History of the English Language
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from ... Show synopsis This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1879 Excerpt: ...of the endings characteristic of them by nouns originally inflected differently. 31. As regards the singular, the fact, that, in this number, masculines and neuters of the vowel declension had precisely the same inflection, --as can be seen by comparing stdn and hors, --had, doubtless, much to do with the universal adoption of the endings belonging to them; for these two declensions united embraced a very large proportion of the nouns of the language. In these the nominative, dative, and accusative came, in the time of Chaucer, to have the same form. The process generally took place after this manner, in the case of words ending in a consonant. The dative and accusative singular early began to lose, and by the fourteenth century had practically lost, all distinction of form in the following two ways: either the dative sometimes dropped a final e to which it was entitled; or, secondly, and far more commonly, the accusative assumed a final e to which it was not entitled. Thus the dative and accusative came to have the same form, sometimes ending, sometimes not ending, in a final e. The same word, indeed, was not only treated in this respect differently by different authors, but differently at different places in the same manuscript. Thus, for illustration, the dative and accusative of the Anglo-Saxon sap would, in Early English, be represented in both cases, sometimes by ship, and sometimes by shipe. 32. But the assimilation did not stop at this point. In Anglo-Saxon the form for the nominative and accusative was alike in the case of the masculine and neuter nouns of the vowel declension, and it was natural that this should continue. When, therefore, the accusative assumed an e which did not belong to it, the inevitable result was, that this e should be added l.