An Extract from the Late Middle English works criticizing the Church

I found there friars, from all the four orders

Preaching to the people for the benefit of their stomachs

Explaining the Bible as they wanted

For greed of cloaks interpreted it as they wished

Many of these masters can dress as they like

Because their money and their merchandise march [together]

Since charity is a good merchant and the best way to [confess lords]

Many strange things have happened in a few years.

Unless Holy Church and they cooperate more

The greatest disaster on earth is mounting up fast.

Source: Brodey K., Malgaretti F.

Compensation for the loss of inflections

If grammatical categories were indicated in Old English via inflections then the loss of the latter implied that something took their place. The answer to the question what? is simple: word order and the increased functionalisation of prepositions. In Old English the order S - O - V (Subject - Object - Verb) was common but with the loss of inflections the indentification of Subject and Object was not always that simple. For this and other contributory reasons the order S - V - O (Subject - Verb - Object) became more usual in the course of the Middle English period. The order V - S - O (Verb - Subject - Object) which was also found in Old English declined in frequency, remaining most tenaciously after adverbs where it is still sometimes found today as in Hardly had he left the room when she rang.

The increased use of prepositions served the function of rendering sentences unambiguous. A simple example illustrates this. The German sentence Er schrieb ihr einen Brief has variants like Ihr schrieb er einen Brief or Einen Brief hat er ihr geschrieben all of which are possible because the inflected forms of the pronouns and the object noun are unambiguous with regard to sentence function. In English there are two equivalents to the sentence He wrote her a letter and He wrote a letter to her, the former uses word order to indentify the sentence elements functionally indirect object precedes direct object and the latter employs a preposition to to identify the indirect object. For topicalisation as in the German examples modern English has to resort to intonational strategies (stressing the highlighted element) or to the syntactic device of clefting which retains the prepositional object but moves it to the front by embedding it into a dummy sentence: It's to her that he wrote the letter.

Source: www.uni-due.de

Section 6.

Early New English.


  1. Ask your friend questions in English about their content. Summarize his/her answers.
  3. Compose sentences in English using the word-combinations from Ex. 8.
  4. Conversion is the main way of forming verbs in Modern English. Verbs can be formed from nouns of different semantic groups and have different meanings, e.g.
  5. Discuss the basic situations: a) you show your city to English-speaking visitors; b) you take them on a sightseeing route; c) you answer the guests questions.
  6. Discuss the basic situations: a) you show your city to English-speaking visitors; b) you take them on a sightseeing route; c) you answer the guests questions.
  8. English Language
  9. English meals
  10. English modal verbs having not always modal verb equivalents in Ukrainian.

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The Early Middle Ages (1066-1300) | ME and ENE grammar.

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