SELECTED SYNTACTICAL ASPECTS OF THE
WORCESTER CHRONICLE FROM
1054 THROUGH 1079
THOMAS McMILLAN WOODELL, II
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I am greatly indebted to my supervisory chairman, Professor
John Algeo, for his support and guidance, and I am grateful for the
scholarly example of the other two members of my committee, Professor
Ants Oras and Professor John E. Craps. I would also like to extend
my thanks to Professor Oscar F. Jones for introducing me to medieval
The study of Old English syntax has, with rare exception, been
neglected. Numerous German studies of the past century are characteris-
tic of 19th century pre-structural linguistics in that they largely
deal with a myriad of specific details but fail to treat syntax as a
whole. The standard handbooks typically give but brief mention to
syntax, preferring instead to concentrate on sound and inflection.
Structural linguistics, however, provides an effective method for
investigating overall syntactic patterns. In the past ten years, studies
utilizing a structural approach have appeared, largely in the form of
dissertations. Charles Rogers Carlton--"The Syntax of the Old English
Charters" (dissertation, Univ. of Michigan, 1958)--cogently reviewed
the pertinent scholarship to 1958, but several studies have appeared
since that date which merit notice.
After basic work on classifying verb phrases, Paul Bacquet--La
Structure de la Phrase Verbale a L'Epoque Alfredienne (Paris, 1962)--
focuses on matters of style and rhetoric by concentrating on minor
deviations from the patterns he has defined.
Though somewhat briefly, Bruce Mitchell--A Guide to Old English
(Oxford, 1965)--recognizes in his treatment of Old English syntax.the
importance of word order as a way of signalling grammatical relationships.
Alfred Reszkiewicz--Ordering of Elements in Late Old Enzlis-- Prose
in Terms of Their Size and Structural Complexity (Wroclaw, 1966)--proposes
a method for arriving at ordering principles in Late Old English. In
his study, one of the key criteria for determining the size and complexity
of constructions is stress, both word and phrasal. The use of stress as
a criterion unfortunately diminishes the value of his method because
there is no Old English informant available to confirm the investigator's
notions of Old English stress. Despite such a difficulty, the approach
is interesting and the bibliography, quite useful.
Ann Shannon--A Descriptive Syntax of the Parker Manuscript of the
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from 734 to 891 (The Hague, 1964), hereafter
referred to as Shannon--and Louis Victor Zuck--"The Syntax of the Parker
Manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from the year 892 through 1001"
(dissertation, Univ. of Michigan, 1966), hereafter referred to as Zuck--
developed the studies which comprise the immediate background for the
The purpose of this dissertation is to describe selected features
of the syntactic system of an Old English text which deals with the period
just before and after the Norman Conquest. Such a study will not only
describe a sample which has not been previously described but will provide
data for comparison with Shannon and Zuck, who dealt with samples of
Old English taken from the Alfredian and immediately post-Alfredian periods
respectively. It is hoped that a comparison of the three samples will
point out specific trends in the historical development of English.
This study is focused on the clause, which here is a syntactic
unit,the defining feature of which is a single, finite verb that may
occur by itself, with modifiers, or in any combination with subject,
object, and complement--the optional major elements. To define the clause
in such a way is advantageous because it provides a single framework
within which-clauses both with and without overt subjects may be treated.
In addition, such a definition makes unnecessary the distinction--often
difficult to make with certainty in Old English--between independent and
Within the clause, the constituent functions verb (V), subject (S),
object (0), and complement (C) are identified and analyzed, and their
order relative to each other is described. Because none of the entries
for any year consists of only one clause, the combination of individual
clauses into larger constructions is described.
The corpus to be described comprises the entries from 1054 through
1079 in the Brit. Mus. MS. Cotton Tiberius B. IV, the D Manuscript of
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (frequently called the Worcester Chronicle).
The choice of materials is the outgrowth of several considerations.
A native prose text is desirable because it is presumably free of
foreign influences that might result from translating from a Latin orig-
inal and avoids any possible syntactic distortion that might be imposed
by the metrical demands of verse.
The two versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which record the
annals longest are the Peterborough Chronicle and the Worcester Chronicle.
The former continues the entries to 1154, some three-quarters of a
century after the latter. However, the very lateness of the Peterborough
Chronicle makes it necessary to decide at what entry the language has
changed to such a degree that it can no longer be identified as Late Old
English but must be considered Early Middle English.
The Worcester Chronicle, on the other hand, records regular entries
until 1079 and was written between the latter half of the llth century
and the beginning of the 12th. Thus, it can be presumed to be wholly
representative of the Late West Saxon Schriftsprache. The D Manuscript
is not without difficulties (which, however, are largely shared by all
the manuscripts). It is a composite drawn from several sources and at
various times by scribes who are not always overly careful. Unresolved
controversy surrounds the question of its place of origin--Ripon, York,
Evesham, and Worcester having been suggested. Such difficulties are
textual problems which have but minor import for this study. Here, the
interest is not what the annals say, but that they reflect a language system
during a particular period. If, under such circumstances, sporadic
scribal errors occur, they are simply noted. If unusual features are
consistent, they suggest a change in the language system and may become
the proper object of this study. When all factors are weighed, the
Worcester Chronicle is the favored choice because it is the latest
extensive example of native prose narrative that is unequivocally
composed in the West Saxon literary language.
The edition used here was done by Benjamin Thorpe--The Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle, 2 vols. (London, 1861)--and was selected because it retains the
manuscript punctuation rather than inserting Modern English punctuation
in the form of commas and semicolons. Such editorial freedom as the
latter examples with punctuation reflect tends to obscure some facts
and creates obstacles for the investigator whose interest lies in the
syntactic system that a manuscript reflects rather than in how closely the
entries approach the Modern English standard of flowing prose.
Throughout the present study, the following modifications have been
silently made for the sake of convenience. Thorn and eth have been writ-
ten th. The crossed thorn (|), crossed b (i), and Scs. have been expanded
to that, biscop, and Sanctus respectively. Finally, all occurrences of
the ligature ash have been written as unconnected ae.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .. . .
LIST OF TABLES... . ..
I. THE MAJOR ELEMENTS . .
II. THE ORDER OF MAJOR ELEMENTS. .
III. l:iFLUEICES ON CLAUSE PATTERNS .. .
IV. COMBINATION OF CLAUSES . .
V. TRANSLATIONS, VERSE, AND RHYTHMICAL PROSE.
VI. MEASUREMENT OF CHANGE. . .
VII. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS. .. .
WORKS CONSULTED . . .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....... .
LIST OF TABLES
1. ORDER CLASSES OF ATTRIBUTIVES . 11
2. ORDERING IN PARTITIVE GENITIVES . .. 14
3. FREQUENCIES OF CLAUSE TYPES ............... .. 26
4. FREQUENCIES OF CLAUSES WITH DIRECT AND INDIRECT OBJECTS .. 34
5. FORMS OF SUBJECTS AND OBJECTS . .. 67
6. ESUREiNT OF COR ..... .............. .. .. 68
THE MAJOR ELEMENTS
Given the definition of clause which is used here, the simplest
clause is composed only of a finite verb form. Seldom, however, is
such the case. The clause is usually made up of the finite verb plus
several other elements so that constructions of varying complexity
result. Within the clause, several grammatical functions may be
identified. This chapter will describe the forms and structures that
comprise the four major grammatical functions: verb, subject, object,
The description begins with verbs, the essential element of the
The verb function may be manifested by a single, inflected form
here called simple verb. The overwhelming majority of simple verbs
are active, preterite forms. All simple verbs save two are third person.
Both exceptions are first person plural forms. (Numbers preceding the
clauses refer to the year of the entry.)
1065 Ne wisten we .
"We did not know ."
1068 7 forhynde
1076 7 foron swa aweg
"So theZ/ went away."
There are thirteen present tense forms. Six of these are oc-
currences of licgan; the others, of sagan, beon, gan, and hatan.
1057 He lith aet Cofentreo
"He lies at Coventry."
1065 swa hit her after saegth
"So it says hereafter."
1058 Hit is langsum to atellanne eall
"It is tedious to relate fully."
1065 thae thaer neah sindon
"which are near there"
1067 7 hire modor cynn gaeth to Heinrice casere
"Her mother's family goes to the Emperor Henry."
1066 thone sume men hatath thone faexedon steorran
"which some men call the long-haired star"
There is one present subjunctive form.
1066 thonne God wylle
"When God wills."
The preterite subjunctive occurs twice.
1066 Wurthe god se ende
"Might the end be good."
1066 that hit cometa se steorra waere
"that it were the star comet"
In two instances willan is a simple verb formally, but functions
notionally as modal plus infinitive, a construction extant in Modern
German. The preterite form appears both times.
1066 that Wyllelm Bastard wolde hider 7 this land gewinnen
"that William the Bastard would hither and conquer this
1076 the hire mid woldon
"who wanted to go with her"
The verb function may also comprise a finite form plus an infinitive
or past participle. This construction is a complex verb.
A finite form of habban occurs in nine perfect tense verbs. The
past participles are uninflected.
1065 tha tha he hit gegan haefde
"when he had subdued it"
1067 forthan tha thegenas heom geswicon haefdon
"because the thegns had betrayed them"
There are three occurrences of wesan in perfect constructions. The
past participle is marked for number when the subject is plural.
1066 that this waes thus gefaren
"that this had happened thus"
1067 forthan the hi on his anwald becumene waeron
"because they had come into his control"
Weorthan is found in one perfect construction.
1067 Hit wearth tha swa geworden
"It had happened thus."
The complex verb also occurs in passive constructions. Of verbs
which serve as the finite element of passive constructions, there are
twenty-seven occurrences of wesan, all of which are preterite forms.
The past participle is marked for the plural in one of two instances in
which the subject is plural.
1057 7 AEgelric waes on his setl ahafen.
"AEthelric was elevated to his see."
1066 Thas twa folcgefeoht waeron gefremmede binnan fif nihtan
"These two pitched battles were fought within five nights."
A form of weorthan is the finite element in nineteen constructions.
The past participle is marked for the plural in three of five instances
in which the subject is plural.
1077 7 his lic wearth gelaed to Crulande
"His body was taken to Crowland."
1079 7 fela thaer wurdon ofslaegen
"Many were killed there."
1075 7 his men eac wurdon sume gelaehtae of Frencyscan mannan
"Some of his men were captured by the French."
Constructions with medals
The following models occur as the finite element of complex verbs:
willan, magan, laetan, motan, sculan, durran, and beginnan. In this
corpus, laetan and beginnan occur only in the singular; durran, only
in the plural.
1066 that he wolde heom hold hlaford been
"that he would be a loyal lord to them"
1065 the hig mihten to cumen
"whom they could get at"
1Thorpe, p. xv, "In later times, too, the [thorn and eth 7 in
proper names of persons beginning with --AEthel 7, is often found changed
to g. .
1073 he let hine nyman of Burh
"He had him taken from [Peterborougih."
1065 that hi moston habban Morkere heom to eorle
"that they might have Morcar as their earl"
1066 Ac swa hit aefre forthlicor beon sceolde
"But as it ever ought to be more forward"
1076 7 ne dorston nan gefeoht healdan with Willelme cynge
"They dared hold no fight against King William."
1067 Tha began se cyngc 1l. gyrnan his sweoster him to wif
"Then King ~alcolm began to desire his sister Margaret
as his wife."
