The History of English Syntax

The subordinate object clause is found in OE texts most often. It usually depends upon such verbs as sechan (say),

The History of English Syntax

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1.General remark

2.The development of Word Order

.Types of syntactical relations btw words in the phrase. Their further development.

.The development of the composite sentence

a. The compound sentence

b. The complex sentence


1.General remark

the angle of diachronic approach many problems of English syntax have not been solved yet. They await further careful investigation.dealing with the historical development of English syntax we set out from the fact that OE was a synthetic type of language and its syntax was based on inflections. But in the course of time analytical tendencies have actually reshaped the syntactic structure of English both by generating a new scope of syntactic distinctions and of new means of expressing them.


2. The WO. Its development

phrase syntactic english

OE texts reveal a variety of types of sentences: simple, compound and complex. According to the aims of communication they may be declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory. In other words, all the basic types of sentences that occur in Modern English have their counterparts in the OE period. But the syntax of the OE sentence is characterized by a number of peculiarities which distinguish it from the Modern English sentence.

. OE can build sentences that do not include any formal subject: e.g. mē þūhte (it seemed to me). The subject may also be omitted if the subject of the action can be guessed from the context: e.g. syððan ærest wearð fēasceaft funden, hē þæs frōfre gebād (after he was found helpless, he found consolation in this).is evident from the context of this complex sentence that the subject of the action in the subordinate clause is the person denoted by the subject of the principal clause.

. There may be more than one negation referring to the same predicate group which is impossible in Modern English: e.g. Ne mētte hē ær nān gebūn land (he didnt meet any inhabited land before).

. The word order can be relatively free. Since syntactic relationships were fairly well shown by inflections, WO was of less importance for this purpose. It plays a grammatical role only in interrogative sentences in which the subject normally occupies the position after the predicate: e.g. Hwæt sceal ic sin3an? (what shall I sing?) or hū mihtest þu hit swā hrædlice findan? (how could you find this so soon?).narrative (affirmative) sentences the common order of words is: subject - predicate: e.g. stært wæs stānfāh, stī3 wīsode 3umum æt3ædere (the street was paved with stones of various colours, the path directed the men together), though inversion is frequent in this type of sentence: e.g. Ne sea hic elþēodi3e þus mani3e men mōdī3licran (I didn't see so many brave warriors from strange lands).is especially frequent if the sentence begins with a secondary part: either with an object or an adverbial modifier. The inverted word-order is used when something new or unexpected is introduced: e.g. Fela spella him sædon þā Beormas (many stories told him those Beormas).this sentence the first position is occupied by the direct object. Then follow: the indirect object, the predicate and in the final position the subject occurs.a WO-pattern, however, cannot be considered similar for all sentences of this kind. Sometimes a whole group of adverbial modifiers opens a sentence, and the subject comes before the predicate: e. g. Æþered cyning ond Ælfrēd his brōþur þær micle fired tō Rēadin3um 3elæddon (4 nights after king Æthered and his brother Ælfred a big force to Reding brought).more WO-pattern is found in subordinate clauses. Here there is a tendency to place the predicate-verb at the end of the clause: e. g. Ohthere sæde his hlāforde Ælfrede cynin3e, þæt hē ealra Norþmanna norþmest būde (Othere told his lord King AElfred that he north of all Normans lived (had)). In English this pattern has become extinct while in German it has come to be a standard.OE the attribute normally comes before the noun which it modifies: e. g. in 3elimpīce tīde (at a convenient time), hronæs bān (whale bone). But some attributes come after the noun they modify:) when the attribute is qualitative: e. g. his suna twe3en (his two sons);

