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Palatal mutation

Mutation is the change of one vowel to another through the influence of a vowel in the succeeding syllable. The most important series of vowel mutations, shared in varying degrees by all OE languages (except Gothic), is known as “i-Umlaut” or “palatal mutation”. Palatal mutation is the fronting and raising of vowels through the influence of [i] or [j] in the immediately following syllable. The vowel was fronted and made narrower so as to approach the articulation of [i]. Due to the reduction of final syllables the conditions which caused palatal mutation, that is [i] or [j], had disappeared in most words by the age of writing; these sounds were weakened to [e] or were altogether lost. The labialized front vowels [y] and [y:] arose through palatal mutation from [u] and [u:], respectively, and turned into new phonemes, when the conditions that caused them had disappeared (cf. mūs and m¢s). The diphthongs [ie, ie:] were largely due to palatal mutation and became phonemic in the same way, though soon they were confused with [y, y:]. Palatal mutation led to the growth of new vowel interchanges and to the increased variability of the root-morphemes: owing to palatal mutation many related words and grammatical forms acquired new root-vowel interchanges. We find variants of morphemes with an interchange of root-vowels in the grammatical forms mūs, m¢s (NE mouse, mice), bōc, bēc (NE book, books), since the plural was originally built by adding –iz. (Traces of palatal mutation are preserved in many modern words and forms, e.g. mouse – mice, foot – feet, blood – bleed; despite later phonetic changes, the original cause of the inner change is i-umlaut).






30) The Great Vowel Shift was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language that took place in England between 1350 and 1500. The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jespersen (1860–1943), a Danish linguist and Anglicist, who coined the term.

Because English spelling was becoming standardised in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Great Vowel Shift is responsible for many of the peculiarities of English spelling. The values of the long vowels form the main difference between the pronunciation of Middle English and Modern English, and the Great Vowel Shift is one of the historical events marking the separation of Middle and Modern English. Before the Great Vowel Shift, these vowels had "continental" values much like those remaining in Italian and liturgical Latin. However, during the Great Vowel Shift, the two highest long vowels became diphthongs, and the other five underwent an increase in tongue height with one of them coming to the front. The principal changes (with the vowels shown in IPA) are roughly as follows.[4] However, exceptions occur, the transitions were not always complete, and there were sometimes accompanying changes in orthography:

Middle English [aː] (ā) fronted to [æː] and then raised to [ɛː], [eː] and in many dialects diphthongised in Modern English to [eɪ] (as in make). Since Old English ā had mutated to[ɔː] in Middle English, Old English ā does not correspond to the Modern English diphthong [eɪ], but was rather formed from the lengthening of short a in open syllables.

Middle English [ɛː] raised to [eː] and then to modern English [iː] (as in beak).

Middle English [eː] raised to Modern English [iː] (as in feet).

Middle English [iː] diphthongised to [ɪi], which was most likely followed by [əɪ] and finally Modern English [aɪ] (as in mice).

Middle English [ɔː] raised to [oː], and in the eighteenth century this became Modern English [oʊ] or [əʊ] (as in boat).

Middle English [oː] raised to Modern English [uː] (as in boot).

Middle English [uː] was diphthongised in most environments to [ʊu], and this was followed by [əʊ], and then Modern English [aʊ] (as in mouse) in the eighteenth century. Beforelabial consonants, this shift did not occur, and [uː] remains as in soup and room (its Middle English spelling was roum).

This means that the vowel in the English word date was in Middle English pronounced [aː] (similar to modern non-rhotic dart); the vowel in feet was [eː] (similar to modern fate); the vowel in wipe was [iː] (similar to modern weep); the vowel in boot was [oː] (similar to modern boat); and the vowel in house was [uː] (similar to modern whose).

The effects of the shift were not entirely uniform, and differences in degree of vowel shifting can sometimes be detected in regional dialects both in written and in spoken English. InNorthern English, the long back vowels remained unaffected, the long front vowels having undergone an earlier shift.[5] In Scotland, Scots differed in its input to the Great Vowel Shift, the long vowels [iː], [eː] and [aː] shifted to [ei], [iː] and [eː] by the Middle Scots period, [oː] had shifted to [øː] in Early Scots and [uː] remained unaffected.[6]

The effect of the Great Vowel Shift may be seen very clearly in the English names of many of the letters of the alphabet. A, B, C and D are pronounced /eɪ, biː, siː, diː/ in today's English, but in contemporary French they are /a, be, se, de/. The French names (from which the English names are derived) preserve the English vowels from before the Great Vowel Shift. By contrast, the names of F, L, M, N and S (/ɛf, ɛl, ɛm, ɛn, ɛs/) remain the same in both languages, because "short" vowels were largely unaffected by the Shift. History. The exact causes of the shift are continuing mysteries in linguistics and cultural history. But some theories attach the cause to the mass migration to the south-east part of England after the Black Death, where the difference in accents led to certain groups modifying their speech to allow for a standard pronunciation of vowel sounds. The different dialects and the rise of a standardised middle class in London led to changes in pronunciation, which continued to spread out from the city.

