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MONOPHTHONGS IN THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH

:
  1. Business English communication skills
  2. Classification of English consonants according to the manner of articulation. Mistakes typical of Russian learners of English and way of correcting them.
  3. English phraseology.
  4. English syntax.
  5. English-english
  6. French and Scandinavian Borrowings in English
  7. Historical periods and approaches to the chronological divisions in the history of English.
  8. Latin Borrowings in Old English
  9. Middle English

OE Vowels (monophthongs)

The OE vowel system shows 7 points of short and long vowels.

ī ĭ y (short and long) ŭū

ēĕ ōŏ

æ (short and l) ăā

The peculiarity of OE vowels: it showed full symmetry.

Length of vowels was phonological, that is to say it could distingyish different words: gōd (=good NE) and gŏd (god NE)

In ME the following changes occurred (14th c)

Short: Long:

i u i: u:

e o e: o:

a e: o:

a:

The number of short vowels decreased, instead of 7 we find 5 (y-i, æ a) these vowels merged.

The main process that took place in long vowels was narrowing (ē → e: æ (long)→e: ŏ→o: ā→o:) . The origin of a: it developed from short a in pen stressed syllables.

Changes of Unstressed Vowels in Early Old English

The development of vowels in unstressed syllables, final syllables in particular, was basically different Whereas in stressed position the number of vowels had grown (as compared with the PG system), due to the appearance of new Qualitative differences, the number of vowels distinguished in unstressed position had been reduced. In unstressed syllables, especially final, long vowels were shortened, and thus the opposition of vowels long to short was neutralised. It must also be mentioned that some short vowels in final unstressed syllables were dropped.

Unstressed Vowels IN MIDDLE ENGLISH AND EARLY NEW ENGLISH

In ME and NE the main direction of the evolution of unstressed vowels was the same as before; even in the pre-written period unstressed vowels had lost many of their former distinctions, namely their differences in quantity as well as some of their differences in quality The tendency towards phonetic reduction operated in all the subsequent periods of history and was particularly strong in unstressed final syllables in ME.

In Early ME the pronunciation of unstressed syllables became increasingly indistinct. As compared to OE, which distinguished five short vowels in unstressed position Late ME had only two vowels in unaccented syllables: [d ] and [i ], which are never directly contrasted; this means that phonemic contrasts in unstressed vowels had beer, practically lost.



The occurrence of only two vowels, schwa vowel and [i] in unstressed final syllables is regarded as an important mark of ME, distinguishing it on the one hand from OE with its greater variety of unstressed vowels, and on the other hand from NE.

It should be remembered though that while the OE unstressed vowels were thus reduced and lost, new unstressed vowels appeared in borrowed words or developed from stressed ones, as a result of various changes, e.g. the shifting of word stress in ME and NE, vocalisation of [r]. These developments show that the gap between the stressed and unstressed vowels has narrowed, so that in ME and NE we can no longer subdivide the vowels into two distinct sub-systems that of stressed and unstressed vowels).

QUANTITATIVE VOWEL CHANGES IN EARLY MIDDLE ENGLISH

At the end of OE and in the immediately succeeding centuries accented vowels underwent a number of quantitative changes which affected the employment and the phonological status of short and long vowels in the language. At that time vowel length was for the most part an inherited feature: E short vowels had developed from PG short vowels, while long ones went back to long vowels or bi-phonemic vowel sequences.



Shortening: In early ME 12-13c) all long vowels became short if followed by 2 or more consonants: ce(long)pan (OE) ke:pen(ME)-keep

Lengthening: In the 12th or 13th c. Short vowels became long in open syllables. This lengthening mainly affected the more open of the short vowels e,o,a before clusters [ld, nd, mb]; in 2-syllable words, only to [e, o, a] in open stressed syllable

Reduction weakening and disappearance of unstressed vowels. As far as the stress was mainly on the root the vowels in prefixes and suffixes got weak and underwent reduction. Full vowels began to change to schwa and then it was weakened to zero. In unstressed position only two vowels were left [shwa] and [i]. They had never been contrasted. E.g. ME tale [ta:l shwa], body [bodi]

In NE sound (schwa) was dropped at the end of the words but the letter e was left in spelling to show the length of the preceding vowel. This change brought our many monosyllabic words and caused great changes in grammar (loss of inflections-English became an analytical lang)

QUALITATIVE VOWEL CHANGES IN EARLY MIDDLE ENGLISH

As compared with quantitative changes, qualitative vowel changes in Early ME were less important. They affected several monophthongs and displayed considerable dialectal diversity. On the whole they were independent of phonetic environment.

