free ebooks

A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

Instead of this we find such expressions as eagena thin


these differences of form lie the best reasons for the assumption of a genitive case, as the origin of an adjectival form; and, undoubtedly, in those languages where both forms occur, it is convenient to consider one as a case and one as an adjective.

s. 400. But this is not the present question. In Anglo-Saxon there is but one form, _min_ and _thin_ = _mei_ and _meus_, _tui_ and _tuus_, indifferently. Is this form an oblique case or an adjective?

This involves two sorts of evidence.

s. 401. _Etymological evidence._--Assuming two _powers_ for the words _min_ and _thin_, one genitive, and one adjectival, which is the original one? Or, going beyond the Anglo-Saxon, assuming that of two _forms_ like _meina_ and _meins_, the one has been derived from the other, which is the primitive, radical, primary, or original one?

Men, from whom it is generally unsafe to differ, consider that the adjectival form is the derived one; and, as far as forms like _m[^i]ner_, as opposed to _m[^i]n_, are concerned, the evidence of the foregoing list is in their favour. But what is the case with the Middle Dutch? The genitive _m[^i]ns_ is evidently the derivative of _m[^i]n_.

The reason why the forms like _m[^i]ner_ seem derived is because they are longer and more complex than the others. Nevertheless, it is by no means an absolute

rule in philology that the least compound form is the oldest. A word may be adapted to a secondary meaning by a change in its parts in the way of omission, as well as by a change in the way of addition.

s. 402. As to the question whether it is most likely for an adjective to be derived from a case, or a case from an adjective, it may be said, that philology furnishes instances both ways. _Ours_ is a case derived, in syntax at least, from an adjective. _Cujum_ (as in _cujum pecus_) and _sestertium_ are Latin instances of a nominative case being evolved from an oblique one.

s. 403. _Syntactic evidence._--If in Anglo-Saxon we found such expressions as _doel min_ = _pars mei_, _hoelf thin_ = _dimidium tui_, we should have a reason, as far as it went, for believing in the existence of a true genitive. Such instances, however, have yet to be quoted.

s. 404. Again--as _min_ and _thin_ are declined like adjectives, even as _meus_ and _tuus_ are so declined, we have means of ascertaining their nature from the form they take in certain constructions; thus, _mi-nra_ = _me-orum_, and _min-re_ = _me-ae_, are the genitive plural and the dative singular respectively. Thus, too, the Anglo-Saxon for _of thy eyes_ should be _eagena thinra_, and the Anglo-Saxon for _to my widow_, should be _wuduwan minre_; just as in Latin, they would be _oculorum tuorum_, and _viduae meae._

If, however, instead of this we find such expressions as _eagena thin_, or _wuduwan min_, we find evidence in favour of a genitive case; for then the construction is not one of concord, but one of government, and the words _thin_ and _min_ must be construed as the Latin forms _tui_ and _mei_ would be in _oculorum mei_, and _viduae mei_; viz.: as genitive cases. Now, whether a sufficient proportion of such constructions exist or not, they have not yet been brought forward.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us