The sudden social mobility after the Black Death may have caused the shift, with people from lower levels in society moving to higher levels (the pandemic also having hit the aristocracy). Another explanation highlights the language of the ruling class: the medieval aristocracy had spoken French, but, by the early fifteenth century, they were using English. This may have caused a change to the "prestige accent" of English, either by making pronunciation more French in style or by changing it in some other way, perhaps byhypercorrection to something thought to be "more English" (England being at war with France for much of this period). That thought, however, can also be refuted because there is just as much evidence of the hypercorrection to be "more English", as there is to be "more French" (French being slightly still the language of the upper class). Another influence may have been the great political and social upheavals of the fifteenth century, which were largely contemporaneous with the Great Vowel Shift.

Because English spelling was becoming standardised in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Great Vowel Shift is responsible for many of the peculiarities of English spelling. Spellings that made sense according to Middle English pronunciation were retained in Modern English because of the adoption and use of the printing press, which was introduced to England in the 1470s by William Caxton and later Richard Pynson.



31) In the OE language there was no form of the Future tense. The category of Tense consisted of two members: Past and Present. The Present Tense could indicate both present and future actions, depending on the context.

Alongside there was another way of presenting future actions — modal phrases consisting of verbs «sculan, willan, magan, cunnan» (NE shall, will, may, can) and the Infinitive of the notional verb.

In these phrases the meaning of the futurity was combined with strong modal meanings of volition, obligation and possibility.

In ME the use of modal phrases, especially with the verb «shall» became increasingly common. «shall» plus Infinitive was not the principal means of indicating future actions in any context. «Shall» could retain its modal meaning of necessity, but often weakened it to such an extent that the phrase denoted «pure» futurity.

In late ME texts «shall» was used both as a modal verb and as a Future Tense auxiliary. Future actions were also commonly expressed by ME «willen» with an Infinitive, but the meaning of volition in «will» must have been more obvious than the modal meaning of «shall».

In the times of Shakespeare the phrases with «shall» and «will» occured in free variation. They can express «pure» futurity and add different shades of modal meanings. Phrases with «will» and «shall» outnumbered all the other ways in indicating futurity.

In 1653 John Wallis for the first time formulated the rule about the regular intechange of «shall» and «will» depending on the person. These rules were observed throughout the 19th century. «Shall» was used with the 1st person and «will» – with the 2nd and 3rd persons, that became a mark of the British Standard.

The form «’ll» is ousting the auxiliary «will» from British English now.

In OE there were 12 modals, In ME — 2 most frequently used modals «shall» and «will».

The rule of John Wallis was checked by Charles Fries. He investigated the usage of «shall», «will» from the early 17th century to 1845 in British and American English.

They were studied in drama, where the Conversational English and author’s diction were. He produced 25 sumplings for British English and 25 for American English. He formulated the conclusion: there was never a period in the history of English when John Wallis’s rule was ever observed either in British or American English drama or author’s diction.

Charles Fries formulated the rule: there is no future tense in English. «shall» and «will» are always modals.

Otto Jespersen in 1924 also stated that there was no future tense in English.

On the other hand such a linguist as Mauler investigated the modality of «shall»/»will». His sumplings constituted 4000 examples. He found out that «will»/»shall» are modals in 94% of their uses. And only 6% they express futurity. His conclusion was that there was no future tense in English. Only our linguists Ivanova, Illish, Smirnitsky consider that there is future tense in English. Judging by everything mentioned above The Future tense is a moot point in the history of English.

«Will» has ousted «shall» completely in American English.

Like other analytical forms of the verb, the Perfect forms have developed from OE verb phrases. The main source of the Perf.form was the OE «possessive» construction, consisting of the verb «habban» (NE «have»), a direct object and the Participle II of a transitive verb, which served as an attribute to the object.

The meaning of the construction was: a person (subject) possessed a thing (object), which was characterized by a certain state resulting from the previous action (the participle).

