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And for ther is so greet diversitee 

In Englissh and in wrytinge of our tonga- 

So preye I God that noon miswryte thee, 
Ne thee mismeetre for defaute of tonge. 

The little book herewith offered to the friends of 
Chaucer and of the English language is the result of 
several years of study not originally undertaken with 
a view to a publication of this nature. The gram- 
matical and metrical outlines which form the basis of 
the present work were planned, and in course of 
time expanded and elaborated, for my own use 
and the benefit of those who attended my lectures. 
At the beginning of the present year I hap- 
pened to hear that a younger colleague intended 
to write a Chaucer Grammar. This circumstance 
determined me, in the interest of a rational 
division of labour, to bring to light what had for 
years lain hidden in my desk. I, of course, at once 
communicated my plan to the scholar who was the 
unintentional occasion of my decision. From the 
alacrity with which he gave way to me followed the 
obligation, on my part, to appear before the reader 


as soon as possible. But unexpected difficulties 
hindered the execution of a plan so easily conceived. 
The revision and completion of the somewhat 
defective MS. occupied several months ; three more 
were spent in seeing it through the press, as, for 
various reasons, the printing was delayed. In this 
connection I should like to acknowledge the 
sympathy and encouragement I received from my 
friend Friedrich Kluge, who also assisted me in the 
correction of the proof-sheets. 

Though deferred beyond my expectations, the 
appearance of this work strikes me nevertheless as 
premature. I could have wished to postpone the 
publication of a Grammar and Prosody of Chaucer 
until after the completion of a critical edition of his 
works. The preparations for such an edition have 
occupied me for a considerable time, but owing to 
lack of leisure the undertaking makes but slow pro- 
gress. So long, however, as a critical edition of 
Chaucer's works remains a fond hope, the details of 
his grammatical and metrical systems will not be 
determined with the accuracy that might otherwise 
be attainable, nor will the survey as a whole be 
really comprehensive* Moreover, the want of such 
an edition presents difficulties both to the author 
and the thoughtful reader. The text-book, which 
ought to rest on a critical foundation (for otherwise 
though it might give specimens of forms, it would 
not present a picture of Chaucer's language), must 
nevertheless disclose but little of the critical labour 
involved in it, and may err in being in some points 
too concise and in others not concise enough. The 
reader, however, who frequently can not even refer to 


the necessary texts, must have either great con- 
fidence in his author, or great personal industry. 

In this connection I may be permitted to make a 
statement on orthographical matters in particular. 
It goes without saying that MS. forms which the 
evidence of rime and metre proves to be incom- 
patible with Chaucer's phonetic system have been 
removed and replaced by more appropriate ones. 
But even within the range of the permissible the 
MSS. offer so great and so bewildering a variety 
that some selection seemed advisable. In the 
chapter on Phonology it has been my endeavour to 
quote the examples in the orthography supported by 
the best evidence, a comparison of the tendencies 
prevailing in the most reliable MSS. of the Canter- 
bury Tales providing the starting point for my 
investigations. But I have consistently and tacitly 
differentiated the consonants v,j, from the vowels u, 
i, whereas the MSS. hardly ever use the j symbol, 
and the v symbol chiefly initially to denote both 
vowel and consonant. I have made no use of the 
symbol }> for tk, for this reason among others, 
because Ellesmere and Hengwrt employ it, even as 
an initial, only in abbreviations. In the second and 
third chapters I have felt called upon to be somewhat 
less conservative than in the first, and to insist upon 
the application of certain principles of a normalised 
orthography for which I made some incidental sug- 
gestions in the chapter on Phonology, but I have 
nevertheless endeavoured to avoid startling innova- 
tions. The beginner will, I hope, be grateful to me 
if by means of my orthography I considerably 
facilitate a correct comprehension of Chaucer's word- 


forms, especially the gradation-series in conjugation. 
Only the other day, during the perusal of the most 
recent numbers of our two philological periodicals, 
my eyes were opened to the need for such assist- 
ance. In the discussion of Inflection I have made 
an abundant use of diacritics ; in the discussion of 
Metre where, in many cases, marks of another kind 
were required, diacritics are — with rare exceptions — 
used only in part of the section on rime. The 
reproach of temerity and inconsistency, which I shall 
hardly escape, will be gladly borne, if only I have 
been enabled to contribute somewhat to the wider 
diffusion, and at the same time, to the deepening, of 
our knowledge of Middle English speech and of 
Chaucer's art. 

Much that is not of inferior importance remains 
to be said. But I prefer to postpone further remarks 
to the future when an occasion for them, whether 
peaceful or polemical, will not be wanting. 

One thing must, however, not remain unexpressed 
here — the gratitude I owe to my predecessors in 
this department — to name only Tyrwhitt, Gesenius, 
Child, Ellis. The reader will gather from certain 
external analogies that Sievers' Anglo-Saxon Gram- 
mar has not remained without influence on the final 
form of my work, more especially on the portion 
treating of inflection. To these names must be 
added that of Furnivall, without whose publications 
one would hardly have ventured upon a critical 
examination of Chaucer's text. 

Strassburg, October, 1884. 


Later than one might have expected, a new edition 
of this httle book has become necessary. In my 
capacity as editor I have treated the original form of 
ten Brink's work on Chaucer with the reverence due 
to the mature work of a master. Apart from 
editorial changes of a purely practical kind, I have 
undertaken only a few slight modernisations of the 
subject-matter, for which Zupitza's discussion of the 
book in the Litteraturzeitung, 1885, col. 609, had 
prepared the way. I felt the less called upon to 
disturb the fundamental views of the book, as a 
settlement of opinions on some points can be ex- 
pected only in the future. Unfortunately, ten 
Brink's remains contain but few notes for a new 
edition. Thus the work appears almost entirely in 
the form which for many years has proved its value 
as an introduction to the language and verse of 
that poet whose muse laments most deeply the 
premature death of our teacher and master. 

Freiburg I. H., January, 1899 


The study of Chaucer is at last becoming a matter 
of real interest to the English-speaking peoples, and 
if we are gradually awakening to a sense of the im- 
portance and value of his work, and of older English 
literature in general, we owe it in no small measure 
to ten Brink's research. Even scholars who are 
unable to share ten Brink's opinions on all points 
agree that his investigations are matchless examples 
of profound learning and whole-hearted devotion to 
his subject. 

My experience as a teacher proved to me, how- 
ever, that in its German form ten Brink's time- 
honoured work on Chaucer's Sprache und Verskunst 
presented great difficulties even to students tolerably 
conversant with the German language, and that, if it 
were to be used with advantage to any considerable 
extent, these difficulties must be removed by an 
English version. I have, therefore, ventured to 
undertake the present translation, in the hope of 
making the average English student more familiar 
with this valuable book. 

The rendering of certain technical terms from 
German into English is often no easy matter. Yet 


I cannot think it desirable to shirk the difficulty by 
retaining the more familiar German expressions. I 
have therefore endeavoured, as far as possible, to 
extract from our slender English vocabulary of 
grammatical and metrical terms equivalents for all 
such German words. But I have found it impossible 
to improve upon Schipper's suggestions {Engl. Metrik, 
vol. I. p. 318) that the metrical terms ' Aufgesang,' 
'Abgesang,' ' Stollen,' 'Wende,' etc., as applied to 
English metre, had best be rendered by those given 
originally in Dante's ' De vulgari eloquentia ' (cf. 
Opere viinori di Dante AUghieri, ed. di Pietro 
Fraticelli, 1858, vol. II. p. 146 ff.), and I have, 
therefore, translated them by ^frons' ' cauda,' 'pedes,' 
or ' versus', as the case required. 

Moreover, it seemed to me undesirable to per- 
petuate our probably erroneous custom of translating 
' Hebung ' by ' arsis' and ' Senkung ' by ' thesis! 
Whenever, therefore, a more concise expression than 
'stressed element,' 'unstressed element,' seemed called 
for, I have followed the example of two distinguished 
American scholars, and reversing our ordinary usage, 
I have rendered 'Hebung' by 'thesis,' and ' Senkung' 
by ' arsis ' (cf. Professor White's Introdtiction to the 
Rhythmic and Metric of the Classical Languages, 
by Dr. J. H. Schmidt, and Professor Platner's trans- 
lation of L. Miiller's Greek and Roman Versification). 

Further, in order to make the references throughout 
the book available for students who do not possess 
the Six-Text, I have added in square brackets the 
equivalent references to Skeats' Students' Chaucer, 
(Clarendon Press), and Macmillan's Globe edition of 


In conclusion I beg to express my heartiest thanks 
to all friends who have assisted me by valuable sug- 
gestions, more especially to Professor Kluge for the 
kindly interest he has taken in the translation, and 
to Miss E. M. Guest and Mr. A. W. Pollard, who 
have also helped in the revision of the proof-sheets. 


GiRTON College, Cambridge, 
November , igoi. 


Biographical Notice, xxi 

Introduction, - xxvii-xxxiii 

The unity of English speech, xxvii ; Chaucer and WicUf, 
xxviii ; Chaucer's influence upon the literature and language 
of his successors, xxix ; Chaucer and the English dialects, 
xxxi ; Chaucer's influence upon English metre, xxxii ; the 
authorities and the methods of reference to them, xxxiii. 


I. The Vowels, - i-74 

Quality, quantity, and accent, 1-2. 

Germanic Vowels : Accented vowels in originally tonic 
syllables, 3. Short Vowels : Conditions of shortness, 
3 ; quahty, 5 ; i and /, 5 V f . 7 ; «, 8 ; ?, 9 ; u, 10. Long 
Vowels : Conditions of length, 11 ; quality, 13 ; f, 13 ; 
e, 15 ; /, 16 ; fluctuation between I and e, 17 ; ortho- 
graphy, 19 ; a, 19 ; ^, 21 ; o, 22 ; fluctuation between 
q and q, 22 ; orthography, 23 ; «, 23. Variable 
Vowels, 24 ; divergence of opinion as to their character, 
28 orthography, 28 ; ii, 29. Diphthongs, 30 ; ai, 30 ; 
monophthongisation, 32 ; qi, 33 ; eu, 33 ; au, 34 ; qu, 
34 ; ou, 35 ; monophthongisation, 36. Summary : 
Development of Old English vowels, 37 ; short vowels, 
37 ; long vowels and diphthongs, 41 ; <^ and ea, 42 ; 
eo, 44 ; long vowels when shortened, 45 ; vowels in a 
temporarily unaccented syllable, 46 ; vowels capable 
of accent under the primary stress, or under the 


secondary stress, 47 ; -y and -ly, 48 ; -ere, 49 ; -hqqa 
and h^^d, iQ ; weakening of quantity in an unaccented 
syllable, 50 ; weakly accented monosyllables, 50 : pre- 
fixes incap; ble of accent, 51 •, weak e in final syllables, 
52 ; in other positions, 52 ; alternation with i, 54. 
Romance Vowels . Vowels in originally tonic syllables when 
actually accented, 54. Long Vowels : Conditions of 
length, 54; qu.:iity, 54; f, 55; /. 55; f, 56; a, 57; 
<^"> 58 ; ?, 58 ; q, 59 ; «, 59 ; «, 60; fluctuation between « 
and u, 60 ; orthr-rraphy of long Romance vowels, 61. 
Short and Varial'? Vowels, 61 ; originally tonic sylla- 
bles under second.ry stress, 64 ; loss of stress, 64 ; 
vowels in originally pre-tonic syllables, 64 ; vowels in 
originally post-tonic syllables, 69. Diphthongs, 70 ; 
ai, 70 ; gi, 71 ; eu, 72 ; au, 72 ; o:t, 72. Latin or 
Graeco- Latin Vowels, 73 ; in Proper Names, T^. 

II. The Consonants, - 74-10? 

Preservation of Oki English consonant length, 74 ; 

lengthening of consonants in Old Tnglish, 75 ; 'n 

Middle English, 76. 
Labial Series : Tenuis, 77 ; media, 78 ; voiceless spirant, 

78 ; voiced spirant, 78 ; semi-vowel, 79 ; resonant, 80. 
Lingual Series Tenuis, 81 ; media, 82; interdental spirant, 

82 ; voiceless spirant s, 83 ; voiced spirant s, 88 ; 

spirant Jf, 90 ; affricate /?, 91 ; affricate dz, 93 ; 

liquid /, 94 ; r, 95 ; resonant, 96. 
Palatal and Guttural Series : Tenuis, 96 ; sk, 98 ; media, 

98 ; voiceless spirant, 100 ; the breath-ng h, loi ; 

voiced palatal spirant, 102; voiced guttural spirant, 

103 ; palatal semi-vowel, 104 ; resonant, 105. 

I. The Verb, - . 106-140 

Tense Formation of Reduplicating Verbs, 106 ; Vowel of the 
Pres. Ind. and P.P., 106 ; Pret., 107 ; forms which 
occur in Chaucer, 107 ; observations, 108 ; weak in- 
flexion, 109 ; hqte, 109. 


Tense Formation of Verbs with Vowel-Gradation, no ; 

Class I., group A, no; group B, 113; group C, 114; 

Class II., 115; Class III., 117; Class IV., 118. 
Tense Formation of Weak Verbs, 119; Class I. A: Pres., 

119; Pret., 120; P.P., 121 ; Class I. B, 121; weak 

inflexion of originally strong verbs, 122 ; verbs with a 

non-mutated vowel in the Preterite, 123 ; consonantal 

changes in the syncopated forms, 124 ; Class II., 126; 

syncope, 126 ; borrowed verbs of Germanic origin, 127. 

Old French Verbs, 128 ; formation of the present, 128 ; 

accent, 129 ; inflexion, 129 ; syncope, 129 ; participial 

forms in -aat, 130. 
Inflexion of the Present, 131 ; Indicative, 131 ; Paradigms, 

131 ; observations, 132 ; syncope and apocope, 133 ; 

have, see, slee, 134; Conjunctive, 134; Imperative, 

134; Infinitive, 134; Participle, 135. 
Inflexion of the Preterite, \y^ ; Indicative, 135 ; Paradigms, 

of the strong Preterite, 137; observations, 136; weak 

Preterite, 137 ; Conjunctive, 138. 
Anomalous Verbs, Preterite Presents, 140. 

II. The Substantive, - - - 141-155 

(1) Vowel Stems, 141 ; (a) O.E. Masculines — Nom. and 
Accus. Sing., 141 ; Gen. Sing., 142 ; Dat. Sing., 142 ; 
Plural, 142 ; (/3) O.E. Neuters — Nom. and Ace. Sing., 
143 ; Gen. Sing., 144 ; Dat. Sing., 144 ; Plur., 144 ; 
(y) O.E. Feminines — Nom. Sing., 144 ; Gen. Sing., 
145 ; Dat. Sing., 145 ; Plur., 146. 

(2) Consonantal Inflexion, 146. Germanic Loan-words, 

147 ; syncope and apocope, 148 ; medial and final 
consonants, 149. Romance Substantives, 149 ; apo- 
cope, 150; Gen. Sing., 152; Plur., 152; syncope, 
153; words vnthout inflexion, 154. 

III. The Adjective, - - - - 155-163 

Uninflected form, 155; strong and weak inflexion, 156; 
respective use of each, 156; apocope, 157; strong 
Gen. Plur., 158. 



French Adjectives, 158; apocope, 158; inflexion, 159; 
declension (?), 159; French Plur., 160; comparison, 
161 ; inflexion of the superlative, 162 ; note on the 
Adverb, 163. 

IV. The Numeral, 163-164 

V. The Pronoun, - 165-168 

Personal Pronouns, 165 ; Possessive Pronouns, 166 ; De- 
monstrative Pronouns, 167 ; Interrogative Pronouns, 
167 ; Relative Pronouns, 167 ; other kinds of Pro- 
nouns, 168. 


I. Prosody, - - 169-189 

Weak e: in two consecutive syllables, 169; after an un- 
accented syllable capable of accent, 170; after a 
syllable under secondary stress, 170 ; after a medial 
syllable under primary stress, 171 ; when final, 173 ; 
between primary stress and secondary stress, 175 ; 
syncope, 176; apocope, 177; aphsresis, 179; synasresis, 
179; diaeresis, 180; synizesis, 180; elision of weak e, 
181; of other vowels, 183; hiatus, 184; contraction, 
187 ; slurring, 188. 

II. Accent and Stress, - - 189-206 

Conflict between word-accent and rhythm, 190; accent- 
shift (inversion of a measure), level stress, 191. 

Accentuation of Germanic Words : normal position, 192 ; 
legitimate shifting, 194 ; parathesis, 195 ; verbal sub- 
stantives, 197 ; secondary stress, 197. 

Accentuation of Romance Words, 199 ; dissyllabic or 
trisyllabic nouns in which the last syllable is un- 
accented, 199 ; polysyllabic nouns, 200 ; Romance 
derivatives and compounds, 201 ; English derivatives 


and compounds, 202 ; verb, 203 ; participle in -aunt 203 ; 
verbal noiin and participle in -inge, -ing, 203. Latin 
Words, 204. Foreign Proper Names, 204. Sentence- 
stress, 205 

III. The Various Forms of Metre and their 

Structure, - - 206-233 

The normal short line, 207 ; number of stressed syllables 
and conclusion of the line, 207 ; the anacrusis and the 
arsis, 208; level stress, 210; Romance methods of 
versification, 211 ; Sire Thopas, 212. The verse of 
three beats and the verse of one beat, 212. 

Heroic Metre: its history, 213; its use prior to Chaucer, 
213; number of syllables, 214; apparent exceptions, 
215. Caesura: its ordinary position, 218; cajsural 
beat, 219 ; caesural pause, 219; secondary csesura, 220; 
two csesuras, neither being primary, 221 ; separation 
of closely connected words, 221 ; cassural beat upon 
the second syllable, 222 ; lyrical caesura, 223 ; rhythm, 
223 ; level stress, 224. 

Enjambeinent (running-on) : general remarks, 226 ; modifi- 
cation of the enjambement, 228 ; stress on the words 
separated by enjambement, 230 ; Chaucer's bold use 
of it in the short rimed couplet, 231. 

IV. Rime, - 233-252 

End-rime (riTne) and alliteration, 233. Rime : its gender, 
233 ; adequate rime, 234. The riming syllable : its 
quantity, 234 ; its quality, 236 ; weak e in a feminine 
rime, 237 ; consonants, 239 ; spread of rime, 239. 
Alliteration : Lindner's article on it, 241 ; its use in 
formulas, 242 ; its use in the short rimed couplet, 
244 ; in heroic verse, 246 ; its relation to accent and 
metrical stress, 249 ; quality, 250. 

V. The Stanza, - 252-265 

The rimed couplet: the short rimed couplet and the 
heroic couplet, 252 ; isometrical stanzas consisting of 


short lines, 253. Of heroic verse : seven-line stanzas, 
255 ; eight-line stanzas and other forms, 257. Meta- 
bolic stanzas, 257. 
Relation of the stanza to the poem : in epic poetry, 258 ; 
in lyric poetry, 259 ; similar stanzas, 260 ; poems con- 
sisting of three stanzas, 260; the balade, 262 ; the 
envoy, 263 ; dissimilar stanzas, 264 ; monostrophic 
poems, 264 ; roundel, 264. 

Index to Chapter II., 266-280 


{^Adapted by kind pertnission of Pro/. Friedrich Klugc from the 
Sliakespeare-Jahrbuchf voL xxvii., p. 306.) 

Bernhard ten Brink died on January 29th, 
1892. The sudden and unexpected death of this 
eminent scholar in the midst of work much of 
which was but haif-accomplished or merely planned, 
was a serious blow to English philology. 

By birth a Dutchman, ten Brink had spent his 
childhood in Amsterdam, his early youth in Dussel- 
dorf and Essen. From his student days onwards 
Germany became his permanent home : he con- 
sidered himself a German, and took a keen interest 
in national and political questions. 

This assimilation of German character and of 
German habits of thought was the fundamental 
cause of his thoroughly German style. But few 
foreigners have attained to the mastery of German 
that ten Brink possessed — the name of Chamisso 
may occur to the reader — and not many German 
scholars handle the literary language with his con- 
summate skill. To this fact the number of brilliant 
metrical versions of M.E. poems scattered through- 
out his History of English Literature would bear 
sufficient testimony, were not the monumental torso 


of this very History an additional proof. This 
command of the German language was acquired in 
long years of serious work. Dutch, his mother- 
tongue, yielded to German in the years which he 
spent as a student at Bonn, though even in the 
early seventies a Dutch word is said to have escaped 
him now and again in lecture. 

From the year 1873 onwards, ten Brink was 
Professor of English Language and Literature at 
the then recently founded University of Strassburg, 
having previously lectured on English and Romance 
Philology at Munster and Strassburg. He owed 
this distinguished position in the first instance to 
his Chaucerstudien which had appeared in 1870, 
but by the publication of other valuable works, 
his power as a teacher, and his unusual rhetorical 
gifts, he invested his office with increasing dignity 
up to the day of his untimely death. 

The work of his life, his History of English 
Literature, was produced in Strassburg. So far as 
it was published during his life-time, it is a sketch 
of England's poets and poetry from the days of 
Hengest and Horsa up to the time immediately 
preceding the establishment of the printing-press 
in England. Though the area occupied by the 
English language within that period is a limited 
one, yet it makes manifold demands upon the 
historian of literature who aims at tracing the 
intellectual development of the nation upon the 
massive background of its political growth. In 
the first thousand years of English history, this 
sea-girt kingdom reflects the most varied influences, 
to understand and do justice to which requires a 


width and depth of scientific training, such as only- 
ten Brink possessed. His sketch of the Middle 
Ages, in which the clergy took so prominent a 
part in literature, is admirable for its profound 
sympathy with the religious life of an age so far 
removed from our own, as well as for its objective 
appreciation of the English reformer. More striking 
even than his theological knowledge is, however, 
the scope and thoroughness of his acquaintance 
with Romance and Classical literature : on one 
page we may find the development of the Renais- 
sance in England introduced by character sketches 
of the great Italian poets, Dante, Petrarch, and 
Boccaccio ; on another, sketches of the French 
originals of M.E. poems, whilst the whole book is 
interspersed with side-glances upon ancient and 
modem literature, and hints on poetry and art in 

This task was, moreover, a peculiarly difficult one 
for the Strassburg Professor, in so far as it un- 
doubtedly put a severe curb on his personal in- 
clinations. Ten Brink was ever and again attracted 
by the scientific monograph, and had always 
cherished a plan of writing a series of such essays 
on special subjects, a plan which was, however, 
forced to give place to the real work of his life. 
But every specimen, and every poet, treated in his 
History of English Literature had been made the 
subject of special research, and thus he forestalled 
the conclusions of many monographs, lest he should 
yield unduly to his fondness for the scientific 
treatment of detail. He is hence at all points able 
to act as guide to fellow-students and pupils, with- 


out losing sight of the main object of his work, 
namely, by artistic treatment and artistic economy, 
to draw the attention of wider circles to a subject 
which, though at first unattractive, attains to supreme 
interest in the persons of Wiclif and Chaucer and in 
the growth of the English drama. A delicate power 
of historical appreciation greatly furthered this 
object : ten Brink felt equally happy and at home 
in the semi-precious style of the older alliterative 
poetry and in the labyrinth of allegorical epics and 
dramas, and the sympathy which he felt for the 
religious epic and the most artistic love-song was 
given in like measure to the simplest effusion of 
the folk-song. 

In the first volume of the History of English 
Literature ten Brink is perhaps too exclusively a 
philologist ; he is apt to discuss specimens of 
literature which have a purely philological value. 
The second volume emphasises only important per- 
sonalities and important movements in literature, 
and his sketch of Chaucer probably marks the 
climax of his work so far as it was published 
during his life-time. He had planned a monumental 
edition of the poet's works ; indeed, his remains 
contained no unprinted matter of an editorial char- 
acter save such as he had devoted to this purpose. 
It was upon Chaucer also that he lavished the full 
wealth of his linguistic and metrical knowledge and 
power. Chaucer was the touchstone of ten Brink's 
versatility, and much as he had already done for 
him, he could and would have done more in the 

The relation between the poet and the scholar 


had become, as it were, a personal one, and to work 
on his behalf seemed almost the service and duty 
of a friend. Traits of character which he shared 
with Chaucer attracted the modern scholar to the 
mediaeval poet : humour and playful fancy, a light 
heart, an ideal conception of life, a serious purpose 
coupled with a deep sense of responsibility for its 
fulfilment, honesty, candour, a cultured appreciation 
of form, and wealth of idea, were common to both. 

In this connection we can but briefly refer to 
the lectures on Shakespeare which from about 1885 
onwards ten Brink was in the habit of delivering 
either before an academic audience or an educated 
general public. They were published after his 
death, and there is no doubt that had it been 
granted to ten Brink to fix the final outlines of 
the character of the greatest Englishman, we should 
have been presented with a work marked equally 
by rigid philological argument and by an artistic 
appreciation of the poet and his development. 

We may briefly also refer to ten Brink's devotion 
to the great popular productions of English literature. 
The O.K. Beowulf stood in the forefront of his 
interests during the last years of his life, and he 
attempted in his own original way to fathom the 
birth and growth of the popular epic, a one-sided 
treatment of which according to some stereotyped 
method had for long years encumbered the science 
of literature. 

Yet withal ten Brink was no pedantic devotee 
of learning. His memory will long remain green 
not only as a distinguished scholar, but as a dis- 
tinguished man. He served learning, his family, 


and his friends with the love and devotion which 
spring from a pure heart. He defended his con- 
victions with courage and energy, but also with 
kindliness and charity. Without striving for influ- 
ence, he possessed it ; without creating a school, 
he was a dominating and potent force in the world 
of letters. 


During the early centuries after the Norman Con- 
quest the English dialects, of which each in turn 
seems to claim a certain pre-eminence in literature, 
are seen to be undergoing a development which 
in each one severally tends apparently towards a 
more complete differentiation from the others, and a 
more emphatic accentuation of its distinguishing 
characteristics. This period, characterised by the 
prevalence of centrifugal tendencies, is succeeded in 
the second half of the 14th century by an epoch in 
which the foundation for future unity is laid. About 
the time when in the adjoining kingdom of Scotland 
a branch of the northern dialect attains to the dignity 
of a national language, the beginnings of a common 
literary language are discernible in England. Scotch, 
whose first classical representative is Barbour, was 
scarcely able to maintain its position unimpaired for 
three centuries. Literary English, on the other hand, 
from the reign of Edward III. to the present day, 
can look back' upon a continuous development, which, 
in spite of an occasional change of direction, has 
never been interrupted or violently forced into a new 
channel. In course of time it has subjected to 


itself not only the British Isles, but a large portion 
of the inhabited world, and has, moreover, helped 
to add to the intellectual possessions of mankind 
treasures of such kind that its importance for the 
culture of the world now seems independent even of 
the continuance of the mighty empire over which its 
extension is increasing, and of the no less important 
federation of autonomous colonies in which it is the 
prevailing speech. 

