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Sound changes between 1100 and 1200

Development of sounds in Early Middle English (East Midland)

The following is based on Lass 1 and Johannesson 2

OE hl-, hn-, hr- > eME l-, n-, r-
In initial combinations of OE h + consonant, the h was usually lost. The h in hl-, hn-, hr- was lost in Early Middle English, but it usually remained in hw- /xw/. The loss of initial h before a consonant began in the eleventh century1. The process may have been complete by the end of the OE period.
Examples: OE hlae_fdig`e 'lady', hnesc`e 'soft', hreowsung 'repentance' > Orm laffdiy`, nesshe, rewwsunng. OE hwa_, hwaet > eME hwa_, hwat.
OE y > eME i
In EM and N, OE y was unrounded to i about 11003.
Examples: OE hyll > eME hill, OE synn > eME sin.
OE y_ > eME i_
OE y_ was unrounded to i_ in EM and N about 1100 (usually written y in later eME).
Examples: OE my_s > eME mi_s, OE fy_r > eME fi_r.
OE ae_, e_ > eME e (before y`)
The OE combinations ae_g` and e_g` merged with ey` in eME.4
Examples: OE ae_g`t`er 'either' > Orm ey`y`t`er; OE clae_g` 'clay' > eME cley`; OE cae_g` 'key' > eME key`; OE wre_g`an > eME wrey`en; OE be_g`en > eME bey`en; ON deyja > eME dey`en
OE eo > eME e
The diphthong eo developed into a rounded front half-close monophthong /2`/ (ModE hurt), at the end of the OE period. This /2`/ was unrounded to /e/ in the East Midland dialect in the 12th century. Orm shows vacillation between eo /2`/ and e /e/.
Examples: OE heorte > /h2`rt@`/ > eME herte; OE heofon > /h2`v@`n/ > eME hefen.
OE e_o > eME e_
The diphthong e_o developed in a fashion parallel to OE eo. It developed into a rounded front half-close monophthong /2`:/, at the end of the OE period. This /2`:/ was unrounded to /e:/ in the East Midland dialect in the 12th century. Orm shows vacillation between eo /2`:/ and e /e:/.
Examples: OE de_ofol > /d2`:v@`l/ > eME de_fel; OE le_of 'dear' > /l2`:f/ > eME le_f.
  1. Lass, Roger. The Cambridge History of the English Language Volume II 1066-1479, Cambridge University Press 1992; p50
  2. Johannesson, Nils-Lennart. East Midland dialect features and Phonology in Orrmulum Project, 2017. NB - follow the numbered links for details on Phonology and the lengthening and shortening of vowels. Installing fonts will make these pages easier to read.
  3. According to Lass op. cit,; Johannesson op. cit. puts it later: "by the early to mid 12th century."
  4. There is more to this than the closing and shortening of ae_ and e_ before y`. In eME the combination of vowel and y` produced a series of new diphthongs: ay`, ey`, oy`, which were pronounced /aI`/, /eI`/, /oI`/. Examples: OE daeg`, faeg`er, maeg`den, saeg`de, pleg`en, leg`en, weg`, brog`den > eME day`, fay`(e)r, may`den, say`de, pley`en, ley`en, wey`, broy`den. Note: iy` was probably /i_/. Example: bodiy`

Changes post 1200 »