There are two present tense forms, one of which is first person
1067 that furdon an spearwa on gryn ne maeg befeallen forutan
"that not even a sparrow can fall into a trap without his
1079 Ne wylle we theh her na mare scathe awritan
"Nor will we here write more of the injuries"
There is one occurrence of a perfect infinitive.
1067 hwaet he of hyre gedon habban wolde
"what he wanted to have done through her"
One form shows a negative proclitic.
1066 that man him to cuman nolde
"that they did not want to come to him"
Within the text are structures lacking a verb which nonetheless
is felt to be "understood" from the context. These constructions are
termed elliptical coordinates because they are structurally similar and
semantically dependent to the clause which immediately precedes them.
Of the five elliptical coordinates which lack any verb form, two
are missing copulatives, one of which is a complex verb.
1069 And se kyng waes thone midwintres daeig on Eoferwic 7 swa
ealne thone winter on tham lande
"And the king was in York on Christmas Day, so [he was/ in
the country all winter."
1063 that heo him on allum thingum unswicende beon woldon 7
eighwar him gearwe on waetere 7 on lande
"that they would be faithful to him in everything, and [would
be7 everywhere ready on water and on land"
One is a passive construction.
1058 7 AEgelric waes to biscope gehadod to Suthsexum 7 Sihward
abbad to biscope to Hrofecestre
"AEthelric was consecrated bishop of Sussex, and Abbot Siward
7was consecrated7 bishop of Rochester."
One involves the verb utferan; the other, wyrcan.
1076 7 heo tha utferde of Englalande 7 ealle hire menn
"She then went out of England, and all her men /went out too/."
1072 7 brygce worhte 7 scypfyrde on tha sae healfe
"made a bridge andQatatione a naval force on the seaward
There are eleven elliptical coordinates which lack the finite ele-
ment of a complex verb. Seven of these structures have past participles.
The verb habban is involved in three of these constructions, two of which
occur in the same clause.
1069 haefdon tha Frenciscan tha burh forbaerned 7 eac that halie
monster Sanctus Petrus eall forhergod 7 forbaerned
"The French had burned the city and also [had7 ravaged and
[had7 burned the holy minster of St. Peter.
1079 7 tha haefdon athas him gesworon 7 hine to hlaforde
"Those had sworn oaths to him and had received him as
One passive construction, in which the past participle is inflected,
involves weorthan. Notice that the first past participle is not inflected.
1079 7 fela thaer wurdon ofslaegen 7 eac gefangene
"And many were killed there and were7 captured."
Five structures have infinitives but lack a finite modal element.
Three of these elliptical coordinates are part of the same clause.
1067 forthan the heo sceolde on than lande Godes lof geeacnian 7
thone kyng gerihtan of tham dweliandan paethe 7 gebegean hine
to beteran wege 7 his leode samod 7 alegcean tha untheawas
"because she was destined to increase the glory of God in
the land, and /was destined to turn him and his people as
well to the better way, and fwas destined to put down the
1066 that Wyllelm Bastard wolde hider 7 this land gewinnen
"that William the Bastard would hither and [would/
conquer this country"
1055 the he sylf let timbrian 7 halgian on Godes 7 Olafes
"which he himself had built and /hadj consecrated in the
name of God and St. Olaf"
The problem of describing the combination of verb and particle as
a syntagmatic unit--which is here termed two-part verb, i.e., Put out
the light!--is for Old English compounded because only written data are
available. Even for Modern English it is necessary to study intonation
and stress before a construction can be labelled a two-part verb rather
than a verb plus adverb or preposition. For this study, in addition,
the very limited amount of pertinent data makes the general description
of composite verbs infeasible. (An historical sketch of the two-part
verb phenomenon in English can be found in F. Th. Visser, An Historical
Syntax of the F.--lid. Language, Leiden, 1963, I, 387-394.)
Despite such obstacles, it is difficult to ignore the evidence
provided by the following clauses in which, even without recourse to
the context of the entry, the interpretation that the underlined words
constitute semantic units is hard to avoid.
1058 Her man ytte ut AElfgar eorl
"In this year they banished Earl AElfgar."
1066 he for upp mid eallon his here
"He went inland with all his army."
1066 7 adraf hine ut
"'e7 drove him out."
1072 tha bead he ut scypfyrde 7 landfyrde
"Then he ordered out the naval .force and the land force."
1072 Her Eadwine eorl 7 Morkere eorl hlupon ut
"In this year Earl Edwin and Earl Morcar fled."
1067 And thaes sumeres Eadger cild for ut .
"and that summer Childe Edgar withdrew ."
1076 Ac se kyngc let lihtlice of
"But the king treated it lightly"
In the following clauses, fon, which is not in this corpus found
without the co-occurrence of to, is interpreted to be a two-part verb
because of this combination of collocational restriction and semantic
1056 7 his brother AEgelwine fena thaerto2
"His brother AEthelwine succeeded hiJ7."
2Word division in the Old English manuscripts is often p.oobleratic.
The form, thaerto, is the usage of the Thorpe edition.
1056 Se forlet his crisman feng to his spere 7 to his swurde
"He renounced his chrism and assumed his spear and sword."
1055 7 Tosti feng to than eorldome
"Tosti succeeded to the earldom."
There are six clauses in which fon plus to is followed by a noun
object consisting of rice or a compound in which rice is the final element.
1077 7 Harold his sunu feng to his cynerice
"Harold, his son, succeeded to the realm."
While there could here be no extensive effort to investigate the
two-part verb in Old English, a large-scale study which combines the
investigation of verb, particle, and object distribution, the
analysis of co-occurrence restrictions, and the nature and incidence of
collocational restrictions plus semantic unity could well be fruitful.
Subject and Object
Both common and proper nouns appear as subject and object.
1071 Ac thaer com Rodbeart
"But Robert came there."
1066 7 sworon athas
"[Thef swore oaths."
In this corpus infinitive phrases occur occasionally as objects.
Infinitive phrases may be analyzed in several ways. In the following
example, him might be considered the indirect object and waldan, the
direct object; or him might be felt to serve two functions, indirect
object and subject of the infinitive. This study follows a third alter-
native, that the infinitive phrase as a unit is an element (here, the
object) of the clause.
1079 forthan the his faeder ne wolde him laetan waldan his
eorldomes on Normandige
"Because his father would not let him rule his county in
The subject and object may also be realized by noun phrases, con-
structions which have a noun or nominal as headword to which a word or word
group is attributive. Attributives cluster about a headword in a system-
atic way and may be grouped into order classes on the basis of their position
relative to the headword. Because attributives pattern in this fashion,
noun phrases may be conveniently described in terms of which order classes
Ideally, order classes should be exhaustively defined by citing all
possible combinations and permutations of classes and the members of those
classes, but an open system such as language precludes such a treatment.
A feasible method of defining order clauses is to determine which words
in a corpus are mutually substitutable. Words that meet this criterion are
members of the same order class. After the data have been reduced by
employing this procedure, the results can be displayed in a table which
gives a sample of the membership of each order class and shows its position
relative to the headword.
Table 1 is the result of the procedure that has just been described
for isolating order classes. The table implies that a grammatical noun
phrase would result if, in addition to the headword, one member from any
number of the classes were chosen. The choices, of course, would have to
observe semantic considerations and the specified order of the classes.
Order classes will not here be labelled because such labels--deter-
miner, restricter, particularizer, etc.--may imply misleading analogies
with descriptions of Modern English. The table is modified so that the
entry in each horizontal row is a noun phrase drawn from the corpus.
ORDER CLASSES OF
Date 1 2 3 4 Head post-
-I J 4 1
Some further comments about order classes, their membership, and
the examples used here are appropriate.
Attributives are commonly linked to the headword by features of
inflection, although the relationship so signalled is not always unambiguous.
It appears that proximity and semantic congr-ity (and perhaps others) are
also means of linking attributives and their headwords.
Several members of classes one and two--ealle, fela, sume, tha--
are in the same form used substantively in other parts of the corpus.
In fact, the usual use of fela is as part of the head in partitive geni-
tive constructions. Of this group, ealle and sume are also used at-
tributively in the post-headword position.
In an alternative analysis, ealle, sume, m e, and fela may be
viewed as members of the same class within which ealle is the only member
which precedes demonstratives. Such a view finds support in that ad-
jectives which follow manege--as well as sum, eall, and (presumably)
fela--require strong endings, while adjectives which follow se and
personal pronouns take weak endings.
Synum, here a dative singular, is the only occurrence in this cor-
pus of the reflexive possessive which is rarely found in late manuscripts.
In rare cases, the constituents of a noun phrase may be separated
by elements which are not a part of the noun phrase.
1075 7 his men eac wurdon sume gelaehtae of Frencyscan mannan
"And some of his men were captured by Frenchmen."
An attributive may have constituents which modify the attributive
itself rather than the headword.
1066 7 thaer wearth on daeg swithe stranglic gefeoht on ba half
"There on that day a very fierce fight took place on both sides."
1065 7 ofslogon his hiredmenn ealle the hig mihten to cumen aegthaer
ge Englisce ge Denisce
"They7 slew all his bodyguard they could get at, both English
The latter example requires further comment because there are
several ways of viewing the structure that follows the headword,
hiredmenn. The postposed clause may modify ealle or be attributive to
hiredmenn. The noun phrase joined by the correlative may be in apposi-
tion to hiredmenn or to ealle or to the relative particle, the. The decision
that aegthaer ge Englisce ge Denisce is in apposition to the relative
particle is based on its proximity to the clause introduced by the.
Likewise, that the clause introduced by the modifies ealle is based on
the juxtaposition of the and ealle, presumably its antecedent.
Table 1 is somewhat limited because the procedure for isolating
order classes implies the abilities or services of a native speaker.
In addition, the corpus is relatively small and Old English word order
is, to a degree, not fixed. Nonetheless, the table is a useful ap-
proximation which suggests both class membership of attributives and
their order in noun phrases.
Noun phrases are also expanded by prepositional phrases, which are
discussed later in this chapter, and relative clauses. Discussions of
relative clauses, which here are subsumed under grammatically dependent
clauses, can be found in the section of Chapter III titled Connectives,
and in two sections of Chapter IV, Use of Connectives and Other Ways
It is convenient to treat the partitive genitive, which has a
two-part head followed by an attributive, as a subclass of noun phrases.
In this corpus, the first part of the head is always filled by fela; the
second part, by a null or by the uninflected cardinals hund or thusend.
The attributive is similarly restricted; it is always a genitive noun
plural (including one inflected cardinal, thusenda).
As in other noun phrases, the attributive element of a partitive
genitive may itself be a construction with constituents which modify
the attributive rather than the head of the.partitive genitive. In
the following table, modifiers of the attributive element are inclosed
ORDERING IN PARTITIVE GEOITTVES
1065 feola thusend
1078 fela tuna
1071 (his manna) fela thusenda
1066 fela (godra) manna
1069 fela hund manna (Frenciscra)
In the last example in the table is found the only example of noun
head plus postposed adjective. The limited corpus may explain why a
similar structure is not found in constructions that are not partitive
Some types of pronouns which are used as subjects and objects are:
1066 7 he gaderade tha mycelne here
"Then he gathered a large army."
1073 7 sende hine to Westmynstre
"IHe7 sent him to Westminister."
1076 7 this waes tham kyninge sona to Normandie gecythed
"This was soon made known to the king in Normandy."