Towards ME it turned into analytical forms and made up a single set of forms termed «perfect».

In the Perfect form the auxiliary «have» had lost the meaning of possession and was used with all kinds of verbs.

By the time of the Literary Renaissance the perfect forms had spread to all the parts of the verb system, so that ultimately the category of time correlation became the most universal of verbal categories.

In the beginning the main function of the Perfect forms was to indicate a completed action, to express «perfectivity» rather than priority of one action to another.

As for the Continuous forms it should be said the following.

Verb phrases consisting of «beon» (NE «be») plus Participle I are not infrequently found in OE prose. They denoted a quality or a lasting state.

In Early ME «beon» plus Participle I fell into disuse. It occured occasionally in some dialectal areas.

In the 15th and 16th centuries «be» plus Participle I was often confused with a synonimous phrase – «be» plus the preposition «on» plus a verbal noun.

By that time the Present Participle and the verbal noun had lost their formal differences: the Participle I was built with the help of -ing, and the verbal noun had the word-building suffix — ing.

The prepositional phrase indicated a process taking place at a certain period of time. It is believed that the meaning of process or an action of limited duration — which the Continuous forms acquired in Early NE — may have come from the prepositional phrase.

The formal pattern of the Continuous as an analytical form was firmly established.


32) The growth of the English vocabulary from internal sources — through word-formation and semantic change — can be observed in all periods of history; as mentioned above, internal sources of vocabulary growth may have become relatively less important in ME, when hun­dreds of foreign words (especially French) entered the language. In the 15th, 16th and 17th c. the role of internal sources of the replenishment of the vocabulary became more important though the influx of borrow­ings from other languages continued.

As before, word formation fell into two types: word derivation and word composition. Word Derivation

The means of derivation used in OE continued to be employed in later periods and their relative position and functions were generally the same. Suffixation has always been the most productive way of de­riving new words, most of the OE productive suffixes have survived, and many new suffixes have been added from internal and external sources. The development of prefixation was uneven: in ME many OE prefixes fell into disuse; after a temporary decline in the 15th and 16th c. the use of prefixes grew again; like suffixes, Early NE prefixes could come from foreign sources. Sound interchanges and the shifting of word stress were mainly employed as a means of word differentiation, rather than as a word-building means. The Early NE period witnessed the growth of a new, specifically English way of word derivation — con­version (also known as "functional change"), which has developed into a productive way of creating new words.

Sound Interchanges. Sound interchanges have never been a productive means of word derivation in English. In OE they served as a supplementary means of word differentiation and were mostly used together with suffixes (see §251 ff.). In ME and Early NE sound interchanges continued to be used as an accompanying feature together with other derivational means. Although new instances of sound interchanges were few, in NE their role as a means of word differentiation grew.

New vowel alternations in related words could arise as a result of quantitative vowel changes in Early ME. Since those changes were positional, they did not necessarily take place in all the words derived from the same root; consequently, there arose a difference in the root-vowels. For instance, the vowels remained or became long in ME deem, wise, wild, but remained or became short in the related words clensen, wisdom, wildreness. (Cf. the resulting vowel interchanges in NE clean — cleanse, wild — wilderness, wise —wisdom, see §371.)

The role of sound interchanges has grown due to the weakening and loss of many suffixes and grammatical endings.



33) During the Middle Ages, English was spoken in parts of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

However, the main history of English outside of England begins after 1500. From about

this time in the other countries of the British Isles the number of speakers of English –

and increasingly English like that spoken within the borders of England – began to grow.

Also in the sixteenth century, Britons and Irish began to colonise North America and the

Caribbean a process that would continue elsewhere in the world into the nineteenth


This chapter will look at the development of English outside England. We will begin

with Scotland, in part because it brings us the furthest back in history, and in part because

the history of English in Scotland has been intensely studied, making it a useful model

which we can use to analyse English elsewhere in the world.

