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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

268               The Loom oj Language
the plural ending did not go so far as in English. So the chief difficulty
with Teutonic, other than German or Icelandic, nouns is the choice of
the right plural ending. No such levelling of case-forms has taken place
in Icelandic; and in German it has not gone so far as in the modern
Scandinavian languages or in Dutch All German nouns have a dative
plural ending in -en or -n corresponding to the common dative plural
ending -urn of Old English nouns In literary German the dative
singular ending -es common to Old English nouns, is stall in use,
though it is almost dead in speech German feminine nouns are invariant
throughout the singular Some German nouns still behave much like
our Old English bera. These always tack on -n in the singular except
when used as the subject of the verb
The student who wishes to learn German, or is learning it, should
notice more carefully how the German noun as still used resembles the
English noun of the Venerable Bede
(a) Just as all Old English nouns took the ending -um in the dative
plural, all German nouns have the dative plural ending -EN or
-N
(&) Just as some Old English masculine nouns such as bera (p 266)
added -n for all cases in the singular other than the nominative,
one class of German masculine nouns add -EN or -N when
used in the singular except as subject of the verb This class
includes nouns with the nominative ending -E and a few others,
notably BAR (bear), OCHS (ox), TOR (fool), DIAMANT
(diamond), HERR (gentleman), PRINZ (pnnce), KAMERAD
(comrade), SOLD AT (soldier), MENSCH (man)
(c)   Other German, like other Old English, masculine, and German
neuter, nouns, like Old English neuters, take the characteristic
Teutonic genitive singular ending -ES or -S.
(d)  Just as Old English feminine nouns take the nominative and
accusative ending -an in the plural, most German feminine
nouns take the ending -EN in all cases of the plural
In our last table the gender of each noun is printed after it. Our
simple rules for deciding whether to use he> she or it would not have
helped our Norman conquerors to decide that a day is masculine
For reasons already indicated (p 114), the gender-class of an Old
English noun means much more than how to use pronouns in a reason-
able way, when we substitute he, she or it for a noun Unlike the modern
English adjective and pointer-word, both of which (with two exceptions,
this-these and that-those) are invariant^ the adjective or pointer-word of
English before the Conquest had singular and plural case-endings, not
necessarily the same ones, for masculine, feminine or neuter nouns