-Saxon version is as follows:
(They) weened that he on their companionship were (=was), when came they one day's faring, and him sought betwixt his relations and his couth (folk acquaintances).
When they him not found, they turned to Jerusalem, him seeking.
4. The Lord's Prayer. The same plan of comparison may be applied to the different versions of the Lord's Prayer that have come down to us; and it will be seen from this comparison that the greatest changes have taken place in the grammar, and especially in that part of the grammar which contains the inflexions.
REIGN OF STEPHEN.
Fader ure, pe art on heofone.
Sy name pin, Cume pin rike.
Si þin wil swa swa on heofone and on eorpan.
Breod ure degwamlich geof us to daeg.
And ne led us on costunge.
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
Ac alys us fram yfele. Swa beo
Fadir ur, that es in hevene,
And forgeof us Forgive thou ageltes ura swa all us dettes urs, swa we forgeofen als we forgive till agiltendum ur- ur detturs.
Our Fadir, that art in hevenys,
And ledde us in na fandung.
Halud thi nam
Thi will on erd |
Ur ilk day Give to us this Geve us this
And forgive to our dettis, as forgiven to oure dettouris.
Halewid be thi
Be thi wil done
But sculd us
which art in heaven;
Thy will be fulfilled as well in earth as it is in heven.
And lede us And leade us not into tempta- not into temptacioun ; tion, But delyvere from yvel.
But delyver us from evyll. For thyne is the kyngdom, and the
power, and the glorye, for ever. Amen.
And forgeve us
oure dettes as we forgeve ur detters.
It will be observed that Wycliffe's version contains five Romance terms substaunce, dettis, dettouris, temptacioun, and delyvere.
5. Oldest English and Early English.-The following is at short passage from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, under date 1137 first, in the Anglo-Saxon form; second, in Early English, or as it has sometimes been called-Broken Saxon;
third, in modern English. The breaking-down of the grammar becomes still more strikingly evident from this close juxtaposition.
Þá wreccan menn
the wrecce men
(iii) They swinked (harassed) the wretched men
(i) paes landes mid castel-weorcum. (ii) Of-the-land mid castel-weorces. (iii) of the land with castle-works.
(i) Đa Þá castelas waeron gemacod,
(ii) Tha the castles (iii) When the castles
(i) Þá fyldon hí
6. Comparisons of Words and Inflexions.-Let us take a few of the most prominent words in our language, and observe the changes that have fallen upon them since they made their appearance in our island in the fifth century. These changes will be best seen by displaying them in columns :—
to the sisters.
7. Conclusions from the above Comparisons. We can now draw several conclusions from the comparisons we have made of the passages given from different periods of the language. These conclusions relate chiefly to verbs and nouns; and they
may become useful as a KEY to enable us to judge to what period in the history of our language a passage presented to us must belong. If we find such and such marks, the language is Anglo-Saxon; if other marks, it is Early English; and so on.
8. The English of the Thirteenth Century. In this century there was a great breaking-down and stripping-off of inflexions. This is seen in the Ormulum of Orm, a canon of the Order of St Augustine, whose English is nearly as flexionless as that of Chaucer, although about a century and a half before him. Orm has also the peculiarity of always doubling a consonant after a short vowel. Thus, in his introduction, he says:
"Hunger wex in lond Chanaan ;
"piss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum
That is, "This book is named Ormulum, for the (reason) that Orm wrought it." The absence of inflexions is probably due to the fact that the book is written in the East-Midland dialect. But, in a song called "The Story of Genesis and Exodus," written about 1250, we find a greater number of inflexions. Thus we read :—
Sente in to Egypt to bringen coren ;
That is, “Hunger waxed (increased) in the land of Canaan; and Jacob for that (reason) sent his ten sons into Egypt to bring corn: he remained at home that was youngest born." 9. The English of the Fourteenth Century. The four greatest writers of the fourteenth century are - in verse, Chaucer and Langlande; and in prose, Mandeville and Wycliffe. The inflexions continue to drop off; and, in Chaucer at least, a larger number of French words appear. Chaucer also writes in an elaborate verse-measure that forms a striking contrast to the homely rhythms of Langlande. Thus, in the "Man of Lawes Tale," we have the verse :-
“O queenës, lyvynge in prosperitée,
Haveth som routhe on hir adversitée ;
An emperourës doughter stant allone;
She hath no wight to whom to make hir mone.
Fer ben thy frendës at thy gretë nedë !"
Here, with the exception of the imperative in Haveth som routhe (= have some pity), stant, and ben (= are), the grammar of Chaucer is very near the grammar of to-day. How different this is from the simple English of Langlande! He is speaking of the great storm of wind that blew on January 15, 1362 :—
"Piries and Plomtres
In ensaumple to Men
weore passchet to be grounde,
Here it is the spelling of Langlande's English that differs most from modern English, and not the grammar.-Much the same may be said of the style of Wycliffe (1324-1384) and of Mandeville (1300-1372). In Wycliffe's version of the Gospel of Mark, v. 26, he speaks of a woman "that hadde suffride many thingis of ful many lechis (doctors), and spendid alle hir thingis; and no-thing profitide." Sir John Mandeville's English keeps many old inflexions and spellings; but is, in other respects, modern enough. Speaking of Mahomet, he says: "And 3ee