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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

284                The Loom of Language
phonetic evolution of the modern Teutonic languages, this
corresponds to the final -r/z in Mayflower English (e g saith>
loveth)
(u) The infinitive ends in -en> as the Old English infinitive ends in
-an (e g Dutch-German finden, Old English, findari)
(in) The past participle of most verbs carnes the prefix ge-> which
softened to y- in Middle English, and had almost completely
disappeared by the beginning of the seventeenth century
When the Roman occupation of Britain came to an end, the domain
of Low and High German, in contradistinction to Norse, was roughly
what it is to-day, and a process of differentiation had begun In the
Lowlands and throughout the area which is now North Germany
there have been no drastic phonetic changes other than those which
are also incorporated in the modern Scandinavian dialects (eg w to #,
]? to 6 or t and 6 to d) To the South, a second sound-shift (p 231) oc-
curred before the time of Alfred the Great The German dialects had
begun to split apart in two divisions when west Germanic tabes first
invaded Britain
This division into Low or north and High or south and middle
German cuts across the official separation of the written languages
Dutch (including Belgian Dutch or Flemish) is Low German with its
own spelling conventions What is ordinarily called the German
language embodies the High German (second) sound-shift and an
elaborate battery of useless flesions which Dutch has discarded. It is
the written language of Germany as a whole, of Austria and of parts of
Switzerland. Throughout the same area it is also the pattern of edu-
cated and of public speech The country dialects of northern Germany
are Low German This Plattdeutsch, which is nearer to Dutch than
to the daily speech of south or middle Germany, has its own literature,
like the Scots Done
The flexional grammar of Dutch is very simple The chief difficulty
is that there are two forms of the definite article, de and het The latter
is used only before angular nouns classed as neuter, e g de stoelóde
stoelen (the chairóthe chairs), het boekóde boeken (the bookóthe
books) There is only one indefinite article, een Adjectives have two
forms, e g deze man is njk and deze rjjke man for this man is rich and
this nch man respectively Reduction of the troublesome apparatus
of adjectival concord has gone as far as in the English of Chaucer,
and the inconvenience of gender crops up only in the choice of the
definite article As in Middle English, the suffix -e is added to the