skip to content

englesaxe

Early Middle English for today

full menu

Normalisation 2: additional eME forms

examples of the normalisation of word forms in the East Midland dialect c 1150

The following is based on the principles underlying the normalisation of word forms in the East Midland dialect c 1150. It makes frequent use of the abbreviations, definitions and principles listed there.

The second section below gives examples of eME forms based on standard OE forms, and examples of additional eME forms, drawn mainly from eME sources, but also from the MED and ModE.

A separate page deals with levelling within paradigms as well as the parts played by Chaucer and Modern English in the normalisation of word forms in the Early Middle English used in this site.

About additional eME forms

It is possible to write (and speak) eME using only words drawn from standard OE forms. There are however, a few cases where two forms of an eME word co-exist - one drawn from the standard OE form, and another based on a variant OE form. There are also some eME words borrowed from other Germanic languages, chiefly ON.

In the great majority of cases, there is no additional eME form. In other words, the standard OE form, once it has undergone eME changes, coincides with the form found in PC2 or Orm, when eME spelling is applied to the latter. In the comparatively few cases where a variant form does occur in either PC2 or Orm, there is often no support for it in other eME sources. The full list of additional eME forms has 120 items, a small proportion of the total eME vocabulary which would comprise several thousand words. There are around 1600 root words used in the texts in this site.

The search for additional eME forms begins in either PC2/Orm or ModE. Those are the two starting points. PC2/Orm is an obvious starting point because the eME used in this site is based on the East Midland dialect circa 1150, and both PC2 and Orm are written in that dialect. It's important to keep in mind that neither text is free of anomalies. That's why Principle 2a requires that a variant form found in PC2 or Orm must be supported by at least one other eME source in order to qualify as an additional eME form.

PC2 and Orm are my primary focus. However, I'm also interested in words of Germanic (rather than French) origin that appear in the early Middle English period and have survived to ModE. Some of these words may be reflexes of alternate OE forms but others may not have a recorded OE antecedent. Most of the new words come from ON but a handful appear to be borrowings from MDu and MLG. And a few words have an indeterminate origin, which the MED describes as probable OE. It is possible that the MDu and MLG words presumed to be the source of additional eME words, may have had cognates in OE that were part of the spoken language but not the literary language, or were written down, but not in surviving texts.

The requirement that additional eME forms of OE origin appeared in English prior to 1250, is crucial to Principle 2b (the ModE rule). Without it we risk introducing sound changes that were never part of eME2, to words of OE origin. However, I've shifted the time frame forward a hundred years or so for words of Germanic origin that do not appear at all in recorded OE. In these cases, the risk of unwanted sound changes doesn't come into play, since there is no OE antecedent (that we know of). The extension to 1350 allows us to cast the net a little wider for Middle English words of Germanic origin that have survived to ModE.

The difference between an eME form and an additional eME form may be as slight as a single vowel. As a rule, where there are two similar eME variants, I prefer the variant sourced from an additional eME form to the variant derived from a standard OE form. That's reflected throughout englesaxe. Of course, if you prefer eME forms based on standard OE forms, feel free to use those.

In theory there can be be two or more additional eME forms derived from variants of the same standard OE form and/or ON cognate. However, thus far I have only uncovered two cases1 of competing additional eME forms - als and alse as well as hwam and hwa_m.

The seven eME sources listed at Definition 1 are the pre-1300 texts found in most ME anthologies, plus Ch. Four texts are written in the East Midland dialect - PC2, Orm, SO, Ch. Five were written prior to 1250 - PC2, Orm, Lmn, Aw, Owl. Each source shares either the time period or the dialect area of early East Midland. Only PC2 and Orm share both.

The Peterborough Chronicle - First continuation (1122-1131) (PC1) can stand in for PC2 in certain circumstances. PC1 can act as an eME source where a reflex of a particular OE word doesn't exist in either PC2 or Orm.

Additional eME forms can arise from the combination of an active affix (prefix or suffix) with an eME form, even if that particular combination is not recorded in the OE corpus, provided that the affix existed in OE and was used for similar effect.

Additional eME forms can also arise from the duplication of an eME form, i.e. two instances of the same root in combination or side by side, even if that particular combination is not recorded in the OE corpus.

A modE form, with eME spelling, qualifies as an additional eME form if it is a blend of two words found in English prior to 1350, provided that at least one of the words is of Germanic origin and there is no recorded OE word with similar meaning and form.

