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Minor Groups of verbs in OE


II Weak verbs

WVs are peculiar to Germanic languages only. They are more numerous. They were built from nouns, adj-s, other strong verbs with the help of the stem-forming suffix (sfs): they built their past tense forms and Part II with the help of the dental suffix (ds). The structure was: root+sfs+ds.

There were 3 classes of weak verbs. They were differentiated by the stem-building/forming suffix.

Class I – i/j; class II – ō; class III– ai.

Class I employed the sound i/j as their stem-forming suffix. Ex. dōmian (dōm - root, dōmi - stem, i- stem-forming suffix, an - the ending of the Inf). The Past Tense was domida (d- the stem-forming suffix - the dental suffix, a - the ending). In OE i changed into e (i >e) and then disappeared. The exception was when it was after r(Ex. werian werede wered). After all other consonants it caused palatal mutation.

dōmian – domjan

dēman – dēmde

kopjan – cēpan (cepte)

subclass of Irregular Verbs

In some verbs the Past Tense suffix was added directly to the stem without the stem-forming suffix i. That is why palatal mutation was present only in the Infinitive.

OE tellan tālde tald (ME-tell)

PG (<taljan) (<talda) (<tald)

sellan salde sald (ME- sell)

Þencan Þōhte Þōht (ME- think)

Bycзan bohte boht (buy)

Tæcan tahte that

Such verbs as mētan and cēpan belong to class 1 of weak verbs. ?Long-root stem= ?their stem ended in a voiceless consonant (t, p) +long-root vowel. The short vowel of the dental suffix disappeared. After the loss of the unstressed vowel “e”, under the influence of the voiceless consonant in the root, the suffix became voiceless too. Ex: OE- mētan (Inf)-mētte(PastT) (<*mētde<*mētede<*motida)-mēt (PII).

If the root of the weak verb ended in a consonant + d after the loss of the unstressed “e” the dental suffix was completely assimilated by the consonant in the root. As a result of this the forms of the past tense did not differ from the forms of the Present tense. Ex: sendan-sende (<*sendde<sendede<sandida) (ME send, send, send).

Class II

Class II of weak verbs had the following features- the stem ended in “o” (o-stem). (Inf-karon; Past tense- karoda, where “kar”=root, “o”=stem-forming suffix and “on”=ending, “da”= the dental suff).

Inf lufian lufode lufod

macian macode macod

ascian ascode ascod

The infinitive always ended in –ian. The component o is found in the the Past Tense and in Participle II ?the Past Participle? before the dental suffix. It is the marker of this class. The ending “od” of the class later developed into the modern “ed” (OE ode>ME ede>NE ed).

Many verbs, borrowed from Scandinavian, French followed this pattern.

Class III

Even in OE very few verbs belonged to this class (habban-hafde-hæfd). In these verbs there was an interchange of vowels and consonants. In the form of the Inf. and Present Tense there were plosive consonants, whereas in the Past tense and in the P II- fricative consonants. Later in ME there was a levelling of consonants and the fricative sounds remained and even replaced the plosives.

Strong verbs had vowel-interchange in the root. Weak- employed the dental suffix. The Inf. of strong verbs ended in “an”. The Inf. of weak verbs ended in “an”, “ian ?ean?”.

The Past tense sg. of the 1st and 3d person of weak verbs ended ine”. The Past tense sg. of the 1st and 3d person of strong verbs did not end ine”. P II of strong verbs ended in “en”.

They are Suppletive, Anomalous and Preterit-present.

Suppletive verbs. They had different roots in the conjugation. In present day English there are 2 verbs of this kind-to be, to go.

1)The OE verb “gān” had the following forms: gan- eode- ge-gan. In ME the form “eode” disappered and instead of it the OE verb “wendan” –“wente” came into use.

2)The OE beon is an ancient IE suppletive verb.

The verbs wesan, beon, es had no Past Participle in OE. In ME these forms underwent many changes. Synonymous parallel forms were lost. Infinitive “wesan” disappeared. The form beon survived in ME.

OE beon>ME ben>NE be.

Out of numerous forms of the present tense plural the form earon/aron survived.

OE aron>ME aren>NE are.

The form of the Present Participle “beonde” but not “wesende” survived. When the suff -ende was replaced by -inde/-ing the Participle became “being”.

The missing forms were formed in ME ( The Imper. Mood- be, Past Participle- being). As a result of these processes in ME we find 5 roots in the conjugation of the verbs: am, is, are, be, was.

Anomalous verbs. They combined the features of weak and strong verbs.

OE don – dyde – ge-don (NE do) formed a weak Past tense with a vowel interchange in the root and its Participle ended in “n”- gedon.

Preterit-present verbs (12). (now modal). They go back to the time when the IE ablaut was used to express different aspect forms. These verbs are called so because their present tense originated in pre-historic times from the Past tense of strong verbs. These verbs never denoted actions, only attitude to the action.(сейчас это модальные глаголы) Their meaning was realized as the Preset tense forms. Originally they were past tense forms, but later they became used as the Present tense forms. Later they built up new past tense forms, following the pattern of weak verbs. These verbs gradually formed a special group of modern modal verbs.

Since historically they were past tense forms now they do not use the ending “-s” in the 3d person sg. And they had no infinitives.

The preterit-present verbs had a number of characteristic features: 1) the vowel-interchange occurred not in the Past tense (cunnan), but in the Present (can); 2) these verbs usually had the dental suffix in the past-t (ahte=ought).


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