The home of the language born for so great a 
destiny was on the banks of the Thames. From a 
union of Midland and Southern dialects there sprang 
more than 500 years ago that literary English, the 
origin of which is still clearly perceptible in the 
language of modern English, as well as of American, 
writers and speakers. 

Two districts watered by the Thames claim alike 
to have exercised the deeper influence on the. unifica- 
tion of English speech : Oxford on the one hand, 
London, with Westminster, Windsor, and other Royal 
residences, on the other. The opinion of scholars 
called upon to decide who really coined the literary 
language of England and secured its extension, 
wavers between the names of two distinguished 
authors of the 1 4th century : Wiclif and Chaucer. 

He who deliberately and without bias weighs the 
criteria by which the question must be decided, will 
soon attain to a standpoint from which the contro- 
versy seems superfluous and futile. He will be able 
to appreciate the peculiar merit of each of these two 
great men in the unification of English speech, but 
he will be unable to close his mind to the conviction 
that to Chaucer alone the honour is due of being 


esteemed the first and supreme classic of the literary 
language then in its infancy. 

The English language was a gift to English 
literature not from the learning of the university, 
but from the great capital and the Royal Court. 
Not the Yorkshireman living far from his home, but 
the Londoner, who remained in permanent and close 
contact with the place of his birth, stamped the 
language with the impress of his mind. Wiclif was 
a great theologian, an acute logician, a man imbued 
with deep religious and patriotic feeling, but the form 
of his work was to him of secondary importance 
as compared with its substance, and therefore he 
never completely grasped the secret of form ; he was 
never really triumphant in the struggle for literary 
expression. Chaucer was, and remained until the 
appearance of Shakespeare, the most consummate 
master of language amongst English poets, one of 
the few in whom art and nature, form and substance, 
are in absolute harmony, indeed, appear to be one. 
It was in the last years of his life that Wiclif began 
to write in English ; he never wholly abandoned 
Latin, and the English he wrote was not his native 
dialect. Chaucer, from his earliest years, wrote and 
composed poetry in his mother tongue, and so far as 
we know, in it exclusively ; the dialect with which 
he was familiar at home and the English which he 
acquired at Court, and in intercourse with Govern- 
ment officials, hardly differed from each other ; in the 
district, linguistically considered, of which he was a 
native, the off-shoots of several dialects met ; the way 
for his own eclectic and levelling activity had been 
prepared by the environment in which he grew up. 


WicHfs adherents were natives of different parts of 
England ; his collaborator in the translation of the 
the Bible, Nicholas Hereford, wrote in a dialect that 
differed from Wiclif's own, and had a south-western 
tinge ; Purvey's revision had much the same dialectal 
colouring as his master's work ; the poor priests spoke 
each his own idiom. So far as we can trace the 
literary tradition inaugurated by Wiclif, it seems to 
move westwards rather than eastwards, i.e., its direc- 
tion is towards the past rather than the future. The 
bloody reaction which orthodoxy brought about 
under the Lancastrians put an end to this tradition, 
to the great detriment of English prose. On the 
other hand the literary movement which received its 
impulse from Chaucer maintains an uninterrupted 
course throughout the 15th and i6th centuries. 
His example dominates art-poetry, and even the 
Renaissance rather emphasised than checked the 
effect of his writings. At critical moments — we need 
consider only Caxton — he must be held to have 
exercised an important influence even on prose. And 
far-reaching as was the influence of his art, the effect 
produced by his language was co-extensive with it. 
Gower, a native of Kent, writes his Confessio Aniantis 
in a dialect which, despite many Kenticisms, re- 
sembles, on the whole, Chaucer's idiom far more 
closely than that of his own countrymen. Occleve 
was a Londoner, like the master he so passionately 
revered. Lydgate, the recognised head of the 
Chaucer school, and of poetry in the isth century, 
was a native of Suffolk. His language is built upon 
the foundation laid by Chaucer, but has a deeper 
East-Midland tinge, and is therefore typical for the 


further course of development. It is chiefly in the 
east of England, with a tendency towards the north, 
that, in the critical period of transition, literary 
tradition is propagated. Stephen Hawes, with whom 
mediaival poetry stands on the threshold of a new era, 
was, like Lydgate, a Suffolk man. Skelton, whose 
bold originality relieves the monotony of a decadent 
art, was a native of Norfolk and had manifold con- 
nections with Northumberland. It seems superfluous 
to continue such considerations, since the results of 
the historical process are patent. 

In all essential features Modern English more 
closely resembles Chaucer's language than Wiclifs. 
In so far also as the relation of modern literary 
English to English dialects is concerned, it is more 
closely akin to the language of Chaucer, and more 
remote from the language of Wiclif. And thus the 
conclusions we have arrived at may be summarised 
as follows : — Wiclif prepared great masses of the 
people for the reception of a common literary 
language, but Chaucer is the author of the literary 
movement to which this language owed its develop- 
ment during the succeeding centuries. 

The following is an attempt to present the idiom 
of our great poet from two points of view only : — 
phonology and accidence. Both, but especially the 
former, clearly define the relationship of this idiom to 
the dialects. The conclusion we shall arrive at is 
that Chaucer's language belongs essentially to the 
East-Midland dialect-group, but contains a fairly large 
admixture of South-Eastern elements. The dialects 
of the three principal tribes which transformed 
England into a Germanic country are all represented 


here : Anglian, as well as Saxon and Jutish ; but just 
as the peculiar character which English assumed in 
the mouth of North-Anglian tribes has remained 
practically without influence upon the poet's speech, 
so, on the other hand, it reveals few traces of West- 
Saxon influence. An investigation of this relation- 
ship in greater detail would necessitate a history of 
English dialects such as cannot be given here. 

Chaucer's work was no less important for the 
evolution of metre than for the development of the 
language. English poetry owes its classical metre to 
him, and, moreover, both directly and indirectly, more 
than one very important strophic structure. Above 
all he taught his fellow-countrymen the secret upon 
which depended the future of English versification ; 
the art of harmoniously linking — not intermixing — 
the Germanic and Romance methods — the accentual 
and the syllabic. To present Chaucer's versification 
in conjunction with his language seemed the more 
expedient, since the one cannot be grasped without a 
knowledge of the other. 

Hence Chaucer's poetical works are naturally the 
primary source even of the linguistic part of this 
enquiry, whilst the prose works have only been 
noticed incidentally. Chaucer is himself only in 
verse, only there is he original and national, and only 
there he affords definite criteria by which we can 
separate that which is peculiar to himself from the 
disfiguring husk of tradition. 

With one exception, all Chaucer's works are now 
contained in the Publications of the Chaucer Society 
in a form convenient for purposes of research. I have 
made use of these publications, and quoted according 


to them ; in all doubtful cases in the Canterbury 
Tales, I have taken Morris's reprint of MS. Harl. 
7334 into consideration, in addition to the Six-Text, 
without binding myself by Morris's numbering of the 
lines. For the Clerkes Tale, the careful reprint from 
MS. Cambr. Univ. Dd. 4. 24, by W, A. Wright, 1867, 
has occasionally been of value. 

As a rule, I cite the Six-Text of the Canterbury 
Tales ( = ST) according to the number of the page 
and line, e.g. S.T. 4/108 or simply 4/108, as a 
confusion is sufificiently guarded against by this 
method of reference. For the prose portions I quote 
according to page and paragraph ; the Troilus by 
book and line, e.g. Troilus or Troil. I. 340, the 
remaining poems by the line number. Abbreviations 
as Blaunche ( = Deeth of Blaunche the Duchesse or 
Book of the Duchesse), Parlement ( = Parlement of 
Foules), Fame ( = Hous of Fame), Legende or Leg. 
(Legende of goode Women), Mars, Venus ( = Com- 
pleynte of M., Compleynte of V.), Scogan, Bukton, 
etc., will present no diiificulty to the reader ; the 
Treatise on the Astrolabe, ed. Skeat ( = Astrol.), I 
cite according to paragraph and line. 

For the Boece I have used the edition by Morris 
(London, 1868, E.E.T.S.) which numbers the lines 

Works which have been erroneously attributed to 
our poet, as well as such as have been ascribed to 
him by some on insufficient grounds, could not be 
taken into consideration in this investigation. So 
far as poems are in question, we have restricted our- 
selves to such material as is printed by Furnivall in 
the Parallel-Text Editions of the Ch. Soc. 



= accusative. 


= adjective. 


= Ga3Uc. 


= adverb. 


= genitive. 


=Anzeiger fiir 

Germ., Germ' 

■■ = Germanic. 

deutsches Altertum. 


= Gothic. 


= Anglo-Saxon. 


= Paul, Grundriss der 


= Anglian. 

germ. Philologie. 




= Greek. 

AngL Anz. 

= Anzeiger zur Anglia. 


= indicative. 


= Breton. 

Indef. Art. 

= indefinite article. 


= infinitive. 


= Chaucer. 


= Italian. 


= conjunctive. 


= Canterbury Tales 


= Kentish. 

D., Dat. 

= dative. 


= Latin. 


= Danish. 


= La3amon. 

Def. Art 

= definite article. 


= Low German. 

Deut. Littztg. 

= Deutsche Littera- 

Litl. Zeitg. 

= Deutsche Littera- 




= Englische Studien. 


= Matzner, Englische 

Engl. Stud. 

= Englische Studien. 



= Ellis, Early English 


= masculine. 



= Middle Dutch. 


= Middle English. 




= Middle High Ger- 


= French. 



= Frisian. 


= Middle Latin. 



= Middle Low Ger- 


= person. 


Pers. Pron. 

= personal pronoun. 

Mod. Fr. 

= Modern French. 


= phonetically. 


= Picard. 




= plural. 




= present. 


=New English. 


= preterite. 


=New English Dic- 



= RomaBce. 


= neuter. 


= Northumbrian. 


= substantive. 


= Schipper's Englishe 


= OId Anglian. 



= Old Dutch. 

Sg., Sing. 

= singular. 


=:01d English. 


= Six-Text. 

O.Fr., O.Fris. 

= 01d Frisian. 


= Stratmann's Middle 


= 01d High German. 

English Diction- 


= Old Kentish. 



= 01d Low German. 


= Swedish. 


= Old Norse. 


= originally. 


= verb. 

Oiig. Norse 

= Original Norse. 


= vocative. 


= 01d West Saxon 


= Welsh. 


= past participle. 

West Germ'=- 

=West Germanic. 


= Paul und Braune s 


=West Saxon. 




1. The vowels will be considered from three points 
of view, namely ; quality (timbre), quantity (duration), 
and stress (accent), these being, in many respects, 
mutually interdependent. Thus the timbre of some 
M.E. vowels is essentially determined by their 
quantity, the latter, again, is undoubtedly influenced 
by the accent. Conversely, the accentual capacity 
of a syllable is sometimes conditioned by the quantity 
of its vowel, and the quantity is not always inde- 
pendent of its quality. 

2. In the present section the several vowels will 
be discussed from the point of view of quality under 
headings indicating their quantity. 

3. As regards quantity we distinguish short, long, 
and variable vowels. The root-vowel is short, for 
instance, in sitten, bed, man, God, huntere; long in 
wis, ' wise,' seeken, beren, taken, stoon, good, hous ; 
variable in writen, pret pi. or p.p., heven, fader, sone 
(pron. sune\ 'son,' dore (pron. dure), 'door.' The 

e A 


term variable is applied to vowels the quantity of 
which is intermediate between long and short. The 
existence of this class of sounds, the limits of which 
are not always easy of definition, is not acknowledged 
by all philologists. But it is proved, in the first 
place, by rimes (§325); in the second place, by the 
N.E. development of the vowels in question (§ 35), 
and, finally, by inferences from analogy. In order 
to do justice to the views of opponents, we shall, as 
occasion offers, state what quantity others ascribe to 
sounds which we designate variable. 

4. The theory of accent will be discussed in ch. 
III. 8S 276-295. In this connection one observation 
may suffice, i.e. that syllables, the accent-points of 
which are formed by vowels (for which reason the 
latter also appear as the actual bearers of the accent), 
may be appropriately divided into originally accented 
syllables, syllables capable of accent, and syllables 
incapable of accent. Amongst originally accented 
syllables some always retain their accent, as the first 
syllable in fader, heven, the second syllable in the 
Romance words estaat, array; others can throw it on 
to an adjacent syllable — whether from merely metrical 
considerations, or owing to some tendency more in- 
herent in the language — as the first syllable in worthy, 
singinge, frendshipe, the second syllable in nature, 
resoun, pitee. The adjacent syllable which, under 
certain circumstances, may attract the accent, is said 
to be capable of accent, thus the second syllable in 
worthy^ singinge, frendskipe,^Q first in nature, resoun, 
pitee. Incapable of accent is, for example, the second 
syllable in fader, heven, the third in frendshipe, nature, 
the first in estaat. 


With regard to actual individual cases, this classi- 
fication is in contradistinction to a division into 
accented and unaccented syllables. 

Some trisyllabic and polysyllabic words have more 
than one accent. In these cases the simple accent 
becomes differentiated into a primary stress and a 
weaker, secondary stress ; cf. mdrtyrdohm, creatiire 
or criattire. The acute accent denotes the primary 
stress, the grave the secondary. 

Amongst monosyllables, nouns, numerals, verbs, 
adverbs, interjections, as well as pronouns used 
absolutely, or with logical emphasis, are regarded as 
originally tonic compared with adjacent elements 
in the sentence, but the juxtaposition of syllables 
bearing a relatively stronger accent will, of necessity, 
frequently reduce the weaker among them to un- 
accented syllables. 


5. The vowels in originally tonic syllables will, 
with regard to their actual accentuation, be discussed 
in the following order : first the short, then the long, 
finally the variable vowels. Genuine English words 
will be considered primarily, those of other origin 
only incidentally. Old loan-words will not be 
separated from words of the native stock. 

Short Vowels. 

6. Short are : 

(a) Old short vowels in a closed syllable : bidden, 
men, spak,fox,ful. 

(/8) Old long vowels, when followed by a con- 
sonant group, or a long {sc. geminated) consonant : 


kepte, ladde ; crepte, rafte. This shortening took place 
even where the two consonants belonged to two 
different parts of a compound, the first being the 
final consonant of the one element, the second the 
initial consonant of the other : wisdom by the side 
of wis ; fr^ndshipe beside freend ; chapman (O.E. 
ceapmon) beside chepe. 

Note i. Orrm, writing as early as the beginning of the 
thirteenth century, already affords indubitable proof of this rule, 
which, as a matter of fact, dates from a period prior to his. 
In accordance with his system — a perfectly appropriate one 
(cf. § 97) — ^he doubles the final consonant of a syllable (as 
well as the first of two consonants terminating a word) after a 
short vowel, a method which he considers the only correct one 
{Dedic. 103-110), and thus he writes wissdom but wis, chapp- 
menn (pL) but chepinngbo}>e. 

In composition this phonetic rule is, however, 
violated with extreme frequency by the operation of 
analogy. New compounds are thus differentiated 
from older ones, but even existing compounds are 
endued with new life by the subjection of the first 
element to the same phonetic development as the 
corresponding simple word. The quantity of the 
stem-word seems to be determinative, especially in 
the development of derivatives with the suffix -ly 
(originally the second element in a compound) and 
-nesse, so that formations I&lq frendly, siknesse, seem 
almost exceptions. 

Note 2. A necessity for differentiation not infrequently 
exercises some influence; thus between godhed, 'goodhood,' 
and godhed, 'Godhead,' between ivisly, 'wisely,' and tuisly, 
'certainly.' It is noteworthy, for instance, that Orrm writes 
clennlike (from dene), but wisUke, wisUj (from wis, ' wise '). At 
a later period a toneless e was not infrequently inserted before 


•ly, among other reasons for the purpose of indicating that in 
words like wisely, gddely, shortening by position was avoided. 
The quantity of the 2 in M.E. siknesse may be inferred from 
N.E, sickness, and especially from N.E. sick as compared with 
M.E. sik. 

A phonetic exception to the rule in accordance 
with which originally short vowels are preserved, and 
originally long ones are shortened, results from the 
character of certain consonant combinations, and, in 
a more limited degree, also of single sounds. Cf. § 1 6 
and § 35. 

(7) O.E. long vowels rarely appear shortened 
before single consonants, as in ten (by the side of 
-iene) ; us, but (O.E. ■iis, b-iitan) are cases of shortening 
in unaccented form-words. 

7. The short vowels are i, e, a, 0, u, amongst 
which / represents the pure German i, as well as the 
N.E. sound which inclines towards e (as in is) ; e and 
0, on the other hand, always stand for open sounds. 
For the purpose of distinction from the corresponding 
closed sounds open e and will be denoted graphically 
by f, g, and the impure i by i. On the ai-sound, 
which occurs sporadically, cf § 38. 

8. i and 2 are not graphically distinguished in 
M.E., nor can they be differentiated etymologically. 
On the whole, i is the rule. The pure «-sound seems 
to have been preserved only before certain con- 
sonants ; it may safely be assumed before gh 
(palatal x) '• knight, light, night. 

9. Short 2 (or i) is represented in the MSB. either 
by i or by^ : the latter symbol is used by preference, 
to obviate erroneous readings, when n or m precedes 
or follows : myght, nyght, knyght, kyng, skyn, etc. : 


initially, in such cases, some scribes prefer the capital 
/: / (O.E. ic). In, Inne. Since no such external 
considerations are now binding, it would be advisable 
to use i exclusively in normalised texts ; cf, § 22. 

10. Sources of i or / : 

(a) O.E. /, as well as ie from io, eo, or as i- 
mutation from ea (for further particulars v. § 48, V. 
VII. : is, mysse, wiste, with, bidden, (Ji)it, sitten, 
thikke, stille, wilh, chyn, tyn, ryng, drynken ; knyght, 
right, six, fighten, highte, myght, myghte, nyght. 
Also the i of some other Germanic dialect : windowe 
(O.N. vindgugd), brink{e) (Da.n.),J>igge (Mdu.), etc. 

(/8) Stable O.E. y ( = ^): brigge, kissen, list, 
' lust,' fille, fulfillen, kyn, synne, thynne, kyng. — Sister 
from O.N. syster. 

Note i. In kyng the /-sound had already become fixed 
previous to the M.E. period. — In exceptional cases O.E. y is 
represented in Chaucer by e (§ 11, f) ; as to the relation of e 
to i, cf. § 48, XI. 

(7) O.E. i : ftftene, blisse S., lisse S. and V., list 
(O.E. list, border, edge of anything), wisdom,, smyt 
(beside smyteth), light ' light, easy,' dich, -lich, yliche. 
In some cases the long i may have become short 
already in O.E., a question which we must, once and 
for all, decline to discuss. The i of other Germanic 
dialects becomes short also under the same conditions 
as O.E. i\ cf, for instance, shrighte by the side of 
shriked, from schrtken (Olg. scric6n). 

{8) O.E. ie, io, do : light ' light ' S., // (i.e. ///, 
O.'K.feoir), siknesse. 

Note 2. By the side oifil Chaucer also has the iormfel, cf. 
S.T. 568/1282 [G. 1282], fel: wel; but, on the other hand, ib. 
32/1104 [A. 1104],// : wil. 


(e) O.E. stable y { = long u) : hyd (phon. = hidd 
from hidd, O.E. hyded), Ayd (from kidd, O.K. cyded); 
cf. §50. 

(Q M.E. i by monophthongisation (cf. on this 
subject §21,6 and § 41, Note) : highte ' height,' 
mystriste (O.N. treystd), slighte beside sleighte (sleijpe, 
slejp, O.N. sldegd). 

Note 3. It may seem doubtful whether in Chaucer the 
quantity of i before ght is correctly designated short. The 
original length and origin of the vowel are certainly irrelevant, 
and the only question is whether gh still retained the function of 
a genuine consonant or not. Now it is a fact that gh when 
protected disappears less rapidly than when final, hence a form 
like//f/, instead of plight is the exception in Chaucer. It may 
therefore be assumed that such a word as knyght was by 
Chaucer still pronounced knixt, which, in consequence of the 
extremely palatal character of the x, was in sound almost 
equivalent to kniit or kntht. Long before Chaucer some texts 
regularly have iit for ight. Cf. on this point the opinion of an 
accurate observer among German phoneticians, who holds that 
in such a German word as ' nicht,' etc., there is no i at all ; 
the apparent z'-sound is, he asserts, palatal %. 

11. Sources of f (short open e) : 

(a) O.E. e by z-mutation from a : bed, helle, men. 
Likewise the corresponding O.N. sound, e.g. brennen. 

0) O.E. e, eo : helpe, self; kerte, erthe, erl. 

(7) Rarely O.E. se : whether, nesse, for instance in 
Holdernesse ; in the case of messe Romance influence 
is conceivable. Cf. § 48, IIL 

(^) O.E. ea before x: flex, wex, and sometimes 
before ^-combinations, upon which cf § 48. IV. 7. 

Note. As to the usual representation of O.E. ,» and ea, cf. 
§ 12. In the combination O.E. -eah, ea appears in Chaucer 
sometimes as a, sometimes as e, but in both cases the union of 


these sounds with the vocalic element of the guttural or palatal 
X has produced a diphthong : au or ei, cf. § 39 ff. 

(e) O.E. y ( = u): abegge {:legge) 113/3938, [A. 
3938]; knetten. Pari. 439, 628, Mars 183, Troilus 
m. 1733; melle [\ telle) 113/3924, [A. 3924] and 
122/4241, [A. 4241]; Cantebregge {: collegge) 
^ I S/3990, [A. 3990] ; melle ' mill ' ; cherche (: werche) 
once 546/5 . 5 [G. 54S] ; dent 'blow, dint ' ; thenne 
'thin {irenne) 117/4065, [A. 4065]; fulfelle 
(: telle) Troil. III. 510. On kessen and lest cf. 
§ 48. XL 

(^) O.E. d: grette, mette, kepte, bledde. 

(fj) O.E. SB or (cf. § 50) : yspred, dredde, lesse, 
slepte, shepherde {sheep = O.E. sce'ap, where a stands 
for d, or seep), mente, lente, ylent; cf. § 12 »/ and 
§ 50. 

(0) O.E. io : £-r^/i?, brest, fel (O.E. y%i//), ^'^''^^, 
compar, to deere (O.E. deore). 

(c) O.E. /« : betten, pret. pi. from iJ/^'^;? ' beat,' 
gretter (O.E gr/atra, but also grytrd), compar. of 
^/'e^A Edward; cf § 12 and § 50. 

(/c; Sometimes O.E.j/: hed,yked, cf § 50. 

12. Sources of ^ : 

(a) O.E « : asschen, asse, cat. Also O.N. « : 
gabben, cast, casten, carl, Mlg. a : knarre. Mlg. a : 
labben, etc. 

(/3) O.E. a, 0, before resonants, with the exception 
of the combinations mb, nd, ng: ram, cam, nam, 
swam ; man, swan, wan Adj., than, gan, bigan, ran, 
wan, can ; thank. 

NoTEy . By the side of nam occurs noom (O.E. noin) ; coom, 
too, is due to O.E. c6m, whereas cam is probably formed by 
analogy. On on, from, cf. § 58. 


(7) O.E. a, ea : al, alle, also, als, as, wal, galle, 
halle, stalk, callen, fallen, galwes, salwes ; hals ; half; 

(0) O.E. ea : warde, hard, Edward, afterward ; 
carf, starf; arm, barm, harm, warm ; harpe, sharpe ; 
narwe. Before x only in waxen by the side of 
wexen ; cf. § 48. IV. ^. 

(e) O.E. « : staf yaf, craft ; glad, sad, bad pret. ; 
had, hadde ; gnat, hat, that, what, sat ; fast, faste, 
brast ; bak, blak, spak. 

(^) O.E. d\ clad (from cladd, O.E. clddod), gat- 
toothed {gat from O.E, gdt, that otherwise results in 
gggt), axe (O.E. dxian, dscian). 

(»?) O.E. se : lad, ladde, dradde, spradde, adder 
(O.E. nmdre, n^ddre, M.E. naddre, addre), bladder, 
ladder ; ylaft ; lasten (O.E. Ids tan). 

Here belong also the adj. badde (orig. p.p. to O.E. 
bsbdan) and the verb madde, a new formation from the 
adj. mad (orig. p.p. O.E. mdded). 

{&) O.E. ^a : yraft ; chapman. 

Note 2. In exceptional cases a develops from O.E. e=i- 
mutation from a , cf § 48, v. — The word harre (O.E. }ieorr, 
O.N. hiarre) probably derives its a from Mdu. herre, harre. 

13. Sources of q : 

(a) Old stable o : God, ofte ; dogge ; flok, knok, lok, 
yak ; shoppe, hoppen • corn, horn, biforn, yborn, lorn, 
ysworn, y shorn, torn ; ycorve, ystorve ; borwe, morwe, 
sorwe ; post (O.E. post, Lat. poste-m), ylost ; grot, 
lot, Scot, stot ; box, fox. Alofte is based on O.N. d 

Note i. Both the verb costen and the correspoaiing sub- 
stantive cost belong here, since, though neither of them is an old 
loan-word, they are not immediately derived from the Romance 


(O.Fr. coste, couste, produced M.E. couste, which Chaucer 
does not use), but have found their way into English through 
the medium of Scandinavian or Dutch. 

(jS) Unstable O.E. a, o before nd, ng: bond, bonde, 
brand, hand, land, sonde, strond\ the preterites bond, 
fond; fonden {0.'E,.fandian'), stonden ; song S., wrong 
adj., long, strong; rong pret., slong, song, throng, 
wrong; fongen, hongen. > 

Note 2. For the sake of rime with a foreign word like 
gerland, Ch. seems, in exceptional cases, to consider a form 
hke hand permissible, of. S.T. 56/1930, [A. 1930], 298/4574, 
[B. 4574.] Being characteristic for the Northern dialect, such 
forms are used by the students in the Reeve's Tale. On and, 
cf. § 58. 

(7) O.E. 6 : so/te. 

14. Short u is, as a rule, represented by u ; after 
w, however, is written for the sake of graphic clear- 
ness ; the most reliable MSS. use the o-symbol also 
before -nn. 

15. Sources of ^ : 

(a) O.E. short ^: tubbe (Lg. tubbe); tukked (from 
Lg. tuckeri) ; bulle, fuKJ), wolle, pullen ; sonne, tonne, 
connen, bigonnen,yronnen, ywonnen ; hunten, hunter e ; 
hunger, hungry ; thus. 

(/8) O.E. 0, u from eo after w in world. 

Note. Unchanged eo has resulted in ^ in werk, swerd 
(O.E. sweord, swurd). Unusual is soster (O.E. sweoster^swuster), 
S.T. 100/3486, [A. 3486], riming with Lat. noster; o = u or n'i 
The form with which Chaucer is more familiar is sisfer (O.N. 

(7) O.E. before // in dulij). 