1055 7 forhergode that
"fHe7 ravaged it."
1066 sume adruncen
1055 man geraedde thone raed
"They counselled the decision."
1076 that hi naht ne dydon
"They did nothing."
Interrogatives used as indefinite pronouns
1065 hwa thone unraed aerest geraedde
"who first counselled this conspiracy"
1067 hwaet he of hyre gedon habban wolde
"what he wished to have done through her."
1067 the haefde anwald ofer Rome
"who had rule over Rome"
Reflexive and intensifying pronouns
1076 7 wreide hine sylfne
"[e7 accused himself."
1058 the he sylf geforthode Gode to lofe 7 Sancte Petre
"that he himself had completed to the glory of God and St.
1067 that that folc be northan haefdon heom gegaderad togaedre
"that the people in the north had gathered together"
1067 wislice hine bethohte
"/-He17 meditated wisely."
Subjective complements may be manifested by nouns, noun phrases,
or attributives of nouns. Not all of those noun phrases in this corpus
which function as subject or object also serve as complement, but that
limitation probably reflects the small number of clauses in this corpus
which have complements rather than a structural feature of Old English.
Nouns and Noun Phrases
Some examples of noun and noun phrases which are used as subjective
1056 oth that he biscop waes
"until he was bishop"
1071 that waeron tha menn
"Those were the men."
1065 that waes feola thusend
"That was many thousand."
1076 seo waes Eadwardes cynges geresta
"She was King Edward's widow."
Words which are attributives to nouns also serve as subjective
complements. Some forms of attributives which are found in this text
1055 siththan he unfere waes
"after he was infirm"
Adjectives modified b a qualifier
1066 eallswa him wel gecynde waes
"as it was quite proper for him"
1063 the Griffines waes
"which was Griffin's"
Complements, subjects, and objects may be expanded by a postposed
noun phrase which is introduced by a preposition. (Prepositional
phrases used as adverbials are not described in this study.)
1075 7 se scirgerefa of Eoferwic com him togeanes aet Dunholme
"The sheriff of York came to meet them at Durham."
1077 7 besaet thone castel aet Dol
"IHe[ besieged the castle at Dol."
1058 that waes an gylden calic on fif marcon swithe wundorlices
"That was a golden chalice of five marks [worth, of very
Multiple prepositional phrases may expand a noun or noun phrase.
1078 se waes biscop on Bearrucscire 7 on Wiltunscire 7 on Dorsaetan
"He was bishop of Berkshire, Wiltshire, and Dorset."
Prepositional phrases may expand the object of another preposition
rather than a complement, subject, or object.
1067 7 is bebyrged aet his biscopstole on Dorkacestre
"tHe7 is buried at his episcopal see in Dorchester."
Appositional constructions, which may serve as subject, object,
or complement, consist of a noun phrase called the principal to which is
juxtaposed another noun phrase, the appositive. The principal and ap-
positive both agree in case and number and have the same referent and
grammatical relationship to the other elements of the clause.
In this corpus,either the principal or the appositive is a proper
noun and the remaining element is most commonly a one-word title, in
which case the order is invariably name plus title.
1073 7 Malcolm cyngc com
"King Malcolm came."
Both principal'and appositive may be expanded noun phrases, the
construction of which can usually be accounted for by the framework
presented in Table 1 or by the order, name plus title.
1056 And Cona se casere forthferde
"And the Emperor Cona LConra 7 died."
1076 7 gefeng Roger eorl his maeg
"/e7 captured Earl Roger, his kinsman."
Three types of appositional structures which have separated
constituents can be identified. In the first, the principal and
appositive of an appositional construction which modifies a nominal are
1076 that waes Hacones sunu eorles .
"That was Earl Haakon's son ."
Constituents of a nominal and of the appositional structure which
modifies it separate one another in the following clause.
1069 Sona thaeraefter coman of Denmarcon threo Swegenes suna
"Soon thereafter three sons of King Swein came from
The second type consists of appositional constructions in which
the principal or the appositive is an expanded noun phrase in which a
discontinuous appositional construction occurs. (In the following
examples, the expanded noun phrase is inclosed in parentheses and the
separated constituents are underlined.)
1079 Her Rodbert (thaes cynges sunu Willm,) hleop fram his faeder
to his eame Rotbryhte on Flandron
"In this year Robert, King William's son, deserted from
his father to his Uncle Robert in Flanders."
1055 thaeraefter sona man utlagode AElfgar eorl (Leofrices
sunu eorles) .
"Soon afterwards they outlawed Earl AElfgar, Earl Leofric's
1057 se waes (Eadwerdes brother sunu kynges) Eadmund cing
"He was King Edward's brother's son, King Edmund."
In the third type, the principal and appositive are separated by
an element which is not part of either.
1065 tha for Cradoc to Gryffines sunu mid eallon tham genge
"Then Cradoc, Griffith's son, went there with all the
A patronymic rather than a title may follow the name and create a
series of embedded appositional constructions, each of which is the
appositive of the appositional construction which precedes it. :In
the following clause, Eadward aetheling is followed by an appositive
made up of an appositional construction which is itself expanded by
appositional constructions based on a patronymic. The result is a
multilevel appositional construction which describes five generations.
1067 hire faeder waes Eadward aetheling Eadnundes sunu
kynges Eadmund AEtheireding AEthelred E-i airing
Eadgar Eadreding swa forth on that cyne cynn
"Her father was the Aetheling Edward, King Edmund's
son, Edmund son of Aethelred, Aethelred son of Edgar, Edgar
son of Eadred, and so forth in that royal race."
Pronouns also participate in appositional constructions, the
second element of which in this corpus is sum, been, or eall--each
of which can be adjectival or substantial. (Alternatively, pronoun
constructions of this sort may be viewed as pronoun plus postposed
1067 7 he hi ealle underfeng
"He welcomed them all."
1066 oththaet hig sume to scype coman
"until some of them got to the ships."
In one pronoun phrase the pronoun and second element are separated.
1066 7 hi foron tha been into Humbran
"Then they both went into the Humber."
The reflexive pronoun in one clause consists of an appositional
1065 And sona after thisan gegaderedon tha thegenas hi
ealle on Eoferwicscire 7 on Northhymbralande togaedre
"And soon after this all the tl-.g-cs in Yorkshire and
Northumbria gathered together."
In summary, the major elements of the clause are verb (the de-
fining element), subject, object, and complement. "
Verbs may be simple, complex, or comprised of a syntagmatic unit,
the constituents of which are a finite verb and a particle.
Subjects, objects, and complements may be realized by nouns,
pronouns, and noun phrases. In addition to these, complements may be
manifested by attributives of nouns.
THE ORDER OF MAJOR ELEZ.:;TS
Clauses are typed on the basis of which major elements--finite
verb, subject, object, and complement--occur. The six possible types
are then subtyped according to the order in which the elements appear.
Representative examples of each type (combination) and subtype (per-
mutation) are given below. Both type and subtype are ordered from
highest to lowest frequency.
Examples of Clauses
Verb and Subject (V,S)
Subject plus verb (SV)
1056 7 he lith on Perscora
"He lies in Pershore."
1072 the mid him aetfleon mihton
"who could escape with him"
1078 7 Hereman biscop forthferde
"Bishop Herman died."
1079 Her Rotbert feht with his faeder
"In this year Robert fought against his father."
Verb plus subject (VS)
1066 7har wearth ofslaegen Harold Harfagera 7 Tosti eorl
"Harold Fairhair and Earl Tosti were slain there."
1066 7 waeron tha Eastran on thone daeg XVI.Kl. Mai
"Easter was then on E16 April7."
1071 7 thaes ilcan sumeres cor that lith into Temnse
"In that same summer the fleet came into the T.h xez."
1071 Ac thaer com Rodbeart
"But Robert came there."
Verb, Subject, and Object (V, S, 0)
Subject olus verb plus object (SVO)
1056 7 on his preosthade he haefde his kenepas
"In his priesthood he had his moustaches."
1071 forthon the hi namon thaer eall
"because they took everything there"
1066 Aldred arcebiscop 7 seo burhwaru on Lundene woldon habban
tha Eadgar child to kynge
"Archbishop Aldred and the citizens of London then
wanted to have Childe Edgar as king."
1067 the haefde anwald ofer Rome
"who had rule over Rome"
Subject plus object plus verb (SOV)
1063 7 hig athas sworon
"They swore oaths."
1065 tha tha he hit gegan haefde
"when he had subdued it"
1065 hwa thone unraed aerest geraedde
"who first counselled this conspiracy"
1075 7 seo wode sae 7 se strange wind hi on that land
"The raging sea and the strong wind cast them
Object plus subject plus verb (OSV)
1066 tha hit God betan nolde for urum synnum
"since God did not wish to make it better because
of our sins"
1065 7 fela hund manna hi naman
"They took many hundred men."
1067 the hi gehergod haefdon
"which they had plundered"
1072 AEgelwine biscop he send to Abbandune
"He sent Bishop AEthelwine to Abingdon."
Verb plus subject plus object (VSO)
1056 Her forlet AEgelric bisceop his bisceoprice aet
"In this year Bishop AEthelric relinquished his
bishopric at Durham."
1075 On there ilcan tide sende se kyng of Francrice
Filippus gewrit to him
"At the same time the king of France, Phillip,
sent a letter to him."
Object plus verb plus subject (OVS)
1066 and hine gemette thaer Harold cyng of Norwegon mid
threom hund scypum
"And Harold, King of Norway, met him there with
three hundred ships."
1066 Tha on midwintres daeg hine halgode to kynge Ealdred
arcebiscop on Westmynstre
"On Christmas Day at Westminster Archbishop Ealdred
consecrated him king."
Verb and Object (V,O)
Verb plus object (VO)
1066 7 hergode ealne thone ende
"f7e7 ravaged all the country."
1066 Swa theah leide gyld on mannum swithe stith
"Nevertheless, 7h7e laid taxes on the people very
1067 7 thaer worhte twegen castelas .
"There [heg built two castles ."
Object plus verb (0V)
1055 7 mid lytlan gewinne hi on fleam gebrohte
"[IFJ put them to flight with little struggle."
1067 7 tha burh abrecan woldon
"f-;,J wanted to storm the city."
1069 7 thone castel tobraecon
"fTheZ7 razed the castle."
Verb, Subject, and Complement (V, S, C)
Subject plus verb plus complement (SVC)
1059 the thaer waes aer papa
"who was Pope there previously"
1065 swa that seo scir 7 tha othra scira wurdan fela
wintra the wyrsan
"So that that shire and the others were the worse
for many winters."
1067 7 Eadric cild 7 tha Bryttas wurdon unsehte
"Childe Eadric and the Welsh became hostile."
Subject plus complement plus verb (SCV)
1056 oth that he biscop waes
"until he was bishop"
1066 hit cometa se steorra waere
"It was the star comet."
1079 the betst waeron on tham lande
"who were the best in the country"
Verb plus subject plus complement (VSC)
1066 swa wearth hit fram daege to daege laetre 7 wyrre
"So from day to day it became more behind and worse"
1076 thaeron waeron heafdesmenn Cnut Swegnes sunu cynges
7 Hacon eorl
"The commanders thereon were Cnut, King Swein's son,
and Earl Haakon."
Verb plus conmlement plus subject (VCS)
1066 Wurthe god se ende
"Might the end become good."