The OE close labialised vowels [y] and [y:] disappeared in Early ME, merging with various sounds in different dialectal areas.

The vowels lyl and ly:l existed in OE dialects up to the 10th c, when they were replaced by [i] and[i:]

The main process that took place in long vowels was narrowing (ē → e: æ (long)→e: ŏ→o: ā→o:) . The origin of a: it developed from short a in open stressed syllables.

In Early ME the long OE [a:] was narrowed to [o]. This was an early instance of the growing tendency of all long monophthongs to become closer; the tendency was intensified in Late ME when all long vowels changed in that direction, [a:] became (:1

The short OE [æ] was replaced in ME by the back vowel [a] In OE [æ] was either a separate phoneme or one of a group of allophones distinguished in writing [, a, a, ea 1 All these sounds were reflected in ME as [a] except the nasalised [a] which became [o]

Lengthening in NE due to the vocalization of r.

After short vowels

ME: o+r=o: (NE): for-fo:

ME: a+r=a: (NE): bar-ba:

ME: I,e,u+r=e: (NE): fur-fe:

ME: shwa+r=shwa (NE): brother-brathe

After long vowels:

i:+r=aie: fire-faie

e:+r= ie: beer-bie

a+r=ee: bear-bee

o:+r=o: floor

flower

The Great Vowel Shirt

Early NE witnessed the greatest event in the history of English vowels the Great Vowel Shift, which involved the change of all ME long monophthongs, and probably some of the diphthongs.

Great Vowel Shift the change that happened in the 14th 16th c. and affected all long monophthongs + diphthong [au]. As a result these vowels were:

diphthongized;

narrowed (became more closed);

both diphthongized and narrowed.

ME Sounds NE Sounds ME NE
[i:] à [ai] time [ti:mə] time [teim]
[e:] à [i:] kepen [ke:pən] keep [ki:p]
[a:] à [ei] maken [ma:kən] make [meik]
[o:] à à [ou] [u:] stone [sto:nə] moon [mo:n] stone [stoun] moon [mu:n]
[u:] à [au] mous [mu:s] mouse [maus]
[au] à [o:] cause [kauzə] cause [ko:z]

The spelling remained unchanged.

lt should be obvious from the chart and the table that the Great Vowel Shift did not add any new sounds to the vowel system; in fact, every vowel which developed under the Shift can be found in Late ME

And nevertheless the Great Vowel Shift was the most profound and comprehensive change in the history of English vowels: every long vowel, as well as some diphthongs, were "shifted", and the pronunciation of all the words with these sounds was altered

 

11. Dipthongs

The PG diphthongs ei ai iu eu au underwent regular independent changes in Early OE; they took place in all phonetic conditions irrespective ot environment. The diphthongs with the i-glide were monophthongised into [i] and [a], respectively; the diphthongs in u were reflected as long diphthongs |io:|, leo:l and lea: I

All Engl dipthongs were monophonized from OE to NE.

In PG there were no diphthongs. There was just a sequence of two separate vowels. Diphthongs appeared in OE: some (usually long diphthongs) as a result of merging of two vowels:

 

Sounds Diphth. Gothic OE
a + u à ea: auso eare (ear)
e + u à eo: þeudans þēoden (king)
(i + u)à (io:) (dialectal variant) diups dīop (deep)

others (usually short diphthongs) as a result of the influence of the succeeding and preceding consonants (breaking of [æ, e])

Monoph. Diphth. Influence Gothic OE
æ à ea before l alls eall (all)
æ à ea before h ahtau eahta (eight)
e à eo before r herza heorte (heart)
æ à ea after sk/k skadus sceadu (shade)
æ: à ea: after j jâr ζēar (year)

Breaking

Under the influence of succeeding and preceding consonants some Early OE monophthongs developed into diphthongs. If a front vowel stood before a velar consonant there developed a short glide between them, as the organs of speech prepared themselves for the transition from one sound to the other. The glide, together with the original monophthong formed a diphthong.

The front vowels [i] and [e] and the newly developed [æ], changed into diphthongs with a back glide when they stood before [h], before long (doubled) [ll] or [l] pJus another consonant, and before [r] plus other consonants, e.g.: OE deorc, NE dark. The change is known as breaking or fructure. Breaking is dated in Early OE, for in OE texts we find the process already completed.