{S) O.K. y exceptionally before //: skulle, tullen ; 
after w in wors (but more frequently wers') and in 


worth, woi-thy, worthe V. ( = O.E. wyrdian), worm 
(O.E. wyrm), wort (O.E. wyrf") ; further in muchel, 
muche (O.E. myceP). 

(e) Older ^ : buxom ; on us (O.E. ■iis) and ^«if 
(O.E. biitan) cf. § 6 -y. 

Long Vowels. 
16. Long are : 

(a) Originally long vowels before a single consonant, 
or when final: ride, see, deed, brQgd,fggt, hous. 

(;8) Originally long vowels before Id, nd, ng, where, 
however, they occur but rarely ; heeld,feend,freend, 
heeng ; frequently before st : Crist (but list * border, 
edge'), breesti^vifL also brpt), meest, mggst, wggst, dggst. 
In this connection note that the length is most fre- 
quently preserved in cases where the consonant com- 
bination in question is final, or, at any rate, final in 
the most important of the various inflexional forms 
of any given word : feend-feendes, but, on the other 
hand, with a variable vowel, wende, pret. of wenen ; 
meest, moost, from O.E. m^st, mast, but lasten from 
O.E. Isestan. 

Note i. Between Jti and d weak e is generally inserted : 
deemede, seemede, which then become deemed, seemed. On rd, cf. 

(7) Originally short vowels, as a rule before -Id: 
child, feeld, did, gold; original i, ii,y (phon. i'l) before 
nd: bynden (phon. binden), bounden, kynde (phon. 
klnde) ; i, and occasionally a, 0, before mb : clymben, 
comb, lomb. 

(S) Originally short vowels in an open syllable 
(with the exception of z, u,y) : beren, maken,forldre. 


(e) Originally short vowels, after which a consonant 
has disappeared, whether contraction has taken place 
as in maad from maked, or compensation-lengthening, 
as presumably in made, for makde, from makede. 
Also originally short vowels, after which some re- 
lated consonant has become vocalised. This applies 
chiefly to O.E. ^: sille from stijele, fuwol, fowl {^\\on. 
fuel, ful) from fujol — exceptionally to palatal c (^') 
and h {■)[): I from ic,plit irora plight, pliht. 

(f ) Single vowels resulting from the monophthong- 
isation of O.E. or M.E. diphthongs : crepen (O.K. 
creopan), deeth (O.E. deap), ye from eye, high, hy from 
heigh, phon. pluh, plu (spelt plough, plow) from plouh, 
and the latter from OS., play^ (spelt ploh). 

Note 2. A following consonant-group reduces the vowel- 
lengths developing in accordance with £ and C, exactly as if they 
were originally long monophthongs. 

17. If one of the consonant-groups enumerated 
in the preceding section, under /3 and y, is followed by 
another consonant, the long vowel is replaced by the 
corresponding short one : Crzst, but christnen ; child, 
but children ; kynde, but kyndlen (i.e. Mndleti). 

18. If the following syllable concludes with a 
stem-formative (i.e. not an inflexional) r or n, the 
lengthening which should take place according to 
§ 16, y, S, is prevented or impaired : alderman, 
thonder; heven, fader (ci. § 3 5, <5). It seems that, in 
this case, even the vowel-lengths which should be 
preserved in accordance with § 16, /8, are generally 
shortened : cristen as compared with Crist. But the 
vowel-lengths mentioned in§ 16, a,retain theirquantity: 
leever, ever, mggder. 


Note. The phonetic laws developed in §§ 17 and 18 are 
frequently violated by the operation of analogy : by the side of 
feend we fmA.feend2y, beside child, childhede, and so on in almost 
all corresponding cases (but cf. frSjidly, stknesse). Thus 
derivatives formed by means of the suffix -ere (not to be con- 
founded with the old -er already extinct), retain, without exception, 
the quantity of the root-vowel of the word from which they 
derive, although when the accent falls upon the root-vowel, the 
final e is regularly mute : hence, as a matter of fact, r concludes 
the syllable. The comparative suffix -er influences the quantity 
of the root-vowel only when the consonantal termination of the 
root has been strengthened (geminated), but, in this case, it 
affects equally originally long vowels of every category : for 
instance, leever, kynder, but gretter (and hence, by analogy, 
gretiest), from greei ; cf. hereon, § 244. 

19. Much the same effect as that produced by 
final stem -formative r, n results from y as the vowel 
of a following syllable : body, ■many, peny. An 
originally long vowel remains, as a rule, apparently 
uninfluenced by^, for instance, lady, unless perhaps 
when n precedes the y ; at any rate, the quantity of 
eny (O.E. sanif) for which the MSS. not infrequently 
have any, seems doubtful. 

20. The long vowels are l e ^ d g q u. 

21. Sources off: 

(a) Old I : lyf. Ilk, '^ys, ryde, write ; Crist. 

(fi) Stable O.E. y (z-mutation of ii) : hyde, pryde, 
drye, 'dry' (O.E. dryje, cf drUjod, ' drought '); j^?"- 
Here belongs also klthe, lite, ' little ' ; cf P.B.B. ix. 


(7) Old i followed by the consonant-groups Id, nd, 

mb, which produce length : child, mild, wild; wynd, 

blynd, bihynde, bynden, fynden, grynden, wynden, 

chymbe (Mdu. kimme), chymben (Swed. kimba), clymben. 


Also old Stable y before nd: mynde, kynde (O.E. 
cynd), kynde (O.E. cynde). 

[i) Old i before a palatal that has disappeared or 
become vocalised. I ; pllt ; stile (O.E. stijele') tile, 
(O.E. tijele, and, according to Pogatscher, also O.E. 
tljel), tithes, 'tithes' (O.E. tijodd); lyest (O.E. lijest, 
' thou liest '), ywryen (O.E. jewrijeii) ; also old y 
before j: lye (O.E. lyje)} abyest (O.E. dbyjest, 'thou 
buyest, payest')- M.E. hyen, 'hasten, hie,' is O.E. 
Mgian (O.E. / on account of Orrm's subst. hih, 
' haste '). 

Note i. Forms like lyen (O.E. licjun), abyen (O.E. abycjan) 
are by analogy with forms like lyesi, abyest j strict phonetic 
development must have produced in Chaucer forms like Ugge, 
ahigge (^^=N.E. dg) ; cf. §114. A phonetically correct equiva- 
lent for dbycjan which actually occurs in Chaucer is abeggen, 
by the side of which the analogy formation ateyen. 

(e) A monophthongisation of (i) the O.E. diph- 
thong io, /(?. This diphthong has generally been 
transmitted in the form do, and has resulted in i ; but 
z appears in slk, ' sick,' by the side of more frequent 
seek, and regularly before following /: jffyen (O.E. 
Jleojan), flye (^fleoje), dryen (O.E. dreojan), lyen (O.E. 
Uojan). (2) Related Germanic diphthongs, for instance, 
Olg. do, io : sky, Mhg. ze: smylen (?). (3) The M.E. 
diphthong ei, upon which of. § i,i : ye from M.E. eie 
(O.E. daje, eje), sllgh, slye, sly from sleigk (O.N. sloegr)^ 
dyen beside deyen, (O.Fris. deja, O.N. doyj'd), high hy 
(from heigh, O.E. heah, more correctly heli), sy by the 
side of say (from seigh, O.E. seah, smh, seh). 

^ In consequence of the diverging use of the same symbols in O. E. 
and in M. E. , it may be as well to point out in this connection some- 
what more fully the links in the development of lyje to 2y, namely: 
luji, Hje, Hie, lie. 



Note 2. The cases mentioned under e, 1 and 3, cannot be 
accurately differentiated. A form like dryen, for instance, may 
very possibly have developed from dreyen, which is frequent in 
M.E., though it does not occur in Chaucer. 

22. Like short i, long / is represented sometimes 
by i and sometimes by y. But _y is a far more fre- 
quent symbol for long i. It alternates initially with 
/, and seems to be avoided only before certain con- 
sonants (such as k and th). Some scribes, too, 
betray an inclination to differentiate forms identical 
in sound but differing in meaning, by a distinction in 
the use of these symbols. In normalised texts it 
would be desirable, following the example of Brad- 
shaw (cf the transcribed passages in The Skeleton of 
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, London and Cambridge, 
1868), to employ the symbol _y exclusively for long I, 
and the symbol i exclusively for short t. The familiar 
symbol /, which is also the more usual one in the 
better Chaucer MSS., might appropriately be retained 
only for the first pers. pron. 

23. Sources of e : 

(a) O.E. /: beeche ' beech,' seche seke ' seek ' ; gleede, 
heede, steede; feele ' feel ' ; deeme, seeme,gueme;queene, 
wine ' believe, ween ' ; feeng, heeng ; sleep ' slept ' ; 
feere (infeereyfeere), heer{e) 'here' ; gees 'geese,' chSse 
' cheese ' (O.E. cise cyse) ; feet ' feet,' sweete ' sweet,' 
beete ' beat, poke,' grete ' greet,' meeie ' meet ' ; teeth 
' teeth ' ; reeve (O.E. jer/fa), $ve (O.E. ^fe); me, thee, 
he, ye. Here belongs also O.E. / as 2-mutation from 
Germanic au (where the O.W.S. dialect has le,y) : eche 
' increase,' heere ' hear,' leeve, bileeve ' believe,' sleeve 
' sleeve,' also O.E. le, y in neer O.E. nyr (by the side 
of niar\ 


(/8) O.E. e by group-lengthening before Id : feeld, 
skeeld, seelde, cf. § 3 S , e. 

(7) O.E. eo : bee, knee, tree, free ; been, fleen, seen ; 
theef, leef ' dear lief ; seek (more frequent than slk") 

* sick ' ; heeld ' held ' ; feend, freend ; leep ' lept,' weep 

• wept,' deer ' deer,' deere * dear,' reesen (O.E. hriosan), 
ckeesen * choose,' ^rf£.fi; (by the side of bresi), freest. 
Also the related diphthong of other Germanic dialects, 
e.g. meeke (O.N. mj'iikr). 

Note. In exceptional cases Kentish e occurs in Ch. for 
O.E. /, the usual representative of which is f : feer, Troil. I. 229 ; 
III. 978, by the side of the ordinary fyr. On the other handy- 
veeze S., which is probably deduced from the O.E. verb ffsan, 
fisan { = O.S-wed..fdysa) should be accounted for analagously to 
heere, sleeve. On e in words like eelde, weelde, cf § 35, e. 

(^) M.E. / when final : thus by the side of sle^n 
inf. (O.E. sl^an) the apocopated form slee, and the 
verb inflects in the pres. ind. slee, sl§§st, sl(§th, pi. 
sl^^n, slee. 

24. Sources of/: 

(a) O.E. ^ : d((l, ((r, l((s in nathel§§s, l§(ste, m^gst; 
s§(d, thr((d,f§§re ' fear,' br§§th 'breath,' skgtke 'sheath' 
(O.E. scmd scead\ unsh^then, gggtk ' he goes,' Leg. 
2145. Excepting when the vowel is final: see 
(O.E. s£) always with closed e. 

Note i. Instead of gis^h Chaucer generally uses gooth, 
which may be accounted for by analogy : O.E. gd, gdsf, gded:, 
pL gd^, in Chaucer ^^, gqqstygqqth, PL gqqn. 

(^) O.E. e, or mutation-^, in an open syllable : 
st^de ' place, stead ' ; broken, spoken, wrgken ; b^re 
' bear,' spire, bgren, d^ren 'injure,' ^ren 'plough,' sw^ren, 
t§ren, w^ren, ' defend,' wgren ' wear ' ; mfte ' meat,' 


§ten; aszvfved p.p. Likewise O.N. e: £-fien. Also ^ 
from O.E. jc in an open syllable : stfren (O.E styrian, 
N.E. to stir), which is confirmed by rimes, Fame 
567, 817 [Globe, Fame IL 59], Troil. IV. 145 1. 
Further O.E. ea in an open syllable : g^re. 

Note 2. Mlg. U produces f in beer {filwebeer) from bare 
'cover, slip.' 

(7) Monophthongisation of O.E. ^a : br^§d, Iggd, 
d(§d ' dead,' r^^d ' red,' toskr§den ; d(^', Ch^pe, h§(p, 
st^gp, Igpen, thripen, b^pn, drg§m, strggm, g^re ' ear,' gre 
' ear of corn,' iggre ' tear ' ; /ggs ' falsehood, deception,' 
Igfs ' he lost,' ggst ; grggf, b^ten ' beat,' thriten ; deeth 
'death,' sleeth 'he slays'; h^ved. Fame 550 [Globe, 
Fame IL 42], instead of which generally the con- 
tracted form heed, r§ven. 

Note 3. Before palatals O.E. da becomes / in Anglian. 
Chaucer's language shows evident traces of this old monoph- 
thongisation, in the first place, in the younger monophthongisa- 
tion oiei to I {ye from eie, O.E. dag-e, Angl. dje, cf. § 41, Note), and 
fiirther, in the form ike by the side of q^k (O.E. dac). 

25. Fluctuation between e and /. We have 
seen that O.E. le is represented in M.E. by /, O.E. 
/, on the other hand, by e, Anglian and Kentish 4 
occurs, however, frequently in O.E. by the side of 
W.S. se. We may therefore expect to find in 
Chaucer doublets with / and e, and, as a matter 
of fact, these occur in great numbers : ( i ) particu- 
larly in the case of words, the O.E. ^ of which 
traces back to West Germ. A — Germ. Goth, i: — 
speche ; deed, drede ' dread,' mede ' meadow,' dreden, 
reden ; cheke (O.E. cedce for cei&ce Mdu. c&ke, but also 
O.E. cdoce) ; sleep, slepen ' sleep ' ; yeer, heer ' hair ' ; 



beere ' bier ' ; tMre, where, beren ' they bore ' ; weren, 
were 'they were,' 'he were'; streete, weete 'wet'; 
leten, eet, eeten ' he ate,' ' they ate ' ; seeten ' they sat ' ; 
eve ' evening.' Amongst these words some, like deed, 
yeer, occur frequently either with § ox e; others, like 
drede, sleep, slepen, generally have the closed sound, 
whereas reden, werein), and there, have the open 
one ; were{n), which occurs frequently in rime, 
appears only a few times, there only once. Leg. 1870, 
with closed e; cheke (for which in O.E. also ceoce) 
almost always with e, but ch§kes, S.T. 18/633 
[A. 633]. The words leche ' leech,' ' physician ' ; eel, 
sheep, meete ' meet, suitable ' (also m-ete, ' measure ') 
are found only with i, which may, however, be 
accidental, as they occur but rarely. All other words 
belonging to this category either appear exclusively 
in the f-form, or are doubtful ; (2) in a more limited 
degree in the case of words the O.E. d of which is 
due to 2-mutation from Germ. at. The great majority 
of these words, like techen, brede ' breadth ' ; spreden, 
heele ' salvation ' ; deelen, heeste, heete ' heat,' white, 
speten, sweten, heeth, live, bilive, blive ' stay behind, 
remain,' seem to occur only with the f-sound, and 
only a few, like liden ' lead,' cline, line, minen, leeren, 
also occur with closed e, evere and nivere exclusively 
with the latter. Open ^ exclusively in meeste (O.E. 
mdst), cf. § 29 p. Other words with a variable e are 
need, generally e (O.E. ne'd, nyd), but need, Blaunche, 
1253 [1252] (O.E. nead) ; steel, stile, with § and e 
(O.E. stiele, style, could correctly only have resulted in 
stele^ ; greve, of uncertain origin, generally i, but also 
^; heete, biheete with i and f from the Fris., Mlg. or 


Note. If live 'leave,' and bileve 'belief,' have forms with#, 
as well as such with e, this is probably due to the influence of 
the verbs leeven, bileeveti ' believe,' which, correctly, have only f 
(§ 23 a). The pret. sing. 3eer with g or e, by the side of the 
correct form dar, is formed by analogy with the pi. beren. In the 
same manner seet, S.T. 50/2075 [A. 2075], Blaunche, 501 [500], 
— instead of the original sat — is deduced from seeten. An analogy 
formation of a different character, but also due to the type beren, 
is the pi. were(n) — for wered(en) — which occurs S.T. 84/2948 
[A. 2948], in an f-rime ; the form may, however, also be treated 
as a present. 

26. The two sounds e and f axe represented either 
by ee or by e. The best MSS. of the C.T. generally 
have ee in a closed syllable, but er, ther (by the side 
of theer or there) are a frequent exception. In open 
syllables e occurs not infrequently, but more usually 
as the symbol- for § than for e. This is due to the 
fact that originally short vowels, when final in a 
syllable, are represented by a simple symbol and are 
open, and hence long open f which goes back to an 
original vowel-length, derives its spelling from analogy 
with these. This tendency which, in the case of the old 
scribes, is crossed by a desire to differentiate homo- 
nyms, as well as by other more incidental considera- 
tions, might appropriately constitutb the principle of 
a normalised orthography, and if used in. conjunction 
with the diacritic, would afford an easy means of 
complying with phonetic requirements. It would 
then be incumbent upon us to use, in a closed 
syllable, either ee {ee) or ^e, in an open one ee {ff) or 
e{e), according to the respective quality of the sound. 

27. Sources of d : 

(a) Old d in the language of the Northumbrian 
students of the Reeve's Tale : swa i:/ra), S.T. 


116/4039 [A. 4039], raa {-.alswd), 1 17/4085 {A. 
4oSS\ atdnes {: banes), 1171^071 [A. 4073]. ^'^^^^ 
Q.lathe), 117/4087 [A. 4087]. In Chaucer's own 
dialect old d is represented hy g, c(. § 29 a; A as 
interjection, and as the name for the letter. 

(;8) The O.E. representative of Germ, a in an open 
syllable, hence (i) O.E. a: spade, taken, awaken, 
mdken, smdle (O.E. smala, smalan, smdle, whereas 
smdl= O.K. smsel), ape, hare, amdsen (O.E. dmdsian), 
kndve; care (O.E. cdru); (2) O.E. a, 6: name, vdne; 
(3) O.E. ea : die, bale. O.E. «, the chief source for 
M.E. d, need hardly be considered in connection with 
d, for in words like fader {O.K. fmder), water (O.E. 
wseter), the final r has prevented the complete 
lengthening of the a (cf. §35/8, also §18), whilst 
forms like ddle, gate, do not trace bacli to O.E. dxl, 
jeat, (i.e. jsei), but rather to the O.E. plurals ddlu, 
jatu, jeatu (i.e. jatu); cf Zupitza, A. fd. A. II. 11. 
Further, the d of other Germanic languages : take 
(O.N. tdkd) ; hdte (by the side of O.E. hete) is Mdu. 
hate [or rather, according to Litt. Zeitg. 1885, col. 
609, it has been influenced by the verb M.E. hdten, 
O.E. hdtian\. 

Note. In some cases the M.E. word may be derived from 
an O.E. word that has not been transmitted, cf. gasen, gazen, 
perhaps also crasen (cf. Dan. krasa, Swed. krasa). 

Qy) a or sb, after which a consonant has been 
dropped, causing compensation-lengthening, or con- 
traction ; k has disappeared in made, pret. — maad 
p.p. by the side of makede — maked. An exceptional 
case is the apparent loss of _/ in hade, S.T. 16/554; 
[Prol. 554 ;] 18/617 [Prol. 617]: the ordinary M.E. 
form for O.E. hiefde is hadde (assimilation), and in the 


cases referred to, the consonant has probably been 
shortened, and the vowel correspondingly lengthened, 
merely for the sake of the rime. 

28. In an open syllable a is generally represented 
by a, in a close one by aa. 

29. Sources of g : 

(a) O.E. a : fgg, tgg ' toe ' ; Igde, skgde, brggd ; the 
prets. bggd, glggd, rggd, bistrggd ; ggk, strggk ; hggl 
(N.E. whole), bggr ' boar,' sggr, Iggre, ggre, hggr, mggr, 
mgre, mg ; ggn, nggn, stggn, gggn, shggn ' shone ' ; J>gpe, 
grgpen, agrggs, arggs; gggst 'ghost'; bggt, gggt, hggt, 
gte ' oats ' ; hgten, wggt, bggt ' bit ' ; smggt, wrggt ; 
clggth, ggth, Iggtk, wrggth ; likewise O.N. d : wggn 
' abundance, quantity ' (O.N. van). 

Note. S.T. 194/1991 [B. 1991]; 396/2105 [D. 2105]; luggn, 
wqnes, occur respectively in the sense of ' dwelling.' If this is 
based on O.N. vane the a must early have undergone lengthen- 
ing. The form wggn or ivqn occurs also in other M.E. texts. 
Cgpe owes its g to an early lengthening of a in M. Lat. cappa, 
capa, and may therefore be compared to pgpeiiom papa. Note 
incidentally the proper name John, the g of which is perhaps 
due to contraction irorajokan [or rsXhex Jokgn=Orrm Jokan\ 

(J3) Rarely^ from O.E. 5 = Germanic ai: niggst, 
mggste, by the side of m§§ste [but already late Ags. 
North, mast, Holthausen, P.B.B. xn. 590]. 

(7) a from O.E. a (ed) before -Id : gld, bggld, cggld ; ^ 
fglden, hglden, sggld, tggld. 

(§) Mdu. o or b: crgne (Mdu. kronie, from O.Fr. 
caroigne), grgte (N.E. groat'). 

(e) Keltic 6 as in boost, [but according to the 
N.E.D. s.v. the etymon is not known]. Clgke is 
probably due to M. Lat. clocca. 


(iQ O.E. before final -/d: gold, cf. § 35, e ; O.E. 
a, o before -mb : comb, lamb, etc. 

()/) O.E. in an open syllable: poke, smoke, 
broken ; cole, hole, tholen ; ybore,yswoye, forlore, bifore; 

30. Sources of g -. 

(a) O.E. 6 : shg ' shoe,' do ' I do,' unto, thertg ; 
blood, good, wood ' mad ' ; book, cook, hook, wggk, 
forsook \quggk'\ ; tool ; dggm, cggm ' came ' ; nggn 
(N.E. noon), spggn, mggne, sggne ; ggr{e) (O.E. or 
N.E. ore), fggre ' course, track ' ; gggs ; fggt, bggte ; 
tggth, sggth. 

(/3) O.N. 6 : bggne, crggk, rggte, and O.N. gu (au) 
in logs, O.N. Iguss ' loose, free,' Angl. A. VIL 1 5 2. 
In the case of swggte, sggte, also, Mlg. origin might 
be assumed, if O.E. swot did not occur in com- 
pounds {swotstenc), and if the correct form for the 
O.E. adverb swote (adj. sw^te) were not actually- 

31. A fluctuation between g and g is shown in 
some words, the root-vowel of which resulting from 
O.E. a, was, or is, preceded by w : wo, two, so (like- 
wise, of course, also) from swd, probably also who 
from hwg (O.E. hwd). The adv. tho has in Chaucer 
both g (O.E. Jid) and g (Lg. thd). There is no 
definite proof of the occurrence of the latter phonetic 
form in the Canterbury Tales. It is less easy to 
explain why go sometimes occurs in rimes on g, 
although not in the Canterbury Tales. Hoom, which 
ought phonetically to be hggm, is linked, when it 
occurs in rime, either with dggm or cggm^, perhaps 
from lack of other rime-words. Doon ' to do,' on the 


other hand, rimes not only on -on, but also on -gn. 
The following may be considered inaccurate rimes : 
sgthe : bgthe or wrgthe, only in early poems : Blaunche, 
S13, S19, 1 189;" St. Cec. S.T. 533/167 [G. 167]; 
to (O.E. to) : thg (dem. pron. O.E. })a), S.T. 344/369 
[D. 370] ; in a corrupt strophe of the Monkes Tale 
thereto rimes with mg, wg, gg. S.T. 266/3510 
[B. 3510]. 

32. The representation of g and g, in so far as the 
doubling of the vowel-symbol is concerned, resembles 
that of the two e-sounds ; only in an open syllable, 
before r, g is not infrequently written 00, but before 
medial Id generally o, and when final hardly any 
graphic distinction is made between the open and the 
closed sound. A normalised orthography might with 
advantage always represent the closed sound by 00 
(finally, however, o would suffice), the open sound in 
a closed syllable by gg, in an open one by g. The 
diacritic can certainly not be dispensed with in the 
case of g, because the variable u in an open syllable 
is regularly written o. 

33. Sources of u : 

(a) O.E. i!i : thow, how, now nowthe (O.E. nu pa); 
proud, loud loude, koude (more rarely kouthe) ; rough 
rowe ; sowken ; owle, foul foule ' foul, ugly ' ; toun, 
downe ' down, hill ' ; adoun doun, rownen ; stoupen ; 
hour, shour, sour sowre, oures ; hous, mous ; out 
oute, aboute, withoute ; mouth. South ; schowven, 
howve, O.E. h^fe. 

(B) Mlg. ii : lowke ; powpen ; toute, snowte, 
strouten. Likewise Keltic w ox H: gowne. 

(7) O.E. u before nd: pound, ground, sound. 


hound, stounde, wounde ; ybounden, yfounden, 

(S) O.E. u before vocalised w from /: fowel 
fowl, youthe. 

(e) Monophthongisation of M.E. ou, resulting 
from ( I ) O.E. 4r. "X when final : bough, plough, 
slough, swough ; tough ; ynough ynow ; lough. (2) 
O.E. iow when final : yow, cf § 46, Note : the initial 
y is probably due to analogy with the nom. ye, as 
the u in youre, youres to analogy with yow. (3) O.E. 
oj when final : trough, cf § 46, Note. (4) Mdu. ou 
from <?/ : j^om^. 

34. ?? is written either ou, a symbol borrowed from 
the French, or ow, which may be accounted for by 
the ordinary development of the M.E. diphthong ou, 
one of the sources of u. As a rule, though not 
consistently, ow is used finally, frequently also in an 
open syllable, particularly before /, n, v. In our 
editions it would be advisable always to represent 
long u by ou. 

Variable Vowels. 

35. The following vowels may be considered 
variable : 

(a) O.E. / and u, as well as i from O.E. y, in an 
open syllable. In this case u is always represented 
by 0. Examples : Pret. pi. biden, gliden, riden, 
writen, dwinen, shinen, yshriven ; witen ; yiven, 
brice (O.E. bryce ? ' breach '), wike (O.E. wicu) ; 
sone, dore, spore ; love ; some (pi. of soni) ; come, 
shove p.p. (cf § 159). By the side of wike 


occurs wowke, S.T. 4S/iS39 [A. IS39], O.E. wiicu, 
apparently a non-Chaucerian form. 