1067 7 yfele gelaeste
"[H7 fulfilled /them7 badly."
1069 7 aweste
"IIT laid waste."
1072 7 mislice ferdon on wuda 7 on feldon
"LhneH travelled aimlessly in the woods and fields."
and Complement (V, C)
plus complement (VC)
1073 7 waes his mann
"[ie7 was his man."
1076 ac waes faegen
"But [he7 was glad."
Complement plus verb (CV)
1066 7 his nan wearth
"/:e7 became his man."
r -la there is considerable variety in clause types and sub-
types, the combinations and permutations do not occur with .q'al
frequency. The following table illustrates the frequencies of each
type and subtype. Figures in parentheses are from Shannon and Zuck
FREQUENCIES OF CLAUSE TYPES
Number Percent Percent ) I.er Percent
Type Sub- in of. of in of
type Subtype Type Total ::.e Total
Number Percent Percent Nuimber Percent
Type Sub- in of of in of
type Subtype Type Total i Total
Table 3 indicates that the major trend noted by Zack--that
more objects follow the verb than precede it--is also the case for this
sample of Old English.
The main difference, however, between this sample and those of
both Shannon and Zuck is in the distribution of subjects. In this
corpus, the subject precedes the verb 62 percent of the time (420 of
675 clauses), while the three types of clauses with overt subjects
(types 1, 2, and 4) account for 75 percent of the clauses in this
sample (505 of 675 clauses).
Clauses in which the subject precedes the verb comprise 52 and
47 percent of the corpus for Shannon and Zuck respectively, while the
three types of clauses with an overt subject make up 79 and 74 percent
respectively. For the two earlier studies, then, it can be seen that
the percentage of clauses in which the subject precedes the verb is
essentially the same. (It should be expected that, in Zuck as compared
with Shannon, the smaller percentage of clauses which have overt subjects
will be reflected in the smaller percentage of clauses in which the
subject precedes the verb.)
In this sample of the Worcester Chronicle, th:iugh, the percentage
of clauses in which the subject precedes the object has increased 11
percent even though the percentage of clauses which have an overt subject
is approximately the same as it was for both Shannon and Zuck.
Divided Elements .
Usually the constituents of a major element are adjacent or
separated only by an adverb. In 20 clauses, however, the component
parts of a complex verb are separated by an object. Because of the
definition of clause used here and of the predominance of clauses in
which finite verb forms precede participles or infinitives, the position
of the finite form is used to determine the subtype to which clauses
having a complex verb with divided elements belong. Thus, the clause,
that hi aefre woldon fryth 7 freondscype into thisan land haldan
(1066), is classed SVO on the basis of the position of woldon rather
than SOV on the basis of haldan.
The constituents of a complex verb may be separated by either a
direct or an indirect object.
1073 he let hine nyman of Burh
"He had him taken from fPeterborougj7."
1076 7 this waes tham kyninge sona to Normandie gecythed
"This was soon made known to the king in Normandy."
Coordinate objects may also be separated, in which case the
position of the first.object determines the clause type. The verb
is the intrusive element in 3 of the 5 clauses in which coordinate
objects are separated.
1068 7 hine ofslogon 7 IX.C. manna mid him
"!I5ne/ slew him and nine hundred men with him."
A compound indirect object is separated by a compound direct
object in 1 clause.
1075 Hwaet tha se cyngc Malcolm 7 his sweoster
Margareta geafon him myccla geofa 7 manega
gearsama 7 eallon his mannan .
"Lo, then the king and his sister Margaret gave
him and all his men great gifts and many treasures ."
The elements of part of a compound subject are divided by a
verbal particle in 1 clause.
1067 7 her ferde yC-vha ut Haroldes modor 7 manegra
godra manna wif mid hyre into Bradan Reolice
"In this year Gytha, Harold's mother, and the
wives of many good men with her went out to
Dative and Genitive Objects
The object function in a clause is usually governed by the
accusative. In 16 clauses, however, the object occurs with a verb
which takes the dative. Number concord between subject and verb is
lacking in the example, presumably because the notional number of
the subject is singular. (For a clause in which the subject is
singular and verb plural, see p. 16, 1071.)
1067 him gelicade hire theawas
"Her behavior pleased him."
Verbs in this corpus which govern dative objects are: behatan
'promise' (1067), fremian 'benefit' (1057), gan (on hand) 'surrender'
(1072), gebiegan (to hande) 'surrender' (1074), gebyrian 'befit'
(1057), gelaestan 'continue' (1066), gelecgan 'put upon' (1075),
gelician 'please' (1067), gelimpan 'happen' (1075), geswicon 'betray'
(1067), sellan 'promise' (1066), unnan 'grant' (1057), weorthan
There are 6 clauses in which the verb takes the genitive.
1065 se cyning thaes geuthae
"The king granted this."
Verbs in this corpus which govern genitive objects are: biddan
'entreat' (1075), forbaernan 'burn down' (1074), getithian 'grant'
(1075), geunnan 'grant' (1065), wealdan 'rule' (1065).
In 5 clauses there is an object in addition to a subjective
complement. In 4 of the clauses the object is dative. In the fifth
(1057), the noun object is in an oblique case and its modifiers may
be dative or genitive. In clauses which have an object plus subjective
complement, the object may follow or precede the complement.
1057 Wala that waes hreowlic sith 7 hearmlic eallre
"Alas, afterward that was grievous and miserable to all
1066 that he wolde heom hold hlaford beon
"that he would be a loyal lord to them"
In 1 clause a dative object precedes the complement in an elliptical
1063 that heo him on allum thingum unswicende beon
woldon 7 eighwar himn gearwe on waetere 7 on lande
"that they would be faithful to him in everything and
everywhere ready on water and on land"
There are 5 clauses in this corpus which have retained objects.
These retained objects are invariably dative and may precede or follow
1076 this waes tham kyninge sona to Normandie gecythed
"This was soon made known to the king in Normandy."
1055 7 eall that him ofgenumen waes
"all that was taken from him"
A structure that resembles the retained object appears in 2
1057 Irensid waes geclypod for his snellscipe
"fHe7 was called Ironside for his valor."
1057 Seo waes Agathes gehaten
"She was called Agatha."
That Irensid and Agathes are not retained objects may be inferred
by examining what is presumably an analogous situation in Modern .-.--li.h.
In the sentence, "He gave her a gift," both nominals which follow the
verb can be made the subject of a passive sentence: "She was given
a gift by him" and "A gift was given her by him." The sentence,
"They named him James," which resembles "He gave her a gift," is nonethe-
less different because only one of the nominals which follows the verb
can be made the subject of a passive sentence: "He was named James by
them" but not *James was named him by them. T-. nominal, James, is
called an objective co.:;pl.=:.t in the active sentence, "They named him
James." A reasonable label for the same nominal when it is in the
object position of the passive sentence, "He was named James by them"
is retained complement. Agathes and Irensid, then, are retained complements.
Forty-three clauses have more than one object, one of which can be
identified as a direct object and the other, an indirect object. In
order to compare the order of major clause elements (Table 3) in this
corpus with the order of major clause elements in S..:-. and Zuck,
the position of the first object--regardless of whether it is direct or
indirect--is used to determine of which subtype a clause is a member.
Such a procedure, however, is misleading because it does not
distinguish clause types which are quite different. If the position of
the first object in a clause which has both direct and indirect objects
defines the subtype to which the clause belongs, it would suggest that
a clause, 0. t SVO d t, belongs to the same type as does a
S indirect direct ttt
clause, Oie SV, whereas it is more reasonable to compare the former
clause with a clause, SVO,. .. So that indirect objects and direct
objects (which are complements of verbs which govern the accusative,
dative, or genitive) may be distinguished, two additional types are
established for clauses which have both direct and indirect objects.
The indirect object can usually be identified as dative (in all
but 2 clauses), while the direct object is clearly marked only seven
times--six times for the accusative and once for the genitive. For
this reason the position of the indirect object is used to determine to
which subtype a clause that has both direct and indirect objects belongs.
Table 4 is a frequency tabulation for clauses with both direct
and indirect objects. Odat denotes the indirect object; 0, the direct
FREQUENCZES OF CL..iS: WITTH i.4.::1 AND I::L.-::' OBJECTS
There are 28 clauses in which the dative object precedes the
other object. In 1 clause the dative object cor:es before an adjacent
1075 7 se cyngc him thaes getithade
"The king granted him that."
Both objects are adjacent or separated only by an adverb in
another 21 clauses in which the second object is clearly accusative
only three times.
1079 the him other to brohte
"who brou:.,t him another"
1055 7 begeat him thaer micel gene
"!fHe7 got himself a large force there."
1068 Her on thissum geare Willelm cyngc geaf Rodbearde
eorle thone ealdordom ofer Northhymbraland
"In this year King William gave Earl Robert the
aldormanry of Northumberland."
In 2 of the 21 clauses, the indirect object is not unambiguously
marked for the dative case.
1076 7 se kyngc geaf forthi his suna thaer thone earldom 7
"Therefore the king gave his son the earldom there and
1076 oth that man hire gryth salde
"until they gave her safe conduct"
The two objects are separated by major elements in 4 clauses in
which the dative object appears first.
1066 7 him man geald thaer ae-thaer ge feoh e metsunge
"There they gave him both money and provisions."
There are 14 clauses in which the dative object does not precede
the other object. The objects are adjacent in all but 2 of these clauses.
1067 7 fela hearma s heom dydon
"'fine7 did them much in;..':."
1079 the he sylf 7 eac se kyng Filippus mid his
gethafunge him fen haefdon
"which he himself and also King Phillip, with
his consent, had given him"
While the dative object is clearly marked by inflectional endings
in all 14 clauses in which the accusative object precedes the dative
object, the accusative is u.lm:higuous only twice, both times as pronouns.
1065 7 gecuron hine heom to eorle
"Tnhev7 chose him as earl for them."
Clauses, then are composed of various combinations and permutations
of the major elements: verb, subject, complement, and object. The
object function should be specified as direct object (0) or indirect
object (0dat) because these are two basically different grammatical
The different types and subtypes of clauses do not occur with equal
frequency. Favored types and subtypes--and the less flexible word
order which they imply--are emerging.
The tendency noted by Zuck--that more objects follow the verb
than precede it--holds for this sample of the Worcester Chronicle in
which the verb comes before the object 56 percent of the time (169 of
304 clauses). In addition, the order commented on by Shannon--indirect
object before direct object--predominates in this cc:--us, occurring 65
percent of the time (28 of 43 clauses).
The trend of note, however, is that the distribution of subject
and verb in this corpus shows an increasing similarity to the distri-
bution of subject and verb in Modern English. In this sample, the
subject precedes the verb in 62 percent of the clauses which have an overt
s-abjoct (420 of 675 clauses).
The combination of the above tendencies is si~ -'icant because
it indicates that, by the latter half of the 11th century, the lan'-uage
had already evolved to the point at which the majority of Old a._Ilsh
clauses can be accounted for by the usual Modern English sentence
structure, S + V (+ Odat) + 0-7
IIIFLUElJCES ON CLAUSE PAT'ERiJS
While 85 percent of the possible permutations of major elements do
occur, the frequency of the respective subtypes which they define varies
considerably. Stylistic considerations in part may be responsible for
this diversity of clause patterns, but that stylistic influences have
a demonstrable and measurable effect on the choice of clause subtypes
is hypothetical. On the other hand, grammatical facts are overt and,
because they occur in at least fairly regular fashion, should not be
overlooked in a discussion of factors influencing clause subtypes and
Class of Object
The morphological class--noun or pronoun--of objects and the
positions in which they appear are related. Only in pattern final
position (SVO, VSO, and VO) do noun objects predominate (124 to 36).
