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Re: a-speaking (was : Genitive relationships (WAS: Construct States))

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Friday, March 12, 1999, 5:13
Raymond A. Brown wrote:

> 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?)! >
Well, Ray, maybe Old English is not structured exactly like Greek.You need to see my addendum, which I posted minutes after this post. Ihadn't meant to suggest that OE had an expression "ic waes on sprecende" before the participle had acquired gerundive force.
> >Sprecend readily takes conjugated forms. > > Conjugated?
Sorry, I meant declined forms. My mistake. I am very tired trying to collatethe survey responses in time for my talk next week.
> >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"?? >
Again, you need to have read my addendum. I don't think this form occurred in OldEnglish, and I said so yesterday. If it did, and I can check the damned concordance, then clearly the participle was acquiring gerundive force, which might explain why it merged later on with the -ung forms you explain below..
> <sigh - I'm genuinely puzzled - *not* trying to be clever or nit pick,
Actually, Ray, yes you are... Agon and argument are your meat anddrink! Whenever somebody says "I'm not trying to pick at you..." they are either self-deluding or deeply compulsive. I'll grant that you're not being clever, but you are not reading my whole two posts in tandem, which is what is making you seem like you're going for the jugular all the time.<GG>
> but > really trying to understand how 'ic waes on sprecende' was supposed to work>
I think it can only have come in later, after it had turned into "a pullin'." See myaddendum that I wrote yesterday. I tend to opine before I check. Is that the problem here? <GGG> But then, so do you. "OE didn't have the present participle!" We're all human. On Conlang, I exercise my right to opine before I check as often as I damn well please. This isn't Ansax-l or ENGLISC. I don't have to wear my professional cap in this place. I'm chiefly here to advance my miraculous invented language, and to learn about other miraculous invented languages.. And learn some historical linguistics. Which this is doing.
> >the MnE "gerund," which is not quite the same as an infinitive. The > >inflected infinitive, > > What is the difference?
Isn't that structurally obvious, Ray? Since when can you say "I dare speaking?""I can riding my horse." Everyone thinks the inflected infinitive is the true infinitive in English. Is it the gerund? Not exactly. Why do we use gerund and infinitive separately? And in separate instances if they have no difference?? My point is that the gerundive -ing seems to have replaced the -end form in OE in Middle English. You really need to read my addendum to this post, which says that _on sprecende_ probably does not occur in OE as a precursor to "a-speaking," "a-pulling," which might have been influenced by Welsh _yn tynnu," in pulling. Why did the -end fall out, why was it replaced with -ing? I am simply a scholar of Old English poetics. I'll let you historical linguists wrangle about this. But "a-pulling" did NOT come from the inflected infinitive. Matt suggested this, and I apologize if I thought you had as well. But actually, there are a few instances in which _on_ does occur before the infinitive, and Matt may have been thinking of these: this construction is used almost exclusively when translating Latin words like _inferre_: Old English will have _on gebringan_.
> >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.
You ARE nitpicking! English isn't like these languages in this respect, obviously.You don't say in English, for instance, "Love him is know him." It's onlythe inflected infinitive that is treated like a gerund now, along with this construction with -ing. What contradiction have I made here that has got you all twisted in knots? <G> This kind of argumentation takes us away from the point. Infinitives are by nature some kind of substantive; is that your point? My point is that the true infinitive in English only really exists with our modals any longer. And it may be just me, but I have a hard time thinking of the true infinitive in English as a gerund. It's English we're talking about.
> >but more often we say "Loving someone is more important that earning > >money." > > Yep - what I've always understood as gerunds.
So you DO see a difference between the infinitive and the gerund? You asked, what's the difference above.
> But I've never suggested that *on sprecanne ever occurred! AFAIK the OE
Sorry, got you mixed up with Matt. Matt suggested it in another post. But he claimed in the post not to be up on his OE, which you and I are supposed to be. See my remark above about OE propensity for translating _inferre_ etc. as _on gebringan,_ etc. But they didn't inflect the infinitive in this instance..
> >> 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- . >
But isn't it with the -ing ending that we now express the present participle, Ray???I'm in agreement with you here! It also expresses the gerund. It serves double duty that way now.
> 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. >
I haven't said that they aren't. The question is, why the -end ending fell out and why the-ing ending now serves double duty as gerund AND participle..
> 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.
I haven't challenged anything. You want to fault me for saying that the-ing form DERIVED from the -end form. Okay, I've obviously made this more simple than it is. The -ing form seems to have replaced the -end form in OE.
> >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) ?
Of course it is. Everybody knows that.
> 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'.
Okay this is sensible..
> I'm sorry -
Is there a need to apologize?
> 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!
I have no problem with that.
> >> 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.
I am not asking you to, Ray. I wrote because I thought that you and othersfelt that the "a-pulling" expression came from the infinitive in English. I was at pains to explain that it doesn't, and that the gerund seems to be more aligned with our old present participle. Sally (not reading these posts anymore. Too compulsive and irritating. I think the best thing to do when answering people's assertions is to write a considered paragraph in response, and not jump in with amazed or confounded interlinear remarks. It just ends up being confusing and slightly angering. I'll try to do that in future, if I feel like getting involved in a philological dispute with you again. Feeling a little edgy these days... sorry. You don't know what's on my plate this semester.)