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structure of the work will yield us important particulars regarding the dialect in which it was written, its date, and perhaps authorship: but meanwhile the following sketch and results may be sufficient.
The plurals of nouns generally end in es, is, or ys; and sometimes the same word occurs in all these forms, as, lordes (1411), lordis (1082), lordys (263). Nouns of more than one syllable take 8 only, as batels (91), girduls (1373), maters (1454); and even when they have es or is the alliteration shews that the s only is sounded (see the list of trades in p. 53, also l. 1683); and a further proof is given in 11. 1367, 1372, where florins is written florence. Some nouns have different plurals, as doghter (1474), deghter (1489); suster (1495), susters (1726); brother (8368), brether (6810); childer (1356), childur (1382), children (1418); but the en form of plural occurs only in children, ene, and exin. As peculiar forms of plural we note althing = all things (281), mony freik (1429), mony lede (5981), mony tulke (5911), where mony = many a: this forin of plural is pretty common.
The genitive singular is sometimes in es, is, or 8, as mannes saule (4445), bysshoppis bone (7895), emperours awne tent (5143); but more frequently there is no termination, as, fader dethe (1464), wemen dissyre (2920): indeed a marked feature of the language as represented by this work is the tendency to drop all terminations.
The adjectives shew no inflexion for number or case : but we note a few peculiar words, as, more in more-halfe (13303), moreynde (8631); fer, ferre, used as pos., comp., and super. (11. 78, 95, 110, 216, 3950, 8272), and as an adj., an adv., and a sb. (see Gloss.); herre = higher (1102), pronounced sometimes as a monosyllable, as in herhond (7075, 7362); heghest (1640) is hext (13504); mo = more, in oper mo = others, some others (819); miche occurs occasionally, but mekell, mykyll is much more common, and is used also as an adv. and a sb.; ilke a = ilka, each (423, 3656); mydward = the middle (7324), as in The Pricke of Conscience, l. 435, and yet mydell occurs in the same line ; lyuys (3456, 13543); lagher = lower (9152), feghur = fewer (7822). The participial forms and, aund, ond are often used, as warchand (1238), plesaund (2885),
thryuond (4103); and the same word sometimes appears in all these forms. The ordinal numerals are first, secund, thrid, fourt (5446) and fourthe, fyfte, sext, seuynt, eght and eghtid, neynt, tent, fyftene, sextene (see Rubrics of the Books and the orders of the batells in pp. 198—207, also the reckoning at the close of the work). Often we find the ton = the one, and the tothir = the other; but only in l. 13828 have we selfe = same. Many of the adjectives are used adverbially; and the prefix un, the terminations ful and ly are often employed.
Adverbs from adjectives end in ly (never in liche), or take the prefix on or 0, very rarely a; and we note the forms hethyn (763), thethyn (8790), sithen (66), sethym (455), sydelyng (7320), hedlynges (7485), hedstoupis (6638), furthe (2242), utwith (11753), unneth (10881), so-gat (5207), thus-gate (1758), thus-gatis (4500), no-gatis (612), une (7258), uppon-one (6677), ay (5205), syn = since (1106), syne = afterwards (2551), be-ban = by that time (383), oghter any longer (1898), to-morne (11366), on-a-crye = crying, screaming (11801).
The personal pronouns have only two case forms for each number,—one for the Nom., and one for the Dat. and Acc., thus : Singular.
Dat. & Acc. 1. I,
we, 2. þu, thou,
zou, yow. 3. he. hym. pai, the,
hom, paim. ho, scho, sho, hir, hur.
rarely thei. hit, it, yt, hit. The possessives are used like adjectives and have no inflexion for case, thus :Singular.
Plural. mi, min, mine.
our, oure. bi, pin, pine.
your, youre. his, hys.
þere, paire, hor. hir, hur.
In l. 3327 we find to me & to myne ; and in 11. 1171-2, to me & to myne, to you g; to yours.
The demonstratives are pis or pise, pat or at, with their plurals þes or þese, þo, pos or şose, sometimes we find pies for þese. The relatives are wo, who, qwo, Dat. and Acc. quom, þat, qwat, what ; w0-80, who-so, quat-80 : and the distributives, aither, euper, other, tothir: while the substantive forms the ton, the tothir, occur frequently. The terminations selfe, seluon, are added to singular and plural personals indiscriminately, as hym-selfe (969), hym-seluor (1236); hom-selfe (983), hom-seluon (752), paim-selje (1582); þi-seluyn (3508).
In the verbs we note a marked simplicity of inflexion, and great variety of forms and spelling. For the Infinitive there is no terminal mark, but it is very frequently preceded by the preposition for, as, for to say (1839), for to mele (1933), for to greue (2766). In the Present tense there is no termination in the 1st person sing. and plu., as, I thanke (554), I put (557), we fors (1929), we loue (1930); but frequently we find the 3rd per. sing. of the impersonal verb with the 1st personal pronoun in the acc., as me mervells (5014), me mervellis (1864), me semys (4229), va quemes (1928), vs gaynes (11306), vs likes (11657); and such irregular or contracted forms as me think (1932, 3156), vs liste (3631). This impersonal form of the verb is found in all the persons of the Present.