Note i. The following seem arguments in favour of 
designating these vowels as variable : (i) The general tendency 
to lengthen all short accented vowels. In consequence, e, a, o, 
in an open syllable, became long from about the middle of the 
thirteenth century onwards, after having previously caused the 
lengthening of the single final consonants in short mono- 
syllables (§ 97). Considering this tendency it would seem an 
unaccountable anomaly, if i and u, in an open syllable, had 
remained short. (2) Occasional rimes of these vowels on I 
and «, § 325. But it must be granted that the extreme rarity 
of such rimes in Chaucer proves the tendency of these words 
to have been rather towards shortness than length. (3) The 
fact that in words like sone, which Chaucer no longer uses as a 
dissyllable (not so the pi, sones), good MSS. do not omit the 
final -e. (4) The after-developmfent of these sounds. For the 
most part they have become distinctly short in N.E. : ridden, 
written, to wit, give ; son, love, some, come. But in isolated 
instances they appear lengthened : i without diphthongisation, 
hence spelt ee, in N.E. weevil and week ; by the side of to wit 
the archaic form to weet, which is frequent in the time of 
Elizabeth and James L ; especially u before r, with which is 
connected a peculiar development of the quality : door, spore, by 
the side of spur. On the representation of M.E. variable u cf. 

(j8) e, a, g in an open syllable w^hen the stem- 
ending of the follow^ing syllable is n or r. (i) e 
from O.E. e or eo: weder, lether, heven, stevene, 
swevene, sevene, evene, rarely from O.E. se : whether. 
{2) a from O.E. a : rather, from O.E. se : fader, 
water. (3) ? from O.E. : oven, over. Final -m 
would doubtless exercise a similar influence, but no 
example is available: O.E. botm has in Chaucer, 
even in the nom., botme S.T. 290/4291 [B. 4291]. 


(4) Final / in a following syllable need hardly be 
considered : crddel, Iddel, but perhaps sadel with 
variable a. Mute + r following a vowel seems, in 
some cases, to produce variable quantity : gadre 
(O.E. gadrian), togedre, or rather togidre (O.E. 
tojmdre). It seems doubtful whether the participial -n 
in forms like soden, troden, the root of which ends 
in -d, prevents complete lengthening of o in Chaucer, 
as stem-formative n otherwise does. 

Note 2. In these cases also the variable vowel generally 
becomes short in N.E. Well known exceptions are even, overj 
especially striking is the lengthening of variable a in father, 
rather, water. 

(7) §■, <s^> ?j in 3^n open syllable when the following 
syllable contains j/: e from O.E e, peny : from O.E. 
y, besy ; a from O.E. a{p), many ; g from O.E. o, 
body. Exceptionally perhaps original length in eny 
(O.E. amij). 

(S) All originally short vowels before consonant- 
groups that produce length, when the following 
syllable ends in r or n: e.g. / in linden, probably 
also in hinderinost ; e from O.E. e in selden, on the 
other hand, seelde, where n has been dropped, with a 
distinct i ; a in alder, alderman (whereas did becomes 
'gld in Chaucer) ; u in thonder, wonder, sonder, asonder. 
On length by analogy, cf. § 18, Note. 

Note 3. Yonder is linked in rime with the above-men- 
tioned words. It, as well as yond, had an «-sound in M.E. 
The development of O.E. jeond is not quite clear ; if o in it=« 
{je, of course denotes the palatal /), the question arises, why 
not j/(P««(/ in M.E. ? But perhaps the toneless character of the 
word should be taken into consideration [or, on the other hand, 
the possibility of O.E ^=M.E. g\. 


(e) Old e before Id, whereas old e {e), as in feeld, 
§23/3, becomes long. But since in Chaucer's 
language the /-mutation of O.E. a, ea, before /- 
combinations appears both as Anglian e and Kentish 
e, we may find in his writings elde with variable e, by 
the side of weelde, unweelde with e. In exceptional 
cases -eld with variable vowel results from non- 
mutated -eald : helde (instead of the usual hglde) : 
stnclde (from smellen, hence properly smellde), Fame, 
1686 [Globe, Fame, Bk. m. S9S] ; behelde : elde 
(Anelida, 80). g appears to be variable also when 
resulting from before medial Id: sholde, wolde, 
nolde {wolde rimes with glde, tglde, etc.) ; on the 
other hand, Orrm spells wollde, shollde (as contrasted 
with gold=ggld). 

(^ Old / before medial -nd probably becomes 
variable f : wende (O.E. wende); but cf feend, 
freend, § 16/8. 

(rj) Q before rd: (i) from an original vowel- 
length : lord (from lover d, O.E. kldford) ; (2) from 
O.E. o : bord, kord hoard, tord toord, word. § before 
rd is variable or long in herd (O.E. beard), yerd 
(O.E. jeard), aferd by the side of af§red (O.E. 
dfdred) : variable or short in herde — herd (O.E. he'rde 
— hered),f erde (O.'E. fe'rde),m swerd (O.E. sweord), 
yerde (O.E. jerd). 

(6) a before mb : clomben pret. pi. and p.p. ; 
probably also before ng : tonge, yonge, songen, 
sprongen, stongen, and before rn in borne {eg. in 
Sidyngborne), mornen. 

Note 4. If the following syllable ends in r (or stem-forma- 
tive ti) a short vowel results : hunger. 

(t) O.E. ii, though in an open syllable, sometimes 


becomes variable u before v : dove. Original short 
a in an open syllable is variable in have. 

(k) In a few cases of originally short vowels before 
a final simple consonant. Without exception a (from 
O.E. se) before voiceless s:^glas, gras, was (the 
voiceless character of s in was is in M.E. proved 
beyond a doubt by rimes). Also § from e in wel; 
by the side of this form the distinctly lengthened 
one with e: week But even a variable §, when 
riming with (, may be represented by ee. Besides 
fer (O.E. feor) with short or variable ^ there seems 
to be a feer with f , cf. Fame, 6 1 o [Globe, Fame, 
11. 102], (\ Jupiter, but 591 [Globe, Fame, IL 83], 
Jupiter : botiller). g in upon rimes, S.T. 547/5^2 
[G. 562] : ^p«, S.T. 553/755 [G. 7SS'\-- P^oporcion, 

36. The greater number of the vowels we have 
designated as variable would by many philologists 
be counted short, but cases like wike ; evene, over ; 
bord, hard; dare, inornen, on the other hand, they 
would consider distinctly long. The view taken 
above seems to me, however, more consonant with 
the logic of linguistic development, as well as with 
the rimes of accurate M.E. poets, especially 
Chaucer. A thorough study of Orrm's orthography, 
though the results of such an investigation would 
not be immediately applicable to the language of 
Chaucer — for differences of chronology and dialect 
must be allowed for in this respect also — would 
certainly tend to support my opinion. 

37. The variable vowels are represented in the 
Chaucer MSS. by simple symbols ; by a double 


symbol only in isolated cases, as weel, hoard, 
toord — especially in rimes on long vowels. Vari- 
able u is regularly represented in the greater number 
of the best codices by o, only under with u (or rather 
v). Those who consider the vowel short ascribe 
this fact in part to the vicinity of m, n, v (an 
explanation similar to ours of wo. -for wu -or uuu- ; 
-onn for -unn), in part to an endeavour to discriminate 
in an open syllable between English (and Romance) 
u and Romance U : whereby, of course, an equally 
obvious confusion between English g and u was 
artificially produced. It must be granted that no undue 
weight ought to be attached to the spelling, but it is 
surely not wholly insignificant that one and the same 
scribe should persistently write thonder, but hunten ; 
yonge, but hunger The practice of the best MSS. 
should be taken as the model for a normalised 
system, but for the purpose of differentiating u 
and 0, it would be advisable to denote the open o 
by the symbol g, even in a closed syllable in doubtful 
cases — and it would be most simple to do so in 
every case without exception. For variable i the 
MSS. sometimes have e {weke instead of wike), 
especially after y -.yeven for yiven, but the rimes 
prove this to be non-Chaucerian. 

38. Before concluding the discussion of the simple 
Germanic vowels, a sound must be mentioned which 
occurs only in exceptional cases, either as a variable 
or a short vowel, i.e. the South- Western ii (more 
accurately defined perhaps as a sound intermediate 
between ii and o), representative of O.E. 7. This sound 
occurs regularly under secondary stress in Caunterbury, 
otherwise only in sporadic rimes : mury (instead of 


mery\ S.T. 23/802 [Prol. 802]; Caunterbury: 
murie, S.T. 40/1386, [A. 1386] 4S6/i733 [E. 
1733] : Mercurie. But thurst, which does not occur 
in rime, should be derived, according to Zupitza, 
Litt. Ztg. 1885, col. 609, not from O.E. }}yrst, but 
from O.E. Jyurst. 


39. The O.E. diphthongs have become monoph- 
thongs in Chaucer's language. The MSS. not 
infrequently have ie= O.E. ^0, to, especially before/": 
thief, lief, adj., but the poet himself presumably 
wrrote ee, as his rimes are, in this case, invariably 
on the f-sound. These cases of ie are probably 
Kenticisms of the copyists ; {0 (also id) in the O.E. 
period, and ie in the M.E., w^ere for a long time 
usual in Kent. Whether ie occurs as a fracture is 
doubtful : perhaps in wierde (O.E. wyrd), Troil. in. 
617 ; according to Addit. MS. werdes occurs Boece 
I o, but according to the Camb. MS. wierdes : also 
in hierdes ' shepherdess ' (: wierdes ' fates '), Troil. Ill 
619, but probably only for the sake of the rime. 
Otherwise Chaucer probably wrote herde, herdes. 

But, on the other hand, the M.E. diphthongs, 
some of which occur already in Old Kentish, are in 
active use in Chaucer. They are, as a rule, pro- 
duced by the union of an original vowel with an i 
or u developed from a following consonant. In 
Chaucer these diphthongs are : ai, gi, eu, ^u, au, gu, ou. 

40. The diphthong ai derives in part from an 
older ai that traces back to the first period of M.E., 


in part from older (i. As a rule, the better Chaucer 
MSS. Still distinguish graphically between the two 
groups : older ai is generally written ai, ay, whereas 
ai from ei is by preference written ei, ey ; but each of 
the two groups, and especially the second, contains 
instances of assimilation to the other. The fluctua- 
tion between i and y as symbol for the second 
element in the diphthong is, on the whole, regulated 
in such a manner that_j/ occurs at the end of a word 
or syllable, i medially, but even in the latter case y 
often stands (p.p. sayd, seyd), and is, indeed, the 
rule before n (slayn) ; from the nature of things it 
is of course far more frequent than /. In a 
normalised orthography it would be advisable always 
to denote the second element of the diphthong by y, 
but with regard to the first element to discriminate 
carefully between the two groups. But when words 
from both groups rime with each other, either the 
orthography of the first word should determine that 
of the second, or, for phonetic reasons, the spelling 
should be ay ; for instance, the pret. sg. of ' to see ' 
should always be spelt 'say,' unless some other 
phonetic value (as in sy) is at issue. 

41. I. Older ai results from : 

(a) O.E. «/: day, gen. dayes (whilst the pi. dayes 
is due to analog}', cf § 44), lay, ' I lay,' may ; 
mayden mayde ; sayde seyde ' I said,' sayd seyd pp. 
' said ' ; fayn * fain, glad,' yslayn. 

(/3) various sources : May (the O.E. loan-word 
Mains, but more probably the O.Fr. Mai) ; especially 
O.N. ei in cases where, in contradistinction, O.E. 
has a: ay ' ever,' nay, swayn, waik. 


II. at from older §i results from : 

(a) O.E. ejr (e by /-mutation from a) : seyest, seith, 
leyest ' thou layest,' — leith, leyde (seyen, seyn, sayn ' to 
say ' and leyen ' to lay,' etc., are due to analogy). 

(j8) O.E. e/: wey weye way, pley, pleyen, ley{e)n 
' lain,' seyn ' seen,' ayeyn. 

(7) O.E. yj: bey est, obey est [bey en, aieyen is due to 

(^) O.E. ea before h: eight, seigh, or as Chaucer 
seems to have written, say ' saw.' 

(e) O.E. ^j: ey' egg,' keye, cley, grey. 

(t) O.E. ej". wreyen 'accuse.' 

(»?) O.E. ^A yj («-mutation from auj) : dreye ' dry ' 
(by the side of drye), teyen ' tie, bind.' 

(0) Different sources : sleighte (O.N. sldegd), deyen 
(O.N. ddyj'a, O.Fris. dSj'd), reysen (O.N. reisd), reysen 
(Mlg. reisen), weyven, O.N. veifd). 

Note. By the side of some of the above-mentioned forms 
doublets occur in which the diphthong has yielded to a 
monophthong, whereas, in other cases, only the monoph- 
thongised forms occur in Chaucer (cf § 21 e, also § 10 i"). 
A thorough investigation of the conditions which necessitate 
this monophthongisation belongs to the province of M.E. 
grammar. Meanwhile the following observations may suffice : 
O.E. ^/and ej never produce i in Chaucer, hence abyest {O.'E. 
dbyjest, dbe/esi) traces back to abijest, not obey est ; on the other 
hand, O.E. /<?/ always results in z and never in a diphthong. 
Therefore, in the former case, the ^z-sound was in existence 
before the period of the monophthongisation of ei began. In 
the latter case either eoj; z'<7^ became zV/, z/, f, or ej became ei, 
a, z. Now if ^aje produces in Chaucer onlyjp^, heah only high, 
hy, we must infer therefrom that in an older period the forms 
dje, hih exclusively prevailed in his dialect. It is more peculiar 
that sy should occur by the side of say (from seigh). O.E. 
seah sah had resulted partly in sah (cf hereon § 44), partly in 


s^h ; but apparently the influence of the palatal extended yet 
further, and seh appeared as a dialectal variety of s^k. Whence 
sgigh and seigh, and from the latter form sy. Most peculiar of 
all is, however, that O.E. ^j- from Sji, and ^ from au/i {dreye 
' dry ' for drye goes back to drije) produce no monophthong in 
Chaucer. Ifdyen occurs by the side of deyen the latter might 
trace back to O.Fris. deja (or O.Dan, diiia with long 6, which, 
according to E. Brate, Nord. Lehnworter im Orrmulum, 
P.B.B. X. 38, is the source of dejenn), the former to O.N. doyja. 
Slights and sleighte seem to postulate one and the same 
original form. The adjective from which both words are 
derived occurs only in rime in the form sly, slye, but there is 
no reason for doubting sleigh as a Chaucerian form. Anyone 
who should devote himself to exhaustive investigations aiming 
at a solution of existing difficulties would need to discriminate 
most accurately among the various dialectal peculiarities and 
the different periods of the language. The chronology of the 
diphthongs has the most important bearing on their develop- 
ment. Four periods may be distinguished : (i) Final /becomes 
i ; (2) medial / becomes i ; (3) i develops before final h ; (4) / 
develops before protected h. 

42. gi occurs rarely excepting in Romance words: 
embroyded, p.p., cf. § 1 40, floyten (Mdu. ?), boy, of 
unknown origin, boistous (Wall, bwystus). 

43. eu, generally spelt ew, more rarely eu, since w 
and u interchange similarly to y and i, is due to 
O.E. eow : trewe ' faithful, true,' knew ' knew,' threw; 
also in newe (O.E. neowe), hewe (O.E. h^ow'). 

Note. Instead of O.E. treoiu Mo, meow cne'o, the latter 
forms have become the prevailing ones in M.E. throughout the 
whole inflexion of the words in question. 

A3b. §u is carefully distinguished from eu ; it 
stands for O.E. eaw mf^we {O.'E.. fiawe), th§w (O.E. 
p^aw), sk§we (O.E. sceawian), also in r^we ' row,' 



dronkel§we, cf. Weymouth, Pronunciation, p. 104. 
On final eaw, cf. also § 44, Note. 

44. au, when final in a word or syllable generally 
spelt aw, also au, is due to : . 

(a) O.E. «/ : hawe, lawe, mawe, shawe, dawes (O.E. 
dajas, whereas dsaj deejes produces day dayes), dawen 
'to dawn,' drawen, yslawen (O.E. jeslajen, just as 
yslayn = jeslmjen) : likewise O.N. ag\ awe (O.N. «^«) 
and Mlg. ag : _/«ze;^ {fagan, whereas the far more fre- 
quent y«y;? =fmjen). 

(/3) O.E. ea, se before h : saugh, saw (for another 
development, cf § 41, II. ^ and Note), f aught, 
straughte ; likewise O.N. a in draught (from O.N. 

(7) O.E. d ox s^ before protected h, for O.E. ib, 
when shortened, generally also results in a : aught 
(O.E. dht'), naught, taughte (O.E. tdhte, tmhte), raughte 
(O.E. ri&hte from rdceam, and reahte from reccan have 
almost ceased to be distinguishable). 

(^) eaw, when final : straw, unless it be more 
correct to assume ^aw. 

Note. O.E. final eaw either drops the tu at an early period, 
or it becomes vocalised at the beginning of the M.E. period ; 
hence O.E. streaw results, on the one hand, in stria, str^ (in 
Chaucer, of course, e when final : stree, but str^^s), on the other 
hand, in stmu, strau. Similarly hraw, hrceu rau. Obscure is 
the origin of wraw 'peevish, fretful,' but it is clearly not 
derived from wrdh, which in Chaucer must have become 
wrough but presupposes a form *'wrce'w or wreaw, or a 
borrowed form wrau. 

45. QU results almost invariably from an originally 
short 0, or from shortened 6 before protected h : 
wroughte (O.E. worhte), broughte, thoughte, roughte 


(O.E. rShte), soughte; ought (O.E. 6hf), nought; only 
exceptionally from old a before protected h : oughte 
(O.E. dhte). 

On though from O.N. J^S (pre-literary * pSk), cf. 
§ 46, Note. 

Note. As aught, naught go back to O.E. dht, ndht, but the 
forms ought, nqught, though with the same meaning, to O.E. 
6ht, ndht, so O.E. dhte should regularly have produced 
aughte, which is common in other dialects, but does not occur 
in Chaucer. For the explanation of the form qughte, note 
that in dhte the root-vowel acquired the same timbre as in the 
forms of the present djan, dh, d/on, dje, djen. The influence of 
analogy caused dhte to retain its long d beyond the usual time, 
so that d became q. The shortening of the q in qhte probably 
did not take place until qwen, qwe had become ouen, oue. 
Thus, by the side of oue (spelt owe), appeared first qghte, and 
later qughte. 

46. ou generally spelt ou medially, otherwise ow, 
goes back to : 

(a) O.E. medial 6w or 6j : glowen, growen, wowen 
(O.E. wojian). 

(j8) O.E. medial oj (medial ow would produce the 
same result if it occurred), and o before final h : 
bowe (O.E. bojd), though (Orig. N. thoh). 

(7) O.E. dw : crowe, ' crow S.', blowen, crowen 
' to crow,' knowen, sowen, throwen, soule (O.E. sdwel), 
slow (O.E. sldw), snow (O.E. sndw) ; O.E. dj: throwe 
(O.E. t>rdj), owen (O.E. ajaii), likewise O.N. dg: 
lowe {Idgr). 

(^) O.E. medial ^ow : trouthe, routhe,foure, trowen; 
but for these forms it may be more correct to 
assume eow. 

(e) Exceptionally O.E. dw in slouthe (O.E. sldwd), 
by assimilation to slow. 


Note. The following further observations may be made 
on the history of the diphthongs formed with u. (i) M.E. 
has an aversion to vowels of undue length, so that soon after 
the formation of a new diphthong the first element, if origin- 
ally a long vowel, becomes shortened : blouen from blowan 
becomes blouen, etc. (2) The chronology of the development 
of u from w, j, and h is as follows : — (a) « from final w after 
ea ; {fi) from any other w and final /; (y) from medial j and 
final h ; (8) from protected h. (3) From qu (whether it = ^ from 
o-\-u, or=q from d-\-u) there regularly develops ou, so that 
bowe from boj^a, knowe from cndwan, contain in Chaucer the 
same diphthong as growen from growan. Only the qu that 
developed last maintained itself, hence this diphthong occurs 
only before protected h, where ou never stands. (4) ou 
became u only finally, and only at one definite period, and 
this sound is as little affected by the evanescent breathing 
which is all that survives of an originally final h, as by a 
weak -e which is a later addition : ynow {/enij), ynowe 
and ynough {jen6h\ all with u; for which reason every 
medial ou, as well as any which developed finally at a later 
period, remained diphthongs. In Chaucer we find il from 
final -dj -6h -oj and -eow, provided the latter has not resulted 
in -eu (cf. § 33 e, and § 43 ^) ; but not from -oh and not from 
-dw -dj-dh. In contrast to the relation between ei and t, that 
between ou and u is perfectly clear, nor in this case either are 
doublets found in Chaucer. In the M.E. of Chaucer's time 
doublets can, in any case, only have resulted in the very 
youngest forms of ou, namely, in cases from originally final oj: 
The only available example is troj, which in Chaucer is spelt 
trough, with the sound of u, but elsewhere has probably 
preserved the diphthong: for the N.E. phonetic form trqf 
(spelt trough) postulates M.E. ou, or rather ow, qv, qf, as N.E. 
2«^ (spelt enough), r?/ (rough), M.E. u or rather uu, uw, uv, 
uf. Chaucer's pronunciation of trough could in N.E. have 
produced, only one or the other of the two forms trcm or trsf. 
The conjunction though, on the other hand, must, as in 
Chaucer, have everywhere retained the diphthong ou. I have 
yet to adduce a proof against Zupitza, A.f. d. A. 11. 6, that my 


derivation of though from a loan-word thoh is correct : — though 
is not derived from O.E. ]}iah because (i) in Chaucer's 
language, or the dialects upon which it is based, O.E. /a before 
h never resulted in a, far less g, cf. § 49 ; (2) in other dialects 
it results, indeed, in a, but in one of a lighter timbre, which is 
incapable of transition into q ; however, M.E. }>ah had probably 
a short a (cf. }>ehh in Orrm. and also Brate, Nord. Lehnworter 
im Orrmulum, P.B.B. x. 12); (3) Orrm uses the form Jjohh^ a 
derivation of which from O.E. })iah would force us to assume 
two processes without parallel in the language of this author : 
development of /a to a instead of to S, and development of A to 
Q, instead of retention of a ; moreover, the shortening of the 
vowel — though in itself not impossible — would, under these 
circumstances, be difficult of explanation. Brate (P.B.B. x. 60 f.) 
derives }>ohh from a pre-literary O.N. *}>6h. On the effect of 
analogy in verb inflexion, so far as it bears on the relations of 
ou and u, cf § 152. 

47. In normalised texts it would be advisable to 
differentiate gu, ou and u, by writing ou for u 
(hence : ynough, lough, bough, bouen ' to bow, bend,' 
nou, hou, you), ow for the diphthong ou {growen, 
knowen, bowe ' bow ' S., thowgh, rowthe, trowthe); but 
either gu or simple g for gu, in which case the 
following ^^ would sufficiently indicate the ^-element, 
and as a matter of fact this is frequently done in 
the MSS. 


48. At this stage it may be advisable to pause 
for a moment in order to sum up in connected 
sequence the history of the O.E. vowels, so far as 
they are represented in Chaucer's dialeft. 

I. O.E. a remains a, which is lengthened in an 
open syllable. 


II. O.E. a, before resonants becomes g before 
-nd, -ng ; g before -mb : cgmb, Igmb, womb, clgmb ; 
otherwise a. 

III. O.E. ^ almost invariably becomes a, the 
quantity of which is further determined by the laws 
discussed above, f appears only in messe, unless 
Romance influence ought here to be assumed, nesse 
(in Holdernesse), after palatal k ; ckestre (in Chaucer 
only in composition: Rouchestre, S.T. 254/3116 
[B. 311 6]) ; further in cases where O.E. « stands 
instead of, or by the side of, e = /-mutation of a, as 
in berne (O.E. bern, bmrii), likewise in whether, 
whereas from tojedre (O.E. tojsedre) has developed 
the form tojidre, which the best MSS. of the Canter- 
bury Tales have preserved, and which is confirmed 
by rime in Leg. 649. 

IV. O.E. ea : 

(a) In an open syllable regularly becomes a in 

(/3) Before /-combinations O.W.S. O.Kt. ea ap- 
peared by the side of Angl. a. In the district where 
Chaucer's dialect developed, -AL and -EAL seem to 
have met. Both resulted in AL- with lengthened a 
in the combination -ALD, which — like original d — 
becomes g, and regularly appears in this form in 
Chaucer. In exceptional cases only he employs 
forms in which ELD, with a variable e, has developed 
from EALD : helde, bihelde (cf § 3 5 e) ; these are 
probably not native to the poet's dialect, but have 
been borrowed for the sake of rime from some 
neighbouring dialect. 

(7) Before ^'-combinations ea was the rule in the 


later period of O.E. in all dialects which enter into 
the discussion here. This, in Chaucer, usually results 
in a. Exceptions are : erme = O.E. earmian, S.T. 
3 1 2/3 1 2 [C. 3 1 2] (Stratmann — ignoring the context 
— translates the word ' make miserable ' = O.E. 
ierman, yrmari), probably also Blaunche, 80 (instead 
of the transmitted yerne),fern, yerd ' garden,' herd, in 
which lengthening of the f takes place (§35 n)- 

(§) Before A and ^-combinations (naturally also 
before x=ks) O.Angl. ^ appeared by the side of 
O.W.S. and O.Kt. ea. Chaucer's linguistic usage 
presupposes in part f (exceptionally e), in part 
a darker sound which was bound to become a : 
flex, wex, wexen and waxen, eight (from §hf), seigh 
say {s§h) ; sy (sek) ; saugh, saw (sah), f aught, 
laughter, etc. 

V. O.E. e as /-mutation of a regularly becomes 
(, or in an open syllable lengthened ^. Exception- 
ally a has developed before protected r in warien 
' curse ' (O.E. werjian, werjan, wserjati), harwede 
(O.E. herjode). Tarien, ' to tarry, delay,' is probably 
a blending of O.E. terjan with O.Fr. tarier (which is, 
however, itself of Germanic and identical origin), and 
perhaps, so far as the meaning is concerned, with 
O.Fr. targer. The z-mutation of O.W.S. O.Kt. ea, 
O.Angl. a before /-, was W.S. ie, y, Kent, e, Angl. m, 
e. Closed and open e coalesced in ( when the sound 
remained short ; but before -Id closed e was 
lengthened : eelde, unweelde, by the side of which 
variable § in (Ide. The /-mutation of O.E. eah, xh 
occurs in Chaucer only in cases where in O.E. it had 
already reached the /-stage : might 'might,' S. mighte 
'might,' V. night. 


VI. O.E. e before -Id becomes e (feeld, shedd) ; in 
other cases it becomes §, and thereupon, in open 
syllables, §. 

VII. O.E. eo, io, as a rule becomes f (it occurs more 
rarely in open syllables, hence less frequently §). 
But before protected h we find i, not only where this 
stage had been reached already in O.W.S. and 
O.Kt, as in knight, riht, six, but also in fighten, 
and even in highte, although here the only O.E. form 
transmitted is heht (by the side of hit), not heoht. 
In silk, milk, silver the i sometimes occurs already in 
O.E., but it may be partially due to foreign iniluence 
{e.g. O.N. silki). 