Note that ModE forms don't come into play when either Orm or PC2 has an instance of the word which matches the eME form and sense derived from the standard OE form.

Dialectal words are not discounted when looking for ModE reflexes of variant eME forms. Thus the northern dialectal word laik (play) supports the elevation of ley`ken to the status of additional eME form (see below).

Examples of eME forms and additional eME forms

You've read the definitions of terms and the five basic principles which underlie the normalisation of word forms in eME. So how are these applied in practice? Here are some examples:

  1. swester and suster

    Swister, swyster and swioster i.a., can all be found in the OE corpus, but they are all variants of the standard OE form - sweostor. That is the headword to which the variants point in Clark Hall 1. So sweostor alone passes from OE to eME. After undergoing the eME sound changes /eo/ > /e/, and unaccented /o/ > /@`/, OE sweostor becomes the eME form - swester.

    However, since suster can be found in both PC2 and AW (as well as Ch), it becomes an additional eME form, courtesy of Principle 2a.

    Note that two (or more) variants of a word can co-exist in eME. Thus, swester and suster are both valid eME words. Note also that no other variant is attested in either PC2 or Orm.

    To determine an additional eME form, we can start from either PC2/Orm or from ModE. We've just seen that PC2/Orm provide the additional eME form suster. So, what about ModE? If we start from the ModE form - sister, we find a similar form in Ch - syster (alongside suster). However, there are no instances of *sister (or syster) in the MED prior to 1250. And all of the OE variants contain a w (see above). According to Principle 2b then, *sister doesn't qualify as an additional eME form.

  2. selfer and silfer

    In Clark Hall 1, we find the standard OE form seolfor. The same eME changes applied to sweostor above, give us the eME form selfer.

    The additional eME form silfer demonstrates the need to apply eME spelling not only to words derived from standard OE forms, but also to additional eME forms. The Orm form is sillferr which would have been pronounced /silv@`r/, as would PC2 syluer and SO siluer. In the eME spelling scheme, this pronunciation is represented by silfer. Since this form (with /i/) exists in both Orm and PC2 (as well as two other eME sources), silfer qualifies as an additional eME form and coexists in eME alongside selfer.

  3. clister and cluster

    clyster is the most common OE form according to Clark Hall 1, however a variant cluster is also recorded in Clark Hall 1. Neither PC2 nor Orm have any instances of this word or its variants. However, since cluster is the ModE form, with the same meaning, cluster qualifies as an additional eME form alongside clister, according to Principle 2a3.

  4. t`ae_h and t`oh

    t`e_ah, meaning though, is the standard OE form (with variant t`e_h). That gives the eME form t`ae_h. However PC2 and Orm have t`oh and t`ohh respectively, derived from ON t`o_/*t`auh. So t`oh qualifies as an additional eME form, alongside t`ae_h.

    Note that it is t`oh which gives us the Ch and ModE form though.

  5. dey`en

    Orm has a verb dey`enn, meaning to die, which has no known cognate in OE. It is derived from ON deyja. Similar forms are found in Lmn, AW, SO and Ch - deiy`e(n), deien, dye and deye(n)/dyen respectively. The spellings ey`, eiy`, ei, ey all represent the same sound - /ei/ which is normalised as ey` in eME. On the basis of its presence in Orm and four other eME sources, dey`en qualifies as an additional eME form, alongside swelten from OE swelten.

    Note that dey`en is the forerunner of ModE (to) die.

  6. ruke

    ModE has the noun (and verb) ruck, which means a large number or mass (of people), and has more specific applications in rugby and Australian Football. It has no known cognate in OE. It is derived from ON hruga or hruka. Similar forms are found in ME, including AW - ruken, rukelin for example, but not in either PC2 or Orm. The combination of Germanic origin, appearance in ME prior to 1250, and ModE survival, means that some form of ruke qualifies as an additional eME form. The question is - what precisely is that form? In these cases, albeit rare, in which there is neither an OE form, nor an Orm or PC2 form, the final form is decided by the following method. The original Germanic form, pre-1250 English form(s) and ModE form are compared. Generally speaking, a feature which is found in only one of the three is discarded in favour of a feature found in the other two. So for example, the initial 'h' of the ON forms is dropped, as is the 'g' of one of the ON forms, since neither the AW form nor ModE have these. And ModE's lack of a final vowel is ignored since the others both have a final vowel. Given that OE final 'a' passes to 'e' in eME, the same rule is applied to the ON form. That gives a final vowel of 'e'. Thus, the additional eME form emerges as ruke.

