By Professor Donka Minkova

This examine makes use of facts from early English poetry to figure out while convinced sound adjustments came about within the transition from outdated to center English. It builds at the premise that alliteration in early English verse displays faithfully the identification and similarity of under pressure syllable onsets; it really is in line with the acoustic sign and never at the visible id of letters. exam of the behaviour of onset clusters results in new conclusions concerning the explanations for the particular remedy of sp-, st-, sk-, and the chronology and motivation of cluster relief.

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Extra info for Alliteration and Sound Change in Early English

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One of the most comprehensive poetic works of the very early post-Conquest period, Lagamon’s Brut (c. ” The popularity that can be invoked with reference to compositions in early Middle English should be read mostly etymologically – the poetic compositions were created by non-aristocrats, they were intended to educate the populus, the English-speakers. As noted above, this state of affairs is directly related also to the thematic content of the poetic documents which begin to appear in English towards the end of the twelfth century.

2 Old English stress 25 the leftmost syllable is part of the root or whether it is a prefix. , which are never stressed. With respect to morphological properties, the main division is between roots and affixes. For the roots of stressable words: nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, stress on the first syllable is the default case, while for function words and affixes absence of stress is much more common. The reconstruction of stress placement is an enormously complex issue; in the absence of contemporary commentary the linguist’s only recourse is to typological inferential reasoning.

The tenacity of English and the assumption of an uninterrupted alliterative lineage aligns the Old and Middle English traditions with respect to the information they offer to the linguist. This is the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this section: were the continuation and reinvention of strongstress alliterative poetry hampered by changes in the native linguistic scene? They were not; after a period of retrenchment alliterative poetry emerged as a vigorous and inspired artistic activity, well adapted to the changed language.

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