Although pronoun objects account for only 21 percent of the final ob-
jects in the D Manuscript, this percentage represents a significant
increase above the percentage (1%) of final pronoun objects in
The incidence of noun and pronoun objects is most nearly equal
in those patterns (OVS, OSV, and OV) in which the object is the first
major element, although in such patterns pronoun objects still
outnumber noun objects (53 to 30).
When the object is medial (SOV), pronoun objects occur 82
percent of the time.
Although pronoun objects predominate in two of the three positions
(initial and medial), noun objects account for 62 percent of all objects
in the corpus.
Clause patterns--the formulaic SV, VO, etc.--indicate only the
positions of the major clause elements, for connectives and adverbial
phrases frequently are clause initial, and adverbial phrases may in ad-
dition be clause final, medial (occurring between major elements), or
in a combination of the three positions. A correlation between the
position in which these minor elements connectivess and adverbial
phrases) occur and the order of the major elements with which they
occur can be seen in some cases.
Minor elements are clause initial in 252 clauses (37%).
In clauses with S, the appearance of a minor element seems to
bear on the order of major elements. For clauses in which S is
pattern initial, a minor element is clause initial 141 times (37%),
and S is clause initial 237 times (63%). For clauses in which a major
element other than S is pattern initial, a minor element is clause
initial 77 times (64%), while the major element other than S is- clause
initial 42 times (36%).
For clauses with only two major elements, the percentage of clauses
in which a minor element occurs medially is approximately three times
greater if V is the second major element. A minor element occurs
medially in 32 percent of SV clauses verus 13 percent for VS clauses.
The same comparison for OV and VO clauses is 46 and 13 percent respec-
tively.' (A reliable comparison of VC and CV clauses is not possible
because of the paucity of data.)
Final minor elements occur with slightly greater frequency than
do initial minor elements (291 to 252) and do not have a demonstrable
relationship to the type of clause in which they occur. (Although in
clauses with C there seem to be significantly fewer minor elements in
clause final position, the sample is not of sufficient size to provide
Adverbial phrases consist of adverbs alone or in combination,
prepositional phrases, noun phrases, and participial phrases. The
variety of adverbial phrases is especially rich, although a few ele-
ments predominate: their and tha in initial position and prepositional
phrases in final position. A representative sample of each type follows.
Typical adverbs found in this corpus are: tha 'then, there,
thereupon'; their, thaer 'then, there'; her 'here, in this year'; unwaer
'unawares'; yfele 'evilly'; swithe weorthlice 'very honorably'; theah-
hwaethre 'nevertheless'; thanon aweig 'away from there'; sona 'immediately';
sona thaeraefter, thaeraefter sona 'immediately thereafter'; swa theah
'nevertheless'; and a syththan 'ever after'.
In prepositional phrases, various nominals and noun phrases serve
as object of the preposition. The simplest usually involve a pronoun
or proper place name; the most complex, various combinations of demon-
stratives and modifiers: amang/onmang thisan 'meanwhile'; bi there
'by her'; aet Eofeshamme 'at Evesham'; on thissum ilcan gere 'in this
same year'; and of geleafullan 7 athelan cynne 'from a believing and
noble family'. Two prepositional phrases may be joined by a conjunction:
aegther ge mid scyphere 7 mid landfyrde 'both with a naval force and a
land force'. The preposition may be postposed to certain pronoun objects:
heom togeanes 'against them'.
Noun phrase adverbials are in an oblique case. Some typical
examples of genitive noun phrases, which suggest a point in time, are:
thaes sumeres 'that summer'; and thaes on Lengten 'that Lent'.
1071 Her se eorl Waeltheof grythode with thone cyngc. 7
thaes on Lengten se kyngc let hergian ealle tha
mynstra the on Englalande waeron
"In this year, Earl Waltheof made peace with the
king. And that Lent, the King caused all the
monasteries that were in England to be ravaged."
Accusative noun phrases suggest duration of time.
1069 7 that lith laeig ealne winter innan Humbre
"All during winter, the fleet lay in the Humber."
The following dative noun phrase is expanded with a number and a
prepositional phrase: threom nihton aer Candelmaessan 'three nights
Participial phrase adverbials in this corpus are comprised of a
present participle in an expanded phrase.
1075 ac he sylf 7 his ferestan menn ferdon eft ongean to
Scotlande sume hreowlice on fotan gangende 7 sume
"But he himself and his best men went back again to
Scotland, some walking miserably on foot, some riding
The narrative of each entry focuses on one or more identifiable
topics so that individual clauses can be said to cluster into more or
less loosely related units, all the constituents of which address themselves
to or bear on the same topic. The means by which clauses are interpreted
to be related are not strictly definable. Nonetheless, it will be pro-
fitable to discuss briefly ways in which clauses are related before
defining and examining connectives.
Anaphora, which, for present purposes, is any way of recalling a
previous topic or part of a topic, is an important means of linking
clauses. (This broad use of "anaphora" is discussed by H. A. Gleason,
Jr., Linguistics and English Grammar, N.Y., 1965, pp. 344-346.) There
are at least three easily identifiable types of anaphora. The first
is pronoun reference: "He hit Jane. She cried." The second includes
the indication of temporal and relational sequence: "Jane stumbled,
then fell." The third type is general semantic relevance or aptness,
an example of which is provided by the lack of an overt subject in a
clause that follows a clause having an overt subject. In such a case,
the overt subject of the preceding clause is usually interpreted to be
the semantic subject of the following clause even though it is not
Linear proximity is a way of relating clauses which has at least
two categories. Parataxis, the first, signals the relatedness of adja-
cent elements by means not usually symbolized in writing (by intonation
contour, for example). Parataxis is exemplified by the following example
in which two clauses are simply juxtaposed. (That both clauses pattern
OSV might also signal they are related.)
1074 7 hit Englisce menn swithe amaerdon wingeardas hi
"The Englishmen severely damaged it. They destroyed
The second is word order, in which the order of the major elements of
adjacent clauses may provide an additional signal that the clauses are
related. (Word order might also be viewed as an overt grarratical means
of showing relatedness.) That the majority of OSV clauses in this corpus
are related to the preceding clause is suggested, in part, by the order
of major elements since this clause pattern accounts for most relative
As used in this investigation, however, connectives refer only
to certain, overt grammatical means of signalling that clauses are
related. Connectives are usually minor elements of clauses, although
the most common connective, the manuscript symbol 7 (and its full
written equivalent and), is not because it only signals continuity of
narrative within clauses and entries.
Of the two kinds of connectives which are minor elements of
clauses, pure connectives will be examined first. Pure connectives
are: ac, eac 'also, but'; after 'after'; aegthaer that 'in that';
aer, aerthan the 'before'; eallswa 'even as'; forthan, forthan the
'because'; if 'if'; hu 'how'; hwaether 'whether'; oth, oth that
'until'; siththan 'afterwards'; tha, tha tha 'when'; tha hwile, tha
hwile the 'while'; thaer 'where'; thaes the'after'; theah 'though';
thonne 'when'; sona thaes 'immediately after'; swa, swa that 'so, thus,
as'; swilce 'likewise'; that 'that'; the 'that'; aegthaer ge e
'both and'; tha tha 'when then'; swa swa 'as .
The first of these pure connectives, ac, may introduce clauses
which, though semantically related, are not necessarily grammatically
dependent on the preceding clause. That is, "the clauses are not
major or minor elements of the preceding clause, but are related to it
as clauses connected by & [z7 are related to each other" (Shannon,
1057 7 on than geare forthferde Raulf eorl on XII Kl.
Ian 7 lith aet Burh. Eac gefor Heca biscop on
"In this year Earl Ralph died on /21 December~ and
lies at [Peterborough/. Also Bishop Heca of Sussex
The most frequently used pure connective is that, which
introduces a clause that is the object of the preceding clause. The
least usual pure connective is the, which is usually a mixed connective.
1055 man geraedde thone raed that man AElfgar eorl
"They counselled the advice that they reinstate
1066 the waeron after tham middanwintre the se cyng
"which was after that Christmas the king died"
A number of the connectives in this list are in Modern English
glossed by words which have traditionally been called subordinating
conjunctions. The Old English words, however, should not be simply
equated with the modern part of speech, because the meanings of words do
not provide sure guides for distinguishing such parts of speech as
coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and conjunctive
adverbs. Nonetheless, the connectives in this list provide reasonably
accurate, overt signals for identifying possible dependent clauses--
clauses which are major or minor elements of another clause--which may
then be verified by their semantic relationship to the preceding or
following clause. (Examples are found in the next chapter.) '
Mixed connectives, the second type, serve also as subject or
object of the clauses they introduce. The most frequently occurring
form is the, which also functions as a pure connective. Other mixed
connectives are hwaet and hwa.
1055 7 he ligeth aet Galmaho on tham mynstre the he sylf
"He lies at Galmanho in the minster which he himself
caused to be built."
1067 Se forewitola Scyppend wiste on aer hwaet he of
hyre gedon habban wolde
"The Creator in his foreknowledge knew what he wished
to have done through her."
1065 Ne wiston we hwa thone unraed aerest geraedde
"Nor do we know who first counselled this conspiracy."
In summary, there is a relationship between the morphological
class of objects and the clause patterns in which objects appear.
Pronoun objects are most frequent in pattern initial and medial positions;
noun objects, in pattern final position.
Connectives and adverbials, which are not indicated in clause
pattern formulas, occur frequently. On some cases there is a cor-
relation between the appearance of these minor elements and the clause
patterns in which they occur. In clause initial position, the appearance
of minor elements bears most frequently on the kind of major element
which is pattern initial. In clause final position there is little
relationship between the appearance of a minor element and a given clause
COMBINATION OF CLAUSES
This investigation has so far dealt with individual clauses and
the elements which make up those clauses. The entry for no year, however,
is comprised of a single clause. The shortest entry, 1059, contains
5 clauses; the longest, 1066, 113 clauses. This chapter, then, will
describe how individual clauses are joined to make up an entry.
Use of Connectives
Clauses are most frequently joined by 7 (or and,), which may
precede another connective
1077 On thisan geare forthferde Swegen kyngc on Denemarcon
7 Harold his sunu feng to his cynerice)
"In this year King Swein of Denmark died, and
his son Harold succeeded to his kingdom"
1078 7 forbaernde fela tuna 7 eac manega burga forburnon
"I7tT burned down many villages, and many towns burned down,"
Clauses without an overt subject are often connected by 7 to a
clause the overt subject of which is also the semantic subject of those
1071 7 thaes ilcan sumeres com that lith into Ze:^:'e 7
lagon thaer two niht 7 heoldon syththan to Demarcon
"During the same summer the fleet came into the Thames,
lay there two nights, and afterwards held for Denmark."
Both Shannon (p. 53) and Zuck (p. 83) label combinations of this
sort hyoerclause, and Shannon (p. 52) suggests that it might be a unit
intermediate between the single clause and the entire entry.
