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Re: NATLANG: Long/Short Variations in English

From:Joe <joe@...>
Date:Friday, May 28, 2004, 14:47
Rob Haden wrote:

>On Thu, 27 May 2004 16:20:53 -0400, Roger Mills <rfmilly@...> wrote: > > > >>This one I'm unsure about, but one does hear lots of people using [e] where >>[@] would be expected. Once upon a time, [e] was emphatic, sometimes you >>can still glimpse emphasis, but not always. Sometimes, it also seems to be >>replacing "an", so maybe we're getting an alternation [@] before C, [e] >>before V, parallel to [D@] ~[Di]. Sais pas. A puzzlement. >> >> > >The original form was "an," related to "one." Then the -n was lost before >a word beginning with a consonant. Both this and the long/short emphasis >contrast must have occurred before the Great Vowel Shift, so there was /an/ >before a word beginning with a vowel, /a/ before a word beginning with a >consonant and /a:/ as an emphatic form of the previous. > > >
Originally, 'one', and thus 'an' was [a:n]<an>. The an>a shift had occured by Chaucer's time, but apparently not to the same extent at the time of 'The Owl and the Nightingale'(Although actually, this one gives both 'an' and 'one' in the same line - "An ule and one nyhtingale"). This, and Layamon's 'Brut', both written circa 1200, alternate between three forms - 'a', 'an', and 'one', as the indefinite article - 'a' and 'one' seem to be in free variation, 'an' only before vowels. It means the an>a shift actually occured before 1200. Unfortunately, there's rather an information desert about English between 1100 and 1200. If anyone has an online copy of the Peterborough chronicle, that's be nice...