VIII. O.E. i is lengthened before Id, nd, mb {child, 
wynd, clymben) ; in an open syllable it is variable, 
but in the majority of cases it seems to become / ; cf. 
§ 8. 

IX. O.E. always becomes g or g, even where it is 
lengthened before -Id {gold), and naturally where it 
becomes variable in quantity. 

X. O.E. u is lengthened before nd {bounden, 
founden), becomes variable before inb, ng, rn, etc., as 

well as in an open syllable ; in other cases it remains 
short {u with a tendency to ^?). 

XI. O.E. y. Already in O.Kt. e appeared by the 
side oi y, and in course of time it becomes more fre- 
quent. In M.E. u {i.e. ii with a tendency to o) appears 
in South-Western territory, e in South-Eastern, in 
other districts generally /. In Chaucer u occurs only 
in burden, -bury {Caunterbury), and otherwise excep- 
tionally for the sake of rime {mury, murie). The 
correct form in Chaucer's dialect is e, which has 


become §, and i which, where it remains short and is 
not followed by gh, probably = i. e is on the whole 
more frequent than i. [On the other hand, according 
to Morsbach, M.E. Gr. § 1 3 1 , Note i , zis more frequent 
than ^.] i occurs regularly before gh {^flight, afrighi) ; 
as a rule also before n and ^-combinations : kyn, 
synne, wynne, thynne (more frequent than thenne), 
kyng, kynde, mynde, with the exception of -nt : dent, 
stenten, rarely stynten ; before rth : birthe, myrthe ; 
further, fille S., fulfillen by the side oi fulfelkn V., 
gilt ' guilt,' kissen, more frequently than kessen, which 
he uses for the sake of rime. On the other hand, 
generally lest ' lust, desire,' lesten V. ' to lust ' (only 
one certain instance of liste in a rhyme on upriste). 
Hence it would be better to read 172/1332 [B. 
1332] keste : leste, and certainly 343/317 [D. 317] 
chest : lest with H. and P. The subst. lest occurs 
twice in all MSS. linked in rime with brest (C. once 
best for lesi) ; and, in addition, once brest : fest 
122/4276 [A. 4276] where H.E.Hg. C. have the 
e-form, Co.P.L. the z'-form. Hence we must read 
4/132 [Prol. 132] brest : lest as in H., with which 
Co.P.L., and in part also C, agree, and deny the 
occurrence of the form brist 'breast,' in Chaucer. 
The subst. list remains only 351/633 [D. 633] (: lyst 
from list). 

49. The O.E. long vowels and diphthongs are 
represented as follows in Chaucer. O.E. d hy g ; 
O.E. dhy r, O.E, / by f ; O.E. / by f ; O.E. 6 by 
g ; O.E. t'c by ii ; O.E. y hy i {e only exceptionally 
in forms which may be considered Kenticisms, as 
feer besides fyr) ; O.E. /« by f ; e'o, io as a rule 
by e, but before / and h hy i (before protected h 



by /: light 'light' S.), also in sik, and shortened 
in fil, siknesse. 

As in O.E. A and e stand side by side, so in 
Chaucer § and e alternate under conditions which 
have been sufficiently defined, § 25. Again, as in 
Anglian O.E. ea appears before palatals as /, so in 
Chaucer we have eeke by the side of (^k, whilst hy 
presupposes O.E. Mh for h^ah, and ye likewise eje for 

The cases in which O.E. le and /« have resulted, 
in Chaucer's language, in g instead of §, and where 
O.E. eo seems to have bec6me 5, require special 
comment. Several M.E. dialects develop an a from 
sb and ea. This, however, never becomes g : bare 
by the side of b§re, chas by the side of ch§s (N.E. 
chose has no connection with this form, but is due to 
the M.E. pi. chgsen). This a is therefore a lighter 
sound than the O.E. a, and occurs in Sth. texts 
not infrequently by the side of, though carefully 
differentiated from, the g which had developed from 
the latter. The lighter a does not occur in Chaucer 
in this function, nor has it left any real traces in 
N.E. (N.E. race, if borrowed from the Northern 
dialects, is derived either from O.N. rds, or from 
Mdu. rses). a, g, can develop only in certain cases 
from m, ea: ( i ) « from Germanic ai without /-muta- 
tion. Sievers is inclined to deny the existence of ^ 
for a in O.E. altogether ; in all doubtful cases he 
assumes z-mutation to account for the se, and leaves 
msest and flsbsc unexplained [for which forms /-muta- 
tion is, however, proved to be possible, Angl. V. 
Anz. 85]. But he disregards the fact that in O.W.S. 
even a word like jdst appears in the form ^st, for 


which, in the loth century, jdst again becomes 
the rule. But, at any rate, the word miBst is a 
certain example of a case where, instead of § and e, 
g and of seem to have been the rule in O.E. The 
former § survives, the latter of becomes a, and 
thereupon g. Thus, in Chaucer, we find mgfst by 
the side of mggst. Corresponding to Ohg. meina we 
must assume for O.E. a form (not in evidence) nmn, 
with or without a secondary form man, M.E. m§ne 
and mane mgne. Chaucer has only the form m.gne. 
But if the O.E. verb mxnan becomes in M.E. on 
the one hand regularly m^nen menen, but on the 
other hand mdnen, mgnen, the two latter forms 
must be due to analogy with the corresponding 
substantive, an assumption which is confirmed by 
the fact that the vowel a, or g, appears in older M.E. 
more rarely in the verb than in the noun, though in 
course of time the differentiation into mean and 
tiioan, which is established in N.E., becomes apparent 
in both. Chaucer uses the verb only in §- or e- 
forms. (2) O.E. lb and ea before w may result 
either in ^ or in a, g, in either case a diphthong 
develops which, finally, becomes ^21! or ou : O.E. 
sldwd, M.E. sleuthe slouthe — the latter form is common 
in Chaucer, O.E. sceawian, M.E. skewen showen, 
Chaucer shewen ; O.E. streawian, M.E. strewen 
strowen. Chaucer seems to employ the form 
strawen, which may be accounted for by the de- 
velopment of a dialectal form strauen, instead of 
the regular strgwen from strawen, in consequence 
of assimilation to the subst. straw. 

Note i. Except in the above-mentioned cases M.E. q does 
not occur as representative of O.E. da, and only apparently 


as representative of O.E. i. In all cases where in several 
dialects M.E. g apparently corresponds to an O.E. d, it 
would certainly be advisable to investigate whether a secondary 
form with d is not phonetically possible, or whether no loan- 
word, especially no O.N. one (cf for instance, Ign from O.N. 
ldn,wqren from OM.vdrum, etc.) is the source, or, finally, whether 
analogy has not been in play (cf. pret. pi. ■y)ven, goven, instead 
of ii^even geven by analogy with the p.p. ^oven from ■3,eoven by 
the side of -leven or y-veii). 

O.E. eo is in some M.E. texts represented at 
least occasionally by 5 instead of e; but in a 
fairly large area (and in the district where Chaucer's 
language prevails) an o develops, but only before w, 
the original quantity, and hence also quality, of 
which seem doubtful ; medially it is bound in 
course of time to result in the diphthong ou, 
finally in u : — O.E. fdowere, M.E. foure ; O.E. 
hreowan, M.E. rewen and rowen (Chaucer : rewen) ; 
O.E. hreowd, M.E. reuthe and routhe (Chaucer : 
routhe) ; O.E. seowian, M.E. sewen and sowen 
(Chaucer : sowen) ; O.E. trhwe, M.E. ti-ewe and 
trowe (Chaucer : trewe) ; O.E. treowian, M.E. trewen 
and trowen (Chaucer : trowen) ; O.E. treowd, M.E. 
treuthe and trouthe (Chaucer : trouthe) ; O.E. eow, 
M.E. eu and ou, ^eu and ^ou, Chaucer yow (i.e. yii), in 
youres u for ou by analogy. In the remaining 
examples of O.E. eow Chaucer appears to be familiar 
only with the diphthong eu. 

Note 2. The development of ow ou from eow is scarcely to 
be explained by the change of the falling diphthong eo into a 
rising one. The second, though inferior, element acquires such 
a preponderance, in consequence of the addition oiw, that when it 
becomes obviously necessary to simpKfy the triphthong which has 
developed, or is about to do so, o may prevail over e. An attempt 


to pronounce the O.E. Mowd^w'ith a falling diphthong would 
prove a difficult task. But in the case of dw gw from daw, an 
accent-shift within the diphthong is out of the question ; da 
results, here as everywhere, in li, and like & before iv, may 
develop the phonetic value a' and thereupon become a g 
instead off. Therefore not even a case like chase {=chds), by 
the side of ches from O.E. cdas, postulates a falling diphthong 
ea, but should be accounted for exactly like bare by the side of 
b^re from O.E. beer. 

50. In cases where O.E. vowel - lengths were 
shortened early they develop like the corresponding 
originally short sounds : d becomes a : gattggthed 
(from M.E. gggt, O.E. gdt\ yclad (from O.E. clddian) ; 
e becomes f : grgtte, k§pte, wgpte, tgn (by the side of 
fiftene) ; / becomes /, more rarely i : wisdom, smit 
(smitth from smited), light ' light ' adj. ; 6 becomes g : 
softe ; ■ii becomes u : but, us ; do becomes f : crepte, 
rest (by the side of breest), f§l ; io ie becomes i or 
i : light ' light ' subst. ; /il (by the side of fgl), 

Several different developments proceeded from 
shortened ^, da, y. In O.E d occurred by the side 
of ^; in position we may therefore in the first 
instance expect s& beside e ; the latter is bound to 
become ^ ; ^ in Chaucer's district generally becomes 
a, and in exceptional cases f On the whole a is 
more frequent in Chaucer : bad, mad, lasten, ladde — 
lad from liden, dradde — drad from driden, spradde 
from spr§den, swatte from sw^ten, lafte from l§ven, to 
which belongs the p.p. (yyaft, and more rarely, left ; 
cf Blaunche, 42. Conversely, though less fre- 
quently : dredde, yspred ; ywet = O.E. jewMed ; lesse 
is more frequent than lasse, whether owing to the 
following ss (cf messe -nesse), or by analogy with 


l^(st ; shepherd only with |, whereas sheep only with 
e, likewise exclusively sl^pte, because slepen is the 
ordinary form, but especially on account of the not 
yet extinct strong pret. sleep ; only mente, lente, 
because in the former half of the M.E. period vtende, 
lende, with long, or at least variable, § were the rule. 
O.E. /(2 in position regularly became se, and there- 
upon a : chapman, rafte from r^ven, straw. The 
newly formed pret. bette (provided it really occurs 
in Chaucer, cf § I34), is, however, connected 
primarily with the strong preterite beet, not b§ten. 
The form of the positive gr^^t has influenced the 
compar. gretter, and grettest formed by analogy with 
it [or it must be derived from the mutated O.E. 
grytrd\. In Edward we have § on account of the 
prolonged survival of the quantity in composition. 

O.E. y when not in position almost always 
becomes i, but in position, like original short y, 
sometimes i, sometimes f : kyd: hyd, S.T. 462/1943 
[E. 1943], a rime without real value as evidence, 
but which tradition has sufficiently accredited in this 
form ; on the other hand, hed or yhed (: bed). Leg. 
208, Blaunche, 175. 

Vowels without Primary Accent. 

51. So far we have considered the Germanic vowels 
in originally accented syllables (i.e. under primary 
stress) with reference to their actual accentuation. 
Now if the originally accented syllable transferred 
its accent to the syllable immediately following, the 
quality of its vowel - sound would scarcely be 
modified, but the quantity would probably be 



somewhat shortened. This shortening cannot, 
however, have been very considerable, for the reason 
that the accent-shift occurred only very occasionally, 
and mainly in response to the exigencies of the 
metre, whilst on the whole the original accentua- 
tion prevailed, and maintained itself unimpaired in 
current speech. We have no means of finding a 
more definite answer to the question thus raised : 
the originally tonic syllable occurs in rime only 
when it is actually accented, the traditional spelling 
justly concerns itself only with normal accentuation, 
and the rare cases in which the shifting of the 
accent has had permanent consequences — for instance, 
in the first syllable of N.E. mankind or freewill — 
reveal no essential difference in the treatment of the 
vowels in question. 

52. The syllables capable of accent may be 
divided, according to their position in a word, into 
two classes : such as regularly bear the secondary 
accent, and such as are sometimes unaccented, 
sometimes bear the principal accent. To the first 
class belongs, for instance, the third syllable in 
Canterbury, Holdernesse, alderman, martyrdoom, to 
the second, the second syllable in millere, writynge, 
clennesse, worthy. One and the same part of a 
compound, or one and the same suffix, may belong 
both to the first and the second classes ; cf., for 
instance, martyrdoom and wisdom, alderman and 
goodman, worthily and shaply, buxomnesse and 
clennesse ; in one and the same word even, by 
mere syncope, a syllable may pass from the first 
to the second class, or, by the insertion of a syllable, 
from the second to the first: trewely and trewly. 


hardly and hardely, etc. The syllables under 
secondary accent and the syllables of the second 
class in case of actual accentuation will therefore be 
considered conjointly. The vowels of these syllables, 
in so far as they appear in rime, display on the 
whole, as the result of analogous development, the 
same characferistics as originally tonic syllables. It 
will suffice to quote a few examples, which may be 
followed by the discussion of cases requiring special 
comment. Short vowels : lernyngie), O.E. leorninj 
leornunj; smoterlick, O.E. -He; ydelnesse, O.E. idelnes; 
Holdernesse, O.E. -nses ; alderman, O.E. ealdormon, 
-man; newef angel, origin obscure (from newfangle- 
nesse), Edward, O.E. Eadweard ; Engelgnd, Northum- 
berlgnd, furlong, O.E. furhlgng furlang. Long 
vowels : body, O.E. bodij ; holy, O.E. hdlij- ; boterflye, 
O.E. butorflioje ; fifteene (cf , on the other hand, 
simple t§n), hertel^^s, routhelggs, etc., O.E. -le'as, 
nathel(§s, O.E. nddelds ; algate, algates ' always ' from 
allegate, from O.N. alia ggtu, but nom. sg. gata, M.E. 
gate ' way, gate ' ; nyhtyngale, O.E. nihtejale ; knight- 
hggd, prentishggd, O.E. -had, househgld, cokewgld, 
Osewgld ; martyrdggm ; neighebour. Diphthongs, for 
instance, in felawe (O.N. filage), windowe (O.N. 
vindgugd). Variable i va frendshipe, felawshipe (O.E. 
-scipe), etc., il in Canterbury. 

53. The O.E. suffix -ij, no matter of what origin, 
always becomes y, i.e. I from ii. The O.E. com- 
position suffix -He -lice becomes -lieh -liche ; the 
more usual -ly might trace back to O.N. -Hgr -liga 
[if M.E. / from O.E. ie did not prove the possibility 
of a phonetic change]. The O.E. adj. jelic, on the 
other hand, results in lik, more rarely lieh, and the 


adverb also appears in both forms: {y)like and 

54. The suffix -ere, for instance in mellere, ridere, 
as well as the suffix -stere, expanded by analogy 
with the former from O.E. -stre, as in beggestere, has 
generally ^ in Chaucer (sole exception wonger for 
wongere: dextrer,S.T. 197/2102 [B. 2102]) in other 
M.E. poets it more frequently has e. The corre- 
sponding O.E. suffix is commonly spelt -^re, not 
because the / had always been closed, but because in 
a syllable under secondary stress the ^-sound was 
generally represented by e, as dsejrM, hMd, AelfrM, 
etc., prove ; cf Anglia V. 3. O.E. HierusaUm Jeru- 
salem seems also — and that, indeed, in all dialects 
— to contain ^ in the final syllable, as proved by 
Orrm's spelling Jerrsalsem, and the same sound holds 
iot Jerusalem (pronounced Jerwsalfm) in Chaucer. 

Note. Sievers (P.B.B. IX. 200) and also Sweet, assume short 
g in O.E. Aelfred, dcejred, hired. Now the long vowel in weakly 
accented syllables of this kind was doubtless capable of 
shortening, especially when the meaning of the component parts 
of a word had ceased to be felt. Thus hired perhaps became 
^zVerf already in the O.E. period (though we have not the slight- 
est justification for assuming the shortness of the e in all cases, 
to say nothing of texts so early as the ninth century), M.E. 
hired and hird. But it is otherwise in the case of dcejrid and 
AelfrM, the long f (or /) of which is proved as late as the 
thirteenth century. Cf Alfred : rgd, Owl and Nightingale, 761. 
But only a pedant could fail to take into consideration not only 
W.S. -re'd in relation to rdd, but also the suffix -ere and the 
e in JerusaUm, and anyone with a fairly comprehensive grasp of 
M.E. phonetic conditions as a whole, cannot doubt but that in 
an unaccented syllable O.E. / might well stand for f 

55. The composition suffix -/igod, O.E. Md, has 



acquired an etymologically identical doublet, -h§(d, 
-h(de, also hede : maydenh^^d, goodlyh^^d, chapman- 
k§de, maydenhfde, maydenhede, wommanh^de, wom^nan- 
heede, etc. ; Mdu. -hede contained, apparently, § 
(Deut. Litteraturzt, 1884, Col. 125); is the closed 
sound derived from Frisian or some other Low 
German dialect? [Grdr. I. 874 a mutated secondary 
form -hs^d is assumed for O.E.] 

56. Amongst the syllables which may be accented 
or unaccented, and which in Chaucer's time were as 
a rule unaccented in the language of every-day life, 
there are some which contain an originally long vowel 
shortened even under the ictus. Thus Dunstan (O.E. 
D-knstdn) occurs S.T. S77/iSOi [D. 1502] riming 
with man, and this form of the name seems in the 
M.E. period to have been as current in the South as 
Dunston. a for points to a weakening of the 
quantity which may be accounted for by the lost 
perception of the meaning of the name. A similar 
weakening occurs in wedlok (O.E. -lac) as well as in 
-dom, wisdom, freedom (in Orrm the was still long) 
as compared with martyrdoom. 

57. If the syllables belonging to the second class 
and capable of accent are nevertheless unaccented, 
the quantity of the long vowels contained in them is 
without doubt diminished. But the quality of the 
vowels capable of accent probably remained essen- 
tially the same in either case. 

58. The vowels of generally unaccented, or at 
any rate weakly accented monosyllables deviate but 
little from the rules laid down for syllables under 
primary accent. The prepositions in, with, gf, fgr, 



up, thurgh ; by, to, and the conjunction that call for 
no special comment so far as the relation of the O.E. 
to the M.E. vowels is concerned. But in the pre- 
positions on, frgm, an g occurs where the original 
tonic syllable requires an a in Chaucer's dialect. 
This g has become so firmly established, that it 
maintains itself in frg after the loss of -m, and occurs 
even when the words in question, being used adver- 
bially or in composition, acquire the accent : to and 
frg, upon. The g in gn, upgn, used post-positively, is 
capable of lengthening, at least in so far that it can 
rime with long "g, gn : gggn, Blaunche, 12 17, upgn : 
ggn, S.T. 547/564 [G. 563]. On the other hand, the 
conjunction ^ andl in contradistinction to hond, lond, 
and all similar words, always contains a — a fact which 
is more difficult of explanation, but reaches back to 
the O.E. period. Noteworthy is also the differentia- 
tion between weakly accented or unaccented not, and 
strongly accented ngught. 

Note. The particle unto is not the result of gn and to, but is 
probably correctly derived by Stratmann from Olg. unto. 

c U 

59. The syllables incapable of accent may Be < 

divided into prefixes and syllables containing weak e. 

60. In prefixes incapable of accent O.E. long 
vowels appear shortened: a- becomes a-, cf. arysen, 
abyden (perhaps a had become short already in the 
O.E. period), t6- becomes to-, cf toh^wen, toshrfden, but 
not in tgshreden, etc. y-, also, is the shortening of ii- 

ji- (O.E. je), but retains the sound of pure i (not /). 
e has disappeared from O.E. je in yede from jeiode. 
As to the O.E. short vowels, note that only 
medially the closed sound passes into the open one : 



qf-,fgr-, with-, but that otherwise the original sound is 
preserved : bi- with i, but, by the side of it, be- with 
weak e; Chaucer seems to prefer bi- to be-. In 
bileven ' remain ' the i may also be omitted : Troil. 
IV. 1357. In blynnan the vowel had suffered syn- 
cope already in O.E. O.E. blinnan goes back to 
* be-linnan [or more probably according to Grdr. I.^ 
390, by analogy with Gothic af-linnan, to of-linnan\. 
Here belong also prepositions which have become 
completely assimilated to a following word, as a 
(O.E. an on, also a, or already a (?), O.N. a), bi 
(from bi) : abouten (O.E. abiitan from on-be-iitan), 
alyve by the side of onlyve, bilyve, or usually blyve. 

61. Weak e occurs, in addition to be-, the article 
the, the negation ne ' not.' 

(a) In final syllables, namely : 

I. Corresponding to O.E. unaccented or weakly 
accented vowels, in the following stem-formative or 
inflexional suffixes : e, es, ed, er, el, en, a, as, ad, ol, 
on, or, u, um. The last suffix has maintained itself 
unweakened only in whilom. 

Note. The verbal suffix -est (O.E. -est) 1 pers. sing. ind. is 
not absolutely toneless, and the superlative ■sxiSa.-est (O.E. -ost, 
also -est) is distinctly capable of accent. 

II. As the result of analogy in the final syllable 
of the sing, of some substantives, whose nominative, 
and in some cases also accus. sing, had a con- 
sonantal termination in O.E., for instance, in sorwe, 
dale, cf. § 199 ff. more rarely in the final syllable of 
an uninflected adjective, cf, § 231. 

(/3) in other places : 

I. In compounds and derivatives the weak -e 


occurs frequently in the stem-formative suffix of the 
first part, or determining word : nosethirles, morwemilk, 
openly, kyndely, trewely, ydelnesse, kyndenesse. Not 
infrequently an -e foreign to the stem-ending of the 
simple word is inserted here : this occurs especially 
in composition of an adjective with -ly : hardely, 
boldely, etc., from O.E. heardlic{e), bealdlid/), but also 

II. In improper composition or parathesis weak 
inflexional e sometimes occurs medially : dayesye, 
O.E. dxjes eje, Oxenford, O.E. Oxnaford. 

III. O.E. weak e or 0, as rational or irrational 
medial vowel in inflected simple stems, generally 
drops : fadres (O.E. fxderas) ; but it is preserved 
between v and a continuous consonant : kevenes, 
sevene ; in these cases a weak e is even inserted, 
which either did not occur at all in O.E., or was 
generally syncopated : evere, O.E. i^fre, develes, O.E. 
diofles (rarely diofoles). Also occasionally after th : 

IV. O.E. 0, e (earlier 6), as connecting vowel in 
the pret. and p.p. of weak verbs of the second class, 
also results in weak e: lovede, asked{e), loved, asked. 
In the same way O.E. e in the corresponding forms 
of weak verbs of the first class : wered{e) * wore.' 
Here, in certain cases, an e is inserted where in O.E. 
the connecting vowel had disappeared owing to old 
syncope; cf. § 16, Note i. 

The disappearance of weak e by apocope, syncope, 
contraction, etc., whether it be merely in pronuncia- 
tion, or also in orthography, will be discussed partly 
in the chapter on Accidence, partly in that on 


62. In some dialects the weak e in final syllables 
like -es -ed alternates with i and u. Chaucer occasion- 
ally uses the 2-forms for the sake of rime : werkis 
(for werkes) : derkis, ywoundid : wounde hid. Apart 
from such cases as were discussed in § 328, e seems 
to be the more appropriate symbol for the weak 
vowel in Chaucer's dialect. 


63. In the main only vowels of French words 
need be considered, the majority of which are Anglo- 
Norman in form. Only occasional reference will be 
made to Romance elements of other origin. But on 
the other hand, such Latin or Gr^co-Latin words 
will be discussed as have been influenced in form by 
the French. Other words of classical origin will be 
commented on separately. 

The Romance vowels in tonic syllables in case of 
actual accentuation will be considered first. 

Tonic Vowels. 

64. Accented vowels of an originally tonic syllable 
are long : 

(a) When final in a word. 

(;8) When final in a syllable, in which connection 
it should be noted that a following mute + liquid is 
frequently, though not invariably, considered initial 
in the following syllable. 

(7) Generally when medial before a simple con- 


(S) Before certain consonantal combinations, wiiich 
can be more conveniently specified in the discussion 
of the vowels severally. 

Note. A simple, but long (geminated) consonant may in 
some cases be shortened, when the preceding vowel will regularly 
become long. This apphes to rr and ss. 

65. The long vowels are : f, e, f, a, d", g, 5, u, u. 

66. « = O.Fr. i: cry, mercy, hardy, fly; melody e, 
crye, plye, justifye, bribe, vice, nyce; bible, cidre (on the 
other hand, delivre, considre, cf. § 78); stryf, desir, 
avys,pris, dellt: further O.Fr. ie, i in squyre (esquierre) 
and O.Fr. e in the pi. dys from dee. 

67. e corresponds to : 

(a) O.Fr. e from Lat. a (exception cf. § 68 a) : 
compeer, sopeer, peer, frere, deer, appere V., auctoritee, 
degree, entree, pitee, see ' seat,' likewise in the pi. 
degrees, sees. 

(j8) O.Fr. e = Lat. e or Grk. n, rarely Lat. se, 
Grk. ai in an open syllable : learned words and 
proper names are chiefly in question : precede, 
succede, Diomede, Ganymede : diademe ; Polixene, 
Athenys ; planete, prophete, quiete, mansuete; dissevere, 
hyene. Here belongs also Rom. e = Lat. cs, Grk. 01, 
as in tragedie, comedie, which are probably derived 
from the Italian. 

(7) O.Fr. ie, that became monophthongised in 
Anglo-Norman ; the diphthong is still frequently 
used in M.E. texts, but in the better Chaucer MSS. 
only in isolated cases : mescheef, grief, acheve, greve, 
releve ; fevere ; contene, mayntene, sustene ; the suffix 
-eer from -ier, as in archeer, bacheleer, bokeleer, car- 
penteer, daungeer, squieer, etc., likewise, -ere from 


-iere as in chamberere, manere, mateere, preyere, ryvere, 
tresorere ; chere, the pres. of the fin. verb in enquere, 
requere (for the inf. cf. § 68 /8, for the p.p. requered 
cf. Angl. I. 551), inf. and fin. verb, in refeere. 

(S) Anglo-Norman monophthongisation from O.Fr. 
ue='La.t. 8 not in position; beef,preef, repreef, preve, 
repreve, remeve, kevere, 'cover' ; peeple. Here belongs 
also kevere 'to recover,' Troil. I. 917, although the 
root-vowel is due to Lat. u, not o. 

