Theme: Syntax in Old English



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Direct Word Order

The default, usual order for sentences, exactly the same as in modern English. Almost all sentences declaring a fact or making an equivalence used this word order.



  • Ælfréd kyning háteð grétan Wæferð biscep. - Alfred King commands to.greet Waerferth Bishop. - King Alfred commands to greet Bishop Waerferth.

  • Ic eom bæcere. - I am baker. - I am a baker.

Inverted Word Order

Not much more exotic here, despite first appearences. Inverted word order procedes Verb Subject Object. This exists in modern English as well, although in a way that's not immediately recognizable. Where English inverts by pulling a helping verb out of thin air, Old English is far more practical, just taking the verb and plopping it at the beginning of the sentence. Translate literally and you'll get what sounds like just really old fashioned English. Inverted word order is used for questions, negative statements using the 'ne' particle, questions introduced by words such as 'what', 'why', 'who', and certain adverbs. Those who know German will sense a great familiarity with this sort of system.



  • Hæfst þú þá wáépnu? - Have you the weapons? Do you have the weapons?

  • Ne cóm hé here - Not come he here. - He didn't come here.

Hú háélde þú mé? - How healed you me? - How did you heal me

Bibliography



      1. Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck, Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. Wadsworth, 2010

      2. The original version of this paper was presented at the Eighth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics in Edinburgh, Scotland, 19-23 September 1994. Thanks are due to two anonymous reviewers for suggestions and comments. Author's e-mail: sp20@york.ac.uk.

      3. Denham, Kristin; Lobeck, Anne (2009). Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. Cengage Learning. p. 89. ISBN 9781413015898

      4. Labov, William (1994). Principles of Linguistic Change. Blackwell Publishing. p. 145. ISBN 0-631-17914-3

      5. Millward, C. M.; Hayes, Mary (2011). A Biography of the English Language (3rd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. p. 250. ISBN 978-0495906414.

      6. Görlach, Manfred (1991). Introduction to Early Modern English. Cambridge University Press.

      7. Millward, C. M.; Hayes, Mary (2011). A Biography of the English Language (3rd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. p. 250. 

      8. A history of the english language. Fourth edition. Albert C.Baugh was Schelling Memorial Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas Cable is Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.New York 1997. Page 35

      9. https://yandex.ru/search/?clid=2384876-102&win=478&from=chromesearch&text=old%20english%20word%20order%20examples&lr=192959

      10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259486003_Word_order_in_Old_English_prose_and_poetry_The_position_of_finite_verb_and_adverbs_adapted_full_text_version

      11. https://infopedia.su/2x1247.html https://everything2.com/title/Old+English+Word+Order



1 Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck, Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. Wadsworth, 2010

22. The original version of this paper was presented at the Eighth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics in Edinburgh, Scotland, 19-23 September 1994. Thanks are due to two anonymous reviewers for suggestions and comments. Author's e-mail: sp20@york.ac.uk.

3 Denham, Kristin; Lobeck, Anne (2009). Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction. Cengage Learning. p. 89. ISBN 9781413015898


4 Labov, William (1994). Principles of Linguistic Change. Blackwell Publishing. p. 145. ISBN 0-631-17914-3


5 Millward, C. M.; Hayes, Mary (2011). A Biography of the English Language (3rd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. p. 250. ISBN 978-0495906414.


6 Görlach, Manfred (1991). Introduction to Early Modern English. Cambridge University Press.


7 Millward, C. M.; Hayes, Mary (2011). A Biography of the English Language (3rd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. p. 250. 


8 A history of the english language. Fourth edition. Albert C.Baugh was Schelling Memorial Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Thomas Cable is Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.New York 1997. Page 35


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