b) when it is used in direct address: e.g. Sunu mīn, 3an3 hidеr and cysse me (my son, come here and kiss me).the development of analytic tendencies in the language a rather fixed and rigid WO structure of English was largely determined by the gradual disappearance of case forms. In OE it was the inflection that showed what part of the sentence the meaningful word was. In Middle English the syntactical functions of the lost inflections had to be expressed by some other means. So, the position of the word in the sentence came to be the main factor determining its syntactical function, WO was becoming grammatical by taking over some of the functions of lost inflections. some period in passing from OE to ME the WO was not absolutely fixed even after the loss of inflections and the function of the word in the sentence could be identified only if a more or less broad context was taken into consideration, but in the 14th and 15th centuries the WO-type: subject-predicate-object was becoming more and more regular. If, however, the sentence opened with an adverbial modifier or direct object inversion was frequently used: e.g. wel coude he sitte on hors and faire ryde (well could he sit on horse and ride well).attribute in Middle English is usually placed before the noun it modifies. Only some adjectives of French origin follow their head-nouns according to the french pattern: attribute-noun: e. g. court martial, cousin german.the beginning of the NE period the WO subject-predicative-object was firmly established in most declarative sentences. In Modern English the WO-pattern can be deviated from declarative sentences beginning with the words: there is…, there came…, there stood… and with adverbial modifiers: e.g. On the terrace stood a knot of distinguished visitors. cases of inversion in declarative sentences may be accounted for from the viewpoint of the functional sentence perspective: the predicate is often placed before the subjects if some member of the sentence is put in a prominent position go as to be made the rheme of the sentence: e. g. Only then did he realize the danger…


3. Types of syntactical relations between words in the phrase. Their further development

had 3 major types of syntactical bond: coordination, subordination and predication. Respectively there existed: coordinate phrases, subordinate phrases and predicative phrases.a coordinate phrase the components are not dependent on one another: e. g. in the sentence þā Finnas, him þūhte, and þā Beormas spræcon nēah ān 3eþēode the Finns, he thought, and Beormas spoke nearly the same language the words "Finnas" and "Beormas" are joined in a phrase by means of coordination.component members of a predicative phrase predetermine each other: e.g. cwæþ hē (said he). This phrase is capable of producing a sentence.a subordinate phrase one word (adjunct) is subordinated to the other (head) word. The relations between the head and the adjunct fall under 2 main types: agreement and government.

1.By agreement we mean such a syntactical relationship in which the inflection of the head-word is the same in the adjunct. The OE agreement occurred in gender, number and case:

a) between noun (head) and adjective (adjunct): e. g. hīe cōmon mid langum scipum they arrived in long ships (Dat. case., plural, neuter); micle meras fersee big lakes with fresh water (Nom. case. plural, masculine).)between demonstrative and other attributive pronouns (adjuncts) and noun (head): e.g. hē būde on þæm lande he lived on that land (Dat. case., singular, neuter); mīne dagas my days (Nom. case, plural, masculine); ond ic for-þon of þeossum 3ebēorscipe ūt ēode and I therefore from that feast went away (Dat. case, singular, masculine).

2.The components are connected by means of government if the adjunct takes a grammatical form required by the head. Government doesn't imply any coincidence in form of the governing word and its adjunct. In OE a verb governed:

a) The Accus. Case of the object, expressed by a noun or a pronoun. The latter is then termed "directed": e. g. þa Deniscan þone cyninh ofslō3on "The Danes that king killed".

b)The Dative case of the object (indirect): e. g. Ohthere sæde his hlāforde Ohthere told his lord; swā-swā wē foryfaþ ūrum 3уltendum as we forgive offenders.

c)The Genitive case of the object (partitive complement): e. g. hē þær sceolde bīdan westanwindes he was obliged to wait for me the western wind there.

a) An adjective may govern the Gen. or the Dat. case of the object: e. g. morþres scyldi3 guilty of killing; wæs 3ehwæðer ōþrum lāð "was everyone hateful to the other".

b). The notion of government also applies to a noun which may govern the Gen. case of another noun: e. g. hwales bān whale bone and to some pronouns and numerals: e.g. dō3ra 3ehwilc each of the days; þara ān one of them.

c). Prepositional government can also be found in OE. Thus, the preposition tō governs the Dat. case: e .g. hē ēode tō his hūse he went to his house; the p

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