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The development of the OE system of strong and weak verbs in ME and NE.

The bulk of the verbs in PG and in the OG languages fall into two large groups called strong and weak.The main difference between these groups lies in the means of building the principal forms: the Present tense, the Past tense and Participle II. The strong verbs build their principal forms with the help of root vowel interchanges plus certain grammatical endings. In ME the final syllables of the stems, like all final syllables, were weakened, in Early NE most of them were lost. Thus the OE endings –an, -on, -en (of the 1st, 3rd and 4th principal forms) were all reduced to ME –en. The most important change in the system of strong verbs was the reduction in the number of stems from four to three, by removing the distinction between the two past tense forms. In ME and NE many strong verbs began to form their Past and Participle II with the help of the dental suffix instead of vowel gradation. Therefore the number of strong verbs decreases.

The evolution of the weak verbs in ME and in Early NE reveals a strong tendency towards greater regularity and order. The development of the inflection –(e)de in Early NE shows the origins of the modern variants of the forms of the Past tense and Participle II in standard verbs. The marker of the Past tense and Participle II employed by the weak verbs – the dental suffix –d/-t – ptoved to be very productive in all historical periods. This simple and regular way of form-building, employed by the majority of OE verbs, attracted hundreds of new verbs in ME and NE.13. Why did the strong verbs in OE fall into 7 classes. Point out differences between them.

The history of the strong verbs traced back through Early OE to PG will reveal the origins of the sound interchanges and of the division into classes; it will also show some features which may help to identify the classes.

The gradation series used in Class 1 through 5 go back to the PIE qualitative ablaut [e~o] and some instances of quantitative ablaut. The grades [e~o] reflected in Germanic as [e/i~a] were used in the first and second stems; they represented the normal grade (a short vowel) and were contrasted to the zero-grade or to the prolonged grade (a long vowel) in the third and fourth stem. Each class of verbs offered a peculiar phonetic environment for the gradation vowels and accordingly transformed the original series into a new gradation series. In classes 1 and 2 the root of the verb originally contained [i] and [u] (i-class and u-class). Classes 3,4 and 5 had no vowels, consequently the first and second forms contain the gradation vowels descending directly from the short [e] and [o].Class 3 split into subclasses as some of the vowels could be diphthongized under the Early OE breaking. Therefore Class 1 – i-class – has [i], Class 2 – [u] or [o]; in Classes 4 and 5 Pastpl stem has a long vowel [?]. In the verbs of Class 6 the original IE gradation was purely quantitative. Class 7 had acquired its vowel interchange from a different source: originally this was a class of reduplicating verbs, which built their past tense by repeating the root.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 2193

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