Normalising eME word forms - part 2
examples of the normalisation of word forms in the East Midland dialect c 1150, together with notes on the roles of Chaucer and Modern English
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 and definitions 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. Later sections deal with 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 Definition 5a 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 Definition 5b (the ModE rule). Without it we risk introducing sound changes that were never part of eME4, 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 a standard 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 cases3 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.
Standard eME forms can arise from the combination of an active affix (prefix or suffix) with a standard 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.
Standard eME forms can also arise from the duplication of a standard 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 derived from the standard OE form.
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:
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 Definition 5a.
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 Definition 5b then, *sister doesn't qualify as an additional eME form.
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.
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 Definition 5a5.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 Definition 5a) or ModE (Definition 5b). *miney`en or *minn(e)y is found in neither.
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 Definition 5a) or its reflex must be found in ModE (Definition 5b). *twiy`e (*twi_e) and *twy are found in neither. twiy`es on the other hand, qualifies via both Definition 5a - Orm twiy`ess plus AW twies and Ch twyes, and Definition 5b - ModE twice plus Orm twiy`ess and AW twies.
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 Definition 5b (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`ennes6.
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.
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.
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 a standard eME form.
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 a standard 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 standard 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 qualifies as an additional eME form.
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.
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 a standard 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Definition 5a) 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 Definition 5b).
Notes on grammatical features
- note that some additional eME forms permit a simplification of verb conjugations (eg. secgen, saeg`t` > say`en, say`t`); see simplification of verb paradigms in eME for more detail.
- grammatical features which are optional in eME, because they are sometimes applied and sometimes not, in PC2 and Orm -
- i- (< g`e-) before past participles (in the absence of another prefix);
- the dative marker e at the end of nouns which finish in a consonant;
- a grammatical feature which is excluded from eME, because it is rarely applied in PC2 and Orm -
- a genitive marker with adjectives; alre (of all), bat`re (of both) and aness (of one) are the only examples I've encountered thus far; note however that alre persists to Ch (see the Chaucer Test below) in fixed expressions such as alrefirst (first of all), which are not excluded from eME.
Extending the pattern
The last of the five basic principles states that "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)."
This principle, which we could call "extending the pattern", is used to decide whether the simplification of a particular noun or verb paradigm is appropriate in eME. To illustrate - OE has several verbs with dual stems, in which the stem of the first person, plural and infinitive differs (albeit slightly) from the stem of the other forms. One example is lecgan, with present singular forms lecge leg`st leg`t` and plural form lecga`t`. In the eME reflexes of such verbs, if any of the eME sources, has a first person singular, plural or infinitive form with a stem which matches the stem of the third person singular, we can apply that simplification across the paradigm for that verb, in eME. That is in fact the case for eME ley`en (or leggen), since Ch has the infinitive leye (as well as leggen). Hence the eME paradigm can be ley`e ley`est ley`et` ley`en. Another example is herien, in which the i extends across the paradigm, so that OE herian inf herode pt sg3 becomes eME herien inf heriede pt sg3. Ch provides the key support for the extension of the i to the preterite and present tense singular, although such forms are found as early as Lmn. See simplification of verb paradigms in eME for more detail.
Note that even without that support in Ch, we could have extended the pattern to ley`en from say`en, which is a similar paradigm, and which displays levelling in PC2.
The role of Chaucer and Modern English in normalising eME
The Chaucer Test
All the eME sources listed above are from the 12th or 13th century. Ch alone comes after. He started writing around 1370 - three quarters of a century into the second half of the Middle English period. Why then, consider Ch forms? Because Ch is a crucial staging post in the development of OE to ModE. To many, Chaucer is synonymous with Middle English. His is a substantial body of work (of great literary merit) which gives us invaluable clues about the syntactical, semantic and phonetic development of English in the East Midlands prior to 1400 (and by a slight extrapolation - prior to 1300).
The Chaucer Test is used to decide whether to adopt or reject borderline grammatical features in eME. If traces of an OE grammatical feature are common (even if not predominant) in Ch, then that feature is retained in eME. Here are some examples:
- eME retains a distinction between singular and plural in the vowel of the 3rd person preterite forms of 4th and 5th class strong verbs - y`af s vs y`ae_fen pl, because this distinction remains to some extent in Ch - yaf s vs yeve pl; (note however that yaven pl is also found in Ch);
- eME lacks a genitive marker with family member nouns - mi_n fader hu_s, t`i_n mo_der brot`, hire suster bo_k etc, because the genitive marker es was often absent in these nouns in Ch;
- eME retains a distinction between short and long consonants, because this is reflected in Ch's verse - sone rhymes only with wone, which in OE had a single n, whereas sonne rhymes with yronne bigonne wonne, all of which had nn in OE);
- eME has a single prefix corresponding to OE g`e-; Orm has two reflexes of the OE prefix g`e- : y`e- for verbs and i- for adverbs and adjectives. PC2 has only one example of each, and again, they differ: ge- and o- /@`/?, respectively. Given that there was a single prefix in OE, it would seem needlessly complex not to continue that in eME. Two prefixes would also be inconsistent with the majority of eME texts, and Chaucer. The evidence points to a single pronunciation. Thus eME has a single prefix - i, which is found in Orm (and most eME sources).
- eME has no stem alternation in nouns; some OE nouns and verbs had a w or h which appeared in certain forms, e.g singular genitive and dative and all plurals, but not in others, e.g the singular nominative. Ch and ModE leave that complexity behind. w or h is either missing in all forms of a particular word, or included in all its forms1. Examples are smeoru smeorwes > smere smeres (smear) and sinu sinwes > sinwe sinwes (sinew). How can you tell if the eME form has a w or not? See the ModE test (below).
