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englesaxe

Early Middle English for today

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optional grammatical variations

There are a few grammatical variations which are not found in englesaxe, but which the user - particularly those familiar with OE - may wish to employ:

  1. -u may appear at the end of a couple of adjectives, in place of -we, but not after the, a demonstrative adjective or possessive pronoun or before a plural noun;
  2. -w- may appear before final -e(s), in a handful of nouns, in gen/dat sg and all pl;
  3. final -w(e) may be dropped, in a handful of nouns, in nom/acc sg;
  4. -h may appear at the end of a handful of nouns, in place of -e, in nom/acc sg only;
  5. in class 4 and class 5 strong verbs, all preterite forms may have the same stem vowel - a4.

adjectives ending in -u

Two adjectives - naru (narrow) and y`aru (ready), may have final -u, instead of -we, but only after a_n. This -u changes to -w when -e is added (after the, a demonstrative adjective or possessive pronoun or before a plural noun).

Here are two (normalised) examples from Orm which illustrate the distinction: in a_n ful naru cribbe but t`at narwe sti_h (that narrow path) and Drihtnes narwe sti_ges (the Lord's narrow paths).

nouns which add -w- before final -e(s)

A handful of nouns may add -w- before final -e(s) in gen, dat and pl. In other words, -w- is only present in nom/acc sg.

Nouns of this type are (with nom sg and dat sg forms given): bale balwe (evil), mele melwe (meal/flour), smere smerwe (fat), sare sarwe (device) and bare barwe (grove).

nouns which add -w- and shorten root vowel

A quartet of nouns may add -w- before final -e(s) in gen, dat and pl, and also shorten the long vowel of the root.

Nouns of this type are (with nom sg and dat sg forms given): cne_ cnewe, tre_ trewe, le_ lewe (shelter) and strae_ strawe.

nouns which drop final -w(e)

A handful of nouns may drop -w(e) in nom/acc sg. In other words, -w- is only present in gen, dat and pl.

Nouns of this type are (with nom sg and dat sg forms given): bade badwe (battle), sine sinwe, scade scadwe, mae_d mae_dwe and lae_s lae_swe (pasture).

final -h is dropped if -e or -(e)s is added

A handful of nouns may end in -h in nom/acc sg only. This -h is dropped when a plural or case marker - (e)s or e, is added. These nouns are1:

eME sg eME sg alternate eME plural ModE singular ModE plural
wale walh wales - =foreigner2 Wales
mare marh mares mare =steed3 mares
sele selh seles seal seals
fere ferh feres - = life/spirit -
fe_ feh fe_s fee (= money/property) fees

assimilation of preterite forms in class 4 and class 5 strong verbs

In class 4 and class 5 strong verbs, all preterite forms may have the same stem vowel4. In other words, the 2nd person singular and all plural forms may have the same stem vowel as the 1st and 3rd person singular forms - a. (In englesaxe, by default, the 2nd person singular and all plural forms have the stem vowel ae_.)

When assimiliation is applied, the simplified paradigm looks like this:

  eME ModE
class infinitive past sg1/3 past pl past part. inf. past - past part.
4 stelen stal stalen istolen steal stole - stolen
5 y`efen y`af y`afen iy`efen give gave - given

For more detail and examples, see normalisation issues.

  1. for a full table with OE equivalents and examples from eME texts, see OE nouns ending in h;
  2. ModE walnut comes from late OE walhhnutu (foreign nut) > ME walnottes; the Wales were the foreigners;
  3. ModE mare has the vowel of eME marh (horse/steed) but the meaning of eME mere (mare);
  4. this option reflects a development that is not found in standard OE; it is found in PC2 and becomes common in later Middle English;