This distinction seems to be a useful one since it provides a rhetorical
term for speaking about an Old English structure which would not have
an exact counterpart in Modern English. More important, it suggests a
link between a period of Old English in which an overt subject is
grammatically superfluous because it occurs "only by way of furnishing
a more detailed explanation for the person-and-number reference which
is already inherent in the verb-ending" and the Modern English period
for which, usually, an overt subject is required.
Examples of words which function as mixed connectives have been
given on page 44. The usual position of mixed connectives is immediately
following the antecedent, which may be a simple noun or an expanded noun
1076 thaer mon fordemde ealle tha Bryttas the waeron aet tham
brydlope aet Northwic
"There they judged all the Welsh who were at the marriage
feast in Norwich."
1079 forthan the his faeder ne wolde him laetan waldan his
eorldomes on Normandige the he sylf 7 eac se kyng
Filippus mid his gethafunge him gegyfen haefdon
"because his father would not let him rule his earldom in
Normandy which he himself and King Phillip with his permission
had given him"
In some clauses, however, the mixed connective is separated from
the antecedent by the verb.
1059 7 Benedictus waes ut adryfen the thaer waes aer papa
"Benedict was driven out, who previously was Pope there."
A dependent clause may be embedded in &.other dependent clause.
1Robert A. Hall, Jr. Introductory Lingui--.ics (Philadelphia and
New York, 1964), p. 214. i: ; Hall is speaking of Latin, Italia,-
and Spanish, his remarks are appropriate for Old English as wellj7
In the following example, the first the is a mixed connective; the second,
a pure connective.
1066 On thissum geare corn Harold cyng of Eoferwic
to Westmynstre on tham Eastran the waeron after
tham in middanwintre the se cyng forthferde
"In this year King Harold came from York to
Westminster that Easter which was after that
Christmas the king died."
Pure connectives frequently introduce adverb clauses, representa-
tive examples of which are shown below, grouped according to traditional
distinctions based on meaning. (The adverb clauses are enclosed in
1066 Warthe god se ended (thonne God wylle)
"Might the end be good when God wills."
1066 7 Wyllelm him corn ongean unwaer (aer his folc gefylced
"William came against him unawares before his men were
1076 Ac se kyngc let lihtlice of (oth that he cor to Englalande)
"But the king treated it lightly until he came to Z, a.:-..
1469 7 that lith laeig ealne winter innan Humbre (thaer se
kyng heom to cuman ne mihte)
"All winter the fleet lay within the Humber where the
king could not get at them."
1057 ac he thaer getheh to godan men (swa him God uthe)
"But he grew to a distinguished man, as God granted him."
1066 Tha wearth geond eall 2;.galan~ swylc tacen on heofenum
gesewen(swylce nan man aer ne geseah)
"There was seen over all England such a sign as no man had
1067 Hit wearth tha swa geworden (swa God foresceawode on aer)
"Then it so happened as God previously had foreseen."
1067 7 eac he elles ne dorste (forthan the hi on his anwald
"Also he did not dare otherwise because they had come into
1067 Se kyng hi tha underfeng (theah hit hire unthances waere)
"Then the king received her, though it was against her
1067 7 woldon him ongean standan (gif he come)
"fIheY would stand against him if he came."
Purpose and Result
1075 7 seo wode sae 7 se strange wind hi on that land awearp
thatt ealle heora scypa toburston)
"The raging sea and the strong wind cast them ashore
so that all their ships broke up."
1075 7 he wolde geofan him thone castel aet Mustrael thatt he
mihte syththan daeghwamlice his unwinan unthancas don)
"He wanted to give him the castle at Montreuil so
that afterwards he might daily do his enemies harm."
Adverb clauses are usually connected to a prceding clause, but
clauses of time may precede the clauses to which they are depe. ent.
1055 And tha tha hi haefdon maest to yfele gedon (man ,
geraedde thone raed .)
"And when they had done their worst, they counselled the
Clauses may also be intrusive, as is this example in which an
adverb clause separates a delayed subject clause from th. verb.
1075 Ac on there fare heom yfele gcl.,p (tha hi ut on sae
waeron) that heom on become swithe hreoh weder
"But on the journey it happened evilly for them, when
they were on the sea, that the weather became very rough for
An adverb clause may be separated from its head by another
dependent clause. In the example below, an adjective clause introduced
by the mixed connective the precedes an adverb clause which modifies
hergode. The adverb clause is introduced by the pure connective oth
1066 7 hergode ealne thone ende the he oferferde oth
that he com to Beorhhamstede
"r f/ harried all the country he overran until
he came to Berkhamstead."
Other Ways of Linking
So far, the combination of clauses has only been discussed in
terms of connectives, although a number of clauses are not linked by
connectives. Other ways in which clauses are connected--anaphora and
linear proximity--were mentioned in the preceding chapter. It will be
worthwhile, at this point, to return to these two ways of signalling
the relatedness of clauses and to examine how they contribute to the
combination of clauses into clusters and entries.
Temporal or relational sequence, which in the following example
is signalled by Tha, is an anaphoric way in which clauses are combined.
1075 ac he sylf 7 his ferestan menn ferdon eft ongean to Sootlande
sume hreowlice on fotan gangende 7 sume earmlice ridende.
a geraedde se kyngc Malcholom him that he sende to
Wyllelme cynge ofer sae 7 baede his grythes
"But he himself and his best men went back again to Scotland,
some walking miserably on foot, some riding wretchedly. Then
King Malcolm advised him that he send to King '.llia.- overseas
and ask his protection."
Semantic relevance or aptness is probably the most general type
of anaphora. Only two examples will be given here, the first of
which is the lack of an overt subject. The semantic subject of clauses
which have no overt subject is the expressed subject of the first
preceding clause that has an overt subject. Two things can be learned
from the lack of an overt subject: subjectless clauses are never the
first clause in an entry and the subjectless clause is combined with at
least one other clause. The second example concerns certain minor
elements which are not connectives though they introduce clauses. The
use of thaes ilcan sumeres/geares almost certainly indicates that the
clause introduced by either of these two phrases is not the initial
clause in an entry. Instead, thaes ilcan sumeres/geares points out
that clauses so introduced are in a more or less loose combination with
at least one preceding clause because of the implicit reference to a
previously specified time.
In this study, se/seo/thaet has been distinguished from the because
it is difficult to decide whether se/so/thaet functions as a relative.
The following passage typifies the problem because the reader's inter-
pretation whether se is a relative will probably be influenced by the
punctuation. The first se may be considered a relative; the second
se will probably not be thought of as a relative.
1056 7 man sette Lefegar to biscop se waes Haroldes eorles
maessepreost 7 on his preosthade he haefde his kenepas
oth that he biscop waes. Se forlet his crisman 7 his'*rode
7 his gastlican waepnu
"They made Lefegar bishop. He was Earl Harold's priest.
And, during this priesthood, he had his moustaches until
he was bishop. He gave up his chrism, his cross, and
his spiritual weapons."
Old 2-.jlii. punctuation, unfortunately--like Old :,..:1-'. word
division--does not provide sure guides for the modern reader. Nor is
much help provided by the view representative of many standard works--
"the demonstrative se, seo, that may be used as a relative pronoun,
e.g., tha fen Nero to rice, se forget Britena, 'then came Nero to his
throne, who lost Britain' "--which is here expressed by Samuel 1Moore and
;..:,as A. Knott, The Elements of Old English, 10th rev. ed. (Ann Arbor,
1955), p. 156.
In the above examples, the lack of definite criteria for declidi.-'
whether se functions as a relative is confusing since the implication
is that, whenever used as a nominal in clause initial position, seseo/
that may be a relative. There is an obvious need for clear and con-
sistent means by which to distinguish whether seseo/thaet functions
as a relative.
Morphological and syntactical criteria point up important differences
between the and se/seo/thaet. The is indeclinable, is used strictly
as a relative, and (with rare exception) immediately follows the nominal
that is its antecedent. On the other hand, se/seo/thaet is declinable,
serves alone or as part of a noun phrase in various syntactic functions,
and frequently follows a word that cannot possibly be its antecedent
(prepositions and verbs, for example).
Let us look at several clauses from the Worcester Chronicle which
further illustrate the difficulty of classifying seseo/tthaet as a
relative. In the following examples, the first translation reflects
pronoun reference (in which the possibility of a.-ibiguity is reduced by
person, number, and gender concord between the pronoun and its antecedent);
the second, the use of the pronoun as a relative.
1078 7 Heremann biscop for.thierde se waes biscop on Bearrucscire
7 on Wiltunscire 7 on Dorsaetan
"Bishop Herman died. He was bishop of Berkshire, Wilshire,
"Bishop Hermann died, who was bishop of Berkshire, Wilshire,
1076 And Eadgyth seo hlaefdie forthferde seo waes Eadweardes
cynges geresta .
"And Lady Edith died. She was King Edward's widow."
"And Lady Edith died, who was King Edward's widow."
1066 Sume men cwedon that hit cometa se steorra waere thone sume
men hatath faexedon steorran
"Some people said that it was the comet-star.
That one certain people call 'Long-haired Star'."
"Some people said that it was the comet-star that certain
people call 'Long-haired Star'."
That the distinction between se/seo/thaet and the may be somewhat
arbitrary is suggested by the first of the following clauses, one of the
rare instances in which the is separated from its antecedent and occupies
the same position as do se, seo, and that in the above three clauses.
The second example provides support for deciding that se/seo/thaet is
not a relative because se immediately follows a noun which is not its
antecedent. Such a case never occurs with the.
1059 Benedictus waes ut adryfen the thaer waes aer papa
"Benedict was driven out, who previously was pope there."
1057 Her com Eadward aetheling to Englalande se waes Eadwerdes
brother sunu kynges
"In this year the aetheling Edward came to England, who was
the son of King Edward's brother."
"In this year the aetheling Edward came to E.glan.. He was
the son of King Edward's brother."
Despite the relatively few clauses in which the distinctions tend
to be blurred between se/seo/thaet on the one hand and the on the other,
the morphological and syntactical characteristics peculiar to the and
not shared by se/seothaet are considered sufficient grounds to maintain
that, of these pronouns, only the is a relative. Se/seo/thaet, however,
does furnish pronoun reference and thus provides in part for the semantic
combination of clauses.
Linear proximity also signals the relatedness of clauses. That,
in most OSV clauses, the object is manifested as the,so that antecedent
and connective are adjacent, has been mentioned in the preceding chapter.
An additional example is one of the two ways by which are signalled the
semantic subjects of clauses without overt subjects. The first, semantic
relevance or aptness, has been discussed earlier. The second, linear
proximity, takes advantage of the physical nearness of clauses, one of
which does not have an overt subject, but the semantic subject of which
is expressed in a preceding clause. Clauses having overt subjects do
not separate subjectless clauses from the clause in which is expressed
their semantic subject. Instead, clauses without overt subjects are
linked by a combination of semantic relevance or aptness, proximity,
or and to a clause which has an overt subject. The combination of clauses
which results is called a hyperclause.
In summary, clauses are joined to form entries by a combination
of semantic means and overt connectives.
There is a correlation between which connective occurs and whether
or not the clause it introduces is grammatically dependent. Clauses
introduced by mixed connectives are always dependent. With few exceptions,
pure connectives also introduce dependent clauses. The manuscript symbol
? (and and) connects elements within clauses, dependent clauses, the
constituents of hyperclauses, and non-dependent clauses. A few clauses
introduced by pure connectives precede the clauses to which they are
connected, but it is the usual case that a clause follows the clause
to which it is connected.
