Old English grammar. Declensions in Old English. Vowel-Stems. Declension of a-stem nouns. Consonant stems. Declension of n-stem nouns. Declension of root-stem nouns.
The original stem suffixes were formed both by vowels and by consonants. Thus there were two respective principal groups of declensions in Old English: the vowel declension ("strong" declension) and the consonant declension ("weak" declension). The vowel (strong) declension comprises four principal Paradigms: the a-stem, the o-stem, the u-stem and the i-stem paradigm. The consonant declension comprises nouns with, the stem originally ending in -n, -r, -s and some other consonants. In rare cases, however, the new form is constructed by adding the ending directly to the root. It is these words that formed the so-called root-stem declension.
Vowel-Stems. Declension of a-stem nouns This type of declension consists of the masculine and the neuter genders of Old English nouns. As a rule those are common
everyday words that formed the very core of the word-stock, such as: hlaf (bread), hwerte (wheat), hors (horse), fisc (fish), scip (ship) etc. The paradigm of the a-stem nouns is characterised by the homonymity of the Nominative and Accusative case-forms. The rest of the forms retain their endings.The difference between the genders of the nouns is clearly seen from the different endings in the Nominative and the Accusative plural, i.e. -as for the masculine and -u for the neuter. Consonant stems. Declension of n-stem nouns The consonant declensions consisted of nouns with the stem originally ending in -n, -r, -s and other consonants. The n-stem class was formed by nouns of all the three genders, such as nama (name.) masculine, tunge (tongue) feminine, مـهم (eye) neuter.The n-stem was the most important among all the consonant stem declensions. This class of nouns was composed of common words. The group was very extensive in Old English and like the a-stem declension it exhibited a tendency to spread its forms over other declensions. Declension of root-stem nouns
This class was not extensive and stood apart among other Old English nouns due to peculiarities of form-building which was partly retained in Modern English. Unlike other classes the root-stem nouns such as man (man, masculine), mus (mouse, feminine) originally had no stem-suffix the grammatical ending was added directly to the root. As a result of that in the Dative Singular and the Nominative and the Accusative Plural the root-vowel had undergone palatal mutation due to the [i]-sound in the grammatical ending of these forms. Later the ending was dropped and vowel interchange remained the only means of differentiating the given forms in the paradigm.
16. Old English grammar. The pronoun. Personal pronouns. Other pronouns.
The following classes of pronouns were to be observed in Old English: personal, possessive, demonstrative, interrogative, relative and indefinite pronouns. The system of declension of the pronoun was not the same for all the classes. It has at least two subsystems that should be singled out: the declension of personal pronouns on the one hand and the declension of other pronouns. Although the grammatical categories of each subsystem were the same, i. e. gender, number, case, the number of the categorial forms composing those categories was different. The personal pronoun The Old English personal pronoun similar to the Old English noun had the grammatical categories of gender, number and case. Gender Three genders could be distinguished in the pronominal paradigm: masculine, feminine and neuter, but different forms for different genders were found only in the third person singular, the rest of the forms being indifferent to gender. Number The category of number differs from that of the noun as in the first and second person we find three categorial forms: singular, dual and plural. Case The category of case is built up by the opposition of four categorial forms, similar to those of the noun: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative. Other pronouns All Old English pronouns with the exception of personal pronouns were declined almost alike. They expressed the grammatical categories of gender (three forms: masculine, feminine and neuter), number (two forms: singular and plural) and case, which was built up by five categorial forms: the Nominative, the Accusative, the Dative, the Genitive and the Instrumental, different from the Dative only in the Singular. If we compare the paradigms of these pronouns with those of the noun and the personal pronoun we cannot but take notice that they differed in the number of the categorial forms composing the categories of case and number. The personal pronoun unlike the rest of the pronouns and the noun possessed three categorial forms composing the category of number. All the other pronouns unlike the personal pronoun and the noun had five cases.
17. Old English grammar. The adjective. Declension of adjectives. Degrees of comparison of adjectives.
Declension of adjectives
The paradigm of the adjective is similar to that of the noun and the pronoun, i.e. it comprises Gender, Number, Case. The grammatical category of case was built up by five forms: the Nominative, the Accusative, the Dative, the Genitive and the Instrumental.
There were two ways of declining Adjectives the Definite and the Indefinite declension. The adjective followed the Definite declension mainly if the noun if modified had another attribute a demonstrative pronoun, and they were declined as Indefinite otherwise.
The grammatical suffixes forms of cases mainly coincided with those of nouns with the stem originally ending in a vowel or -n, yet in some cases we find pronominal suffixes. For example, in the Genitive Plural, in the Dative singular, etc.
Degrees of comparison
The Adjective in Old English changed its forms not only to show the relation of the given adjective to other words in the sentence which was expressed by the gender, number and case of the adjective, but also to show the degree of the quality denoted by the adjective, i.e., the forms of the adjective in Old English could express degrees of comparison. The degrees of comparison were expressed, the same as all other grammatical notions, synthetically, namely:
a) by means of suffixation:
heard heardra - heardost (hard)
b) by means of vowel gradation plus suffixation:
eald ieldra ieldest (old)
c) by means of suppletive forms
3od bettra betst (good),
the first means being unquestionably the most common.
Both suffixation and the use of suppletive forms in the formation of the degrees of comparison are original means that can be traced back to Common Germanic. But the use of vowel interchange is a feature which is typical of the English language only and was acquired by the language in the prehistoric period of its development.
The origin of vowel gradation in the forms
eald ieldra ieldest
is a result of the process of palatal mutation which the root-vowel ea underwent under the influence of the original stem-forming
suffix -i, i.e.
Positive Comparative Superlative
degree degree degree
eald ieldra ieldest
ealdira > ieldra ealdist > ieldest
A similar case is observed with strong (strong), long (long),