Quantity Adjustment Vowel Lengthening and Shortening In Early Middle English
March Mi nkova These laws reference the well- established Sonority Hierarchy in 11 , tracing back at least to Hooper Consonant strength is the inverse of sonority, a nd the defi nitions in 9 and 10 have been modified accordingly. Homorganicity of the CC may also influence preferability. High vowels are relatively short compared to low vowels, and increased duration is tied to higher sonority Parker Therefore, long Vs are higher on the scale than short Vs.
According 12a-e , HCL contexts are not strongly preferred, and should therefore be open to adjustment. At first glance, lengthening does not seem to apply along the expected lines of high vs. Instead: o Front vs. This may clarify factors for change elsewhere e. Many of the accounts referenced in Section 2 could fit. References Hooper, J. An introduction to natural generative phonology. New York: Academic Press. Campbell, A. Old English Grammar.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Eliason, N. Old English vowel lengthening and vowel shortening before consonant groups. Studies in Philology Hogg, R. Liberman, A. Rauch, G. Kyes Eds. Luick, K.
Die quantitasveranderungen im lauf der Englischen sprachentwicklung. Anglia Historische Grammatik der englischen Sprache. Mailhammer, R.
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Glottal stop is common in this position in the modern dialect, but is usually counted as a recent change. The first three are fairly widespread in Northern England and Scotland. Still, there seem to be fewer forms reflecting this change than one would expect; perhaps, since it is mainly present in low-style poems in Scots literature, 22 it may have similar connotations here, which might be felt to be inappropriate for this kind of material. Pre-Great Vowel Shift values appear in column 2. In addition, there is another set of isoglosses separating the somewhat transitional North Midland dialects of West Yorkshire and Lindsey from the rest of the Midlands.
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- ON THE PRONUNCIATION OF ENGLISH WORDS DERIVED FROM LATIN.
Though these are really outcomes of conditioned developments of Vowel 4, they take a more southerly course than the abovementioned group, dipping down to include Southern Yorkshire, a corner of Nottinghamshire, and the whole of Lindsey within Lincolnshire. Whatever the outcome, the vowel was reshortenened under influence from the inflected forms of the affected words, where the lengthening was blocked in most cases due to syllable division.
THE PRONUNCIATION OF ENGLISH WORDS DERIVED FROM THE LATIN
In any case, there is a considerable amount of variability in this feature. Even more variable, even in twentieth-century York dialect, is the outcome of Vowel 11 as in die, eye and the inflected forms of high. Open Syllable Lengthening, by which short vowels in open syllables became long, operates in all English dialects, but the farther north one goes, the fewer constraints operate on the rule, and the differences can be quite noticeable.
In York, we must assume that the low and low-mid vowels have been lengthened before an early Middle English final — e , which disappeared early, but there is variability in the lengthening of Vowel 15 to Vowel 2, which is not constrained by what the next syllable contains.
Otherwise, there is frequent interchange of the various subclasses of Vowel 3 with each other and Vowel 2 or 4, explored in detail in Section 5, since the outcome varies so much from play to play. The modern dialect has collapsed the various sources of Vowel 3 and merges it with at least 4a, but in the West Riding dialects next door, the reflexes of vowels lengthened by Open Syllable Lengthening never merge with any original vowel class except in very specific environments such as pre-rhotic position.
Spellings showing raising of both short and long vowels are attested in the plays, but as far as we know, the two sets of changes have different causes. This seems to be a favored environment for raising all over North Britain, 39 and in cases such as after, bless , and gather the raised forms can still be found. The spelling evidence suggests that the lengthening was a later process, with only lowering attested. Middle English was the time of decay of much of the rich inflectional morphology that characterized the old Germanic languages.
The noun and adjective endings for the most part disappeared, destroying the old gender system and the case system. Since these simplifications were at least as much the product of language contact as of anything else, the North, which had been highly bilingual after the Viking invasions, was in the lead in these developments. The result is that, where inflectional morphology is concerned, the plays are nearly at the point of Modern English, though the spellings and frequent use of final — e may not show that until one reads the plays and scans them. Nearly every such — e is silent, although it still has a tendency to appear in spelling where it once had signified something.
In all the plays I examined, for instance, the infinitive overwhelmingly ends in — e unless the verbal stem already ends in a vowel — by this point signifying nothing. It can also be found in other verbal contexts due to a rule called the Northern Subject Agreement Rule, whereby any noun subject, or any subject when separated from the verb, triggers the — s ending. Both these cases display much variability, though, and it remains to be seen what conditions besides those mentioned above trigger the ending.
Southern — ith appears in some plays sporadically. Weak verbs can take — id as a past tense and past participial ending, though, depending on which consonant precedes, this can alternate with both — t and — d , particularly the latter after sonorants, and all of these alternate with — ed. The present participle — and e and the verbal noun and gerundive ending — ing e and — yng e are kept apart in most cases, though the beginnings of — ing being used for both functions, and the confusing of the two is found in some plays. In all cases, more study is needed to explore which plays are more conservative morphologically and which are more innovative — and whether or not there is any correlation with increased numbers of Midland forms.
Third person — singular, masculine: he, his, hym ; feminine: scho, hir, hir ; neuter: it, it, it. Southern hem appears at about the same frequency of other marked Southern forms. The syntax of the plays, often convoluted because of the demands of meter, alliteration, and end rhyme, could be the subject of an independent monograph. By way of a general remark, it can be confidently said, however, that the grammar of these works contains highly conservative Old English-like traits such as a preference for object pronouns to precede the things of which they are objects, whether verbs or prepositions, combined with innovations such as the progressive verbal aspect.
This category is an important one since one can measure where individual playwrights or revisers stand with regard to these changes; it thus provides help in both grouping them and dating them. Light is also shed on how these sound changes worked and what phonological environments favored or disfavored them. A full subsection is thus devoted to looking closely at these mergers. To test the value of basing work on attribution plus type and extent of alliteration rather than the traditional attribution, I have arranged Table IV in two sections.
The first classifies the plays according to Table I above and lists the plays individually. The second classifies the totals according to the main groups of Table II. It also has both a high degree of Northern-only rhymes and no Midland-only ones, making it the most localized of the plays. As one might expect if the play is a highly vernacular example, the writer was sensitive to ongoing sound changes in progress with a truly enormous figure of Whether the peculiar profile is scribal or authorial, in no way is it consistent with the rest of the plays ascribed to the York Metrist, or any other play analyzed here, and authorities are right to reject it as a Metrist play unless it was massively reworked.
Also interesting is the fact that Plays 26, 27, and 28 have low scores for general rhymes, if not as low as Play 2, and that they have completely different attributions.
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However, the former two plays show a playwright, presumably the Realist, employing the classic alliterative long line, while Play 27 is syllabic, or rather only semi-alliterative. One can conceive of an author using more than one style, but the semi-alliterative plays look like the work of someone used to writing syllabic-metered poetry trying out alliteration, not the work of a master of the alliterative genre.
Again, these plays have high proportions of Northern-only rhymes combined with high ratios of sound change rhymes. Perhaps this points to the later date usually assigned to them. They are also next to each other in the cycle, and that in itself is suspicious as one wonders whether someone, maybe before the final scribe, copied out parts of the cycle that were contiguous. We may be faced here with mere coincidence, but then we would still probably be dealing with two playwrights of similar background and different styles.
Again, we have different styles and attributions.