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Chaucer's Grammar Noun Adjective


									                             Chaucer’s Grammar


1.   -es endings may serve the following functions:
      -es [occasionally ys, is, z (from French borrowings)]
      a. equivalent to -en: plural endings for noun
          eyen, yen, (also spelled eyn, eghne, eyghen), asshen
          doughtren, doughtres, doutres, toon, toos, beddes (sing. bed)
      b. as genitive from OE
          goddes priuetee         Crites passioun         frendes loue
          Goddes dome (God’s Judgement, Ywain and Gawain 2561)
      c. convert noun into adverb
          moste nedes (must needs)—necessarily
          that he / Constreyned was, he nedes moste hire wedde. (D. 1070-71)
          his thankes                --with his approval
          unnethes                   --with difficulty
          hennes                      --from here
          amyddes                      --in the middle of

2.   Monosyllabic nouns ending in the singular (in either a consonant or a
     diphthong) acquire a second syllable in the plural, e.g. bokes, dayes, rootes.

3.  plural of noun often identical to the singular
            twenty foot; twenty wynter
*final -e sounded only where it served a known linguistic function or had a
 historical raison d’être in Chaucer’s time. Final -e as a sign of the dative is
 common only before 1300.
 By the close of 1400, most poets used final -e as a metrical filler. Whether -e is
 pronounced or not depends on the requirements of the meter.
 Chaucer never rhymes an uninflected adjective such as whit with an inflected form
 such as write.


Monosyllabic adjectives whose stem ends in a consonant are written with an -e when
modifying a noun in plural.
    fair, good, old, wys, greet, blak

     e.g.    fresshe floures white and reede
          nose-thirles blake weere and wyde
Adjective: when preceded by definite article the, demonstrative this, that, thilke, a
possessive pronoun and possessive genitive noun, the final -e is used.
                 Definite           Indefinite           Plural
             the goode hors         a good hors        goode hors
             this olde man          an old man         olde bookes
             this yonge wyf         a yong wyf         yonge wyues
             my longe tale          smal coral          smale foweles
Most adjectives form their comparatives in -er; a few without:
       bet (better), leng (longer), nere (near)
  also betere (Havelok)
Superlatives are usually formed in -est, -ost.
     Taak hym for the grettest gentil man (WB D.1116)
Chaucer’s grammar is conservative, matched with that of the country areas around
the capital.
Noun-adjective concord marking plural by use of final -s.
French-derived adjective--mostly in technical language.
       places delitables             tables tolletanes

              1st person            2nd person           3rd person
nom. sg.      I, Ich, Ic, Ik      thow, thou           she, he, hit
nom. pl.      we                   ye                   thei, they
accus. sg.    me                    the(e)               hire, him, (h)it
accus. pl.    us                    yow~you               hem
poss. sg.        my(n), myne         thy(n)               hire, his
poss. pl.       oure                 youre                hire, thair
*superior addresses to inferior--thou
 inferior addresses to superior--ye,
 in Havelok (?) Godrich to goldebow (To-morwe sholen ye ben weddeth) (1128)
 The relatives: that, which, which that may be used for both persons and things.
 Pronouns sometimes attached to the verb
        shaltu (shalt thou)             yeuenet (given it)
        willi (I will)                 woldestow (would you)
 The 2nd per. pl. is often used for the singular in formal speech. My and thy take
 an n before a word beginning with a vowel or h: thyne oth, myn herte.


