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GENERAL RELATIONS OF MODERN ENGLISH TO
The relation of the present English to Anglo- Relation of Saxon is that of a modern to an ancient lan- English to guage. Let the word smiðra smith, be taken Saxon. as an example of this relation. It was declined as follows, in Anglo-Saxon:
As far, then, as the above example is concerned, the Anglo-Saxon differs from the present English by expressing a fresh relation by a modification of the form of the root, called an inflection, whereas modern English denotes the same relation by the use of a preposition.
In other words, Saxon inflection is super- Disuse of seded by a combination of words.
This is the case with all modern languages contrasted with their ancient form, and is called the process of simplification.
Contrasted with the present English, Anglo- Contrast of Saxon has the following general differences :
1. Nouns had their peculiar declensions ac- Nouns, cording to their terminations. These distinctions have disappeared in modern English.
The present plural termination -s, which is a Number. contraction for -as (as in smiðas=smiths), was in Anglo-Saxon confined to a single gender and declension.
With regard to case, the Anglo-Saxon had three cases, distinct in form; viz., the Nominative, Genitive, and Dative for the nouns; and the adjective and pronoun, had each four cases, viz., the Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative; and some few words had an Ablative or Instrumental case as well.
In modern English, the adjectives have no case at all; the nouns only two, the Nominative and Genitive, distinct in form; and the pronouns three, viz., Nominative, Genitive, and Accusative.
In Anglo-Saxon, the adjectives had three genders, Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter, with a distinct termination for each ; and agreed with their substantives in gender, number, and case, as they do in Latin.
In English there is no such distinction of gender, number, and case of adjectives.
The subjunctive mood, which in modern English (with one exception, If I were, the subjunctive of was) differs from the indicative only in the second and third persons singular, was considerably different in Anglo-Saxon.
The infinitive mood, in Anglo-Saxon, ended in -an; as, lufian=to love.
THE PRESENT TENDENCIES OF ENGLISH.
This process of simplification, i.e., the distendency of English.
appearance of inflections, is still going on in English, as may be seen in the following ten. dencies :
1. The distinction between the subjunctive Mood. and indicative moods is disappearing; as, If it is, is often used for, If it be.
2. Only one of the double forms of the past Tense. tense of some of the strong verbs will remain; as, She sang well is more general than She sung well, though both forms are correct.
The same is the case with He drank heavily, as compared with He drunk heavily.
3. The frequent use of the adjective for the Adverb. adverb tends to the disappearance of the latter ; as, soft, no haste, for softly.
“A little learning is a dangerous thing,
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”—Pope.
HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF ENGLISH WORDS.
Out of 43,000 words found in the English Analysis of dictionary, 29,000 are of classical origin, and words. only 13,000 of Saxon. (Max Müller.) Out of every 100 words in English, as it is Percentage
of English ordinarily written or spoken, 60 are Saxon, 30 in use. are Latin (including French), 5 are Greek, and 5 are miscellaneous. (Trench.)
Notwithstanding this preponderance of clas- Grammasical words in the dictionary, still English be- structure. longs to the Teutonic branch of the family of languages, because its grammatical structure is decidedly Teutonic; and the particles, which are of commonest occurrence, are also of Teutonic origin.
SOME OF THE
PERIODS (500 A.D. To 1850).
BEDE, styled “the venerable," who wrote in Latin an account of the Saxon Church; born A.D. 673.
CEDMON wrote religious poetry in the 8th century in Anglo-Saxon. A Monk of Whitby.
ALFRED, king of England in the 9th century, translated some Latin works into Saxon for the instruction of the people (871-901 A.D.)
WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY wrote in Latin.
THE MONKS OF PETERBOROUGH wrote the
ORM, OR ORMIN, wrote, about Henry II.'s reign, The Ormulum, a paraphrase of the gospel histories in Semi-Saxon verse.
LAYAMON, born about 1170. Translated the French Romance of Brut, by Wace, into English, or rather Semi-Saxon.
ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER (1230–1285), wrote a history of England in verse.
JOHN BARBOUR, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, flourished about 1371, wrote a rhyming chronicle of Robert Bruce.
JAMES I., King of Scotland, prisoner in Eng- English gland for nineteen years, wrote The King's Quhair, or Book.
SIR JOHN FORTESCUE, chief justice, wrote a book on the English constitution, about 1450.
WILLIAM CAXTON (1410–1491), first English printer, wrote and translated about sixty works; among others The Recuyelle of the Histories of Troye, and The Game of Chess.
WILLIAM DUNBAR, a Scottish clergyman, flourished about 1500; wrote The Dance and The Union of the Thistle with the Rose, allegorical poems.
Gavin DOUGLAS, flourished about 1500, bishop of Dunkeld; wrote an allegorical poem The Palace of Honour, and translated Virgil into English verse.
SIR JOHN DE MANDEVILLE, born at St. Albans, 1300; died at Liège, 1372. Wrote a history of his travels in the Holy Land, and parts of India and China, in which are inserted tales of knight-errantry, miraculous legends, monsters, giants, and devils.
JOHN DE WICLIFFE, born at Wicliffe, near Richmond, in Yorkshire, in 1324; died at Lutterworth, Leicestershire, in 1384. Translated the whole Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English, and wrote several tracts abusing the pope and monks.
GEOFFRY CHAUCER, born in London, 1327; died in London, 1400. Wrote the Court of Love, Book of Troilus and Cresseide, and Canterbury Tales, in English verse.