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System of Declensions. Old English was a synthetic language, i.e





Parts of Speech

Old English Morphology

Old English was a synthetic language, i.e. there were a lot of inflections.

 

In OE 9 parts of speech had already been distinguished:

 

changeable 1. Noun Nominal Categories: Number, Case, Gender, Degrees of Comparison, Determination
2. Adjective
3. Pronoun
4. Numeral
5. Verb Verbal Categories: Tense, Mood, Person, Number, Voice, Aspect, Order, Posteriority
unchangeable 6. Adverb(only Degrees of Comparison) -
7. Prepositions -
8. Conjunctions -
9. Interjections -

 

Below all notional parts of speech will be discussed, their categories described and the meanings of these categories stated as related to the Old English Period

 

Noun

Number –Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl).

Gender –Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N).

Case –Nominative (Nom) (agent), Genitive (Gen) (attribute), Dative (Dat) (instrument, indirect/prepositional object), Accusative (Acc) (recipient, direct/prepositionless object).

Prior to reading this point, see PG word-structure, Lecture 4.

In OE there were 25 declensions of nouns. All nouns were grouped into declensions according to:

· stem-suffix;

· Gender.

We will mention only the most numerous declensions/stems here:

 

Strong Vocalic Stems Weak Consonantal Stems
Stem-suffix Gender Stem-suffix Gender
a-stem M, N n-stem M, N, F
o-stem F r, s, nd-stems M, N, F
i-stem M, N, F root-stem M, F
u-stem M, F    

 

These stems will be discussed more precisely in Lecture 15.

 

Adjectives

Number –Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl).

Gender –Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N).

Case –Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc) + Instrumental(Instr).

 

 

Instrumental Case was used to express instrumental meaning but only in the adjective while the noun stood in Dative Case:



by/with + Adjective (Instr) + Noun (Dat)

Degrees of Comparison –positive, comparative, superlative.

Determination (Definiteness/Indefiniteness) –today this category has to do with the Article but in OE there were no articles and definiteness/indefiniteness was expressed with the help of inflections of the Adjective, i.e. the inflections of the Adjective helped to determine whether a noun was definite or indefinite.

In OE there existed the weak and strong declensions of the Adjective. They will be discussed more precisely in Lecture 16.

 

Pronoun

Classification:

1. Personal (Noun-Pronouns (had some categories of the Noun and resembled the Noun in syntactic function)).

They had the following categories:

· Person –1st, 2nd, 3rd;

· Number – Singular (Sg), Plural (Pl) + Dual(1st, 2nd pers. (we both, you both) when only two persons were meant);

· Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N) – only in 3rd person!;

· Case –Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc).

2. Demonstrative(Adjective-Pronouns (had some categories of the Adjective and resembled the Adjective in syntactic function)).

They had the following categories:

· Number – Singular (Sg) and Plural (Pl);

· Gender – Masculine (M), Feminine (F), Neuter (N);

· Case –Nominative (Nom), Genitive (Gen), Dative (Dat), Accusative (Acc) +

Instrumental(Instr).

3. Interrogative –unchangeable.

4. Indefinite –unchangeable.

Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns will be discussed more precisely in Lecture 17.

 

Numeral

Classification:

1. Cardinal –ān (one), twēζen (two), þrēō (three) – had the categories of Gender and Case. All the other cardinal numerals were unchangeable.

2. Ordinal –were unchangeable.





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