Note. In the consideration of the verbs it should be borne 
in mind that the strong forms of the Romance present provide 
the type for the whole of the English inflexion. Only the O.Fr. 
inf. qicerre was suited for adoption into M.E. without further 
change. Hence the infinitive of this verb has in Chaucer a 
vowel differing from that of the fin. verb in the present. 

Note 2. With reference to ^8 note that proper names 
ending in -ete, the e of which = Lat. e, Grk. t\, have sometimes a 
closed, sometimes an open e : Admete, Lete ; Crete and Cr^te ; 

68. § corresponds to : 

(a) O.Fr. e = Lat. a before / : condicion§§l, effec- 
tu§§l, eterng^l, natur(§l, tempor^^l, textu§§l. Here 
belongs also crewel, which is derived by modern 
Romance philologists from a form * crudalis, instead 
of crudelis. 

(/8) O.Fr. e = Lat. e or z, also ae, in Lat. or Rom. 
position, likewise Germanic e in position. The 
length of the vowel is in this case the result of 
the shortening of a long consonant (simplification 
of a gemination): Fynyst^re, the infinitives enquire 
and require ; w§re by the side of werre (O.Fr. werre, 
guerre from Ohg. werrd) ; cipr§§s instead of cipresse, 
^r(§s by the side oi presse. Here belong also words 


like Gr^e, Bo§ce, Lucrgce by the side of Boesse, 

(7) The monophthongisation of ^2 = older French"; 
ei and older French ai, which are not differentiated 
in the examples quoted : encrggs, d(§s, lg§s, relggs, 
P?§^, §se, disgse, apgse, countrepgse, plgse, displgse, sgse ; 
also in greesse, encr§sse, incr§ce, relfsse (the ss of which 
denotes a short voiceless spirant, cf § 109/8); 
countrefgte, plgte, ir§te. Evidently the monophthongi- 
sation takes place chiefly before s and t (also 
occasionally before r, upon which cf. Note). 

(^) The contraction from pre-tonic ei or e with 
tonic g ox a: s§gl {seiet), vggl (veeT) ; rpne {reiame) ; 
m^gne (meien). 

(e) The name of the town Lgpe. 

Note. Before r the monophthongisation of ei or ai becomes 
closed e : poweer, grammeere, probably only by analogy with the 
numerous forms in -er, -ere=-ier, -iere. PrSche, O.Yx.preschier 
has open as well as closed e. 

69. a, corresponds to O.Fr. a : face, grace, mace, 
place, chdce, deface, embrace, pace, purchdce ; age, cage, 
page, rage, corage, lyndge ; male, pale, plurals like 
cardinales, or like roiales, blame, dam,e,fam.e, defame 
V. ; declare ; date, abate, debate ; cave, save \ able, 
fable, stable, table, acceptable, abhomyndble ; charit- 
able, chaungeable ; cardiacle, tridcle, myracle, obstacle ; 
with inorganic -e lake,; chaar; aas, caas, laas, paas, 
trespaas, purchds, solaas ; achaaf, debaat, estaat, m,aat, 
annunciaat, consecraat, curaat. This list obviously 
includes a number of learned words. Proper names 
like Diane, Dane (Daphne), Adridne (Ariadne), may 
be mentioned here, also the adjectival substantive 


Cordewdne (leather from Cordova), as well as the 
name of the (originally Genoese ?) coin Jane. 

Note. The plural form mynstrales, S.T. 195/2035 [B. 2035] 
need not be immediately derived from M.Lat. ministeralis 
ministralis, the probable etymon of O.Fr. menestrel, since even 
in O.Fr. -a/ is more frequent than -el=aHs, and there is definite 
proof of menestral menestrale used as an adjective ; of. Frey- 
mond, Jongleurs und Menestrels, p. 10 f. 

70. «" denotes the nasalised «, or, more strictly- 
speaking, the sound which in M.E. represents 
Romance nasalised a. It was, apparently, a darker 
a, as the spelling au, which frequently alternates with 
a, seems to indicate. The sound is necessarily long, 
hence it never occurs before -nk, for instance in 

frank. It occurs before mb, ng, nc, nd, nt: 
chdumbre chanibre ; dungel angel ; chdunge ; baldunce, 
ckdunce, ddunce, pendunce^ plesdunce, Custdunce ; in 
these cases the spelling is also frequently -ance ; 
comdunde ; aunt, gedunt, hdunt, servdmnt. 

71. g generally corresponds to O.Fr. open (p) 
from Lat. au, d : stggr, tresggr, restore, sgre ; rgse, 
clgse, dispgse, suppgse ; cgte, ngte, Pertelgte ; memgrie, 
stgrie ; cloos, Igs ; the vowel is also long before st : 
cggst, hggst, rggst. In isolated cases g corresponds to 
Fr. b from Lat. o, for instance, in ngble ; this is 
regularly the case with the suffix Lat. -ori : glgrie, 
victgrie. Exceptionally g occurs, corresponding to 
French nasalised o from Lat. o before n : per- 
sone, N.E. person (but on the other hand, persoun, 
N.E. ^s.rson),proporcign (by the side of more frequent 

proporcioun). The g forms of these words must be 
looked upon as later borrowings from the French, 
whereas the corresponding ou forms are part of the 


inherited Anglo-Norman stock. The g sound occurs 
also in proper names like Absalgn, Demophgn, 
Hermygn (Hermione), Amazgnes, Palamgn (by the 
side of Palamoun) ; Nabugodonosgr ; Nichandr{e). 

72. g occurs very rarely in Romance words, but it 
is found in pggre ' poor ' as a monophthongisation of 
the diphthong ou (fgvre, pgure, poure, poore\ and 
in the foreign word cynangme. 

Fool, trone, Alcyone, Alcyoon, probably also Rome, 
fluctuate between g and g. 

Note. Poure occurs fairly often by the side oipoore, within 
the metre, but not in rime. Rome was either pronounced with 
§ and 0, as in Mdu., or it had 5 exclusively ; in the latter case, 
the name Jerome (which is less probable) ought also to have 
contained q, since the two names are linked in rime. Troil. v. 
300 rimes dispone : to done. Since doon, doone may also 
occur with the g sound, the latter must be assumed here, and 
dispone must be accounted for \\\^e proporcign, persgne (§71). 

73. u, represented by ou ow, corresponds to the 
so-called O.Fr. closed (J), Anglo-Norman u, the 
sources of which are Lat. o and u, also to Lat. au 
before consonants which have been dropped (au, 
gu, ou, uu, in contradistinction to the ordinary 
development au, gu, ou, go, gg), finally to Lat. o 
before resonants. Examples : avow, prow ; avowe, 
allowe, coroune crowne, soune V., expoune ; croupe ; 
houre, honoure V., laboure ; doute, route ; couple, 
souple ; soun, persoun (cf. persgne, §71), passioun, 
resoun, devocioun, proporcioun (by the side of pro- 
porcign, §71), Alisoun, Amphioun, Cipioun, Citheroun, 

Genyloun, Palamoun (beside Palamgn^, Neroun, 
Sampsoun, Symoun, etc. ; clamour, colour, fiour, honour, 
labour, tour ; amorous, bounteous, curious, etc. The 


sound is always long before ^-combinations : pro- 
nounce, confounde, habounde, count, mount, accounte, 
encountre, etc.; as a rule also before ^ + consonant: 
bourde, gourde, court, cours, recours, sours; coalescence 
of a pre-tonic vowel with u in emperour, mirour, 
round, etc. 

74. u corresponds to : 

(a) O.Fr. u = u from Lat. u, rarely U, occasionally 
from Germanic ^ : vertu ; muwe ; crude, fortune, 
commune, cure, creature, nature, conjure, endure, 
excuse, refuse ; due, pur ; rude ; Huwe. Pre-tonic 
vowel has coalesced with U in due, armure ; synizesis 
is apparent in seur (perhaps = syur, sy produces in 
N.E. sure the j^-sound, whereas u develops as usual). 

(/3) In some cases O.Fr. iv, iu : eschu ' shy,' 
eschewe, eschue V., sewe V. The spelling ew 
occurs also elsewhere when the sound precedes a 
vowel : mewe beside muwe (Fr. mue), remewe V. This 
spelling, as well as the origin of eschewe, sewe, seems 
to indicate that the M.E. ^-sound was akin to the 
ii-sound, and was perhaps almost equivalent to the 
Alsatian pronunciation of German u, or Fr. ou. 

(■y) Fr. ui = ui (with the exception of the cases 
mentioned, § 90), the spelling ui is retained here : 
suit, bruit, fruit. O.Fr. u before palatalised n should 
be similarly dealt with, since the latter when final 
in an originally tonic syllable became in in M.E. : 
expugne, repugne, expune, repune from expuine, repiiine. 
In this case the original spelling is also retained. 

75. Transition of u to u, which is very general 
in other M.E. dialects, hardly ever occurs in Chaucer. 
In Sir Thopas he permits 'Wvccis.^ii arm.our armoure (due, 


however, possibly to some other suffix), instead of 
armure. The form Arthour need not necessarily be 
considered a derivation from the French. There is 
apparently a transition from ii to u in the verb 
honouren konu7'en, which occurs, Mooder of God, 64, 
and Venus, 23, and in chanteplure for chanteploure, 
Anelida, 320, in both cases in a rime on u. In 
the latter word, however, the ^-sound might be due 
to younger French eu instead of Anglo-Norman u. 

76. The traditional spelling of Romance vowel- 
lengths agrees on the whole with that of the 
corresponding Germanic sounds. Only, in Romance 
words, the representation of f, f, g by y, ee, 00 is 
rather less frequent. In a normalised system of 
orthography it would be advisable to apply the same 
principles in both cases, din a closed syllable should 
be more consistently represented by the double 
symbol than is the case in the MSS. a" should be 
written au, and u, u, uw (for ew), ui, ug, as the case 
might demand. In words like due, pur, the appro- 
priate symbol would be ii, to obviate the possibility 
of a confusion of u with u. 

77. The short vowels will be most conveniently 
treated in conjunction with those of variable quantity. 
They are short generally before a consonant gemina- 
tion or consonant-group (with the exception of 
certain combinations), variable chiefly in cases of 
doubtful position, occasionally also before a simple 
consonant. Further details will be given in the 
discussion of each separate sound. The quality may 
be determined as follows : i or 2, g, a, g, u, u. With 
regard to the last sound vre may add that it 


probably corresponded more closely to an o pro- 
nounced without lip-rounding, i.e. the Dutch short k 
in dus, tusschen, etc. 

78. i is short in words like epistle, divinistre, 
registre, where it is followed by another consonant, 
naturally also in the rare case in which a long 
explosive follows, as in quit, p.p. from qulten, and 
before ch (^ = tsh) in ricke, chiche. In all these cases 
the z-sound possibly occurred already in Chaucer, 
whereas O.Fr. has only pure /. i must be considered 
variable : sometimes before mute ■\- liquid, for instance, 
in delivre, considre, further in popular forms of 
proper names, as Austyn, Martyn ; probably also in 
the appellation sire. 

79. f, corresponding to O.Fr. open e, is short 
before a long consonant : dette ; noblesse, richesse, 
countesse, etc., dressen, pressen, Lucresse, Boesse. If, 
as may be the case with the two last-mentioned 
names, shortening of the consonant takes place, the 
vowel is lengthened {Lucr§ce, Bogce), and thus the 
quantity of g in the verb cesse is also variable ; note 
further wgrre by the side of wfre. Amongst con- 
sonantal combinations which allow the preceding 
vowels to remain short, the ^-combinations in learned 
words are of primary importance : argument, present, 
prudent, defense, excellence, amenden, defenden ; rk, for 
instance, in clerk (O.E. already cleric, O.Fr. clerc) ; 
rs in vers, divers, herse. 

( is variable before st : arrest, forest, best (O.Fr. 
teste), tempest (O.Fr. tempeste), feste, geste, requeste ; 
these words are linked in rime with English words 
both in -fst and -§st, though these two groups are 


not linked with each other. (In words like Alceste, 
A Images te, the g is probably short.) § is probably also 
variable in -ten (from -ianus), the monophthongisa- 
tion of which in parisshen is exceptional, the ending 
being generally dissyllabic : Arabyen, Egipcien, 
Percien, Marcien, Octovyen, Venerien, in which group 
include Galien {Galenus), and in -el {-ellus, -ellunt) : 
catel, hostel, pikerel, to which add the adj. fel (O.Fr. 
f els felon from Ohg. '^ Jillo) and the name Daniel. 

80. a is short in words like Anne, Osanne, 
Susanne, emplastre, idolastre, probably also before 
^'-combinations : barge, charge, arme, charme, art, 
part. Mars, Tars ; before nk : frank, flank ; excep- 
tionally only before nd (S 70) in gerland. 

We must assume a to have been variable before 
st : chaste, haste, also in the p.p. past (the present of 
this verb has pace, as well as passe), in the ending 
-arie : adversarie, contrarie, inercenarie, perhaps in 
names like Nicholas, Thopas ; finally, in the learned 
French suffixes : -al and -an (Lat. -alis and -anus) : 
animal, celestial, principal, special, temporal; Aurelian, 
Damyan, Theban, etc. 

81. Q is short, for instance, in port, conforten, 
disporten, probably also in post, cost, short or variable 
in cofre, philosophre. 

82 u is short in suffre, justen ' joust,' exception- 
ally before r-combinations (§ T^: purs, turne beside 
tourne, variable in covre by the side of kevre (the 
latter from cuevre, the former from later cuvre, covre). 

83. il is short in just, humble, variable probably in 
j'uge, jugen, refuge, etc. 


Note. Short u may appropriately be represented by H. 
Accordingly, in a closed syllable, u would be pronounced u, ii -u, 
u -u\ in an open syllable u would be either long ii, or, in words 
likey«^^, variable ii, whilst ou would always stand for U. 

84. If an originally tonic syllable retains only 
secondary stress, the quality of its vowel will remain 
unchanged, nor will the quantity be weakened to 
any extent. On the whole, long vowels will remain 
long, though the possibility of their being shortened 
is not excluded. This is specially apparent in the 
case of trisyllabic or polysyllabic words in -ous, in 
which a reversal of the positions of the primary and 
secondary accents respectively was certainly more 
frequent than in other words, but which are never- 
theless almost invariably spelt with ou, and with u 
only in cases where they rime with words in us: 
amorus, courageus, curius, desirus, despitus, etc. 

85. If the originally tonic syllable loses its accent 
altogether, the quantity is, without doubt, appreciably 
weakened. But a distinct abbreviation of originally 
long vowels must have been the exception even 
here, and probably did not take place until the 
position of the new accent was definitely fixed, 
whereupon the quality of the vowel would also 
become affected by the shift. 

Pre-tonic Vowels. 

86. The vowels of originally pre-tonic syllables do 
not admit of so accurate and detailed an exposition 
as the tonic vowels, as neither they nor their 
Romance antecedents can be subjected to the most 
valuable of all tests, that of rime. A few general 
observations must therefore suffice : 


i^a) i= O.Fr. i, rarely e, as in chivalry e,pilgrymage, 
myster. The vowel is always short where it remains 
unaccented, for instance, in phxlosophie, Albandre, 
predous, p'lte, squidr. But even when the accent 
falls upon it, it rarely becomes long, excepting when 
followed by another vowel : squter, prioresse, perhaps 
also, in isolated cases, in an open syllable immediately 
preceding the originally tonic syllable : tyrdunt. As 
a rule, i is short : pite, cite, prive, tirannye, chivalry e, 
condicioun. The z-sound occurs in an originally closed 
syllable: mister, gipser, pilgryinage, Aristotle, but 
whether, as in N.E., also in words like pite, prive, 
condicioun, is very doubtful. 

(j8) The ^-sounds may be closed, open, or weak. 
Open, unaccented syllables contain either closed or 
weak e, closed e occurring chiefly in the first syllable of 
a word : degree, departen, reguesten ; weak e, on the 
other hand, in medial syllables : chapeleyn, rem&naunt, 
general, colerik. Open g occurs in closed syllables, 
whether accented or unaccented : mgrcy, sergeant, 
dfstynee ; in cases like estaat, destroye, despit, the st 
seems, as in N.E., to have been considered initial in 
the second syllable, so that the previous e was closed. 
Open g seems, moreover, to have been the rule under 
the accent, as in v^rray, where the doubling of the r 
(O.Fr. verai) is significant, p^ril, rgmenant, r^likes. 
But e under the accent followed by another vowel is 
a long closed e : theatre, creature ; e is perhaps 
variable when accented and followed by a simple 
consonant and two syllables in hiatus : especial, dis- 
cr^cioun, precious. The long open / is the monoph- 
thongisation of ai, Anglo-Norman §i: r^soun, 
sgsoun. Even when the accent falls upon the last 



syllable in these words, as it originally did, the § is 
probably long. 

(y) a = O.Fr. a, whether this sound traces back to 
Lat. a or other sources, as, for instance, to e before 
r: marchaunt, parfit, parde. The sound is short in 
M.E. in an unaccented syllable : z.rray, cre^tour, 
and in the majority of cases even when the syllable 
is accented : amorous, mdladye, fdmulier, carpenter, 
pdleys, Paris, jdngler, pdrfit. In the following cases 
the vowel becomes long when under the accent : 
(i) before a following vowel : example? ; (2) before 
a simple consonant followed by two syllables in 
hiatus : pddent, duracioun, domindcioun, ymagindcioun, 
gracious, not, however, when a syllable follows con- 
sisting of the semi-vowel «' -J- vowel: cdrie, mdrie, 
nor, on account of mdrie, in mdriage, not even when ia 
is distinctly dissyllabic; (3) before certain consonant 
combinations, especially before -mb, -ng, etc., in which 
case the sound becomes «" : chdmberleyn, ddunger, 
ddungerous; (4) in certain cases before a simple 
consonant, if the originally tonic syllable immediately 
follows : labour, nature, etc. 

(^) In pre-tonic syllables and u cannot always 
be distinguished with certainty, since here also — and, 
indeed, to a greater extent than in tonic syllables — 
may be used as the symbol for u, and we have no 
rime to serve as criterion. In O.Fr. closed «? in a 
pre-tonic syllable seems not only to occur in cases 
where it develops under the accent, but it cor- 
responds apparently also to Lat o in an open 
syllable, so that open o was, in the main, limited 
to cases where Lat. S occurred in position — but not 
before resonants (perhaps also to Lat. S and in 


loan-words ?). As regards Chaucer's linguistic usage, 
only the following statements can be made with 
any degree of certainty : ( i ) « appears in genuine 
Romance words (but not in loan-words) before a 
following vowel, before resonants, generally also in 
an open syllable immediately before the original 
accent, also where the original Lat. sound cor- 
responds to Latin or Germanic short u. This M.E. u 
has a tendency towards length before a following 
vowel and before ^-combinations (not, however, when 
the combination contains a third consonant), also 
when u forms a separate syllable : coward, prow esse; 
montaigne mountayn, countour, countenance ; outrage. 
Perhaps also before -rs, but courser may have been 
affected by analogy with the simple word cours 
(cf. S 73). In all other cases, even where an original 
n is dropped, it tends to be short : contre ' country,' 
constable, cosyn, covenant ; colour, corage, Jlorisse, 
covert ; sovereyn, norice, coveytyse, curteis curteisye ; 
forage, burgeys. Compounds, which are felt as such, 
must be explained by reference to their component 
parts: covercheef, cf. covre, §82 (syncope and con- 
traction in courfew corfew, for coverfew; similarly 
keerchef, S.T. 156/837 [B 837] for keevercheef, 
doublet of covercheef), countrefeten, countrepleten, 
countrepesen, although the particle countre is not 
used as an independent word in M.E., whereas the 
verb countren, encountren, is so used (^JZ)- (2) 
occurs where the original Romance sound 
corresponds to Lat. S (occasionally also 0) in 
position ; in this case the short open sound is 
the rule : propgrdoun, hgstelrye, pgssible ; also where 
the vowel traces back to Lat au : pSverte or 


poverte with g. o occurs further in loan-words, 
corresponding to Lat. 6 ox o m an open syllable : 
devocioun (in spite of devout), curiosite (in spite of 
curious), dominacioun, the first o in philosophre, both 
in philosophie, etc. ; in these cases the o is short 
and closed in an unaccented syllable. Under the 
accent it is probably generally an open g that is 
lengthened when a vowel or two syllables in hiatus 
follow {curigsite, devgcioun). 

Since ' loan-word ' is an elastic term in Romance 
languages, and it is not always possible to decide 
whether a Romance word incorporated into M.E. 
became, at a later period, assimilated to the Latin 
original or not, it is in some cases doubtful 
whether o ot u \s, the sound to be assumed. 
Chaucer probably pronounced cgnquere cgnquerour, 
but should comaunde be pronounced with o or u? 
Is the first vowel in dolour to be determined in 
accordance with N.E. pronunciation, or with Anglo- 
Norman spellings like dulorl Even setting aside 
the influence of Latin, problems arise, the solution 
of which cannot be attempted here. 

(e) ji represents the corresponding O.Fr. sound. 
In a closed syllable it is short : justise, humblesse; in 
an open one, under the accent, always long : 
/■kneral, ci'irious, fiimetere, cr-Ael; in other cases 
probably variable : usdunce, punisshe, cruel. As to 
the probable timbre of M.E. long and short ii, 
cf. §§74, TT- In one case it may seem doubtful 
whether the M.E. sound is not u rather than ii : 
namely, when a French il in position occurs in 
an evidently learned word, where it may be derived 
either from Lat. it or Lat. it, for instance, in words 
like /j'^uctzyje (Lat. ii), multiplye (Lat ii). 


Post-tonic Vowels. 

87. In an originally post-tonic syllable the vocalic 

element is supplied by weak e : justise,feste, madame, 
bataille, nature, etc. The apocope of the e will be 
discussed in the chapters on Accidence and Metre. 
Metathesis has taken place in dungel (O.Fr. angele = 
anjle), as well as in maisier, but in the pi. 
maistres ; otherwise — at any rate in the better MSS. — 
this transposition occurs in the main only where an 
originally final e has become medial in consequence 
of composition, cf. covre, but covercheef. 

Lat. i in hiatus has maintained itself as 
semi-consonantal, non-syllabic i, especially in the 
suffixes art and ori, but also elsewhere : adversdrie, 
apothecdrie, contrdrie, Janudrie, necessdrie, tributdrie, 
glorie, historie, mem.6rie, victdrie, tragedie, comedie 
(both 'the latter from the Italian), remMie, mys^rie, 
stAdie, Mercikrie, porf'iirie. Here belong also verbs 
like stiidien, contrdrien, cdrien, mdrien, which have 
shifted their accent. 

Note. By the side of remedie there occurs, and, indeed, more 
frequently, rhnedye ; instead oivicdrie S.T. 5S9/22 [I. 22] vicary. 
Similarly Antony beside A7it6me (§ 94). Boccaccio's Emilia^ 
Hippolita's sister, appears in Chaucer as Emetye (on the other 
hand, the province of the same name retains its original accent, 
S.T. 404/51 [E. 51] : Emile, Harl. 7334 : Emyl, Cambr. Dd. 4.24 
has emended Einile to Emilie, cf. W. A. Wright's reprint of the 
Clerkes Tale. On the whole, Proper Names in -ie rarely shift 
their accent either in rime or elsewhere : Cectle occurs by the 
side of Cedlie, but not Cccilye. If the forms MArie and Marie 
are both in use, the former must be the native one (Orrm's 
MarjeT), the latter the one borrowed from the Romance. 




88 The diphthongs of Romance origin which 
occur chiefly in originally tonic syllables, but also 
in originally pre-tonic ones, are : ai, gi, eu, au ; 
in exceptional cases ou. 

89. ai corresponds to (a), older French ai, {fi) 
older French ei (whence later French oi). The 
two diphthongs coalesced in Anglo-Norman in ^i, 
from which, in case of monophthongisation (§ 687), 
/ resulted. If the diphthong was preserved, it, like 
native ei, became ai. In orthography the two groups 
(a) and (/3) are only partially, and by no means 
consistently, differentiated. Examples : 

(a) jay, lay ' song,' paye ; air, debonaire, repaire ; 
paleys, eyse (beside ese) ; maister ; capitayn, chapeleyn, 
soverayn, certayn certeyn, playne N., playn pleyn 
adj. and adv., vayn veyn adj., soveraynetee, mayn- 

(/3) f^y ' faith,' lay ' law,' despeir, heir, faire 
' market'; deys, burgeys, harneys harnays, palfreys, 
curteis, preyse V. (but, on the contrary, the noun 
prys; the diphthong ei—e-\-i is specially charac- 
teristic for the Eastern group of French dialects) ; 
Beneit from Beneeit, streit ; aperceyve, deceyve, receyve; 
chainberleyn, desdeyn, peyne payne, veyne, Maudeleyne, 
peyne V. ; feynte V. ; peynte V. ; in a pre-tonic 
syllable, for instance, in deyntee; in a medial position, 
which always remains unaccented, ei alternates in 
M.E. with e : curteisye curtesye, coveityse covetyse. 

ai is rare in -aire for the older and Anglo-Norman 
-arie : vicaire (by the side of vicary). As a rule 
M.E. has preserved the older form. The diphthong 



az corresponds further to: (7) O.Fr. accented a before 
palatal /or n, (§) O.Fr. accented e in the same position ; 
when final in the tonic syllable, palatal / always be- 
comes M.E. il, palatal n M.E. in. It is not always 
easy (especially in the case of the verb) to distinguish 
these secondary diphthongs from the original ones, 
cf , for instance, pleyne compleyne ; feyne, distreyne, 
restreyne restrayne. Clear examples of the secondary 
diphthongs are : 

(7) bataille, faille, Itaille, maille, taille, vitaille, 
assaille V. ; montaigne nwntayne monteyne, Britayne 
Briteyne, Spayne. 

(§) conseil, merveyle, consaille V., deigne deyne V. 

(e) In obeye, obeysaunt, obeysaunce the diphthong is 
the result of synaeresis. 

Note. Forms like deceit, receit have developed from decet, 
recet by assimilation to deceyve, receyve. On queynte cf. § go. 
Note the following Proper Names : Eleyne (O.Fr. Eleine, in 
spite of the original e), Criseyde (in Boccaccio Griseida, in older 
prints : Cryseida), 

90. gi corresponds to : 

(a) O.F. gi = Lat au •{■ i; j'oye, noise (if Diez 
derives this word correctly from nausea), cloistre. 

