free ebooks

A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

As steorres for steorran stars


99. This shows that by the middle of the 12th century, the Anglo-Saxon of the standard Anglo-Saxon authors, had undergone such a change as to induce the scholars of the present ago to denominate it, not Saxon, but Semi-Saxon. It had ceased to be genuine Saxon, but had not yet become English.

Some, amongst others, of the earlier changes of the standard Anglo-Saxon are,

1. The substitution of -an for -as, in the plural of substantives, _munucan_ for _munucas_ (_monks_); and, conversely, the substitution of -s for -n, as _steorres_ for _steorran_ (_stars_).

2. The ejection or shortening of final vowels, _thaet ylc_ for _thaet ylce_; _sone_ for _sunu_; _name_ for _nama_; _dages_ for _dagas_.

3. The substitution of -n for -m in the dative case, _hwilon_ for _hwilum_.

4. The ejection of the -n of the infinitive mood, _cumme_ for _cuman_ (_to come_), _nemne_ for _nemnen_ (_to name_).

5. The ejection of -en in the participle passive, _I-hote_ for _gehaten_ (_called_, _hight_).

6. The gerundial termination -enne, superseded by the infinitive termination -en; as _to lufian_ for _to lufienne_, or _lufigenne_.

7. The substitution of -en for -adh in the persons plural of verbs; _hi clepen_ (_they call_) for _hi clypiadh_,


The preponderance (not the occasional occurrence) of forms like those above constitute _Semi-Saxon_ in contradistinction to standard Saxon, classical Saxon, or Anglo-Saxon proper.

s. 100. _Old English stage._--Further changes convert Semi-Saxon into Old English. Some, amongst others, are the following:--

1. The ejection of the dative plural termination -um, and the substitution of the preposition to and the plural sign -s; as _to smiths_ for _smidhum_. Of the dative singular the -e is retained (_ende_, _worde_); but it is by no means certain that, although recognized in writing, it was equally recognized in pronunciation also.

2. The ejection of -es in the genitive singular whenever the preposition _of_ came before it; _Godes love_ (_God's love_), but the _love of God_, and not the _love of Godes_.

3. The syllable -es as a sign of the genitive case extended to all genders and to all declensions; _heart's_ for _heortan_; _sun's_ for _sunnan_.

4. The same in respect to the plural number; _sterres_ for _steorran_; _sons_ for _suna_.

5. The ejection of -na in the genitive plural; as _of tunges_ for _tungena_.

6. The use of the word _the_, as an article, instead of _se_, &c.

The _preponderance_ of the forms above (and not their mere occasional occurrence) constitutes _Old English_ in contradistinction to Semi-Saxon.

s. 101. In the Old English the following forms predominate.

1. A fuller inflection of the demonstrative pronoun, or definite article; _than_, _thenne_, _thaere_, _tham_;--in contradistinction to the Middle English.

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