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Weak verbs

WVs are peculiar to Germanic languages only. They are more numerous. They were built from nouns, adj-s, other strong verbs with the help of the stem-forming suffix (sfs): they built their past tense forms and Part II with the help of the dental suffix (ds). The structure was: root+sfs+ds.

There were 3 classes of weak verbs. They were differentiated by the stem-forming suffix.

Class I i; class II oi; class III a/ai.

Class I employed the sound i/j as their stem-forming suffix. Ex. dōmian (dōm - root, dōmi - stem, i- stem-forming suffix, an - the ending of the Inf). The Past Tense was domida (d- the stem-forming suffix - the dental suffix, a - the ending). In OE i changed into e (i >e) and then disappeared. The exception was when it was after r (Ex. werian werede wered). After all other consonants it caused palatal mutation.

?dōmian domjan

dēman dēmde

kopjan cēpan (cepte)?

In class I of weak verbs there were 3 groups of verbs.

The 1st group included two variants of weak verbs according to the length of the root syllable:

a) with a short root syllable (a short vowel +1 consonant);

b) with a long root syllable (a short vowel +2 consonant).

After long root syllables short vowels disappeared whereas after short root syllables they remained.

a) a short root syllable

OE temman temede temed

(originated from <temjan) (<tamida) (<tamid)

In the root of the verb ended in a dental consonant (-t,-d), then inspite of the shortness of the syllable the unstressed e disappeared and the dental suffix was assimilated by the dental consonant of the root.

Past Tense

OE settan sette (PG <satjan) (setede) assimilation


Later in ME the ending of the Inf and the ending of the Past Tense and Part II were levelled and gradually lost. Thus these forms of the Inf, the Past Tense and Part II became similar. We have a few such verbs in ME today (set, cut, put).

b) a long root syllable

Weak verbs with a long root syllable in them the stem-forming suffix e disappeared, the ending of the Past Tense became de instead of ede. (dēman dēmde (PT) dēmed (PII).

Evolution of weak verbs in ME and ENE.

Weak verbs were historically younger but turned out to be far more productive as they had a simple and regular way of building forms, which was easily applied in ME to former strong verbs new formations, and to a great number of borrowed words. Especially productive was class 2. In ME there existed only 2 classes of weak verbs with slight differences between them. In ME the 3d class consisted only of few verbs (have, OE habban, libban, secgan). The 3d class ceased to exist altogether. The OE verbs of class 3 either joined the other classes other classes of weak verbs (libban)or became irregular (secgan, habban). ME verbs of Class 1 took the ending de in the Past without an intermediate vowel before the dental suffix and the ending- ed in the PII.they had descended from OE verbs of class 1 with a long-root syllable. The verbs of Class 2 (-ode, od) had weakened their endings to -ede, -ed in ME. Since a few verbs of OE Class 1 had -ede, -ed, they are included in Class 2. Late ME weak verbs are the immediate source of modern regular verbs. When the neutral vowel was reduced and lost, the differences between the 2 classes were lost too. The differences between 2d and 3d principal forms were eliminated. The vowel in the suffix is preserved today only after t, d (wanted). Ode- the most productive ending. ode>ed>t/d/id.

Class 1. OE deman (Past tense- demde; PII-demed) >ME deemen (Past tense- deemde; PII-deemed). Class 2. OE- locian(Past tense- locode; PII-locod)> ME loken (Past tense- loked(e); PII-loked).

The development of the inflection (e)de in ENE shows the origins of the modern variants of the forms of the Past tense and PII in regular verbs. Many former strong verbs began to build weak forms alongside strong ones.

Minor Groups of verbs in OE

They are Suppletive, Anomalous and Preterit-present.

Suppletive verbs. They had different roots in the conjugation. In present day English there are 2 verbs of this kind-to be, to go.

1)The OE verb gān had the following forms: gan- eode- ge-gan. In ME the form eode disappered and instead of it the OE verb wendan wente came into use.

2)The OE beon is an ancient IE suppletive verb.

The verbs wesan, beon, es had no Past Participle in OE. In ME these forms underwent many changes. Synonymous parallel forms were lost. Infinitive wesan disappeared. The form beon survived in ME.

OE beon>ME ben>NE be.

Out of numerous forms of the present tense plural the form earon/aron survived.

OE aron>ME aren>NE are.

The form of the Present Participle beonde but not wesende survived. When the suff -ende was replaced by -inde/-ing the Participle became being.

The missing forms were formed in ME ( The Imper. Mood- be, Past Participle- being). As a result of these processes in ME we find 5 roots in the conjugation of the verbs: am, is, are, be, was.

Anomalous verbs. They combined the features of weak and strong verbs.

OE don dyde ge-don (NE do) formed a weak Past tense with a vowel interchange in the root and its Participle ended in n- gedon.

Preterit-present verbs (12). (now modal). They go back to the time when the IE ablaut was used to express different aspect forms. These verbs are called so because their present tense originated in pre-historic times from the Past tense of strong verbs. These verbs never denoted actions, only attitude to the action.( ) Their meaning was realized as the Preset tense forms. Originally they were past tense forms, but later they became used as the Present tense forms. Later they built up new past tense forms, following the pattern of weak verbs. These verbs gradually formed a special group of modern modal verbs.

Since historically they were past tense forms now they do not use the ending -s in the 3d person sg. And they had no infinitives.

The preterit-present verbs had a number of characteristic features: 1) the vowel-interchange occurred not in the Past tense (cunnan), but in the Present (can); 2) these verbs usually had the dental suffix in the past-t (ahte=ought).

Date: 2015-04-20; view: 120

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