Breaking produced a new set of vowels in OE the short diphthongs [ea] and [eo[ they could enter the system as counterparts of'the long [ea:], [eo: ] which had developed from PG prototypes

OE diphthongs turned into monophthongs in ME

OE Diphth. ME Sounds OE ME
ĭě/īē à i līehtan lighten (lighten)
ĕŏ/ēō à e heorte herte (heart)
ĕă/ēā à æ ēast eest (east)

 

New diphthongs appeared due to vocalisation of [j], [γ]and [w]. These consonants turned into vowels ([i], [u]and [u] respectively) and became the glides of the new diphthongs:

 

i-glides OE ME u-glides OE ME
[ei] weζ[j] wey[i](way) [iu] - -
[ai] mæζ[j] may[i](may) [au] laζ[γ]u law[u]e [lauə] (low)
[oi](in French loan-words)   boy, toy [ou] cnāw[w]an know[u]en [knouən] (know)

The diphthong oi was of French origin.

Lengthening and diphthongization in NE (17c) due to the vocalization of r.

After short vowels

ME: o+r=o: (NE): for-fo:

ME: a+r=a: (NE): bar-ba:

ME: I,e,u+r=e: (NE): fur-fe:

ME: shwa+r=shwa (NE): brother-brathe

After long vowels:

i:+r=aie: fire-faie

e:+r= ie: beer-bie

a+r=ee: bear-bee

o:+r=o: floor

flower

The Great Vowel Shirt

Early NE witnessed the greatest event in the history of English vowels the Great Vowel Shift, which involved the change of all ME long monophthongs, and probably some of the diphthongs.

Great Vowel Shift the change that happened in the 14th 16th c. and affected all long monophthongs + diphthong [au]. As a result these vowels were:

diphthongized;

narrowed (became more closed);

both diphthongized and narrowed.

ME Sounds NE Sounds ME NE
[i:] à [ai] time [ti:mə] time [teim]
[e:] à [i:] kepen [ke:pən] keep [ki:p]
[a:] à [ei] maken [ma:kən] make [meik]
[o:] à à [ou] [u:] stone [sto:nə] moon [mo:n] stone [stoun] moon [mu:n]
[u:] à [au] mous [mu:s] mouse [maus]
[au] à [o:] cause [kauzə] cause [ko:z]

The spelling remained unchanged.

lt should be obvious from the chart and the table that the Great Vowel Shift did not add any new sounds to the vowel system; in fact, every vowel which developed under the Shift can be found in Late ME

And nevertheless the Great Vowel Shift was the most profound and comprehensive change in the history of English vowels: every long vowel, as well as some diphthongs, were "shifted", and the pronunciation of all the words with these sounds was altered

 

12.CONSONANT CHANGES IN THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH.

A large number of consonants have probably remained unchanged through all historical periods. Thus we can assume that the sonorants [m,n,l], the plosives [p,b,t,d] and also [k, g] in most positions have not been subjected to any noticeable changes.

The most important developments in the history of English consonants were the growth of new sets of sounds, affricates and sibilants (), and the new phonological treatment of fricatives. Both changes added a number of consonant phonemes to the system. On the other band, some consonants were lost or vocalised, which affected both the consonant and the vowel system.

Growth of Sibilants and Affricates

In OE there were no affricates and no sibilants, except [s, z]

The earliest distinct traces of these sounds appeared towards the end of OE or during the Early ME period. The new type of consonants developed from OE palatal plosives [k', g'] (which had split from the corresponding velar plosives [k and g] in Early OE and also from the consonant cluster [sk']. The three new phonemes which arose from these sources were [t, and ]. In Early ME they began to be indicated by special letters and digraphs, which came into use mainly under the influence of the French scribal tradition ch, tch, g, dg, sh, ssh, sch

[k] à[t∫]: cild [kild]- child [t∫ild]

[g] à[dζ]: ecge [egg] edge [edζ]

[sk] à[∫]: fisc [fisk]- fish [fi∫]

Another development accounting for the appearance of sibilants and affricates in the English language is dated in Early NE and is connected with the phonetic assimilation of lexical borrowings. In the numerous loan-words of Romance origin adopted in ME and Early NE the stress fell on the ultimate or penultimate syllabic. In accordance with the phonetic tendencies the stress was moved closer to the beginning of the word. The final syllables which thus became unstressed, or weakly stressed, underwent phonetic alterations: the vowels were reduced and sometimes dropped; the sounds making up the syllable became less distinct. As a result some sequences of consonants fused into single consonants.

