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Verbs of Motion in Medieval English

Verbs of Motion in Medieval English

Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Verbs of Motion in Medieval English
    Book Description:

    The investigation of the medieval uses of verbs of motion remains important for a view of the syntactic development of the English language; this present study covers most of the functional features found in medieval English contexts. Verbs of motion are ordinary words, for which cognates can be found among Germanic languages, but the choice of words as renderings of the Latin verbs can be different. These linguistic developments are clarified in chapters on: The Rivalry among Synonyms, The Reflexive Construction, 'Impersonal' Uses of Verbs of Motion, Verbs with Preposed or Postposed Elements, Verbs of Motion as Auxiliaries, Present and Past Participles of Verbs of Motion, and Loan Verbs of Motion. MICHIKO OGURA is Professor English at Chiba University, Japan.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-165-1
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. I Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    It is not difficult to name the verbs which were originally used to denote motion. It is not easy, however, to say how many verbs attain a sense of motion in their respective contexts. A classification can be made by the direction and means of a movement, as is seen in Figure 1.

    The figure may give us a general idea of the basic meaning of these verbs. Gan and faran/feran are interchangeable in various contexts, though it seems that faran/feran often denotes a longer journey. Gewitan can be synonymous with them, but may also mean euphemistically ‘to depart (from...

  6. Chapter II The Rivalry among Synonyms
    (pp. 11-31)

    One of the most influential factors in semantic change is rivalry among synonyms. Owing to the alliterative verse style and the frequent rendering for Latin vocabulary, Old English has abundant supplies of synonyms for alliteration, variation,¹ and repetitive word pairs.² Among verbs of motion we find not so many verbs denoting ‘to come’ but many verbs that mean ‘to go’. Verbs of going can be divided into two groups, i.e. the gan-group and the faran-group. The former includes gan, gangan, geonga (Li), gegan, and other prefixed cognates (like ingan and utgan), while the latter contains faran and feran, together with...

  7. III The Reflexive Construction
    (pp. 32-44)

    Literally every verb may have a chance to occur with a coreferential pronoun and, if the pronoun can be admitted as the direct object of the verb (or, in other words, if the verb is used transitively and its direct object is the co-referential pronoun), the construction may be properly called reflexive. We find three ways of expressions, i.e.

    (1) he (ge) wende ham: intransitive

    (2) he (ge) wende him ham: intransitive with a coreferential pronoun

    (3) he wende hine ham: transitive with a direct pronoun object (hine) or: reflexive use with coreferential accusative pronoun

    As I explained earlier, the...

  8. IV ‘Impersonal’ Uses of Verbs of Motion
    (pp. 45-48)

    Old English ‘impersonal’ constructions can be divided into three types, i.e. (i) the real impersonal denoting natural phenomena (e.g. hit rineþ), (ii) the quasi-impersonal (which I call ‘impersonal’ with inverted commas) with a personal (pro)nominal in the oblique case, frequently accompanied by a noun clause and an opptional cooccurrence of hit (e.g. him licaþ, (hit) him gelimpþ (þæt)), and (iii) the ‘personal’ construction with a nominative of thing, often accompanied by a personal (pro)nominal in the oblique case (e.g. hwæt þyncþ þe, niht is geworden). Type (ii) and a part of type (iii), where a personal (pro)nominals appear in the...

  9. V Verbs with Preposed or Postposed Elements
    (pp. 49-79)

    The development from prefixed verbs into phrasal verbs might have been one of the most drastic change, if it could be proved theoretically. Hiltunen (1983) concludes that “the crucial point is evident even in the texts, viz. that the syntactic and functional complexity of the phrasal constructions reached its peak in lOE, after which a number of variants became recessive or disappeared. The standards emerge in eME, where we find the variants formally very similar to those in the contemporary language” (p. 223). This leaves the Old English period in a chaotic state, where the element order is comparatively unreliable....

  10. VI Verbs of Motion as Auxiliaries
    (pp. 80-93)

    A verb of motion as a finite verb may take either a present participle or an infinitive of another verb of motion. In most instances, the finite verb is a basic one and usually in the third person preterit singular like com, eode and ferde, and the verb accompanies with it is more descriptive or specific in explaining a detailed movement. With a present participle, the combination of the two verbs of motion shows in what manner the subject came or went, like com gangende ‘came walking’, while the combination with an infinitive means either a simultaneous action, like com...

  11. VII Present and Past Participles of Verbs of Motion
    (pp. 94-103)

    The extant texts of Old English are so limited in number and unsettled in literary value that we cannot call a particular phenomenon which has never been discovered foreign to the language. Verbs, for instance, cannot be classified into transitives and intransitives according to the principles of the modern grammar. An example of a verb, which seemed intransitive, with an object might be found. A verb which takes datives and/or genitives, like þancian, cannot be labelled intransitive. It is safe enough, therefore, to use the expression ‘verbs used transitively’ or ‘verbs used intransitively’, following Mitchell (1985).¹

    The prefix ge-can be...

  12. VIII Loan Verbs of Motion
    (pp. 104-110)

    Since the basic verbs of motion were already found in Old English, there had been no serious rivalry between the native verbs and the loan verbs of motion in the medieval period. What has really happened is the supersession of native verbs by native verbs: (a)stigan by gon up (or retained as steizen), niþer-astigan by gon/comen doun, (eft-/ge-)cyrran and be-/ge-wendan by turnen (azein), oferfaran by gon ouer, genealæcan by comen nize (or retained asneizen), gangan by walken or wanderen, and gegearwian by maken redy.

    A typical loan verbs in Middle English is entren. In the Wycliffite Bible, entran is used...

  13. IX Conclusion
    (pp. 111-112)

    Among the semantic groups of verbs, the verbs of motion show many-sidedness in their function in medieval English. They are used intransitively, as long as they denote a simple motion, but can also be used transitively, especially in the prefixed form (e.g. gan and gegan). They can be used ‘impersonally’ in the sense ‘to happen’; sometimes a personal (pro)nominal co-occurs in the oblique case (e.g. hit aeode and him aeode). They can be used ‘reflexively’, i.e. with the coreferential pronoun. Contrary to the opinion that him gewende and gewende should always be semantically distinct, my investigation on Old English contexts...

  14. Appendices
    (pp. 113-152)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 153-160)
  16. Index of verbs
    (pp. 161-164)