    2nd sing:     -(e)st – Frankeleyn! pardee, sire, wel thou woost (F 696)
    3rd sing:   -(e)th – e.g. Thy gentillesse cometh fro God allone. (WB D 1162)
                              He lyveth helplees and al desolat. (E 1321)
    3rd pl.     -(e)n, -e – That shapen hem this citee for to wynne. (F 214)
                            (who [them] contrive to win this city]
                            And up they risen, wel a ten or twelve (F 383)
Strong verb--change in the root vowel (e.g. binden, band, bunden)
      Infintive             Preterite                 Past   Participle
      quoth                 quath, quod
      knowe(n)              knew-                     knowe(n)
      take(n)               tok-~took-                 take(n)
      breke(n)              brak-                      broke(n)
      spring                 sprong                    yspronge
      (sprynge)             (sproong)
      stonde(n)             stod-~stood-                stonde(n)
      speke(n)               spake-                     spoke(n)
      gete(n)                gat (got)                  geten
      fille                  filde                      filde
      falle                  felle                      feollen
Weak verb preterite / p.p. addition of -(e)d or -t as suffix
    wedde(n)               wedded                     wedded
    seke(n)                soght-                      soght
    werke(n)                wroght-                   wroght
    wende(n)                went                       went
    *sometimes special preterite may be due to phonetic factors in prehistoric past
Weak verbs most common then as now; new coinage/foreign borrowings
treated as weak verbs
      daunce(n)         daunced                daunced
      crepe(n)           crept-~creep-         crept~cropen
                                                               (originally a strong
                                                                  OE verb but became


      Infinitives with or without final n; may end in e(n), i(n)

       Plain infinitives without preceding preposition--commonest form
       Other infinitives--to, for precede the verb
1. Infinitive used in passive sense:
     remembryng him his errand was to doone. (TC II. 72)
     ...was demed for to hange upon a tree (C 270-1)
2. fulfills a function more often discharged by the p.p. in modern English.
     he cam *ride---he came riding
     *originally adverb-function qualifying the verb
3. Omission of the infinitive of verbs of motion, common ME idiom.
     She wol nat dwelle in house half a day
     But forth she wole er any day be dawed (D 352-3)
When used to address to two or more recipients, the imperative usually ends in
-eth, also frequently is endingless.
     With long swerd and with mace fighteth your fille.
     Go now youre wey. (A 2559-60)
     Taketh the moralitee, goode men. (B 4630)
In addressing singular indicative -eth inflexion is usually used in the context of ye
endingless form in the context of thou
     Now telleth ye, sire monk, of that ye konne (A 3118)
     That therfore sholden ye be gentil men (WB D.1111)
     And also thynk and ther with glade the (TC I. 897)
*Progressive forms are infrequent. Chaucer often uses present form to refer to
 past time.
Past participle
     Weak verbs ending in -ed, -t
     Strong verbs ending in -(e)n, after loss of n, in e alone
     Strong and weak forms may be marked by prefix y-
                                 Strong                  Weak
          East Midlands          comen                  clept, nempned
          Southern English         ycome                yclept, inempned
          Chaucer’s                 come(n)             clept, nempned
                                    ycome(n)            yclept, ynempned
     3rd person singular preterite -eth ending,
     but also in -t, particularly with verbs whose stem ends in t, d.
          fint        findeth
          bint         bindeth
          rit          rideth


many adverbs are formed by the suffixes -ly, -liche, but more frequently they are
formed by addition of -e to the stem of adj.
         Thurghout the citee by the maister streete
         That sprad was al with blak and wonder hye (adv.)
         Right of the same is the strete ywrye (p.p.) (A 2902-2904)
         Whan set was Theseus ful ryche and hye (A2577)
                                      (adv.)     (adv.)
         Grante me grace to lyven vertuously (D 1174)


Present and Past
future by use of present, made unambiguous by context and adverbials
periphrastic form with the auxiliaries shal, wol, wil followed by an infinitive.
     That er she come it wol neigh euen be (TC V 1137)
     Oure maunciple, I hope he wol be deed (A 4029)
                        (hope: expect, believe)
     Farewel, my child, I shal thee neuere see (E 555)
     for to = to [And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes (I. 12-13)]
*Chaucer uses variation forms of grammar to suit his metrical purpose, e.g., use of the
present tense in past contexts.
     periphrasis--use of many words where one is sufficient
           gan--periphrasis, e.g., gan to rynge, semantically equivalent to a preterite,
                                                  but strong sense of progression; for
                                                  versification purposes
           riden (when in preterite, serves present)
                   and right-anoon withouten moore abood
                   His baner he desplayeth and forth rood (preterite to suit the rhyme)
                                           (not compatible)
                 To Thebesward. (A 965-7)
progressive tense infrequent
    simple form may be used: ye goon to Canterbury (you are going . . .I. 769)
    simple negative: I kan nat seye, but swich a greet corage (E.1254)