The history of English in Scotland begins with a northern variety of Middle English

which evolved into what is known today as Scots, a form of language with claims to being a

separate language from English. In addition to Scots, a Scottish variety of English is

spoken today in Scotland. Separating the two is not always easy. The following materials

give some clues about how this remarkable situation came about. The Development of English in Scotland. Spellings such as tuke ‘took’ and fut ‘foot’ represent ther development of Northern Middle

English [o:] to [ø:], which became [y:] in Scots. In English [o:] became [u:], and later [u].

b. The use of v to represent w in words like vrit ‘write’.

c. Spellings such as hame ‘home’, hald ‘hold’, represent the Northern Middle English failure of

[a:] to become [o:], which occurred in the south in the 13th century.

d. The Old English aspirated hw has not become w as in the South; it is spelt quh (southern

wh), reflecting the stronger initial h sound; e.g. quhilk ‘which’. This word indicates that the

southern palatalised ç of Old English hwelç is not present.

e. The spelling ch is used for southern gh in brycht ‘bright’, thocht ‘thought’. The sound still

existed in “good” southern pronunciation in the sixteenth century.

f. A vowel followed by i is a noticeable feature of Scots spelling and probably indicates a long

vowel: maist ‘most’, eschaip ‘escape’, sleip ‘sleep’, hoilsum ‘wholesome’, cleir ‘clear’, feildis

‘fields’, sueit ‘sweet’, etc.

g. The original Old English participle ending -and, e.g. valkand ‘walking’.

h. The -is verb ending (corresponding to Modern English -s) is used for the second and third

person singular and plural. So you succedis, he succedis, they succedis. American English has its beginnings in the English of sixteenthcentury Britain. A common notion is that American English reflects an older state of the

language than the English currently spoken in Britain. In comparison with British

Standard English and received pronunciation, the following American features appear to be




34) The formation of the national literary English language cov­ers the Early NE period (c. 1475—1660).

There were at least two major external factors which favoured the
rise of the national language and the literary standards: the unification of the country and the progress of culture.

The term «national» language embraces all the varieties of the language used by the nation including dialects; the »national literary language» applies only to re­cognized standard forms of the language, both written and spoken.

The end of the Middle English period and the beginning of New English is marked by the following events in the life of the English people:

1). The end of the war between the White and the Red Rose — 1485 and the establishment of an absolute monarchy on the British soil with Henry Tudor as the first absolute monarch — the political expression of the English nation.

The War of the Roses (1455-—1485) was the most important event of the 15th century which marked the decay of feudalism and the birth of a new social order. It signified the rise of an absolute monarchy in England and a political centralisation, and consequently a linguistic centralisation leading to a predominance of the national language over local dialects.

2). The introduction of printing — 1477 by William Caxton (1422— 1490).

Printing was invented in Germany by Johann Gutenberg in 1438. It quickly spread to other countries and England was among them. The first English printing office was founded in 1476 by William Caxton. The appearance of a considerable number of printed books contributed to the normalisation of spelling and grammar forms fostering the choice of a single variant over others. Caxton, a native of Kent, acquired the London dialect and made a conscious choice from among competing variants.

Since that time — the end of the 15th century the English language began its development as the language of the English nation, whereas up to that time, beginning with the Germanic conquest of Britain in the 5th century and up to the 15th century, what we call the English language was no more than a conglomerate of dialects, first tribal and then local. Indeed, a notable feature of the Middle English period is the dialectical variety that finds expression in the written documents. It was only late in the 14th century that the London dialect, itself a mixture of the southern and south-eastern dialects, began to emerge as the dominant type.

Thus, the English national language was formed on the basis of the London dialect which was uppermost among Middle English dialects due to the political, geographical, economic and «linguistic» position of London which became the capital of England already in the 11th century — before the Norman conquest and which was in the 15th century a thriving economic centre and port of England due to its geographical position near the estuary of the largest river in England. The geographicalposition of London as a large port and city in the centre of the country where people of the North mingled with people of the South, on the one hand, enabled the Londoners to acquire features of both southern and northern dialects, and on the other hand, the people coming to London helped to spread the London dialect all over the country.

The importance of the London dialect as the foundation of the English national language grew also because of the fact that many of the best writers of the 14th —15th centuries, and Geoffrey Chaucer among them, whose poetry achieved tremendous
contemporary prestige and popularity, were Londoners or used the London dialect in their writings.But the literary norm of the language
was established later, in Early New English, many English authors of the forthcoming centuries contributing to it, among them such as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and, finally, William Shakespeare.

In New English there emerged one nation and one national language. But the English literary norm wasformed only at the end of the 17th century, when there appeared the first scientific English dictionaries and the first scientific English grammar. In the 17th and 18th centuries there appeared a great number of grammar books whose authors tried to stabilise the use of the language.

The grammars and dictionaries of the 18th c. succeeded in formulat­ing the rules of usage, partly from observation but largely from the «doc­trine of correctness», and laid them down as norms to be taught as pat­terns of correct English. Codification of norms of usage by means of conscious effort on the part of man helped in standardising the language and in fixing its Written and Spoken Standards.






Date: 2015-01-29; view: 1787

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