  7. y`ugelen

    ModE yowl probably has an OE ancestor. The MED lists yoy`elinge as a headword with the same meaning, and gives both a putative OE origin in *g`eogelian and a couple of citations from pre-1250 texts, including AW y`uhelunge and Owl y`oy`elinge. Unfortunately, there are no citations from PC2 or Orm. Here we have to work with the ModE and pre-1250 forms. The OE form is hypothetical. So, we can't apply the method used with ruke above. Instead, ModE dictates the final form. In such cases, we recreate the eME spelling on the basis of the ModE spelling and pronunciation, by reversing the development observed in similar words, from ME to ModE. Fortunately we do have such a pattern. Just as fowl is derived from fugel, the ancestor of yowl would be y`ugelen, which thus qualifies as the additional eME form in this case. This is one of only a handful of examples thus far of an additional eME form arising without a recorded OE ancestor. Two others are haccen and hippen. And another is:

  8. pot`eren

    The MED indicates that there was probably an OE antecedent of ModE pother (uproar, fuss, cloud of smoke), akin to MDu poderen. The MED headword is patheren, with meaning to stir or poke (ashes). The sole entry is AW pead`ered` pr sg3 but there are several variations recorded, including pad`ered` and pot`eret`. In the absence of a recorded OE form, ModE determines the vowel. Hence, the additional eME form is pot`eren. Fortunately, the ModE vowel - o, matches not only the related MDu word, but more importantly - one of the AW variants.

  9. mingen

    mindgian, meaning to remember or remind, is the standard OE form according to Clark Hall 1, which gives us the eME form mingen, after undergoing eME sound changes. However a variant myneg`ian is also recorded in Clark Hall 1. Reflexes of this variant appear in both AW and Lmn as munien /myni@`n/. Neither PC2 nor Orm have any instances of this word or its variants. So, does *miney`en qualify as an additional eME form? The answer is no. And the reason is that the starting point for additional eME forms must be either PC2/Orm (see Principle 2a) or ModE (Principle 2b). *miney`en or *minn(e)y is found in neither.

  10. tuwe and twiy`es

    tuwa, meaning twice, is the standard OE form according to Clark Hall 1, which gives us the eME form tuwe, after undergoing eME sound changes. However a variant twig`ea is also recorded in Clark Hall 1. Reflexes of this variant appear in both AW and Lmn as twie and in Ch as twye. However, to cloud the picture somewhat, reflexes of this variant also appear in Orm as twiy`ess, in AW as twies and in Ch as twyes. So, which qualifies as an additional eME form - *twiy`e or twiy`es or both? The answer is the second. The reason is the same as in the previous case - for *twiy`e to be considered as an additional eME form, it must be found in PC2/Orm (see Principle 2a) or its reflex must be found in ModE (Principle 2b). *twiy`e (*twi_e) and *twy are found in neither. twiy`es on the other hand, qualifies via both Principle 2a - Orm twiy`ess plus AW twies and Ch twyes, and Principle 2b - ModE twice plus Orm twiy`ess and AW twies.

  11. t`anen and t`enen(~es) (also hwanen, hwenen and hanen, henen)

    t`anon, meaning from there, is the most common OE form according to Clark Hall 1, which gives us the eME form t`anen, after undergoing eME sound changes. However a variant t`eonen is also recorded in Clark Hall 1. Neither PC2 nor Orm have any instances of this word or its variants. But PC1 has t`enen and PC1 can act as proxy for PC2 where neither PC2 nor Orm have any instances of the word in question. There is support for this form with an initial e, in at least one other eME source - Lmn, which has t`enene and t`ennen. So t`enen qualifies as an additional eME form via PC1 with support from Lmn.

    The MED has thenne as a headword, with the same meaning. t`enne has wide support in eME sources - Lmn, AW, Owl and Ch, for example. But that particular form is not found in either PC/Orm or ModE.

