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Rise of Articles


Demonstrative Pronouns

The Development of the Pronoun. The Rise of Articles

Lecture 17

Demonstrative pronouns belong to an ancient class of words that goes back to two Indo-European rootsseand to. In OE the sound [Ө] started to dominate over the sound [s] due to the pressure of the system (the forms with the sound [Ө] were more numerous (see the table below)).

Demonstrative pronouns in OE changed in Gender, Number, Case:

 

Pronoun in ModE Demonstrative Pronouns in OE
Case Masculine, Sg Feminine, Sg Neuter, Sg Plural
that Nom se* sēo* þæt* þa
Gen þes þǽre þæs þara
Dat þæm þǽre þæm þam
Acc þone þā þæt þa
Instr þý* þǽre þý þam
this Nom þes þeos þis* þās
Gen þisses þisse þisses þissa
Dat þissum þisse þissum þissum
Acc þisne þās þis þās
Instr þissum þisse þys þissum

 

In MEthe Case system disappeared due to the fact that there were some homonymous forms (see the table above: e.g. þǽre – F, Sg, Gen; F, Sg, Dat; F, Sg, Instr; þa – Pl, Nom; Pl, Acc; þisse – F, Sg, Gen; F, Sg, Dat) and due to phonetic reduction.

 

In NEthe Gender was lost due to the fact that there were some homonymous forms (see the table above: e.g. þes/þæs – M, Sg, Gen; N, Sg, Gen; þæm – M, Sg, Dat; N, Sg, Dat; þissum – M, Sg, Dat; N, Sg, Dat) and the following changes happened to the pronouns marked with * in the table above:

· se (M, Sg, Nom) – turned into the definite article “the” (discussed more particularly in the point “Rise of Articles” below);

· sēo (F, Sg, Nom) – turned into the personal pronoun “she” (discussed more particularly in the point “Personal Pronouns” (changes in the 3rd person) below);

· þæt (N, Sg, Nom) – remained as the unchangeable demonstrative pronoun “that”;

· þis (N, Sg, Nom) – remained as the unchangeable demonstrative pronoun “this”;

· þý (M, Sg, Instr) – in OE was used in the comparative constructions like “the sooner…the better” but in NE was not distinguished any more phonetically and merged with the unchangeable form of the definite article “the”.



The only category that was left in the demonstrative pronouns was the Number (e.g. ModE this – these, that – those).

 

The articles have to do with the category of Determination (definiteness/indefiniteness).

Causes for Rise of Articles:

1. In OE the there were two declensions of adjectives – strong (definite) and weak (indefinite) – and the inflections of these declensions indicated whether the noun that followed the adjective was definite or indefinite. At the end of the ME Period the declensions of the Adjective disappeared and there was a necessity to find another way to indicate the definiteness/indefiniteness of a noun. Thus the articles appeared.

2. In OE the word-order was free because inflections were employed to show the relations of the words in a sentence. In ME and NE the majority of the inflections disappeared and the word-order became fixed. This meant that the first place in a sentence was usually occupied by the theme (information already known à marked with the definite article) and the second place – by the rheme (new information à marked with the indefinite article).

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