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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 >> >participle? >> >I think the latter. Ic waes on sprecende. Older than what? >> >> *ic waes on sprecende - doesn't seem to make much sense to me. > >Why not?
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 what?)!
>Sprecend readily takes conjugated forms.
>Often they are treatedlike >adjectives, but they acquire substantive meaning, as in _reordberend_, >"speech-bearing one."
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 speaker"?? <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 >inflected >infinitive,
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 >_to_.
No need - I know that.
>This has given us our present use of the infinitive with a "to" in front >of it. >I explain to my students that this is not the basic infinitive. The basic >infinitive >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 >him,"
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 >money."
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 >gerund.
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 on that.
>> 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 >-end that >is cognate with MnG -ung?
Not in my understanding of things. I've always understood that -end was cognate with: MnG -end Dutch -end(e) 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 this.
>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 >participleand not >the infinitive, then your questions will be answered. Ditto for >below.
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 from -end. ------------------------------------------------------------- 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 >contrived example) > > (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. Ray.