- grammatical features that persist in certain words up to Chaucer's time, despite being dropped in most words of the same verb or noun class, are retained in those words in eME. Examples are ferien and herien which retain the i of OE class 2 weak verbs, which is dropped elsewhere. Furthermore, that feature is propagated throughout the paradigm in eME, as it is in Chaucer.
the ModE test
This test covers groups of words with a shared characteristic in OE, which evolve inconsistently, so that the sound change in question can't be neatly summarised (in Table X).
The ModE test is only invoked in three groups of words. The reflexes of the affected words in ME and ModE can show either of two possible forms. The question is - which form do we prefer in eME? How do we choose? In short, ModE indicates the preferred form for each word in question, provided that the sound change in question has begun to show at all within the group in the Early Middle English period.
This test is important because it means that we don't have to sift through the attested forms for each member of the group. We can apply a single test to all members of the group. And that test is a simple question - what form does ModE have?
For those familiar with OE, who prefer to use forms based on standard OE, these cases don't present a problem. But for those without that knowledge, seeking an appropriate (additional) eME form can be somewhat difficult at times, without the ModE test.
Imagine for example a ModE speaker who is looking for the eME word for flour. She has an OE dictionary (the CASD) in which she finds melu n, melwes gs. The word has two different stems. She knows from the Chaucer test (see above) that there won't be stem alternation in the eME form. There will be a single stem for singular, plural and possessive. But will it have w or not? The appropriate forms are listed in Table X, but she is off-line temporarily (perhaps on a train) and doesn't have access to it. Not does she have access to the MED, and wouldn't have time to analyse the results, even if she did. If she bases the form on the OE nominative, it is mele. If she bases it on the OE genitive form, that's melwe. Which one is preferred?
This is where the ModE test comes in. There is no w in the ModE form - meal. So, instantly she knows that the preferred eME form is mele.
The ModE test applies in three contexts only:
OE ae_ > eME ae_ or e_?
Most instances of OE ae_ become ae_ in eME and ea in ModE. But a small number become e_ and ee respectively. How do we tell? Which is the preferred form in eME for OE strae_t, for example.
If we look at the eME source texts, we see that Orm has straete dat without any counter example in PC2. In the absence of the ModE test, the exclusive eME form would be strae_t. However, OE WS strae_t is one of a group of words in which the ancestral vowel was WGmc or Lat a_ which became ae_ in OE WS, but generally e_ in the Anglian dialects, and finally ee in ModE (e.g. street). If we apply the ModE test then, we get an additional eME form - stre_t. Similarly, OE WS dae_d, slae_pan, grae_dig`, nae_dl > de_d, sle_pen, gre_diy`, ne_del, on the basis of ModE deed, sleep, greedy, needle. See Normalisation Issues for more detail.
with or without w/h?
The ModE reflexes of OE wa- and wo-stems sometimes have final w, and sometimes not: e.g. melu melwes > meal meal's (flour) but mae_d mae_dwe > meadow meadow's. Similarly, the ModE reflexes of OE a-stems sometimes have final gh (or w), and sometimes not: e.g. sco_h - sco_s > shoe shoes but slo_h - slo_s > slough sloughs (quagmire).
So how does a a ModE speaker know whether to include or exclude the w or h in an eME form? The answer is quite simply - look to ModE. If there is a ModE reflex without w or gh2, then leave out w or h in the eME form. Otherwise, include it. Hence - mele meles, mae_dwe mae_dwes, sco_ sco_s, slo_h slo_ges.
Note that where ModE has no reflex of an OE word, the eME form is based on the gen sg OE form (the form with the fickle w or h).
For more detail, see the simplification of verb paradigms and the simplification of noun inflexions.
vowel lengthening before consonant clusters ld, nd, ng, mb, rd
The vowel was short in OE but has since lengthened. Examples are: OE c`ild, hund, strang, climban > child, hound, strong, climb.
This development was inconsistent however. In many cases the vowel either remained short or reverted. Examples of short vowels before nd are ModE land, hand. On the other hand, both Orm and PH3 appear to have a long vowel in land and loand respectively. See eME normalisation issues for further examples.
ModE is the guide. Since the language of departure is Modern English, and one of the aims of englesaxe is to provide a pathway to Old English, temporary sound changes in the Middle English period, have been ignored. In other words, if a vowel is short in an OE word, is indicated as long in Orm or Ch, but is short in the modern continuations of that word, it is short in eME.
If a vowel is short in an OE word which has not survived to ModE, for example - swindan, the corresponding vowel is short in eME. This is the case even when similar words - bi_nden fi_nden wi_nden, have a long vowel in ModE.
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 word forms, together with an introduction and a list of the abbreviations and definitions used, see eME normalisation of forms I. For a discussion of some of the finer points, see eME normalisation issues.
There is a separate set of principles governing the eME spelling scheme used in englesaxe. For a full outline, see eME normalisation of spelling.
- in one exceptional case, Ch and ModE aren't in accord: Ch has both stree and straw sg and stres pl while ModE has only forms with w - straw sg and straws pl; I've listed strawe as the preferred form in eME
- h never survives to ModE in the reflexes of words with stem alternation in OE
- 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;
- 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);
- 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 Definition 5b;
- similar to eME ay`ean + es > ay`eanes; cp adverbial genitive in ModE I work nights / I watch TV of an evening;
- Clark Hall J.R., A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 1960