    If we look at ModE, we find the reflex thence. That form derives from variants with suffix ~es which first appeared in ME texts around 1250. The text Poema Morale (PM) has thannes. In fact it is the only entry from 1250 or earlier in the MED with final s. However, the first vowel in this form is a rather than the e of ModE thence. t`enne is found in English prior to 1250, but that particular form lacks the final s. It's not clear then that t`ennes qualifies as an additional eME form via Principle 2b (the ModE rule).

    Rather than being admitted as an additional eME form in its own right, t`ennes should be tolerated as a stylistic variant of t`enen, with an adverbial suffix of sorts, a genitive ending - es, and syncopation, i.e. the dropping of the second e. In other words, t`enenes becomes t`ennes4.

    The trio t`enen, henen, hwenen (or t`anen, hanen, hwanen) are closely related, and spawned the ModE series thence, hence, whence. For that reason hwenen has been admitted as an additional eME form, to match its siblings t`enen, henen, despite the fact that hwanon was the most common OE form, there was no OE variant with 'e' in the first syllable and there are no reflexes of hwanon in PC2 or Orm or PC1.

  12. fort`ae_m and fort`an

    fort`ae_m, meaning therefore, is the prime variant to which three others point in Clark Hall 1, thus giving us the eME form fort`ae_m, after undergoing eME sound changes. However one of those other variants - fort`an appears to have eclipsed the standard OE form by the beginning of the eME period. fort`an is found in PC1, Lmn and Owl. Note that neither PC2 nor Orm has an instance of any of the variants. Nevertheless, with PC1 acting as proxy for PC2, and with the support of two other eME sources, fort`an qualifies as an additional eME form.

  13. writen and writelen

    writian, meaning to chirp, cheep, is recorded in Clark Hall 1, thus giving us the eME form writen, after undergoing eME sound changes. However a form with the frequentative suffix -el - writelinge appears in Owl. Since the suffix -el/li is employed in the same way in OE, and -el is still active in ME, writelen should be considered an additional eME form.

  14. scri_k, scri_ken and skre_cen

    sc`ric, meaning shrike (bird), is recorded in Clark Hall 1, thus giving us the eME form scri_k, after eME spelling is applied. There are no related verb forms recorded in OE, but various related verb forms appear in ME before 1250, i.a. in Owl - bischrichet` and TH - shriked`. Since this is the simple application of a verbal suffix -en, scri_ken should be considered an additional eME form, based on OE sc`ric.

    ModE has the related verb to screech which suggests an earlier form skre_cen. There are three points of difference between that hypothetical form and the additional eME form scri_ken, each of which is found in English before 1250. Initial sk is found in Owl scrichest. Main vowel e_ is found in a recorded OE variant. And the following affricate ch [tS`] is found in Owl - scrichest and bischrichet`. Thus skre_cen also qualifies as an additional eME form.

  15. gre_diy` and grae_den

    grae_dig`, meaning greedy, is the prime variant to which one other - gre_dig` points, in Clark Hall 1, thus giving us the eME form grae_diy`, after eME spelling is applied.

    An additional eME form gre_diy` qualifies on two grounds, firstly - Orm grediy` with the support of AW gredi, and secondly - ModE greedy with the the appearance of that variant vowel sound e_ in English prior to 1250, in both OE and AW.

    By the same token, *gre_den, meaning to shout, does not qualify as an additional eME form, to accompany grae_den from standard OE grae_dan. That's because there is no reflex of that verb in either Orm, PC2 or ModE. Note - for more on eME ae_ and e_ from OE ae_, see below.

  16. galegale

    galan, meaning to sing, call, squawk, cry, is recorded in Clark Hall 1, thus giving us the eME form galen, after an eME sound change is applied.

    galegale meaning chatterbox is found in Owl. This can also be considered an eME form despite the fact that it has no recorded antecedent in OE. That's because it is simply a duplication of the affix (and pr sg1) form that we find in OE nihtegale.

  17. rubben

    rubben meaning to rub is found in the MED. Two of the sources cited for this entry date from 1325 - robbe and robby. Because the origin is either ON or MLG, and there is no recorded antecedent in OE, and the word has survived to ModE, rubben qualifies as an additional eME form.

  18. skraccen

    scracchen meaning to scratch is found in the MED. The earliest entry dates from 1400 approx. However this word is a blend of two earlier forms with the same meaning which appeared before 1350 - crachen and scratten. The origin of the first of these is either ON or MLG, there is no recorded antecedent in OE, and the word has survived to ModE. Thus skraccen qualifies as an additional eME form.