(J3) O.Fr. gi from older o? = Lat. o + i : vois, 

(7) O.Fr. gi from older oi ui= Lat. ii+i: destroy e, 
crois, boyste, anoint, point. In French, oi ui further 
results either in gi or in Hi. Anglo-Norman seems 
to have been partial to the diphthong ui, but in later 
M.E. it yielded in almost every case to gi. But in 
anguisse, or, as Chaucer probably spelt, angwissh, the 
first element of the diphthong has become a con- 



(S) O.Fr. ^z = Lat. o + i. In French, g has here 
become a diphthong, and the resulting uei has 
further developed into ui. In Chaucer, gi occurs 
almost always, at least in originally tonic syllables: 
annoye, oile, oystre. But, oddly enough, queynte from 
O.Fr. cointe, which on the continent does not seem to 
undergo the development into cueinte cuinte, and 
apparently derives from Lat. cognitus, hence from 
o ■\- i. In a pre-tonic syllable : noysance. 

(e) O.Fr. accented g ox o u before palatal I ox n: 
boille, broille ; Coloigne, Boloigne. 

(f) Occasionally O.Fr. gi from older ei (on the 
normal Anglo-Norman and M.E. development of 
which cf. § 89) : coy, and hence the verb coye, Loy 
(Elot) ; in a pre-tonic syllable : roial roialtee. 

{r\) O. Fr. o'i (out) in rej'oyce. 

91. eu corresponds to O.Fr. eu from older ou in 
corfew, nevew, in a pre-tonic syllable eau in bewte, or, as 
Chaucer probably spelt, beaute. By contraction of 
e-\- au the same sound originated in lewte leaute, cf. 
{wx^&c Jewes, more xaxely /ues {O.Yx. Judeus Juis). 

92. au corresponds to O.Fr. au in loan-words : 
cause, clause, laude, auditour ; O.Fr. a -(- protected / : 
sauce, sauf, auter ; O.Fr. a -\- vocalised v : aunter (J>er 
aunter beside j>er aventure) ; O.Fr. a -^ u: brawn. 

93. Ou occurs only in poure as intermediate 
form between pgure^O.Yx.pgvre) and ppgre; only the 
latter form occurs in rime. 

Note. The triphthong ieu occurs in Dzeu which is, however, 
only used in French phrases : depardieux (for de par Dim) 
S.T. lyjsg [B. 39], where some MSS. read depardeux. More 
distinctively English ispards, O.E./ar De {De from Deti). 


Latin Vowels. 

94. With regard to Latin or Grseco-Latin vowels, 

in so far as they have not been referred to incident- 
ally in the course of the discussion on Romance 
vowels, note the following : The vowels in un- 
accented syllables, as well as those in position, are 
considered short ; accented vowels when final in 
the penultimate are considered long — corresponding 
thus frequently, though not invariably, to the original 
quantity {mater, significavit, atnor ; redemptorls ; juris), 
whilst in the ante-penultimate {benedicite, Ypdlita) 
the usage seems to have been variable. 

Under the secondary stress final vowels are pro- 
nounced long : Smnid, principig, benedicite ; at any 
rate, they rime with distinctly long vowels, and e 
and are closed sounds. The same applies to Proper 
Names like Valeria, Ypolita ; Scitherg Citherg 
( = Cicero) ; Isiphilee ( = Hypsipyle). In the termin- 
ations -as, -es, -OS these vowels may be designated 
variable (in es and os perhaps long), and e and o are 
open sounds : cupiditas, Sathanas; Alcibiades, Diogenes, 
Ethiocles, Ercules, Socrates, likewise, in spite of the 
originally short e : Amadrides ( = Hamadryades), 
Pierides ; Eneydos, Metamorphoseos. The ending -us 
generally has short u : Apius, Claudius, Julius, Val- 
erius ; but the vowel may be lengthened for the sake 
of rime: S.T. 367/1 140 [D. 1 140] Kaukasous {-.hous). 

If in Proper Names, under the influence of French 
accentuation, the final syllable of a Latin paroxyton 
acquires the primary, or at least the secondary, stress, 
the rules given above hold good as regards both 
the quantity and the quality of the vowels. 


Words like Cle6 ( = Clio), Ekko, Erro ( = Hero), 
Juno, Platd, Apollb, have closed g ; Tesbie has closed e, 
similarly, with loss of s: Achate (: he, Fame 226); 
on the other hand, Achates, Achillas, Anchisgs, Poli- 
myt§s { = Polynices) have the /-sound, and Circus 
acquires it in consequence of the epithetic s. In 
Thebes, Troil. v. i486, a weak French e is exception- 
ally treated like Lat. e in es. Words like Viikaniis, 
VenAs are pronounced with u, not u. 

The diphthong eu of the Grk. ending -eu? is re- 
solved into e-u : TMseks, ^geiis, Tydeiis, etc. 

The various corruptions to which classical Proper 
Names are subject cannot be discussed in detail here. 
It may, however, be added that beside the fuller 
form of such names there appears not infrequently an 
abbreviated one with weak e in the final syllable : 

Achilles and AcMlle ; CleopdtarAs and Cleopdtre ; An- 

tSniiis, AntSnie, Antony; Isipkilee and IsipMle; 
CHseydA (Troil. I. 169) and commonly Crisiyde. 
For further details cf. §§229 and 294. 


95. We shall treat first of the Labials, next of the 
Linguals, finally of the Palatals and Gutturals. The 
sounds belonging to each series will be discussed in 
the following order : Explosives, spirants, liquids or 
resonants respectively. 

96. The lengthening of consonants must be con- 
sidered in the first place. On the whole, O.E. long 
consonants remain long in M.E. Isolated excep- 



tlons, the result of analogy, will be considered 
below. As a general exception founded on phonetic 
laws, note the case of a long consonant when final 
in a syllable which is unaccented in Chaucer. In 
gossib, for instance, we must assume short b. But 
in M.E., as already in O.E., a long final consonant, 
or a long medial consonant before consonants, was 
often indicated by a simple symbol. In the better 
Chaucer MSS. this is practically the rule : alle but al ; 
marines but Tnan ; hadde but had ; setten but set. 

Note. In some M.E. texts a different usage prevails, and the 
length of the consonant, even when final, is marked more or less 
consistently. Orrm, who is distinguished by the consistency of 
his spelling, will be referred to below. 

97. Already in the O.E. period the rule obtained 
that an originally short consonant, when final in an 
accented syllable, was lengthened. A great number 
of the phenomena which in ordinary linguistic usage 
are summed up in the term 'position,' are due to 
the operation of this law. Thus many originally 
short vowels became long, many originally long 
syllables excessively long (as, for instance, the first 
syllable in w{s-ddm,cdc^monn), an excess from which, 
in course of time, the language endeavoured to rid 
itself by shortening the vowel (wherefore M.E. 
wisdom, chapman). In O.E., as has already been 
noted, this lengthening was restricted to the final 
consonant of an accented syllable. Nor does it 
seem to have taken place when the end of the 
syllable coincided with the end of the word ; only 
the more compact structure and more rhetorical tone 
of metrical speech could in this case produce length- 
ening. For which reason, monosyllables ending in a 


short consonant in O.E. can only be considered long 
when under the metrical ictus. 

In the M.E. period, however, sentence stress had 
the intensity of metrical stress, for which reason all 
final short consonants after an accented short vowel 
were lengthened. Since final accented vowels had 
been lengthened already in the O.E. period, all 
accented monosyllables were now long. God became 
phonetically Godd, ship (O.E. scip") became shipp, shal 
(O.E. sceat) became shall, though scribes who had been 
in the habit of marking original length by the simple 
symbol, naturally adopt no special means of indi- 
cating the new length. But that this consonant- 
lengthening really took place is proved (i) by the fact 
that forms like Goddes, shippes, which gradually took 
the place of Codes, shipes, and are the usual ones in 
the 14th century, can only be explained by analogy 
with Godd, shipp ; cf , for instance, with shippes the 
suffix -shipe; (2) by rimes like smal: al, as well as 
by the N.E. change of <2 to ^ in small, just as in all, 
fall, etc. But if shal, shall has developed on other 
lines than smal, small, this is due to the fact that the 
unaccented form of the auxiliary determined its 
sound (whereas the accented form, or the analogy of 
the other words in -/ -//, decided the N.E. ortho- 
graphy). When, in M.E., shal occurs in rime it is, 
of course, accented, just like the French suffix -al 
(animal, celestial), which in M.E. also rimes on -all, 
but in N.E. has completely lost its tone. The frequent 
use of the auxiliary shal as an unaccented syllable has 
produced such curious abbreviations as T'se = I shal 
(as late as Shakespeare). 

It cannot be definitely decided when this con- 


sonant-lengthening took place. But it seems evident 
that it began before the lengthening of short accented 
vowels in an open syllable, and that when Orrm 
wrote it was already an accomplished fact. Orrm, as 
is well known, follows the principle of representing 
the consonantal termination of a syllable containing 
a short vowel by a double symbol, and it will now be 
apparent why in §6, Note i, his system was called 
an appropriate one. It is imperfect, indeed, in so 
far as it treats unaccented syllables in exactly the 
same way as accented ones. Nor is it always quite 
to the point when the first of several final consonants 
following upon a short vowel is also doubled. 

98. Let us now turn to the consideration of the 
consonants occurring in Chaucer. With regard to 
their sources we shall, as a rule, discuss only those of 
O.E. and O.Fr. origin ; those of other origin will be 
commented upon only incidentally. 

Labial Series. 

99. The tenuis p corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. p : pleyen, plough, pound (old loan-word, 
Lat pondo) ; ape, lepen, weepen, gospel ; geminated, 
for instance, in lappe, cappe. Likewise to the p of 
other Germanic dialects : poupen (Mlg.) ; clappe (Mdu.). 

(;8) 0.¥r. p: pay en, pees; April; appere. 

(y) In exceptional cases O.Fr. b : purs [late O.E. 
purs'E. ST. xxi. 334]. 

{S) O.Fr. ph f in spere ( = sphere). 

(e) / is often inserted between m and n : autumpne, 
solempne, sompnour, as well as between m and t: 
tempten, temptour. 


100. The media b corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. b which occurs chiefly initially ; medially 
and finally only geminated, or in the combination mb : 
bale, beere, beren, byten, boor ' boar ' ; boure, but, blowen, 
broother ; webbe (O.E. webbd), abbot (O.E. abbot, older 
abbod, Lat. loan-word) gossib ; clymben, Northumber- 
lond, comb. Also to the b of other Germanic dialects : 
boom (O.N. b6n), beer (Lg. bilre), etc. 

(/8) O.Fr. b : bacheleer, beautee ; habyt, humble, 
nom.bre, rem.embreii. 

(7) b is inserted after m in thombe (O.E. J^^ma), 

Note. O.E. medial bb has disappeared from the verbal 
inflexion, owing to analogy : cf., for instance, O.E. habban — (zV) 
habbe (North, hafu), hcefst hafast, hceft hafad, pi. habbad 
with the Chaucerian forms : have{n) han, have, hast, hatk, pi. 
have etc. Hence heven (O.E. hebban) etc. 

101. The voiceless spirant /corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. /"when initial, when medial before voice- 
loss consonants, and when final : father, fast, fer, 
fyr, fox, fleen, freend ; rafte, lafte, lofte, twelfth ; leef, 
lyf, ivyf, roof, elf ' elf,' self. Exceptionally j occurs 
before a vowel as in halfe; Harl. more frequently has 
/ for V in such cases : wyfes etc., doubtless contrary 
to Chaucer's linguistic usage. 

(/8) O.E. p by assimilation in chaffare (for chap- 

(7) O.Fr. /: fats, faire ' market,' f el, fum£, flame, 
Fraunce; palfrey, cofre; cheef actifjolif In learned 
words ph is preferred : phisik, philosophie. 

102. The voiced spirant v corresponds to : 

(a) Initially, very rarely O.E. /—under Kentish 


influence — vane, vixen, veeze, but regularly when 
medial between vowels and voiced elements : knave, 
heven, seven, Steven, driven, liven, lyve Dat. of lyf, 
wyves from wyf, love, dove, twelve, silver ; finally, only 
in the unaccented particle of (where, however, the 
spelling is/), as already in O.E. (but cf. the archaic 
form ob\ and still in N.E. 

(/3) O.Fr. V initially and medially : vayn, veyne, 
verray ; meeve, greeve, keevre. 

The consonant has been dropped medially, for 
instance, in lord (Joverd, O.E. kldford) ; lady (Javedy, 
O.E. hliefdije), in heed beside heved; it has been 
assimilated to following in in woinman woman (from 
wimman (O.E. wifmori). 

103. The semi-vowel w corresponds to : 
(a) O.E. w initially, as well as after a preceding 
consonant : water, was, wex, werk, wys, wolf ; sweete, 
swerd, two ; widwe, falwe, arwe. Of O.E. initial 
consonant groups the first element of which is w, wr 
is fairly extensively preserved : wryten, wrecche, 
wrooth, etc. ; wl is retained probably only in wlatsom, 
other words in which it occurred are no longer in 
use in Chaucer. Wh is a new formation from hw 
(cf. § 1 22a) : who, what, why etc. The combination 
kw (O.E. cw') is represented by qu (after the model 
of O.Fr. qu = Lat. qti) : queene, querne, quenchen, 
quoth quod etc. Before an <7-vowel w has dropped in 
so, in soote by the side oiswoote; it is uncertain whether 
Chaucer uses the form swich by the side of such, in 
which w has become vocalised, and has coalesced 
with i. Medially, and finally after vowels, w has 
without exception been vocalised and has united 


with the preceding vowel to form a diphthong: 
straw, trewe, soule, growen ; cf. §§ 43, 44, 46. 

(/3) O.E. guttural / medially after consonants 
(finally only in so far as the final consonant becomes 
medial in M.E.) : halwes, galwes,folwen, morwe, sorwe 
(O.E. sorj , oblique cases sorje). If w remains final, 
it changes to the voiceless spirant f, cf dwetf (N.E. 
dwarf), which, apparently, does not occur in Chaucer. 
Borw also occurs by the side of borugh. Medial and 
final w from guttural j after vowels, like original w 
in this position, has, without exception, become u ; cf. 

(y) Anglo-Norman w from Germanic w : warante 
v., wardeyn, wastel (^-breed), werre were, werreye, 
William. In wasten (O.Fr. waster, gaster) we may 
have a blending of Lat. vastare and a presumptive 
Ohg. wastjan (Diez, Worterbuch,* p. 178 f). 

(i5) O.Fr. u in the combination qu = Lat. qu, as 
well as u after t ( = ^) and ^ : quart, querele, enquere, 
quyten ; queynte, angwissh (S 90). 

Note. Aphseresis of w occurs in was were, woot wiste, wil 
wolde, preceded by ne : nas beside ne was etc. 

104. The resonant m corresponds to : 
(a) O.E. m : man, might, mooten ; smyten ; name, 
deemen, com.en, hoom. ; clymben, comb ; long in, for 
instance, in swimmen, swam ; wem, wemmelees. Final 
m, in an originally inflexional syllable, is preserved 
only in whilom. Fro occurs by the side oifrom, the 
latter before initial vowels and h, the former before 

(/8). O.Fr. m which occurs initially, as well as 
medially, before vowels and before labials : magestee. 


mateere, meynee, mesure, mytre, montaigne ; amiable, 
clayme, memorie, channe ; champartie, emperour, 
embrace, compaignye. Under Latin influence m 
stands, instead of n, in circumstaunce. 

Lingual Series. 

105. The tenuis t corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. t: tale, teechen, tellen, tyme, timber, 
tooth, toun, tonne ; tree, treden ; meeten, smyten, 
hooten ; myghte, inoste ; it, that, what, sat, nyght, 
fist. O.E. gemination, for instance in sitten, setten, 
metten, hat, fat etc. The assimilation is old m yset 
(O.E. jeseted, jeset), whilst in other cases it did not 
take place in the uninflected form of the Participle 
until the M.E. period. It is old also in the 
syncopated form of the 3rd Pers. Sing. Pres. Ind. 
of verbs the root of which ends in </ or t: bit = Mteth 
or bideth, writ = wr{teth,fint=findeth, etc. (cf. S 186). 
t occurs also in words borrowed from other Germanic 
dialects : taken (O.N. takd), etc. 

(/3) O.K.Jf (d) after some other preceding spirant: 
thefte, highte, rist = ryseth (in this case already O.E. 
risd, rist) ; also O.N. d in sleighte, slighte. Further, 
tk { = O.E. Y) becomes t in atte = at the, saistow, 
woostow, etc. 

(7) O.E. d in the syncopated forms of the weak 
Preterite (which in M.E. also determine the form of 
the P.P.), in -nde {-nd + de, but also -n + de) -Ide 
{-ld+ de), -rde {-rd + de) ; blente, sente ; lente ; 
bilte; girte. Rarely, in other cases, O.E. d: bretful 
(O.E. breord-), abbot (O.E. abbod, but also in later 
O.E. abbot). 


(S) O.Fr. t : temple, tempest, tour ; bataille, mayn- 
tene, assenten ; estaat, despyt : best etc. Th in 

(e) t is added to final s in heeste, biheeste (O.E. 

106. The media d corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. d: deed, deef, doom, dreem; syde, hider, 
thider, weder, leeden, fader, mooder, wode, togidre ; 
leed, heved heed, mood. 

Long d, for instance, in ladde (O.E. Mdde), spradde 
(O.E. sprMde), lad, sprad, bad Adj. (O.E. bMed P.P. 
cf. Engl. Stud. vi. 91), madden (from mad, amad O.E. 
dmseded); bladder (O.E. blsedre bl&ddre), (n)adder 
(O.E. nddre) ; hadde (O.E. hmfde), had (O.E. 

(/3) Sometimes O.E. d: coude beside couthe, quod 
beside quoth, mordre, burden. 

(7) O.Fr. d initially and medially : dame, deys, 
digne, druerye ; auditour, panade, amenden, extenden, 
tendre; proude pryde, late O^. priid prydal 

(S) d is inserted between n or I and r : thonder, 
alder. In O.Fr. words a </ of this kind, as, for 
instance, in tendre, was transmitted by O.Fr. to M.E. 

Note, d has sometimes become assimilated to a following s, 
as in gossib, gospel, answere (from O.E. godsibb, godspell, 

107. The interdental spirant p ox d. The former 
symbol may stand for the voiceless, the latter for the 
voiced sound, though the O.E. usage, especially with 
regard to the second symbol, by no means observes 
the distinction. The Chaucer MSS. sometimes 
employ 'p, sometimes th. It is hard to discover 


what symbol the poet himself may have used. In 
accordance with the best MSS. of the Canterbury 
Tales we use t/i. The sound corresponds to : 

(a) In the majority of cases O.E. p or ct. It is 
voiceless initially and finally : thanken, thenken, 
thinketi, thries ; bath, breeth, death, with the probable 
exception of the unaccented particle with before 
words with an initial vowel, and the verb quoth in 
combinations like quoth I, quoth he ; hence quod. 
On the other hand, contrary to the N.E. usage, 
the th is probably voiceless in thou thee thyn, the, 
this, that, thus, than etc., since Orrm even after a 
final (lingual) media changes the th in such words 
into t {c{.for]>edd te pin wille), and the form atte = at 
the, which is common in Chaucer also, seems to 
presuppose voiceless t. The spirant is voiced 
medially between vowels : bathen, seethen, fithele, 
clothen, soothe, as well as between r and a vowel : 
worthy, or between r and r ; this also accounts 
for d (instead of tJi) in burden, jnordre. The sound 
corresponds to the p, d of another Germanic dialect 
in they (O.N. peir'), bothe (O.N. bdder bdda bddar), 
though (O.N. po). In birthe (O.E. jebyrd) we may 
perhaps trace the influence of O.N. burd. 

(/3) Rarely Anglo-Norman th as symbol for an 
evanescent d; feyth fayth, by the side of which, 
though rather as a foreign loan-word,/^ is used. 

108. The spirant s also occurs as a voiceless and 
a voiced sound. The two cases will be considered 

109. Voiceless s corresponds to : 

(a) O.E, s initially and finally, as well as medially 


when followed or preceded by a voiceless consonant : 
see N. ; seen V., senden, sond ' sand,' sonde ' messenger/ 
strond ; glas, gras, wys, goos, hous, mous, hors ; wiste, 
asken. s is always voiceless in x (phonetically = ks), 
not only when final : wex, flex, six, but also 
medially : waxen. With regard to final -s, note that 
s in is and was, as proved by rimes, is voiceless, 
as is also the inflexional -s after voiced elements, 
even after long vowels ; cf S.T. 471/2276 [E2276] 
auctoritees : gees. That the N.E. usage is of later 
origin is proved by petrified case-forms like twice, 
thrice = M.E. twyes, thryes (cf. the forms hence, 
thence, M.E. hennes, thennes, which are probably to ' 
be explained in a similar manner ; on the other 
hand, however, with voiced s, else = M.E. eiles). 
M.E. as from ase, alse, also may contain voiced s. 
The final s in his seems doubtful. 

ss is always voiceless, whether it be the result of 
old gemination, or of assimilation (but not when it 
is merely the lengthening of final s in an accented 
syllable) : lesse, lasse, blisse blis, lisse, kissen, missen, 
blessen (O.E. bletsian); gossib {O.'E.. godsibb), § 106 N. 

(;8) O.Fr. initial and final s: see' seat,' serve, sire, 
sovereign, suffisauuce, space, stable ; paas, avys, prys, 
pees etc. Medial s is voiceless before voiceless 
consonants : maistrye, meschaunce, as a rule, also 
after consonants in general : counsail, falsify e . 

A short voiceless s is also recognisable in O.Fr. ss 
which, in words like laisser, corresponds to original s 
after k (x = ks>is). 

A form like creissent {cs for sc) seems to admit of 
similar explanation, also graisse, the origin of which 
is obscure. The shortness and voicelessness of the 



consonant (as well as the length of the f which has 
resulted from the diphthong) are preserved in M.E. 
Chaucer seems generally to spell these words with ss 
(the MSS. now and again with s), perhaps occasionally 
with c : greesse, encresse (increce), relesse ; in a nor- 
malised orthography c would be preferable. 

O.Fr. ss = Lat. ss must be considered a long 
voiceless s, for instance, in passer, cesser. In Chaucer 
the consonant is frequently shortened ; regularly 
when it ceases to be medial and becomes final, as in 
prees by the side of presse, ciprees ; but also 
occasionally under other circumstances: pace more 
frequently than passe, cesse, with variable quantity of 
the s (and hence also of the f), on the other hand, 
presse with long s. 

(7) O.Fr. c= Lat. c before e and i, or Lat. ce ci, te 
ti before another vowel. The development of this 
sound in French up to the 12th century may be 
illustrated as follows : {ky), ty,ts{^ = Ital. c before i, e) ts, 
in which connection note that the Picard dialect, which 
prevailed also in part of Norman territory, remained 
at the /i-stage, when the other dialects had already 
attained the i^j'-stage. Interesting for us at the 
moment is only the Common French ts, which 
predominated also in older Anglo-Norman. Now in 
England, as on the continent, the explosive in the 
O.Fr. affricate ts became assimilated to the spirant, 
the result being ss. When this change took place 
the symbol was still exclusively c. In some cases 
the consonant was shortened at once, namely 
initially and medially after a preceding consonant 
(not until later, and not so regularly, after unaccented 
vowels), further in learned words : vice, avarice. 


French orthography has, as a rule, retained the 
original symbol c for this short j-sound ; but, in 
course of time, the symbol s, as well as the c or 
f-symbol, was used between a consonant and a dark 
vowel. After vowels, especially after accented 
vowels, ss, which resulted from ts, preserved its 
length more effectually, and here the graphic symbol 
ss gradually appeared by the side of c, and 
ultimately, with but few exceptions, supplanted it 
(c occurs particularly after a in substantives, other- 
wise generally only in loan-words where the con- 
sonant is short). 

In Chaucer the short ^--sound occurs initially, as 
well as medially, after consonants. Initially he 
generally uses c : celebrable, celle, celerer, centre, cerclen, 
dprees, citee, citole; in some cases, indeed, the MSS. 
vary : seynt beside ceynt ' girdle,' and occasionally it 
is the better MSS. which use s : sencer by the side of 
censer, syklatoun beside ciclatoun. Sendal (O.Fr. 
cendal), by reason of its origin, which, however, is 
obscure, does not belong here. Between a consonant 
and a light vowel he sometimes writes c, sometimes 
s : mercy, percen, herse, between a consonant and a 
dark vowel s is the rule, as in raunsoun. 

Medially, between vowels, the long consonant is 
often shortened in Chaucer, not only in loan-words, 
but also in other cases, regularly after a : grace, 
place, space, chace, purchace, in learned words like 
devocioun, condicioun, avarice, malice, vice, Grece. In 
all these cases the spelling c prevails. Boece, Lucrece, 
alternate with Boesse, Lucresse. On the other hand, 
in the nominal suffix -esse always long s and shorts: 
noblesse, richesse etc., also in the verb dresse. 


Note. O.Fr. c( = is) occurs only initially and medially ; finally 
it is represented by z {6raz, laz, cerviz etc.) which originally 
stood for ts, later s, and was then replaced graphically by s (or x) 
But in a great many cases is with a simple voiced spirant 
occurs after a preceding vowel, instead of medial c (for instance, 
raison, saison, veisin voisin etc.), and in the same way, instead 
of final s, -is {pais, palais, pris from *prieis etc.) where the 
spirant is, indeed, voiceless, but must once have been voiced. 
We must assume the development to have been the same in both 
cases : ts, dz, iz, and, when final, is. Upon what conditions the 
softening of the ^j-sound is dependent, cannot be very concisely 
stated : In the first place Lat. c before e and i develops on these 
lines, thereupon Lat. ti before vowels, finally Lat. ci before 
vowels ; the accent exercises a certain amount of influence, nor 
does the quality of the preceding vowel seem a matter of in- 
difference, cf the noteworthy article by Horning, Zur Gesch. 
des lat. C. Halle, 1883, which did not come to my notice until I 
was already engaged in reading the proof-sheets of my book. I 
do not, however, in all respects share Horning's point of view. 
Some cases remain perfectly obscure, namely, those in which an 
?-sound develops out of the /j-sound without softening the 
affricate (cf. espice, from *espieice), and those in which diphthong- 
isation takes place in position {pihe, niece), or where dz seems 
to have developed instead of iz (i.e. idz instead of is with voiced 
.S-) : croiz i.e. croits from older *croidz, cf croiser, likewise voiz, 
noiz,puiz etc. (croiz may, of course, be a blending of croz and 

(S) Finally O.Fr. 2 = ts, later s, for instance in 
laas, crois, vois : also where it has become medial in 
emperice (O.Fr. emperetz). Only where an inflexional 
s was immediately added to a form in final -/ was 
the sound -ts preserved in spelling : servaunts, 

(e) On the voiceless j-sound in words like accom- 
plice, cherice, cf. § 112^. 


