a-speaking (was : Genitive relationships (WAS: Construct States))
|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, March 11, 1999, 22:09|
At 10:46 am -0800 10/3/99, Sally Caves wrote:
>Raymond A. Brown wrote:......
>> >Yes, but did the on precede the inflected infinitive or the present
>> >I think the latter. Ic waes on sprecende. Older than what?
>> *ic waes on sprecende - doesn't seem to make much sense to me.
I thought I'd deleted that before mailing :=(
Oh well, it's true, anyway.
In Latin & Greek participles are essentially _adjectival_ which though,
like finite verbs, they can govern direct & indirect objects. If used
substantivally as in the above it would certainly mean "a speaking person",
"a speaker" - therefore, it seemed to me that 'ic waes on sprecende' would
mean "I was on a speaker" (being carried - or is aggressive or erotic, or
>Sprecend readily takes conjugated forms.
>Often they are treatedlike
>adjectives, but they acquire substantive meaning, as in _reordberend_,
Which is exactly what I thought, see above. But I intended to delete the
response as it occurred to me that maybe things were a bit different in
O.E. from Latin & Greek in this respect. From what you say, it seems that
they are not. So what can 'ic waes on sprecende' mean except: "I was on a
<sigh - I'm genuinely puzzled - *not* trying to be clever or nit pick, but
really trying to understand how 'ic waes on sprecende' was supposed to work>
>I have no problem seeing the pres.part. as the precursor
>to the MnE "gerund," which is not quite the same as an infinitive. The
What is the difference?
In Latin the gerund takes the place of the infinitive if you want it to be
governed by a preposition or to be in any case other than the nom. or acc.
>and I can go to the concordance to check this, is usually used only after
No need - I know that.
>This has given us our present use of the infinitive with a "to" in front
>I explain to my students that this is not the basic infinitive. The basic
>is found in such constructions as "I can go, I must go, He had me go home."
>Occasionally we use the infinitive gerundively, as in "To know him is to love
Why is that 'gerundively'? Latin and all the Romance languages use
infinitive in this construction, so indeed do very many other languages.
>but more often we say "Loving someone is more important that earning
Yep - what I've always understood as gerunds.
>My Mitchell and Robinson gives an account of the inflected infinitive, and
>never mentions any other preposition, and in my reading of this language
>I've found no instances of _on sprecanne_ or any such construction.
>And it doesn't make sense to ME for the reasons I give below about the
But I've never suggested that *on sprecanne ever occurred! AFAIK the OE
infinitive in -nne was always preceeded by 'to'. Indeed, I agree with you
>> I've always understood it was neither of them but that it was the _gerund_
>> which ended in -ing & is cognate with the Modern German ending -ung.
>Sprecende furnished the form for what we know of as the gerund.Isn't it
>is cognate with MnG -ung?
Not in my understanding of things. I've always understood that -end was
Norw. -ende (same or similar in the other Scandinavian langs.)
i.e. the present participle, cognate with Latin -(e)nt-, Greek -nt- etc.
from PIE *-nt- .
Somewhen in my teens I read that English -ING was cognate with Scandinavian
-ING, Dutch -ING and MnG -UNG, e.g. warning, varning, waarschuwing, Warnung.
Now when things I've thought true for more over 40 years are suddenly
challenged you must forgive me if I have a problem getting my head around
>In Middle English you have a
>wide variety of this -end ending: -and, -ung, -yng... all over England
Yep - but isn't this akin the similar phenomenon in France where forms
derived from the Latin _3rd_ decl. present participles in -ant-, -(i)ent-
were becoming confused with forms derived from the _2nd_ decl. gerund in
-and-, -(i)end-, i.e. phonetic attrition which was making them all sound
rather like /a~t/ (the final /t/ has, of course, since become silent) ?
Sometime in English the final -d in unstressed polysyllabics fell silent
and final /N/ in unstressed polysyllabics became /n/ - a pronunciation
which still survives in Brit. aristrocratic speech & has not entirely
disappeared from colloquial speech in all areas. The bourgeousie restored
/N/ in this position and in some Brit. dialects where /N/ had not become
phonemic, this has led to the pronunciations [INg] or [INk] for present
participles/gerunds and words like 'something', 'anything'.
I'm sorry - but all the Middle English spellings suggest to me is that the
-ing and -end(e) forms were, like the -a/ent and -a/end forms in France,
becoming confused through phonetic attrition. Possibly in the Middle
English melange survivals of the OE -n(ne) infinitives had been thrown in
as well in some places!
>> That would surely account for the use of 'of' before the direct object.
>If you can accept that our gerund is derived from the present
>the infinitive, then your questions will be answered. Ditto for
I certainly do *not* believe nor have _ever_ thought the Gerund was derived
from the infinitive - yes, I accept that. But, I regret, that I cannot
lightly abandon a belief of over 40 years and somehow dissociate the ending
-ing from the -ing, -ung of the other Germanic languages and see it derive
And at 6:36 pm +0100 10/3/99, Lars Henrik Mathiesen wrote:
>I read somewhere that the MnE verb form in -ing conflates _three_
>derived nominals, which are still kept apart in other Germanic
>languages, e.g., MnG and Danish. In the latter, we have (as a slightly
> (at ride -- to ride a horse)
> riden -- some riding around, as an event that happens
> ridning -- riding in general, e.g., as a hobby
> ridende -- present participle, as in "riding policeman"
>The first of these is obsolescent in Danish, but not in German AFAIK.
Thanks for the confirmation of -en. I've always understood it was a
conflation of the latter two; but that it's a conflation of all three seems
to me even more likely and would account for the ready passage of -ing from
denoting a noun derived from a verb to the actual verbal noun or gerund.