  19. sex and six

    OE siex meaning six, is the prime variant to which two others point in Clark Hall 1, giving us the eME form sex, after undergoing eME sound changes. That form closely matches Orm sexe. On the other hand, Lmn sixe and AW six support the ModE form. So does six qualify as an additional eME form? The answer is no. And the reason is that ModE forms don't come into play where either Orm or PC1 supports the eME form derived from the standard OE form.

  20. nit`er and net`er

    nid`er, meaning beneath, (be)low, down(ward), is the standard OE form according to Clark Hall 1, which gives us the eME form nit`er. However a variant neod`er is also recorded in Clark Hall 1. Reflexes of this variant appear in both AW and Lmn as neod`er and in Ch as nether. On the other hand, Orm has the related verb nit`t`renn. So, does net`er (with e rather than i), qualify as an additional eME form? The answer is yes. The variant with e may not have a reflex in PC2 or Orm (see Principle 2a) but it does have a reflex in ModE nether and a reflex which appears in English prior to 1250 - neod`er, in both Lmn and AW (see Principle 2b).

  21. bicgen and biy`en

    byc`g`an, meaning to buy, is the standard OE form according to Clark Hall 1, which gives us the eME form bicgen. Since Orm has biggenn and both AW and Owl have buggen (where <u> represents /y/) and PC2 has no competing form, an additional eME form doesn't appear to be an option. However, Ch has the infinitive byen. Note that in the OE paradigm, the 1st person singular and 3rd person plural of the presnt forms have a different stem to the 2nd and 3rd person singular - byc`g`e byc`g`at` vs byg`st byg`t`. This would pass to eME as bicge biy`est biy`eth bicgen. Ch on the other hand has no such alternation between 3rd person singular and plural - byeth byen. According to the last of the five basic principles "anomalies within a given noun or verb paradigm can be levelled when evidence of levelling exists in that paradigm, or in a similar paradigm, in at least one eME source (PC2, Orm, Lmn, AW, Owl, SO, Ch)." Thus an eME paradigm can be based on the 2nd person and 3rd person singular forms - biy`e biy`est biy`eth biy`en. And the infinitive biy`en becomes an additional eME form. Compare with ley`en in Extending the pattern below.

  22. la_ken and ley`ken

    OE has la_can, meaning to play; jump, leap, move up and down, and g`ela_cian, meaning to present, bestow, which give us the eME forms la_ken and ila_ken. Orm has ley`y`kenn meaning to play, take pleasure in, which is derived from cognate ON leika and corresponds to the first sense, and lakenn meaning to present with, make an offering to, which corresponds to the second. Since none of the other six eME sources has a form similar to ley`ken, that variant doesn't immediately present itself as an additional eME form. However, ModE has the dialectal words laik and lake, which both mean 'to play' and are both pronounced /leik/. Note that a direct ModE reflex of la_can would be *loke or *loak. According to Principle 2b a variant qualifies as an additional eME form if it is found in ModE, appeared in English prior to 1250, and has a Germanic origin. ley`ken meets those conditions.

More on normalisation

Looking for more background on the normalisation of the East Midland dialect c 1150, in englesaxe? For an outline of the basic principles applied to the normalisation of eME word forms, together with an introduction and a list of the abbreviations and definitions used, see normalisation 1: principles. For a discussion of levelling within eME paradigms, see normalisation 3: grammar. For a discussion of the principles governing the eME spelling scheme used in englesaxe, see normalisation 4: spelling. For a discussion of some of the finer points, see normalisation 5: issues.

Notes

  1. four other pairs - *aht/oht, *y`uw/y`ow, *y`u_re/y`owre and *fra/fra_ are borderline cases, but the first in each pair doesn't quite satisfy the conditions for an additional eME form; see eME normalisation issues for more detail;
  2. there is also the complication of sound changes from the late ME period (post-1250); for example, Ch has hom bon bowe owene where earlier ME texts have ha_m ba_n boge a_gene (for ModE home bone bow own);
  3. the MED has cluster as a headword, but the earliest entry is from 1382; nevertheless, a pre-1250 entry in the MED is not required since cluster is found in OE; see Principle 2b;
  4. similar to eME ay`ean + es > ay`eanes; cp adverbial genitive in ModE I work nights / I watch TV of an evening;

References

  1. Clark Hall J.R., A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 1960