CHANGES IN THE NOMINAL SYSTEM IN MIDDLE ENGLISH AND NEW ENGLISH
List of principal questions:
1. General survey of grammar changes in Middle and New English.
2. The noun
Origin of irregular noun forms
3. the adjective
4. The pronoun
5. The article
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General survey of grammar changes in Middle English and New English
The grammar system of the language in middle and new English periods underwent radical changes. As we remember, the principal means of expressing grammatical relations in Old English were the following:
- vowel interchange
- use of suppletive forms,
all these means being synthetic.
In middle and New English many grammatical notions formerly expressed synthetically either disappeared from the grammar system of the language or came to be expressed by analytical means. There developed the use of analytical forms consisting of a form word and notional word, and also word order, special use of prepositions, etc. – analytical means.
In Middle and New English we observe the process of the gradual loss of declension by many parts of speech, formerly declined. Thus in Middle English there declinable parts of speech: the noun, the pronoun and the adjective, against five existing in Old English (the above plus the infinitive and the participle). In New English the noun and the pronoun (mainly personal) are only parts of speech that are declined.
In Old English there were three principal types of declensions:
a-stem, n-stem and root-stem declension, and also minor declensions: i-stem, u-stem and others. These types are preserved in Middle English, but the number of nouns belonging to the same declension in Old and Middle English varies. The n-stem declension though preserved as a type has lost many of the nouns belonging to it while the original a-stem declension grows in volumes, acquiring new words from the original a-stem, root-stem declensions, and also different groups of minor declensions and also borrowed words. For example:
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