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NE Phonology. NE Morphology


I. Historical background to the New Standard

II. NE Vowel System:

1) The Great Vowel Shift (pg. 200-203);

2) Changes of short vowels in early New English (pg. 204)

3) Growth of ling monophthongs and diphthins in Early New English (pg. 205-207)

4) Principal changes of vowels in ME and NE (pg. 207 -208)

III. NE Consonant System:

n Vocalisation of ‘r’;

major vowel changes in NE. great vowel shift. Vocalization of [r].

New English

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:


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]

This shift was not followed by spelling changes, i.e. it was not reflected in written form. Thus the Great Vowel Shift explains many modern rules of reading.

Short Vowels

ME Sounds NE Sounds ME NE
[a] à   à [æ]   [o] after [w]!! that [qat] man [man] was [was] water [‘watə] that [ðæt] man [mæn] was [woz] water [‘wotə]
[u] à [Λ] hut [hut] comen [cumen] hut [hΛt] come [cΛm]

There were exceptions though, e.g. put, pull, etc.

Vocalisation of [r]

It occurred in the 16th – 17th c. Sound [r] became vocalised (changed to [ə] (schwa)) when stood after vowels at the end of the word.


new diphthongs appeared: [εə], [iə], [uə];

the vowels before [r] were lengthened (e.g. arm [a:m], for [fo:], etc.);

triphthongs appeared: [aiə], [auə] (e.g. shower [‘∫auə], shire [‘∫aiə]).

n Growth of sibilants and affricates (pg. 209-212);

n Voicing of consonants (pg. 212-213;

n Loss of consonants

IV. NE Morphology and Syntax.

· NE Noun

· NE Verb

· Simplifying changes in the verb conjugation (p. 241-275 // Rastorguyeva T. A. A History of English. - M.: Vysšaja Škola, 2003. - 347 p.)

  • 48.Development of the syntactic system in ME and early NE.
  • The evolution of English syntax was tied up with profound changes in morphology: the decline of the inflectional system was accompanied by the growth of the functional load of syntactic means of word connection. The most obvious difference between OE syntax and the syntax of ME and NE periods is that the word order became more strict and the use of prepositions more extensive. The growth of the literary forms of the language, the literary flourishing in Late ME and especially in the age of the Renaissance the differentiation of literary styles and the efforts made by 18th c. scholars to develop a logical, elegant style - all contributed to the improvement and perfection of English syntax. The structure of the sentence and word phrase, on the one hand, became more complicated , on the other hand- were stabilized and standardized.


n I. Main historical events of the ME period.

n II. ME dialects. Rise of the London dialect.

n III. ME vowel system. General characteristics.

n IV. ME Noun.

n V. The ME Verbal System

Practical Assignment:

1. Иванова И.П., Чахоян Л.П., Беляева Т.М. Практикум по истории английского языка. – Cпб., 2005


ex. 1-3, 7, pg. 133-134.

Old English

Task 1. Explain the correspondence of sounds in the given pair of words (line 1) and introduce the missing letters (lines 2 and 3):

(1) L canis – OE hund;

(2) R колода - OE _olt;

(3) Lith bala - OE _ol

(1) OE cwæð - OE cwædon

(2) OE cea_ - OE curon (past)

(3) OE wæs - OE we_en

(1) OE bryc - OHG brucca

(2) Goth cuni - OE c_nn

(3) Goth drobian - OE dr_fan

Task 2. Explain the correspondences of sounds in the following pairs of words (in every set the process is the same):

1. OE beor3an - Goth gebairgan

2. OE seolf - Goth silba

3. OE deork - Goth dark

1. Goth *scamu - OE sceamu

2. L castra - OE ceaster

3. OHG jar - OE 3ear

1. OHG swestar - OE sweostor

2. OE þestru - OE peostru

3. OE sero - OE searo

3. Speak on the essence of the suggested process and supply at least two examples:

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