The 2nd and 3rd persons sing. and plu. generally end in 8, es, is, ys, and se, as, thou bes (870), thou ges (2089), þu mase (1402), thou rises (11339), þu tellis (11299), 30u sechis (11274), you bese (3487), ye mase (1851); he loues (1932), he bes (3389), he karpes (829), men turnys (2926), men puttes (2927): but sometimes there is no termination in the 2nd and 3rd per. plu., as ye kepe (1845), ye haue (1851), men rauisshe (2926), þai chaunye (2933); and sometimes in the same sentence we find verbs with and without termination, as in 11. 2926-7. There are also a few examples of the plural in en, on, yn, as ze menen (5027), ze demyn (11255), men holdyn f takon (2723-4).
In the past tense the singular and the plural of weak verbs are generally alike, and end in d, ed, id, yd, t, et, it, yt, as, spird (823), wend=wened (6653), waited (9476), assentid (11371), ertyd (11335), angurt (2615), comburt (11331), waivet (9476), deirit (9484), hurlyt (9483); but the t termination is by far the more frequent,—a result
certain to follow when the scribe wrote to dictation, and we find many verbs with both forms, as passid (11820), past (11640); oberjede (135), obeit (505); sailed (1070), sailet (2842). Strong verbs commonly take en, on, yn, in the plural, but many of them appear both with and without termination, and some have all the varieties of it, and assume different forms, as tokyn (11431), toke (11461); soughton (1376), soght (1623); fleddon (5995), fled (5951); foghten (10028), foghton (6741), foghtyn (7785), foght (6859), faglit (5410); cacched (4520), cuchit (4674), cachyn (1077), caght (5900), caghton (11449); lachet (5729), lacchen (6192), lawghten (6162); fled (5951), fledion (5995), flagh (6850), flowen (10077); swere (11447), sweire (11381), sware (11834), sweryn (11837). As a specimen of the peculiar preterites that occur in this work take the following : tide (81), tyd (2864), tid (1202); geve (6822), gaf (6800); come (11328), cam (7292); segh (7436), se (1317); soght (1623), saght (7670); walt (5888), welt (4418); raght = seized (3883), raght = wrought (1533); taght = taught (6117), light = alighted (11802), bere = bore (11803), gird (7471), send (7539), dang (7740), roofe = rived (1234), lep (8646), share (1233), wan
got (6523), wan = won (315), rut (6977), raft = reft (7788), emult (911), brast (865), spake (7479), bult (7476), frunt (6984), nolpit (7475), bond (7527), het = heated (2054), hit = hied (13492).
The present participles end in and, auni, ond, ound, ing, yng, and very rarely in end, as, spekand, prayaund, lemond, blasound, lokend, weping, wailyng; and sometimes the same verb takes both the nd and the ng termination, as, lemond (459), lemyng (599). The past participles of weak verbs end in d, ed, id, or t, et, it, yt, but the t forms are the most frequent, as kild (9752), kept (164), enarmed (87), callid (157), namet (104), arayit (231), anoisyt (220); and many verbs have both the d and the t termination, as cald (152), calt (5204); kild (9752), kilt (1343); and there is a strong tendency to contraction (which, by the way, is not confined to the participial terminations, but is common to all), as callid (157), cald (152); keppit (161), kept (164). Of strong verbs the termination is n or en, varying into ne, on, yn, as gon (11714), tane (1010), taken (464), takon (11828), takyn (7427); and many verbs of this class have no termination in the past part., as set (279), put (305), light = lighted (11792), fest (11795).
But the most important forms are those of the Imperative, which in the sing. and plu. generally end in e, or es varying into is and ys, as bes (649), suffers (2641), houes (4605), notes (2630), voidis (527), heilys (2623) ; but often there is no termination at all, as leve = believe (239), deme (528); and sometimes the same verb takes both forms, as bes (6265), be (6270); wete (1893), wetis (2786); let (2239), lettis (2237): indeed, in almost every speech we find the Imperative both with and without termination, and in 11. 2630—66 all the varieties of form are found. In this section of the verb too there is the same tendency to contraction and to drop the terminations, which we have before noted in the other sections, and which is apparent in all the inflected parts of speech, and especially in words that are frequently used.
Of the anomalous verbs may be noted the forms bes (occurring in speech and dialogue, elsewhere the usual forms of to be are generally employed), gar, ger, with prets. gart, gert; ha, han, has, hase; ma, mas, mase ; ta, tas, tase, tan, tane; mun, mon, mut; bus, bud; ges
gives; gaid = went; aght owed ; aght possessed, owned ; thar, thurt = need be.
Regarding the prepositions the following peculiarities may be noted : the almost constant use of for with the Infinitive, as for to telle, for to here; and with the verbal sb., as for lernyng of vs, for likyng to here, where it has the force of for the purpose of, to be fit for: for is also used in the sense of in spite of, as for all po Tapes (890), for wepyn or other (6439), and in this sense it is still used : till = to (131, 11249, 11786), of = through, by (6410), þurgh through, þurght = throughout, again and again through, at = to, at, by (6096), out by (9300): and often the preposition is omitted after the object of a verb, as in l. 6838, refe hym his fos.
From the foregoing analysis we find that the elements of this work are Northern and West Midland; but their combination is not so regular and constant as to permit the idea that we have here an example of a mixed dialect, but rather a mixture of dialects. In