a.   ne+V+no+complement
      When complement begins with a vowel or with initial h, noon is used in place of
          But wedded men ne knowe no meesure (E 622)
          I wol noon oold wyf han in no manere. (E 1416)
          O Donegild, I ne have noon English digne (B 778)
          Ne shal it me nouth dere (Havelok 807)
          (It shall not harm me)
          Ne none kines oÞer wede (Havelok 862)
          (No other kinds of clothes)

b.   ne+V+nat~noght [nat(earlier form); noght(Northerly form)            features of
London language of the period]
            So that the wolf ne made it nat myscarie (Prol. 513)
     noght emphatic--not
         Hise hors weere goode, but he ne was nat gay (A 74)
         Ne studieth noght. Ley hond to, euery man. (A841)
c. ne+N.+ne
     Ne me ne list this sely womman chyde (TC V.1093)
     Ne of his speche daungerous ne digne (Prol. 517)
     (including entire clause)
     double negation is common = single negation (not certain if appled to entire clause,
     (in formal prose)                                   or only a determiner of a noun.)
           He saw nat that (A 3461)
           Ne was ther swich another pardoner (A 693)
           ‘It were to thee.’ quod he, ‘no greet honour.’ (A 1129)
     no. . . wiht = no. . . thing
     no--not an adverb, but a negative form of the determiner an
           For half so boldely kan ther no man
           Swere and lye as a womman kan (D 227-228)
           I am a gentil womman and no wenche (E 2202)
     sometimes none = noght as treated by scribes
           Yet hadde I nevere with noon of hem debaat (E 1496)
           And blosmy tree nys neither drye ne deed (E 1463)
     not to be     not to have    not to wish(will not)   not to know
     I nam                                                                    negate the

      thow nart                   thow nilt               nost(ow)    entire
      he nys       he nath         he nyl                 he niste    predicate
      he nas       he nadde        he nolde               he not      of the clause
      it nere
      development of emphasis
      nat--> noght--> no thing; no wight; nowhere; nevere; namore
      multiple negation to impart vehemence and gravity (high style)
                And heere I swere that neuere willyngly
                In werk ne thoght I nel yow disobeye
                For to be deed, thogh one were looth to deye (E 362-364)
      suffix -lees
      prefix un-              unnethes, unable, unapt, unkonnynge
      nam but -- only; no more than; nothing other than

Dialectal variation (phonological variants)
      Midlands i, south-eastern e, West Midlands u
      myrie          mury        mery       synne senne
      fille         felle                    thynne thenne
      knitte        knette                    stynt stente
      fyr           feere                    triste truste
      liste          leste                    abye abeye abegge
      kisse          kesse                    kyn    ken
      thynke         thenche                   kille quelle

Subjunctive in main clause
(1)    may express wish
      God yelde yow (May God reward you. III. 2177)
(2)    imperative in 1st person
      go we se
(3)    concession
      Bityde what bityde (VII. 874)
      Be as be may.
In independent clause--concerned with condition / hypothesis
        if gold ruste (I. 500)
        if thou telle it (I. 3505)
        if so be/were


