Introduction:The English language got its present form through lot of changes. If we look into the history of any language then we can see that every language has gone through a lot of changes. English language is divided into four periods: Old English, Early Middle English, Late Middle English and Modern English. As we know that English is a Germanic language and it belongs to the branches of Indo-European languages so it has Germanic influence in vocabulary.
Old English grammar is similar to Modern Germanic but Modern English is different from what it was before. Middle English began after the Norman Conquest in England. Normans were French people so Middle Englishlanguage had a great influence of French vocabulary. As we know that middle English has two periods: Early middle and Late middle, so there are various changes like grammatical, vocabulary etc. we can find between these two language periods. In Early Middle English the grammatical structure did not have a stable form like as we have in modern English. But Late Middle English started to have a specific grammatical structure.
If we look into old English then we will see that they did not use any certain grammatical structure. The sentence structure had different forms like SOV, OVS, VSO and SVO etc. Early Middle English had Old English influence in grammatical structure. But late English did not followed that rather it started to establish a specific grammatical structure and that is SVO. It’s not like that they only followed SVO word order but they also used other word order forms. The amount of SVO word order rules were higher than other word order rules.Through this paper I will figure out the compare and contrast between Early and Late Middle English word order and dative inflections.Literature Review:According to Mustin (2011), the period of Middle English began when “William the Conquer (Duke of Normandy) invade the island of Britain”.
So it is easily understandable that William deprived the Anglo-Saxons. Mustin (2011) said that, A rural dialect of French used to speak by the Normans which is usually called Anglo-Norman or Norman French but it was quite different from the standard French. According to Encyclopedia, The Early Middle English period was from 1250 to about 1400 and Late Middle English was from 1400 to about 1500 (2017).
Late Middle English is the base of modern English language. Early Middle English grammatical structure was different from late Middle English because early Middle English used to follow old English grammatical structure. But gradually Late Middle English started to set a fixed form for its word order, decreased the inflection of noun, adjective and verb. Dative-e Inflection in Noun and Analysis:In Early Middle English, the use of dative inflection was highly used than Late Middle English. If we concentrate on the dative inflection of these two texts “Peterborough Chronicle” and “The Nun Priests Tale” then we can see that the Peter Borough Chronicle has more dative inflection than The Nun Priest Tale. The dative inflections of Peter Borough Chronicle and The Nun Priest’s Tale are given below:Examples of Peter Borough Chronicle:1.
ne dide me for his saule thar of.”saule” is dative inflection.2.
Þa þe king Stephne to Englalande com”Englalande” is dative inflection.3. Hi dyden heom in quarterne”quarterne” is dative inflection4. & diden an scærp iren abuton þa mannes throte & his hals”throte” is dative inflection5.
ðæt hi diden wreccemen on þis land. & ðæt lastede þa xix wintre wile Stephne was king”Stephne” is dative inflection.Example The Nun Priest’s Tale:1.
By housbondrie of swich as God hire sente”housbondrie” is dative inflection2. No deyntee morsel passed thurgh hir throte;”throte” is dative inflection3. Hir diete was accordant to hir cote.”cote” is dative inflection By analyzing the dative inflection of noun between Peter Borough Chronicle and The Nun Priest’s tale we can see that the noun of dative is more inflected in Peter Borough chronicle. So it is clear to us that Peter Borough is an Early Middle English text and The Nun Priest’s Tale is Late Middle English test as it has less number of dative inflection. Word Order and Analysis:In Early Middle English the word orders are SOV, SVO, VSO, SO, SV and VO.
There was no specific word rules in Early Middle English. On the other hand the word order of Late Middle English are SVO, SV, VS and VO. Through analyzing “Peter Borough chronicle” and “The Nun Priest’s Tale” we can figure out word order structure and also can prove that Peter Borough Chronicle is Early Middle English and The Nun Priest’s Tale is Late Middle English text.