Palatalisation as a result of reduction of unstressed vowels several consonants merged into one:

ME Sounds NE Sounds ME NE
[sj] à [∫] commissioun [komisjon] commission [kəmi∫ən]
[zj] à [ζ] pleasure [plezjur] pleasure [pleζə]
[tj] à [t∫] nature [natjur] nature [neit∫ə]
[dj] à [dζ] procedure [,prosdjur] procedure [prəsi dζə]

There were some exceptions though, e.g. mature, duty, due, suit, statue, tune, etc

Treatment of Fricative Consonants in ME and Early NE

A new, decisive alteration took place in the 16th c. The fricatives were once again subjected to voicing under certain phonetic conditions.

They were voiced: in functional words and auxiliaries that are never stressed; when preceded by an unstressed and followed by a stressed vowel:

ME Sounds NE Sounds ME NE
[s] à [z] possess [pəses] possess [pəzes]
[q] à [ð] this [qis],the [qə], there [qεə] this [ðis],the [ðə], there [ðεə]
[f] à [v] of [of] of [ov]
[ks] à [gz] anxiety [,ənksaiəti] anxiety [,əngzaiəti]
[t∫] à [dζ] knowledge [kno:lət∫ə] knowledge [no:lidζ]

On the whole in Early NE voicing of fricatives was rather irregular. Though it was a positional change occurring jn certain phonetic conditions, these conditions were often contradictory. The voicing had many exceptions.

Loss of Consonants

As shown in the preceding paragraphs, the system of consonants underwent important changes in ME and Early NE. It acquired new phonemes and new phonemic distinctions, namely a distinction between plosives, sibilants and affricates, a phonemic distinction through sonority in the sets of fricatives, sibilants and affricates. On the other hand, some changes led to the reduction of the consonant system and also to certain restrictions in the use of consonants.

A number of consonants disappeared: they were vocalized and gave rise to diphthongal glides' or made the preceding short vowels long.

With the disappearance of [x'] the system lost one more opposition through palatalisation, as "hard" to "soft". (The soft [k'] and [g'l turned into affricates some time earlier).

Another important event was the loss of quantitative distinctions in the consonant system.

It should be recalled that in OE long consonants were opposed to short at the phonological level. This is confirmed by their occurrence in identical conditions, their phonological application and the consistent writing of double letters, especially in intervocal position. In Late ME long consonants were shortened and the phonemic opposition through quantity was lost.

The loss of long consonant phonemes has been attributed to a variety of reasons. Long consonants disappeared firstly because their functional load was very low, and secondly, because length was becoming a prosodic feature, that is a property of the syllable rather than of the sound. Some consonants underwent positional chances which restricted their use in the language. The consonants [] and [r] were vocalized under certain phonetic conditions finally and before consonants. [r] was vocalised at the end of the word in the 16th -17th c. (see Lecture 11); [j] disappeared as a result of palatalisation); [j] remained only initially (e.g. year, yard, etc.); [, ] were lost (e.g. ME taughte [tautə] NE taught [to:t], ME night [nit] NE night [neit] [kn] à [n] (e.g. ME know [knou] NE know [nou]); [gn] à [n] (e.g. ME gnat [gnat] NE gnat [næt]);

 

13. FORM-BUILDING MEANS IN THE HISTOEY OF ENGLISH

OE was a synthetic language; it showed the relations between words and expressed other grammatical meanings mainly with the help of simple (synthetic) grammatical forms. In building grammatical forms OE employed grammatical endings, sound interchanges in the root, grammatical prefixes, and suppletive formation.

Grammatical endings, or inflections, were certainly the principal form-building means used: they were found in all the parts of speech that could change their form; they were usually used alone but could also occur in combination with other means.

Sound interchanges were employed on a more limited scale and were often combined with other form-building means, especially endings. Vowel interchanges were more common than interchanges of consonants.

The use of prefixes in grammatical forms was rare and was confined to verbs. Suppletive forms were restricted to several pronouns, a few adjectives and a couple of verbs.