(1)  The pronoun thou often becomes enclitic with the verb in questions and
       shaltu     (you shall)
       wostow (knowest thou)                wurstu (be thou)
       slepestu (sleepest thou)             wiltu (wilt thou)
(2) The word ne, not, is often combined with the following verbs if it begins with
    a vowel or h- or w-, and the final -e disappears
          not (ne wot, knew not)
          nastu (ne hast thou)
          nyl(l) (ne wyl, will not, do not wish to)
          nyste (ne wiste, did not know)
          nys (ne ys, is not)
          nost (ne wost, you know not)
          not, noote (ne wot, woot, I (he) know(s) not, do(es) know)
(3) Before vowels, -e of the definite article is sometimes elided: Þerl (the earl)

Þ (thorn)                     3 (yogh)                  ð (eth)
th                            gh/y                      th
u is equivalent to v, w tvo (=two)
i is equal to y
th is equal to t sound (hence Sathanas = Satan)

||       ||       ||| ---> upright   strokes   called   minims
n          u       m        im      mu in minims could be confusing
                              scribes often use y to replace i in minims
Middle English spellings are either phonetic (as in hwat) or much the same as in
modern English. Exceptions include qu-, qw-, for wh- (quat, what)
                                        -th for -ht (rith, riht)
There may have the prefixing of an unnecessary h- (habide, await)
                                                      (helde, old)
                                                      (hete, eat)
                                                      (hit, it)
or the omission of h- where needed (wat, what).

Word Order

1.    attributive adjective may be placed after the N
      a、 The laughter aros of gentil foules alle (PF 575)

          (Laughter arose among all noble birds)
     b、 Kyng Pandiones fayre doughter dere (Legend of Good Women 2247)
          (King Pandion’s beautiful beloved daughter)
2.   Subject of sentence follows prep-phrase (V-Subj.)
     a、                           .... by aventure yfalle
          In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle (Prol. 25-26)
     (They were all pilgrims, by chance in fellowship . . . )
     b、 Of latter date, of wyves hath he red
          That somme han slayn hir housbondes in hir bed (WB D 765-66)
     c、 Agayns his doghter hastily goth he . . . (Clerk E 911)
3.   Subject placed after the V.
     A trewe swynkere and a good was he (Prol. 531)
4.   Reverse order of there was/were
     a、 A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man (Prol. 43)
     b、 A Clerk ther was of Oxenford also (Prol. 285)
     c、 A good man was ther of religioun (Prol. 477)
     d、 A millere was ther dwellynge many a day (Reeve’s A 3925)
5.   Obj.-Verb—second position
     Of his falsnesse it dulleth me to ryme (Canon’s Yeoman G 1093)
6.   Obj.-V formation
     a、 Us moste putte oure good in aventure (Canon’s Yeoman G 946)
     b、 The foule feend hym fecche! (G 1159)
     c、 I yow rede (I advise you) (G 1008)
     d、 I yow preye (G 1010)
          cf. Ful hertely I pray yow telle us part. (E. 1242)
     e、 For in tokenyng I thee love. (G 1153)
     f、 That no man us espie, / whils that we werke in this philosophie. (G 1138-39)
7.   Wh-question with NP or predicate following
     a、 Initial position: What sholde I yow reherce in special / Hir hye malice? (E
     b、 Median position: I nam but deed, but if that I kan seyn / What thyng it is that
          women moost desire. (D 1006-07)
     c、 Thanne wolde I shewe yow how that I koude pleyne
          For Chauntecleres drede and for his peyne. (B 3354-55)
          (Then I would show you how I could lament for Chaunteclere in fear and in
     d、 That is to seyn, what is Contricioun, and whiche been the causes that sholde
          be contrit, and what Contricioun availeth to the soule. (I. 127)

     e、 Herestow not what they prayen us? (HF 1862)
          (Have you not heard what they beseech us?)
8.   to-Infinitive referring to future event
     To teche hem vertu looke that ye ne slake. (Physician C 82)
     Ful lief were me this conseil for to hyde. (Shipman’s B 1349)
     This provost dooth these Jewes for to sterve (B 1819)
9.   perfect tense in dependent clause:
     Now sith that so is that ye han understonde what is Pride (I 474)
     (Now since it is so that you have understood what Pride is)


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