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Qualitative Changes

Both monophthongs and diphthongs underwent some radical changes during the Middle English period.

(a) Monophthongs

OE [a, o, ō, u, ū e, ē, i, ī,] remained more or less unchanged in Middle English, while OE [ā, æ, ǣ, y, ӯ] changed radically.

1.OE [ā] > ME [ō] (everywhere but in the northern dialects).

OE bāt, nā > ME boot, no (> ModE boat, no).

But OE gōd > good

2. OE[ǣ] > ME [ē] (rather open).

OE sǣ, mǣl > ME se, meel (> ModE sea, meal)

Note: In Middle English manuscripts a single letter ‘e’ was used in open syllables and a double ‘ee’ in closed ones.

3. OE [æ] > ME [a]

OE æt, þæt, dæg > ME at, that, day [dai].


  became i, īin the North-East  
4.OE y, ӯ → remained unchanged in the South-West (written u, ui)  
  became e, ē in the South-East (Kent)  
  hill, fir (hill, fire)
  E.g. OE hyll,fӯr → hull, fuir
  hell, fēr


Note: In the majority of cases Modern English has forms with [ī], But sometimes

Date: 2014-12-22; view: 1266

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