Other ways of connecting clauses include various types of anaphora
and linear proximity, the contributions and limits of which are difficult
to define with precision.
Although the distinction between means of linrig clauses is
sometimes blurred, the results--meaningful clusters and entries--are
TRA!'SLArCi3S, VERSE, AND RHYTHMICAL PROSE
A sample from the Chronicle was chosen as the corpus for this
study because the Chronicle is primarily West Saxon prose narrative
and thus can be presumed to represent most closely the normal use of
the period. Twenty-six clauses in this corpus, however, are not native
prose narrative. They are, instead, either translations or poetry.
It will be worthwhile to examine them briefly to see how they differ
in syntax from the native prose and to suggest reasons for the
In the entry for 1067 is 1 clause in Latin from I Corinthians
7:14 which is then translated into "our language," Old English.
There are 20 clauses of verse in the 1065 entry which sing
the death of Edward the Confessor.
The remaining 5 clauses are from the years 1067 and 1076.
These passages are best considered alliterative or rhythmical prose,
but may be found printed as prose or verse, depending on the editor.
The nature of these passages ranges from the doggerel of 1076--thaer
waes that bryd ealo/thaet waes manegra manna bealo--to the clauses
of 1067 in which recognizable alliteration is not accompanied by
traditionally correct stress patterns:
that heo hine ne nanne habban wolde
gyf hire seo uplice aerfaestnys geunnan wolde
that heo on maegthhade mihtigan Drihtne
mid lichoman heortan on thisan life sceortan
on claenre forhaefednysse cweman mihte
"that she would not have him or any
if the heavenly mercy would grant her
that in virginity with human heart
she might please the mighty Lord
in pure continence through this short life"
A comparison of prose syntax and the syntax of the 26 clauses
which are not native prose narrative would be interesting, perhaps
revealing. But, because 26 clauses is less than 4 percent of the
total corpus, the results of such a comparison could not be valid
and might, in fact, be misleading. For example, there is an overt
subject in 89 percent of these 26 clauses, a considerable increase
over the percentage (75%) of overt subjects in the prose narrative
clauses. Twenty-six clauses, though, is not a statistically repre-
sentative sample. Therefore, it might be deceptive to conclude
that most Old English clauses which are not native prose narrative
have overt subjects.
A descriptive syntax of those clauses in this corpus which
are not native prose narrative would serve no real use. Instead,
a brief treatment of constructions which differ from those found in
the prose narrative clauses will be given.
In the prose narrative clauses, genitive nouns always precede
those nouns which they modify. In verse, the situation holds for
common nouns, although genitive proper nouns often follow the noun
1065 seoththan Knut ofercom cynn AEthelredes
"After Cnut overcame AEthelred's kin"
One SOV clause has a single adverbial phrase between the
first and second major elements and three adverbial phrases between
the second and third major elements, this latter case being unique.
Prose narrative clauses, on the other hand, rarely have the object and
verb separated, and then only by a single word adverb.
1067 that heo on maegthhade mihtigan Drihtne
mid lichoman heortan on thisan life sceortan
on claenre forhaefednysse cweman mihte
"that in virginity with human heart
she might please the mighty Lord
in pure continence through this short life"
In 3 SVO clauses (the most common permutation) the subject and
verb are separated by adverbial phrases, a situation which never
occurs in the prose narrative SVO clauses.
1065 se in ealne tid
herdae holdelice herran synum
wordum 7 daedum
"who all the time faithfully obeyed his own
lord in words and deeds"
The elements of adverbial phrases in 2 clauses are separated
by the subject.
1065 [Twentig feower / freolic wealdand
wintra rimes weolan britnode
"Twenty-four winters this noble ruler
enjoyed the use of riches."
In 1 clause, the verb separates a noun phrase used as a
modifier from its head, an oblique noun used adverbially.
1065 thaes the thearfe waes thaes theod kyngces '
"which was to the benefit of the national king"
The unusual syntax of the above clauses can usually be attri-
buted to the demands of the verse form. For example, in all
occurrences in which a genitive noun follows the word it modifies,
a glance reveals that to do otherwise would interfere with the
required dovetailing of stress and alliterative patterns. In the
examples which follow, the primary stresses are marked and the allit-
erative sounds are underlined.
/ / /
1065 seoththan K]nut ofercom cynn AEthelredes
If the genitive noun preceded the headword, the alliteration would
not be correct because the k sound in the second verse would not
coincide with the first primary stress of that verse, as required by
Old English poetics. Instead, the alliteration would be based on the
AE sound for which there is no alliterative, initial vowel in the
first verse. The initial o of ofercom is not acceptable because
the first syllable of that word does not take primary stress.
/ / / /
*seoththan Knut ofercom AEthelredes cynn
Likewise in the poetry, those noun and adverbial phrases which
are either intrusive or intruded upon can usually be seen as resulting
from the requirements of the verse form.
1065 /Twentig Leower freolic wealdand
wintra rimes weolan britnode
If the attributive cardinal number were adjacent to its head in the
above clause, the alliterative pattern in the first line would be
determined by wintra, for which there would be no w sound in the
first verse and, consequently, no alliteration. An acceptable,
though different, alliterative pattern in the second line would result
from such a modification.
/ l / /
^FTwentig feower wintra rimes
i / / /
freolic wealdand weolan britnode
In the following passage, there would be no alliteration in
either line if the subject (se) and verb (herdae) were adjacent. In
the first line, such a change would result in h being the controlling
sound. Not only is there no h sound in the first verse to alliterate
with herdae, but the last measure of the second verse would alliterate,
which is not permitted by Old English poetics. In the second line,
there would be no h sound in the first verse to alliterate with
/ / / /
1065 aethelum eorle se in ealne tid
/ / 7 /
herdae holdelice herran synum
/ / I /
*aethelum eorle se herdae holdelice
/ / / /
in ealne tid herran synum
In the last example, to juxtapose the attributive noun phrase
and its head would not interfere with the alliteration or stress
pattern. The change, however, would produce an artistically inferior
line. (For this clause, the method of scansion used is that des-
cribed by Robert P. Creed, "A New Approach to the Rhythm of Beowulf,"
PMLA, LXXXI, March 1966, 23-33.)
)} / (I) /'
1065 thaes the thearfe waes thaes theodkyngces
(I) / (I) / ^
N* thaes the waes thearfe thaes theodkyngces
In summary, constructions occur in the 26 clauses which are not
native prose narrative that are not found in 675 clauses of prose
narrative. Investigation reveals that unusual constructions typically
result from the demands of alliteration and stress patterns, which
in the poetry must dovetail.
K ASUREI -ILT OF CHANGE
During the present description of selected syntactic features in
a Late Old English text, reference has often been made to Shannon's
study of Early Old English, and some significant differences between
the two language samples have been noted. Those differences suggest
that Old English underwent structural changes in the period between the
two samples. This chapter will utilize the resources of information
theory to show a change between Early and Late Old English in the use
of inflection as a means of distinguishing whether a noun or a nominal
("noun" will encompass both in this chapter) functions as subject or
object (for the remainder of this chapter, the major grammatical
functions will be denoted by S, V, 0, and C) in those clause types in
which the optional, major elements are S and/or 0.
One of the ways in which S and 0 are distinguished is by inflec-
tional endings, S being marked by nominative endings and 0, by oblique
endings, most commonly the accusative. Frequently, however, the no-
minative and accusative endings are the same. When such is the case,
the ambiguity must be resolved by some other means. Before going on
to information theory and how it will be used here, let us briefly
look at other ways in which nouns may be identified as S and 0.
Shannon's treatment (p. 60) of how S may be distinguished from 0 in
clauses which have both will provide a model for the present discussion.
Identification of S and 0
Number concord between S and V is operant in Old English.
Because no such concord exists between 0 and V, the identity of S in
transitive clauses having two nouns of different number can be made on
the basis of which noun agrees in number with the verb. The other
noun may then be assumed to be 0.
In a transitive clause with two nouns, one of the nouns may be
clearly marked by case ending as S or 0. Likewise, a noun which is
not marked by case ending as S or 0 may be modified by an attributive
which is clearly nominative or accusative. In either situation, the
function of the noun that is not clearly marked or does not have a
clearly marked attributive may be determined by elimination.
If neither of two nouns is clearly marked by case ending and both
agree in number with V, such ambiguity may be resolved by context
or lexical restrictions (i.e., "A wildfire burned the town" but not
"The town burned a wildfire").
To this list should be explicitly added word order, the signi-
ficance of which may be implied by differences in clause subtype
frequencies and the somewhat specialized use for some subtypes (for
example, OSV for relative clauses).
All the above means of distinguishing S from 0 would have to be
weighed in order to measure the contribution of any one of them towards
signalling whether a given noun was clearly S or 0. Such a measurement
could be based on a series of probabilities, two of which are that the
given noun would be distinctly marked by inflection as S or 0 versus
the probability that the same noun would not be clearly marked as S or 0.
Information theory is concerned with the uncertainty (or probabil-
ity, in a mathematical sense) associated with the outcome of an event.
The less the certainty, the greater the information content; and
conversely, the greater the certainty, the less the information con-
tent. At this point, two illustrations may help clarify what information
theory is all about.
First,we can take an analogy. If one is already familiar with
information theory, the content of a passage bei'...gi t "Information
theory is concerned with ." can be predicted with a large measure
of certainty (assuming the writer provides an accurate account).
Such a passage reveals little to the reader since he is already
familiar with the content.
The second illustration is an example of the domain of infor-
mation theory. If the various letter sequences in written English
were examined, only in a few instances--such as Iraq or Iraqi--would
the letter q not be immediately followed by u. In written English,
the letter u after q occurs with high probability but conveys little
information because its occurrence is so predictable. English speakers
simply learn that a following u is the consequence of writing q, not
that u after q has or has not a particular meaning.
Information theory, then, is not concerned with semantic content
but with the freedom of choice in selecting one alternative from all
available alternatives--for example, in selecting a letter from.the
alphabet that goes with a previously chosen letter to form an
acceptable sequence. The present study simply views as a happy coin-
cidence that, for natural language in general and Old English in
particular, the frequent correlation between form and function
has semantic content. But it is not semantic content that is being
investigated and measured here, it is the correlation between the
form of a noun and the grammatical function in which that noun serves.
For each clause subtype, actual counts were made in order to
determine the following eleven categories: number of nouns serving
as S and 0 which are clearly marked by inflectional enr.ings as nomina-
tive and accusative respectively (Nn and Na), number of nouns serving
as S and 0 which are not clearly marked by inflectional endings
as nominative or accusative (Nu and Nx), number or pronouns serving
as S and 0 which are by form clearly nominative and accusative re-
spectively (P and P ), number of pronouns serving as S and 0 which
are by form not clearly nominative or accusative (Pu and Px), number
of nouns serving as S and 0 which, though not clearly marked by
inflectional endings as nominative or accusative, have an attribu-
tive which is clearly marked by inflectional endings as nominative
or accusative respectively (NAn and NAa), and the number of nouns
serving as 0 which are clearly marked by inflectional endings for a
case other than the accusative (OC).
