Selected syntactical aspects of the Worcester chronicle from 1054 through 1079


Material Information

Selected syntactical aspects of the Worcester chronicle from 1054 through 1079
Worcester chronicle
Physical Description:
viii, 78 leaves. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Woodell, Thomas McMillan, 1938-
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Anglo-Saxon chronicle   ( lcsh )
English language -- Syntax -- Old English, ca. 450-1100   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 75-77.
Statement of Responsibility:
By Thomas McMillan Woodell, II.
General Note:
Manuscript copy.
General Note:

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 000568562
notis - ACZ5298
oclc - 13679761
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Full Text

1054 THROUGH 1079






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

Germanic languages.


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

present dissertation.

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

dependent clauses.

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.



PREFACE ......................
















. 21

. 38


. 56

. 61

. 71

S. 75

. 78

. .



Table Page



3. FREQUENCIES OF CLAUSE TYPES ............... .. 26



6. ESUREiNT OF COR ..... .............. .. .. 68




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,

and complement.


The description begins with verbs, the essential element of the


Simple Verbs

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

"FHe7 humiliated."


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"

Complex verbs

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."

Passive constructions

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
his foresceawunge

"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"

Elliptical Coordinates

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
leige lord."

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
evil customs"

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"

Two-part verbs

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

Noun Phrases

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.





1 Post-
Date 1 2 3 4 Head post-




































-I J 4 1












men .





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
and Danish."

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

of Linking.

Partitive genitives

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

in parentheses.



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:

Personal pronouns

1066 7 he gaderade tha mycelne here

"Then he gathered a large army."


1073 7 sende hine to Westmynstre

"IHe7 sent him to Westminister."

Demonstrative pronouns

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."

Indefinite pronouns

1066 sume adruncen

"Some drowned."

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."

Relative pronouns

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

complements are:

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"

Genitive nouns

1063 the Griffines waes

"which was Griffin's"

Prepositional Phrases

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
wonderful workmanship."

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."

ADpositional Constructions

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
kyninges .

"Soon thereafter three sons of King Swein came from
Denmark ."

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
son "

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.



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."

Verb (V)

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




1. V,S

2. V,S,O

Number Percent Percent ) Percent
Type Sub- in of. of in of
type Subtype Type Total ::.e Total























(3 1)







(1, <1)






TA-LL 3--Continued

Number Percent Percent Nuimber Percent
Type Sub- in of of in of
type Subtype Type Total i Total

3. V,0























Total 675










4. V,S,C

5. V

6. v,c










(<1,< 1)

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

'happen' (1076).

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
thissere theode

"Alas, afterward that was grievous and miserable to all
this people."

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

the verb.

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.

'Two Objects

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
S Drect
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




7 V,S,OOdat

8. V,,dat






0, SVO

0. VOS

VO- 4O



00 V












There are 28 clauses in which the dative object precedes the

other object. In 1 clause the dative object cor:es before an adjacent

genitive object.

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
Suthfolc eac

"Therefore the king gave his son the earldom there and
Suffolk also."

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



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

Shannon's study.

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.

Minor Elements


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

reliable results.)


Adverbial phrases

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

before Candlemas'.

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
earmlice ridende.

"But he himself and his best men went back again to
Scotland, some walking miserably on foot, some riding
wretchedly." '*


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,

p. 46).


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
Earl AElfgar."

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
let timbrian

"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




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

subjectless clauses.

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
previously seen."

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
becumene waeron)

"Also he did not dare otherwise because they had come into
his control."


1067 Se kyng hi tha underfeng (theah hit hire unthances waere)

"Then the king received her, though it was against her

Cn edition

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
advice "

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,
and Dorset."

"Bishop Hermann died, who was bishop of Berkshire, Wilshire,
and Dorset."

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

usually clear.



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.



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).

Information Theory

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' 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

accusative (Ox).

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.



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



U -,

CH r-H
* *

o w

M -)- 0 CoN


0 U)

0 0o 0

o CO

C) C

0 *

> 0 0

0 *
co HHr q

C '


0 H -



O\ N

> r r-l

\D 0
rxi E-


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.



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

greater frequency.

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

defined ways.

Statistical tools can be used to investigate 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

earlier corpus.

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

clearly points toward Modern English.


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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.

August, 1968

Dean, Collega (f Ays and Sciences

Dean, Graduate School

Supervisory Committee:

ChirBn n

-1v. ZCaP

(hat- 7r

3 1262 07332 03715