Early Modern English

Cultural Context

Sociopolitical Context

Inflectional Loss

OE ME eMnE
hȳran hēren hear
wē hȳr wē hēren we hear
þæt wē hȳren þat wē hēren that we hear
OE ME eMnE
þā dagas þē daies the days
þāra daga of þē daies of the days
on þǣm dagum in þē daies in the days

Nouns

m OE sg ME sg eMnE sg OE pl ME pl eMnE pl
Nom. stān stōn(e) stone stānas stōnes stones
Acc. stān stōn(e) stone stānas stōnes stones
Gen. stānes stōnes stone’s stāna stōnes stones
Dat. stāne stōn(e) stone stānum stōnes stones
n OE sg ME sg eMnE sg OE pl ME pl eMnE pl
Nom. word word(e) word word wordes words
Acc. word word(e) word word wordes words
Gen. wordes wordes word’s worda wordes words
Dat. worde word(e) word wordum wordes words

Strong Verbs

Class I: write
present indicative present subjunctive
1sg I write 1pl we write 1sg I write 1pl we write
2sg thou writest 2pl you write 2sg thou write 2pl you write
3sg he writeth 3pl they write 3sg he write 3pl they write
preterite indicative preterite subjunctive
1sg I wrote 1pl we wrote 1sg I wrote 1pl we wrote
2sg thou wrotest 2pl you wrote 2sg thou wrote 2pl you wrote
3sg he wrote 3pl they wrote 3sg he wrote 3pl they wrote
past participle written imperative sg write pl write

The Great Vowel Shift (c. 1350–c. 1700)

Raisings and a few diphthongizations. Leaving out intermediary stages:

Word Order

The servant seeketh the king

Do: Dummy Auxiliary

OE Hē hȳrþ Hyrst þū? Þū ne hyrst
ME He hereth Herest thou? Thou herest nat
eMnE He heareth /
He doth heare
Hearest thou? /
Dost thou heare?
Thou hearest not /
Thou dost not heare
PDE He hears Do you hear? You do not hear

Achieved widespread use in eMnE; today survives in

Do: Progressive Aspect

Abraham Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson [Aside] Is the law of our side, if I say ay?
Gregory No.
Sampson No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
Gregory Do you quarrel, sir?
Abraham Quarrel sir! no, sir.
Sampson If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

Loanwords as a Percentage of Total Lexicon

Old English 3%
Early Middle English 8.5%
Late Middle English 21.2%
Early Modern English 45%
Present-Day English 70%+