Examples from Peter Borough Chronicle:1. Þa þe king Stephne to Englalande com(When King Stephen come to England)Analysis: king Stephne is subject, Englalande is object and com is verb. The word order of this sentence is SOV.2. ðæt hi diden wreccemen on þis land(that they did to poor men in this land)Analysis: hi is subject, diden verb and on þis land is object so the word order rule is SVO.3.
Þa namen hi þa men(Then they took those people)Analysis: namen is verb, hi is subject and þa men is object so the word order is VSO4. Ðis gære for þe king Stephne ofer sæ to Normandi Analysis: king Stephne is subject and Normandi is object so the word order is SO.5. & ther wes underfangen(and was received there)Analysis: ther is subject and wes underfangen is verb and the word order is SV.
6. & diden heom in prison(and they put them in prison)Analysis: diden is verb heom in prison is object so the word order is VO.7.
Examples from The Nun Priest’s Tale:1. Hir bord was served moost with whit and blak –(Her board was mostly garnished, white and black,)Analysis: Hir bord is subject, was served is verb and moost with whit and blak is object. The word order is SVO.2. passed thurgh hir throte(passed her throat)Analysis: Passed is verd and thurgh hir throte is object so the word order is VO3.
Bestes and briddes coude speke and singe.(Beastsband birds could speak and sing)Analysis: Bestes and briddes is subjest snd coude speke and singe is verb so the word order is SV.4. For litel was hir catel and hir rente.(For she’d small goods and little income-rent)Analysis: was is verb and hir catel and hir rente is subject so the word order is VS Word OrderText 1 (Peter Borough Chronicle)Text 2 (The Nun Priest’s Tale) SV 5 2 SOV 4 1 SVO 20 27 VSO 11 3 SO 1 0 VO 10 6 OV 1 0 OS 0 1 OSV 2 0?? Peter Borough Chronicle:Clause= 54SVO= 2054 × 20 ÷ 100=10.
8%The percentage of SVO is 10.8% in Peter Borough Chronicle. The Nun Priest’s Tale:Clause= 40SVO= 2740 × 27 ÷ 100=10.8%The percentage of SVO in The Nun Priest’s Tale is 10.
8%If we calculate the overall percentage of Middle English text then the Percentage would be:Total Clauses= 94Total SVO= 4794 × 47 ÷ 100= 44.18% Through analyzing these two texts of Middle English we can assume that SVO word order rate increased. So we can say that in Middle English period was that revolutionary age in the change of English language. Reason behind the Changes:Language is not static and it changes with time.
If we look into the history of any language then we can see that every language has gone through various changes and there are a lot of reasons behind it. A language changes when cultural, economic and people’s habit gradually change with time. When all these things start to change then language is somewhat start to change. As we know that Old English is totally different from Modern English.
But in Middle English the language change rate was high. Germanic language had SOV structure and OLD English also followed that. In Peter Borough Chronicle, we saw that the word order structure so was static. We saw various word order structures were used in it. But in The Nun Priest’s Tale, the word order structure had static form.
After Late Middle English the Modern English came. So it’s obvious that Late Middle English will have SVO word order structure as it is the base of Modern English Language. Conclusion:By analyzing Peter Borough Chronicle and The Nun Priest’s Tale I have found out that even if they belong to Middle English period but still they had differences in word order or syntax, dative-e inflection, spelling and pronunciation etc. As Peter Borough Chronicle is Early Middle English so it has similarities with Old English. But Late Middle English is slightly different as it radical language change happened in that era. As we have figure out that Peter Borough Chronicle had less SVO word order then The Nun priest’s Tale so it is clear to us that Peter Borough Chronicle is Early Middle English and The Nun Priest’s Tale is Late Middle English. ReferencesMustin, L.
, (2011). The History of English Language. Retrieved from http://www.thehistoryofenglish.com/history_middle.
htmlEncyclopedia Britannica. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Middle-English-language#ref235563