From these figures, the four probabilities used in the present
measurement are easily derived. The probability that S will be clearly
nominative, Sn, is the ratio of occurrences in which S is clearly
nominative, (Nn + Pn + NAn), to all occurrences of S, (Nn + Pn + .'n
+ Nu + Pu). For example, the probability, Sn, for subtype SVO is"32
(the sum of Nn, Pn' and NAn) to 90 (the sum of Nn, Pn, NAn, Nu, and
Pu), which may be expressed both as a common and a decimal fraction
(32/90 or .355).
The three other probabilities used in the present measurement,
which are obtained in similar fashion as Sn, are: that S will not
be clearly nominative or accusative (Su), that 0 will be clearly
accusative (Oa), and that 0 will not be clearly nominative or
The correlation between the form and function of nouns which
serve as S or 0 relative to a specific clause subtype, then, is the
combined probability of Sn, S Oa, and 0x.
It is natural to expect that the probability of a series of
probabilities is their sum. Such is not the case, though, for the
probability of a series of probabilities is their product, not their
sum. The matter is easily resolved by taking advantage of the additive
property of logarithms. In this way, the probability of a series of
probabilities may be obtained by adding the logarithms of the individual
probabilities. Because, here, the probabilities are based on either-or
decisions--a noun is either clearly or not either nominative or
accusative--logarithms to the base 2 (log2) will be used.
A brief, mathematical description of the procedure just outlined
is as follows. The information, I, of a message is the sum of the
probabilities of its constituents and may be represented by the
general equation, I = -(logn P + logn P2. + logn ), in which
the negative sign precedes the expression to make it positive since
the logarithms of proper fractions are negative numbers. This equation
is inadequate, however, because it assumes that all events occur
equally--that S and 0 are both clearly marked and occu- with equiprobability.
Since such is not the case, an equation which will weigh the
probability of each constituent must be derived: I = -(PI logn P1 +
P2 logn P2 + Pn logn Pn). This equation is specifically modified
for present use: COR = -(Sn log2 Sn + Su log2 Su + Oa og2 Oa +
0x log2 0), where COR is the correlation between the form and func-
tion of nouns which serve as S and 0. The symbols Sn, Su, Oa, and 0x
were explained on pages 64 and 65.
The last equation above is used for each subtype to compute
the results shown in Table 6. The measurements computed from Shan-
non's data are given in parentheses. Zuck does not include the
necessary data for this type of statistical study.
At this point, it might be well to discuss the validity of the
procedure just outlined. Reliable results in a statistical comparison
are dependent upon the availability of representative and comparable
samples (and, of course, the proper application of mathematical theory).
In the present study, there must be some way to discount the
possibility that the nouns in the sample from one corpus may always
have nominative forms which are distinct from their accusative forms
and that the nouns in the sample from the second corpus may never
have nominative and accusative forms which are distinct.
One way to insure that the two samples, which here are drawn
from separate historical periods, can be compared is to use samples
composed of the same nouns. Such a choice, though, is often self-
defeating because it usually limits the sample to a size from which
reliable results are unobtainable.
Another way is to use random samples. There is no reason to feel
that the nouns in either historical period were consciously chosen on
the basis of whether or not they exhibited distinct forms for the
nominative and accusative. There is also no reason to contend that
either noun sample, purely as a consequence of chance, includes more
or fewer nouns with distinct nominative or accusative forms than does
the other. In this study, all nouns serving as S and 0 are counted
(and there is no bias indicated in Shannon's study). Therefore, it
should be assumed that the two groups of nouns which are the basis
for the present statistical comparison are equally random samples.
FORMS OF SUBJECTS AND OBJECTS
Subtype Nn Pn NAn N Pu Na Pa NAa Nx Px OC
SVO 1 20 11 31 27 6 3 11 41 12 35
SOV 12 17 11 10 1 5 2 5 20 24
OSV 17 3 8 11 1 3 1 5 26 4
VSO 4 3 3 1 2 1 6 3
ovs 5 2 2
VO 5 5 7 42 10 15
OV 5 9 5 20 2 14
SV 4 44 25 77 60
vs 5 1 7 58
M -)- 0 CoN
0 0o 0
> 0 0
co HHr q
0 H -
> r r-l
In each pair of figures per clause subtype, the larger figure
indicates that there is less correlation between the form and function
of nouns serving as S and 0 since the logarithm of a fraction negatively
increases as the fraction becomes smaller. Thus, in Shannon's corpus,
the measurement COR for OVS clauses is zero because, in all occurrences,
those nouns which function as S and 0 are clearly marked by inflectional
endings as nominative and accusative respectively. For OVS clauses in
Shannon's corpus, the probability that the form and function of nouns
serving as S and 0 is one. The logarithm of one is zero.
That there is less correlation between the form and function of
nouns serving as S and 0 does not imply a lack of inflectional endings
but simply indicates that the inflectional endings of nouns serving as
S and 0 in this sample of Worcester Chronicle are less frequently a
clear indication of the function of the noun than they are in Shannon's
corpus. For example, scypa and waepna might be parsed genitive plurals
on the basis of the inflectional ending -a. But to see these two forms
in context reveals that they are accusative plurals because they are
coordinate objects with a third, accusative noun object (which, though
it has the ambiguous nominative/accusative ending -as, is seen to be
an accusative plural because it lacks number concord with the verb,
while se kyng agrees in number with the verb and is clearly nominative).
1072 7 se kyng nam heora scypa 7 waepna 7 manega sceattas
"The king took their ships, weapons, and much money."
In this clause, the inflectional ending -a, although evident, does not
clearly indicate the grammatical function of scypa and waepna. Resort
to other means must be made in order to distinguish whether the -a
of scypa and waenna is the inflectional ending that marks the genitive
plural or whether it is a late spelling for the neuter accusative
plural ending -u.
The measurement of the correlation between the form and function
of nouns serving as S and 0 is a larger figure for six of the nine sub-
types in this corpus than for the same subtypes in Shannon's study.
That is, nouns which in the present study function as S and 0 are in six
subtypes less likely to be clearly marked by inflectional endings as
nominative and accusative respectively than are nouns in the same
subtypes of Shannon's corpus.
That, in three of nine subtypes, Shannon's data exhibit greater
correlation between the form and function of nouns serving as S and 0
suggests that the language is indeed in a transition period in which
countervailing tendencies are evident.
Nonetheless, the mean for measurements of clause subtypes with
S and 0, S or 0, and S and/or 0 clearly indicates that the overall
trend for all combinations and permutations of clauses with S and/or
0 is towards less correlation between the form and function of the
nouns which serve as S and 0.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This study of a Late Old English corpus which is drawn from
the Worcester Chronicle has described certain syntactical features
of the clause. Ti.e clause, for present purposes, is a syntactical
unit,the defining feature of which is a single, finite verb. In
addition to the required verb, the clause may contain optional
major elements--overt subject, object, and complement.
On the basis of which major elements occur, clauses may be
grouped into six types. Within each type, the order in which the major
elements appear defines the various subtypes of clauses. The different
types and subtypes of clauses do not occur with the same frequency.
Differences in the distribution of clause types and subtypes point up
several distinct lines of development. First, the order indirect
object before direct object predominates. Second, the object follows
the verb in a majority of clauses that have the optional element,
object. Third, even though the percentage of clauses which have
an overt subject is approximately the same for the present corpus
as it was for both Shannon's and Zuck's samples, the percentage of
clauses in which the subject precedes the verb is here markedly ,
increased over that same percentage in both of the earlier studies.
In this sample, the subject precedes the verb in 83 percent of the
clauses which have an overt subject; for the two earlier studies
the figure is 70 and 63 percent for Shannon and Zuck respectively.
When the above three tendencies are considered together, they
indicate that by the second half of the 11th century, the SV(O)
pattern typical of Modern English structure also describes a majority
of the clauses in a language sample representative of Late West
Clause subtypes are indicated by formulaic patterns--SV, OVS,
etc.--which do not indicate such minor elements as connectives and
adverbials. A correlation can be seen between the clause initial
appearance of minor elements and the kind of major element which is
pattern initial. On the other hand, a clause final minor element
has little relationship with the appearance of a given clause
pattern. Another factor which influences clause subtypes is the
morphological class of objects. Noun objects predominate only in
clause final position; elsewhere, pronoun objects occur with
The entry for no year is composed of a single clause. Instead,
clauses are joined to form entries by a combination of semantic
means and overt connectives. Mixed connectives introduce dependent
clauses. Pure connectives usually introduce dependent clauses,
altho-;h some pure connectives may introduce non-dependent clauses.
The most common connective, 7 (and), joins elements within clauses,
dependent clauses, the constituents of hyperclauses, and non-dependent
Constructions occur in the verse and rhythmical prose passages
which are not found in the native prose narrative. rI the verse,
such constructions may be attributed to the demands of the verse
form that stress and alliterative patterns dovetail in strictly
Statistical tools can be used to investigate ln..ge if
interacting linguistic factors can be identified and isolated and
if representative samples can be obtained. In this study, a
statistical comparison was made of the correlation between the form
and function of nouns serving as subject and object. The results
of this comparison indicate that, in this sample of the Worcester
Chronicle, the inflectional endings of nouns serving as subject and
object are less frequently a clear indication of the grammatical
function of the noun than are inflectional endings in an historically
If inflection is less effective as a means of identifying
subject and object, other ways of signalling these grammatical
relationships should be compensating if the language is to retain
those grammatical relationships without a high degree of ambiguity.
Of the ways of signalling subject and object that have been mentioned--
inflection, concord, context, lexical restrictions, word order (and
there may be others not noted)--it is suggested that word order is
increasingly contributory towards distinguishing subject and object
when the identification of those functions is not established with
certainty by inflectional endings. The capacity of word order to
compensate for a less effective inflectional system is implied by the
rise of favored clause types (and the concomitant, less flexible word
order) and by the contribution of word order to context. That word
order may be a significant way of compensating when inflectional
means of signalling grammatical relationships apparently become less
effective does not imply cause and effect--that fixed word order
results from loss of inflection, or vice versa. Instead, both
increasingly contributory word order and a less effective inflectional
system may be viewed as different aspects of a complex and inter-
related signalling mechanism within which a delicate balance must
be maintained if grammatical functions (here, subject and object)
are to be clearly indicated.
In sum, two significant facts about the syntax of a corpus
that may be presumed to accurately reflect Late West Saxon have
been revealed by this investigation. First, as early as the period
of the Norman Conquest, the order of major grammatical functions
that is typical of Modern English--S + V -(+ Odat) + 07--also
represents the structure of a majority of Old English clauses.
Second, the inflectional system of this llth century language
sample is in part less effective than in an earlier period. The
combination of a more rigid word order and a concomitantly less
effective inflectional system indicates that the structural trend
between classical and Late Old English which is thus reflected
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Tnor.a McMilllan Woodell II was born 21 October 1938 at
Jacksonville, Florida. In June, 1956, he graduated from Robert E.
Lee High School. He matriculated at Cornell University and trans-
ferred to the University of Florida in 1959. From 1961 until 1963
he served in the United States Army. Part of his active duty
assignment was spent in Germany. From his discharge in 1963, Mr.
Woodell has been a student in the College of Arts and Sciences and
in the Graduate School of the University of Florida.
This dissertation was prepared under the direction of the
chairman of the candidate's supervisory committee and has been
approved by all members of that committee. It was submitted to the
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council,
and was approved as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Dean, Collega (f Ays and Sciences
Dean, Graduate School
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
3 1262 07332 03715