There were five nominal grammatical categories In OE: number, case, gender, degrees of comparison, and the category of definiteness/indefiniteness (adj). Each part of speech had Its own peculiarities in the inventory of categories and the number of members within the category. The noun had only two grammatical categories proper: number and case (for the distinction of gender). The adjective had the maximum number of categories five. The number of members in the same grammatical categories in differeni parts of speech did notnecessarily coincide: thus the noun had four cases. Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative, whereas the adjective had five (the same four cases plus the Instrumental case)1. The persona'; pronouns of the 1st and 2nd p., unlike other parte of speech, distinguished three numbers Singular, Plural and Dual.

Verbal grammatical categories were not numerous: tense and mood verbal categories proper and number and person, showing agreement between the verb-predicate and the subject of the sentence.

ME and NE

In the course of ME and Early NE the grammatical system of the language underwent profound alteration. Since :he OE period the very grammatical type of the language has changed; from what cart be defined as a synthetic or inflected language, with a well developed morphology English has been transformed into a language of the "analytical type", with analytical forms and ways of word connection prevailing ever synthetic ones. Some grammatical characteristics remained absolutely or relatively stable; others were subjected to more or less extensive modification.

The division of words into parts of speech has proved to be one of the most permanent characteristics of the language. The only new part of speech was the article which split from the pronouns in tiarly ME

Between the 10th and the 16th c, that is from Late OE lo Early NE the ways of building up grammatical farms underwent considerable changes. In OE all the forms which can be included into morphological paradigms were synthetic. In ME and Early NE, grammatical forms could also be built in the analytical way, with the help of auxiliary words. The proportion of synthetic forms in the language has become very small, for in the meantime many of the old synthetic forms have been lost and no new synthetic forms have developed.

In the synthetic forms of the ME and Early NE periods, few as those forms were, the means of form-building were the same as before: inflections, sound interchanges and suppletion; only prefixation, namely the prefix 3e-, which was commonly used in OE to mark Participle II went out of use in Late

Suppletive form-building, as before, was confined to a few words, mostly surviving from OE and even earlier periods.

Sound interchanges were not productive, though they did not die out: they stHI occurred in many verbs, some adjectives and nouns;

Nevertheless, their application in the language, and their weight among other means was generally reduced.

Inflections or grammatical suffixes and endings continued to be used in all the inflected ("changeable") parts of speech. It is notable, however, that as compared with the OE period they became less varied. In OE there existed a variety of distinct endings differing in consonants as well as in vowels. In ME all the vowels in the endings were reduced to the neutral vowel and many consonants were levelled under -\ or dropped-

some of the old grammatical endings have survived to this day.

The analytical way of form-building was a new device, which developed in Late OE and ME and came to occupy a most important place in the grammatical system. Analytical forms developed from free word groups (phrases, syntactical constructions). The first component of these phrases gradually weakened or even lost its lexical meaning and turned into a grammatical marker, while the second component retained its lexical meaning and acquired a new grammatical value in the compound form.

The growth of analytical grammatical forms from free word phrases belongs partly to historical morphology and partly to syntax, for they are instances of transition from the syntactical to the morphological level.

Analytical form-building was not equally productive in all the parts of speech: it has transformed the morphology of the verb but has not affected the noun.

The main direction of development for the nominal parts of speech in ME and NE periods of history can be defined as morphological simplification.

The evolution oi the verb system was a far more complicated process; it cannot be described in terms of one general trend. On the one hand, the decay of inflectional endings affected the verb system, though to a lesser extent than the nominal system- The simplification and levelling of forms made the verb conjugation more regular and uniform; the OE morphological classification of verbs was practically broken up. On the other hand, the paradigm of the verb grew, as new grammatical forms and distinctions came into being. The number of verbal grammatical categories increased, as did the number of forms within the categories. The verb acquired the categories of Voice, and Aspect. Within the category of Tense there developed a new form the Future Tense Cont Perfect; in the category of Mood there arose new forms oi the Subjunctive. These changes involved the non-finite forms too, for the infinitive and the participle, having lost many nominal features, developed verbal features: they acquired new analytical forms and new categories like the finite verb. It is noteworthy that, unlike the changes in the nominal system, the new developments in the verb system were not limited to a short span of two or three hundred years. They extended over a lone period: from Late OE till Late NE. Even in the age of Shakespeare the verb system was in some respects different from that of Mod and many changes were still underway.*

The main changes at the syntactical level were: the rise of new syntactic patterns of the word phrase and the sentence; the growth of predicative constructions; the development of the complex sentences and of diverse means of connecting clauses. Syntactic changes are mostly observable in Late ME and in NE-in periods of literary efflorescence

 


: 2015-04-21; : 25;


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