110. Voiced s corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. s medially between vowels : amasen (O.E. 
dmasian), cheesen, risen, wyse Adj. PL, wyse N. ; 
houses ; the symbol is rarely ^, as in veeze, S.T. 
57/1985 [A. 1985] (cf. § 23, Note.) Perhaps also 
between vowel and voiced consonant, as in housbond, 

In the inflexion of the verb cheesen, voiced s has 
been restored by analogy in all cases where, in 
consequence of grammatical change, it had become 
r : O.E. ciosan, ceas, curon, coren, in Chaucer : cheesen, 
ch(§s, chgsen, chosen. On the other hand, P.P. lore{n) 
lorn from leesen, and Pret. were weren from was. 

(/3) O.Fr. s of various origin, medially between 
vowels : ese, apesen,plesen, sesen, resoun, sesoun,prisoun, 
assise, diocise, servise,justise, baptisen, devisen, excusen, 
resolve, resigne, perhaps also between vowel and voiced 
consonant as in desdeyn, disgise degyse. Before con- 
tinuous sounds s had already in the oldest Anglo- 
Norman become mute or d, in Chaucer, for instance, 
in medlee. He, meynee. 

(7) O.Fr. s initially (no example) and medially as 
in duszeyne dozeyne doseyn. Also z in foreign Proper 
Names as Zephyrus, Razis. Here belongs further 
the mysterious form Zanzis, S.T. 303/16 [C. 16] 
( = Zeuxis ?), Zauzis, Zanzis, Troil. iv. 414. 

111. The relation of the voiced to the voiceless s 
in the suffix -ise, -ice, calls for special comment. The 
Latin suffixes -icia, -itia regularly result in O.Fr. -ece, 
later -esse ; in some cases, however, they become -ise, 
and this form also occurs as the representative of 
Lat. -icium, -ztimn. 

In a number of cases -icia, -itia, -icium, -ttium are 


represented by -ice. The latter suffix appears prim- 
arily in learned words, the ending -ece, later -esse, is, 
on the contrary, a purely popular one ; the suffix -ise 
seems to occupy an intermediate position, in so far 
as (setting aside the other elements of the words 
under discussion) at least the z and the voiced s are 
in accordance with the rule, by which attraction of 
the z goes hand in hand with the simplification 
and softening of the ts sound ; Lat. i + i ought, 
of course, to have resulted not in f, but in et. 
Now Chaucer employs all three suffixes, and, 
moreover, in accordance with the usage of older 
French texts. The spelling, even of the better MSS., 
not infrequently misrepresents his habit with regard 
to the endings -zse and -zee ; but there is clear 
evidence of it in rimes. Judging by these, voiced 
s prevails in coveitise, exercise, franchise,justise,juwise 
juyse, marchandise, sacrifise, servyse, tormentise (also 
in the name Venyse, which is regularly formed from 
Venetia, as pris from pretimn) ; the voiceless sound 
in avarice, benefice, malice, office, vice, and in the name 

The voiced spirant regularly occurs in the verbs 
despise, suffise (with as much justice as in plese, for 
instance) ; exercise and sacrifise seem to be formed 
from the corresponding substantives ; but upon the 
verb sacrifise, as upon chastise, for sacrifye, chastye, the 
analogy of verbs like baptise etc. may have exercised 
an influence. 

On the voiceless s in the verbs accomplice, cherice, 
warice, as well in the subst. nyce, cf § 1 1 2 /3. The 
sound is not accounted for in the verb trice (O.Fr. 


112. The voiceless spirant s, the sound of which 
is equivalent to N.E. sk, is spelt scA or sk in native 
words ; we prefer the latter spelling, as being that of 
the most accurate and consistent MSS. In French 
words either the same symbol is used, or the tra- 
ditional one ss based upon French usage. The 
sound corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. sc : shaken, shame, shapen, sheeld, sheep, 
ship, short, shour, shrive. Medially and finally s is 
always lengthened, since when the originally com- 
pound sound was simplified the original duration was 
preserved ; the long sound is always represented by 
sch (or ssch) : asshen, wasshen, thresshen ; assh, flessh, 
fissh. There is, of course, no lengthening when the 
sound is initial in the second part of a compound, as 
\xi felaweshipe. On the combination sk in Chaucer, 
cf. § 1 1 9. 

(/8) O.Fr. ss = Lat. sc before e, i or sci, sti before a 
vowel. We must here assume the phonetic develop- 
ment to have been {sky), sty, sts, ss, wherefrom results 
lengthened, or possibly also short, s. This sound 
which is still extant in Italian (to take one example 
among many, angoscid) must have existed also in 
O.Fr., and be frequently concealed under the symbol 
ss, to what extent, and with what chronological or 
dialectal limitations, let Romance philologists decide. 
At any rate, the sound penetrated into English, and 
has maintained itself there up to the present day, 
whilst the orthography, starting from ss, by degrees 
appropriated to itself the symbol sch, sh which stood 
for the identical sound in native words. In M.E. 
this 1-sound is always long, and occurs only medially 
and finally. The verbs of the z-class with an in- 


choative Present are chiefly in question where forms 
like -iscis, -iscit, -iscimus, -iscitis seem to have deter- 
mined the character of the preceding consonant : 
blaundissen blaundisshen,florisshen, norissen,punisshen ; 
in esco : vanisshen ; analogous formation venquisshen. 
Also angwissh (O.Fr. anguisse angoisse, Lat. angustid) ; 
in parissh the origin of the sound is obscure. 

Some at least of the verbs in -isco appear in 
Chaucer also with short voiceless s, in which form 
he employs them chiefly in rime ; thus there occur 
in the C.T. accomplice, cherice, warice (O.Fr. garir, 
warir) riming with office, vice, avarice etc. It is a 
question whether here the younger French form 
of the .r-sound under discussion has exercised an 
influence, or whether a variation in the development 
of the original form has taken place. The Adj. 
nyce (O.Fr. nice) must trace back to *necius instead of 

113. The voiceless affricate ts, represented by ch, 
corresponds to : 

(a) O.K. palatal c {■=k\ Initially, it occurs 
before light vowels, amongst which must be numbered 
d and /«, as a rule also se, ea ; in y, y, on the other 
hand, not the i-, but the u- element seems to 
exercise the predominant influence. Examples : 
chin, child, chiden cherl, cheese cheep, chapfnan chaf. 
Before O.E (which, however as the vowel-develop- 
ment proves, cannot, in this case, have had the i- 
sound) in cherche. Medially the palatalisation takes 
place as a rule only when O.E. c has transmitted the 
/-mutation of the preceding vowel : beechie), breech, 
leeche, blechen, seechen biseechen, techen bitechen. 


drenchen, thenchen, muchel, muche (O.E. micel mycel) 
etc., but, under these circumstances, k also occurs in 
some cases (§ 1 1 8 a). Rarely otherwise : specke, 
chercke, obscure is wenche. The medial gemination 
is treated similarly: wicchecraft, wrecche, fecchen, 
strecchen, thus also recchen ' to reck, care' (O.E. rkan, 
but also reccan ; is the lengthening of the consonant 
due to the influence oi reccan, M.E. recchen ' stretch'?), 
by the side of rekken (§ 1 1 8 a), lacchen. Without 
softening by mutation in wacche. Finally ts de- 
velops, in the first instance, under much the same 
conditions as medially, e.g. bench, wrench ; further 
after / and /: dich -lich (likewise -liche), the adj. 
lich by the side of more frequent lik (likewise adv. 
yliche by the side of ylike), wich, for instance, in 
Greenewich : ich beside more frequent T ; finally 
after an / that has been dropped in eech, which, swich, 
such, ifj + J becomes long s : Frenssh from Frencisc. 

(/3) O.E. / + palatal j in orchard (O.E. ort-jeard, 
beside which early the form orcjeard). 

(7) O.Fr. ch : chapel, char, chambre, chaunge, chaste, 
cheef, cheer e, chivalry e ; vache, broche, bacheleer, archeer; 
inarchaunt, approchen; franchise, riche, richesse etc. 
The main source of O.Fr. ch is Lat. c before a, which 
in Picardy and a part of Norman territory retains 
the k sound. Thus we see Picard c ox k playing 
a part, though a subordinate one, by the side of 
French ch even in Anglo-Norman, and also in the 
language of Chaucer ; cf § 1 1 8 y. 

(^) Very rarely Old Pic. 6 ch which corresponds to 
O.Fr. c it's for ts, s, cf § 109 7). An undoubted 
example is cacchen from Old Pic. cachier=0.¥Y. 
chacier (which resulted in chacen). A word like 


chiche is of no moment, because here the Picardism 
Js, if one may say so, Common French. 

Note. The derivation of M.E. cacchen from Old Pic. cachier 
has recently been questioned, and its derivation from Common 
French cacher has been suggested instead. This assumption is 
untenable, because not only is there no evidence for Fr. cacher 
meaning ' to acquire by the chase,' but such a meaning is incon- 
ceivable, since the word is not derived from *coactare, but (cf. 
Grober) from *caveare. An attempt to claim M.E. cacchen as a 
native word has been refuted elsewhere. Cf., however, for the 
Picard ch in English, M.E. cherie, N.E. cherry, as well as N.E. 

114. The voiced affricate dh occurs : 
(a) In original English words only medially. It 
has developed from O.E. final or medial palatal 
media, which occurs only in the gemination {cj=gg), 
and in the combination nj, in both cases after the 
operation of z'-mutation. O.E. palatal cj results in 
ddz, spelt gg\ palatal nj results in nds, spelt ng. 
Examples : brigge, Cantebrigge Cantebregge, egge, 
eggen, hence eggement, wegge, abeggen, leggen ; alenge 
(O.E. dlenje), sengen. 

Note i. It is possible that in the verb eggen the medial con- 
sonant represents the phonetic value ^^ as well as the phonetic 
value ddS (cf. O.N. eggja, N.E. to ^^^ by the side of 'to edge') ; 
the guttural media prevails, probably exclusively, in egging. 
In lenger, strenger, lengthe, sfrengihe etc., yg must have de- 
veloped for nd^ as the result of analogy (as in long, strong). 

Note 2. Abeyen abyen, leyen occur side by side with abeggen, 
leggen, and, moreover, more frequently. The analogy of abeyest 
abyest, leyest, and similar forms, where in O.E. the palatal 
spirant j stood, has been applied to forms where the palatal 
media was the rule. O.E. lie/an, secjan seem to be represented 
in Chaucer exclusively by lyen, seyen say en. 


(/3) It derives further from O.Fr./ or^ (^, i). Chaucer 
generally writes/ (or before a,o,u; before e, i, he uses 
g, but sometimes also — especially initially — a. J (or i) 
which, in this case, frequently corresponds to the Latin 
spelling : Jay, janglen, jolyf, Jove, Jornee, Juge, Justen 
Jousten, Justice, Juyse, less appropriately gay /er; gentil, 
get, Jewerye,Juparti, Jelous ; age, page, rage, mages tee, 
Juge, aungel, daunger, chaungen, chalengen. Medially, 
between an accented e and another vowel, there is 
a tendency towards gemination : coUegge, abreggen, 
aleggen (here influence of Engl, aleggen ? cf Matzner, 
a. v.), occasionally also elsewhere : Juggement beside 

Initially, the French sound has ousted the native 
one in Proper Names borrowed at an early period : 
Jerusaleem, Jesus, John etc. are to be pronounced with 
initial d'k, not withy' or j/. 

115. The liquid / corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. /, initially also hi : lasten, leten, litel, lore, 
louten ; lepen, loud ; blowen, slouthe, dale, Jele, sowle, 
fowle, seelde, sold, half, elf; deel, wel, hool. The 
length of the consonant is of old standing, for instance, 
in halle, fallen,fellen, al alle, wal, but recent in sinal, 
shal etc., / remains short, however, in smale, shule, 

Note. O.E. / is rarely dropped : eech, which, swich \ as 
occurs beside also, meaning 'so' ; meaning 'as' it occurs only in 
the form 'ar' ; meaning 'also' in the form als beside also. 

(/3) O.Fr. /: latoun, /isrj/ ' song,' lay, 'law,' lepard, lige, 
loos ; blame, deer, celereer, flame, assemblen, ensaumple, 
palfrey ; roial, cruel etc. Protected French / has 
resolved itself into u, but often reappears in Anglo- 



Norman texts (^palfrey which is based on palefrei, 
does not belong here). In Chaucer we find protected 
/, for instance, in fals, crueltee, roialtee, on the other 
hand, auter, beautee bewtee, maugre, reme, sauf, saven, 
sautrie etc. / naturally stands in learned words like 
salvacioun, salpetre, 

French palatal /, when final in the originally tonic 
syllable, becomes il, or, before a vowel, generally -ill : 
bataille, faille, Itaille, assaille V., consaille V., merveyle, 
conseyl, peril; in the pre-tonic syllable it becomes 
-lly, as in William. 

(■y) / is inserted in manciple, sillable, cardiacle etc. 

116. The trill r corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. r, initially also hr: reden, riden, rood, 
rough ; roof; breest, dreed, freend, writen, steeren, lore, 
dore, lord, word, short, erthe, kerven ; heer, for etc. 
Gemination, for instance, in sterre, ferre. O.E. r is 
dropped in speken [already O.Kent, specan = Ohg. 
spehhan beside sprehhan] or speche. Metathesis has 
taken place, for instance, in fright, wright, wroughte. 
In many other cases, on the other hand, an O.E. 
metathesis has been abandoned : bresten, thresshen 
(cf § 140) etc. 

Note. On chosen for cur on, coren, cf. § 1 10 a. 

(/3) O.Fr. r : rage, roial, reme, resoun, braunche ; 
Fraunce, trenche, houre, amorous, poure ; archeer, deer, 
flour etc. Geminated, for instance, in array, werre ; 
werreye. Simplification of the gemination takes place, 
for instance, in were, Fynystere, the infinitives enquere, 
requere. On the simplification of the geminates in 
O.Fr. cf Faulde, Ueber Gemination im Altfranz, p. 
10, ff. (z.f rom. Phil., vol. iv. p. 542). 


117. The resonant n corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. n, initially also hn : name, neede, night, 
nothing ; nekke ; knave, knight, snewen, vane, seene, 
inoone, lond, stenten ; wyn, streen, boon. The length of 
the consonant is of old standing, for instance, in synne, 
cynne, man tnannes, can conne etc. 

When final in inflexional syllables n is frequently 
dropped : for particulars cf. the chapter on Accidence. 
Note further, beside oon the form oo or o, and 
beside the shortened an (before vowels and K) the 
form a (before consonants). 

((8) O.Fr. n : nature, necligence, nyce, noble, norice ; 
enemy, veyne, punisshen, am.enden, repenten, count, 
aunt, daunger, aungel, chaunce, trenche ; playn, soun, 
prisoun, noun. 

Palatal n when final in the originally tonic 
syllable becomes -in, though the spelling sometimes, 
and generally after /, remains gn : Britayne, deigne 
deyne V., Boloigne, vyne, signe, benigne, digne. When 
final in the syllable immediately preceding, it becomes 
ny in onyoun, but we also find — and this, moreover, 
in the best MSS. — oynon. The phonetic value o{ gn in 
words like signefye, magnificence etc. is doubtful. 

(■y) Lingual n is inserted in papyngay, popyngay, 
but the most correct MS. (Ellesmere) spells papejay. 
Note 2\sofor the nones —for then ones and atte nale 
= at then ale. 

Palatal and Guttural Series. 

118. The tenuis k corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. guttural r ( = y^) which occurs ( i ) initially 
before consonants : cleene, knave, knee, knyght, creepen. 


queen{e) ; before dark vowels : can koude, corn, cup 
etc., here belong also care (O.E. cam cearu), and the 
majority of cases where O.E. a, ea, or as stands 
before /-combinations : calf, cold etc. {chalk must be 
influenced by O.Fr.) ; as a rule before O.E. y : 
kyng, kyn, kynde, kissen kessen etc., in some words 
before ^-sounds : keene, keel, keepen, kerven. As far 
as the orthography is concerned, k is the rule before 
e, i, or y, and before n, rarely before dark vowels : 
koude, q before « = zy (§ 103 a), in other cases c. (2) 
Medially, as a rule when the guttural has not served 
to transmit the z'-mutation : rake, snake, maken, 
cheeke, breken, speken, wreken, syken, drynken, synken, 
occasionally even when mutation has taken place : 
shenken, thynken, thenken, probably more frequently 
than thenchen, seeken biseeken beside seechen biseechen. 
The geminate is treated similarly, for instance, in 
bukke, lokkes, nekke, but also thikke, rekken by the 
side of recchen (§113 a) ' to reck, care.' (3) Finally 
under the same conditions as medially : folk, werk, 
book, eek, leek, seek sik, flok, lok ; rarely before original 
/: lik beside lich (cf. §113 a). — k corresponds further 
to the k of other Germanic dialects, for instance, 
O.N. in casten, taken, meeke, Mlg. in crowke, lowke etc, 

(/3) O.Fr. c—k: constable, cors, coward, court, cur- 
teis, contree, coy, cure, keevren, deer, croys ; seculeer, 
secree, secte ; frank, due. 

{y) More rarely Old Pic. c (corresponding to O.Fr. 
ck, cf. § 1 1 3 7) : cacchen, caitif, cantel, carien, caroigne, 
carpenteer, castel, catel etc. In other cases it is a 
question of Common French c (for cK) in learned 
words, for instance in caas, castigacioun, cause etc. 
Common French appears to be c (for ch) in cage, cave 



119. The combination sk corresponds to : 

(a) Rarely O.E. sc (which, as a rule, produces sk) : 
initially, almost exclusively under the influence of 
words of Scandinavian origin, similar in sound and 
meaning : scabbe, skile, skyn, also Scot. Scatered is 
obscure. Medially, the transition into sh is some- 
times prevented by metathesis: asken, probably 
more frequently axen, tusked (from O.E. t7!isc tikx). 

(/S) O.N. sk : scalle scalled, scathe, scrippe ; O.N. 
influence may also be apparent in skie (O.N. sky). 
If Chaucer uses the form skriken by the side of 
shriken, as the reading of the Ellesmere and 
Hengwrt MSS. seems to indicate, S.T. 299/4590 
[B 4590], the latter must be of Low German, 
the former of Scandinavian origin. 

(y) Mdu. sc in scrapen. Sclendre, that is coupled 
with Mdu. slinder, is obscure. 

(5) The same sound in some Germanic words of 
obscure origin, as skippen, sculle. 

(e) O.Fr. i-f ( = sk) : scale scoleer, scourges, sqmr(r)el, 
squier, sclaundre, scripture, scriveyn. 

(Q Old Pic. jc ( = sk) : scafold, scalded, escapen 
scapen, scarsly etc. 

120. The media g corresponds to : 

(a) The O.E. initial guttural spirant from Germanic 
/ (South Germanic g) which occurs before consonants, 
dark vowels (sometimes before ss, ae) as well as before 
y, but before e and ?'-sounds almost only as the 
result of analogy : glee, glyden, greene, gat-toothed, 
goon, god, good, goos gees, galwes, geere, togidre, gilty 
agilten, girdel. O.N. gestr must have influenced the 
word gest, since we should otherwise expect either 



gast (O.E. jsest\ or yest, yist (O.E. jest jiest jisf). 
Gynnen bigynnen might have been influenced by 
Mdu. or Mlg., but the analogy ofgan gonnen suffices 
to account for the media. 

Note. Medially and finally the O.E. guttural spirant has 
changed to w, which became vocalised to u after vowels, cf. 
§ 103 /3. The spirant has, however, remained guttural only after 
a, o, u (not after a\ and after consonants, when no /-mutation 
has taken place. Preceding a and z-mutation necessitate a 
palatal. But one exception may be noted : In the inflexion of 
the second class of weak verbs a thematic palatal /(even when 
=f) may become guttural before a dark vowel. Cf. harwede 
(O.E. herjode). 

(/3) The O.E. guttural media, which only occurs 
medially and finally, either geminated {cj), or in the 
combination nj. I have noted only one example of 
the media, namely dogge. I do not know, for 
instance, whether the word frogge occurs in Chaucer ; 
the combination ng is more frequent : thing, ringen, 
singen, springen, long, tonge etc. In the M.E. period 
the media was most probably pronounced in all 
these cases after the guttural resonant (hence yg, 
as nowadays in longer, tongue"). The /-mutation 
excludes the guttural as a rule, and produces the 
palatal (on the O.E. palatal media cf § 114a); but 
in Englissk Engelond the guttural media occurs 
without a doubt. The guttural sound seems there- 
fore — at least in the combination nj — to have been 
supported by a following /. 

(7) SS resulted further by mutual assimilation 
from O.E. d-^ c : beggen from bedecian. 

(S) The media corresponds further to O.N. initial 
g : gabben, galle, gate, for instance in algate algates. 


also before light vowels, gelding, gigges, hence also in 
gest, geten, forgeten, whilst, on the other hand, foryeten 
preserves the O.E. palatal ; medially, or finally, O.N. 
gg, for instance in bagge, even when 2-mutation has 
operated : leglegges, egging etc. 

(e) Mdu. g, gh : grote, gessen, pigge. 

(Q) Keltic g : gonne, crag cragges, apparently 
W. ch in kog hogges. 

{ri) The O.Fr. media g: glorie, grace, graunten, 
governour, gyden gyen, gyse ; agonye, agu{e), angwissh 
etc. Sometimes also Pic. g as in gardin. 

121. The voiceless spirant x> represented by gh, 
appears only medially before consonants, and, in 
point of fact, only before /. It is either palatal, or 
guttural, according to the nature of the preceding 
vowels ; before the palatal sound an i has developed, 
which, however, after a preceding i, is not generally 
represented by any symbol, before the guttural sound 
an u. The diphthongs and monophthongs which 
thus originate have been discussed above. The 
spirant generally corresponds to O.E. h = -)^^: light, 
nyght ; knyght, highte (O.E. hiehdu), aught, laughter, 
taughte, straughte, broughte, thoughte, also spelt broghte, 
thoghte etc. Sometimes to an O.N. g which was 
certainly a spirant : sleighte slighte (O.N. sMgd). 

Original c { = k) before t in Benedight. By analogy 
the sound occurs in caughte from cacchen, cf. laughte 
from lacchen. Although the development of the 
vowel naturally necessitates a weakening of the con- 
sonantal character of \, yet, from the uniformity in 
the spelling and from the rimes, we may deduce 
that the spirant in this position had not yet become 
a mere breathing. Spellings and rimes like plit (for 


plight); appeUt, S.T. 473/2335 [E 2335] are quite 

Note. That protected ^A only occurs before t is accounted for 
by the fact that jtr=^j probably already in O.E., but in Chaucer 
certainly denotes ks, whereas any other A before s drops in M.E., 
hS becomes ght, and, in some other cases, a parasitic vowel 
develops. On the initial combinations of h, cf. § 122 o. On 
the orthography of the x-sound, note that some Chaucer MSS. 
have A for gh, which, however, is contrary to the usage of the 
best codice 

122. The breathing h is represented by k and gh. 

The first symbol obtains where, already in O.E., or 
soon after the beginning of the M.E. period, a mere 
breathing survived, likewise as representative of 
Romance k, the latter where ;^ became k only in the 
course of the M.E. period. 

(a) Initially h is the only .symbol : (i) In English 
words : hare, helpen, hyen, hood, hooin, hous, he, hym, 
hire, hit. By the side of hit we find it. h obtains also 
in the initial combination -wh, i.e. a voiceless w, from 
O.E. hw ( = yw) : what, where, why, who etc. The O.E. 
combinations hi, hn, hr have lost every trace of h in 
Chaucer : lepen, nekke, roof. (2) In Germ? loan-words, 
cf. O.N. h in hap and the verb happen derived there- 
from, Mdu. or Mlg. or Fris. h in the suffix -heed, 
-hede, in the verb heeten, biheeten etc. (3) In Keltic 
words, cf. harlot, hog. (4) As smooth breathing in 
French words, for instance, in herber, heir, honour, 
tiorrible, hoost, hostelrye, hour, humble, humilite, as 
rough breathing in habergeoun, harneys, haste, heraud, 
herbergage, herse. 

(j8) Finally, the best MSS. write gh. In this posi- 
tion the sound corresponding to O.E. or some other 


Germanic ^ ( = x) was, in the M.E. period, still dis- 
tinctly a spirant, either palatal or guttural, under the 
same conditions as medial gh, and produced, in the 
former case an i, in the latter an u. But the rimes 
and orthographical variations prove that, in Chaucer's 
time, only a breathing survived : heigh hye, seigh sy, 
saugh (does the spelling ^saw' also occur in Chaucer?), 
, bough, plough, tough, lough, slough slow, ynough ynow. 
At the end of a long syllable guttural j became h in 
O.E., hence, for instance, the gh in ynough ; but we 
also find trough (O.E. troj). Original Norse h occurs 
in though — O.N. }}6 from \oh. 

123. The voiced palatal spirant y occurs : 

(a) Almost exclusively at the beginning of a word. 
It results chiefly from O.E. palatal j, due to two 
sources : (i) Germanic ^ (whence South Germanic^) 
which before light vowels (but not before y), in excep- 
tional cases before dark ones, becomes palatal in O.E. 
(2) Germanic j before light or dark vowels. O.E. 
orthography employs the /-symbol initially before e 
and /, in other cases je (before u sometimes ji), 
rarely i. The MSS. represent the corresponding M.E. 
sound either by y or /. Following the most reliable 
MSS. of the C.T. we shall use y, which is also the 
more usual symbol. Examples are: {\) yiven yeven, 
foryeten (by the side oi forgeten cf 120 S),yelwe,yerd 
' rod,' yerd ' garden' (O.E. jeard, M.K. jurd jerd, N.E. 
yard), yate ' gate,' yaf ' gave ' etc. (2) yif,yit, ye,yeer, 
yok,yong etc. 7/" occurs by the side oi yif. 

(jS) Medially and finally the O.E. palatal spirant / 
(on its relation to the guttural spirant, cf § 120, 
Note) has, in some cases, become a vowel, in others 


a semi-vowel : a vowel, namely, after vowels, so that 
either a diphthong or a long monophthong has 
resulted, but a semi-vowel after consonants, which 
latter case will be discussed in the following paragraph. 

(7) A voiced palatal spirant seems, however, to 
occur medially in a few words in Chaucer. It is in 
these cases represented by gh, and corresponds to an 
O.E. h, that has been separated by a parasitic vowel 
from its protecting consonant, or an h that had been 
dropped medially between vowels, but has been 
restored by analogy with forms where it was final, 
and which is now bound to appear medially as a 
voiced spirant (cf. O.E. on heajum or fleojan for 
fleon) : higher, highe, neighen ' to approach.' But the 
weakness of the spirantic character of this gh is 
proved, not only by spellings like neyen, hyer, hye 
(these are the usual Chaucerian forms), but above all 
by the fact that the MSS. sometimes employ the 
symbol gh even in cases where Chaucer certainly 
admitted no spirant: S.T. 13/454 [Prol. 454] 
weyeden, Harl. 7334 weighede; S.T, 509/1035 f. [F. 
1035] Ellesmere. Hengwrt, Harl. 7334 heighe : eighe 
(eyghe). Corpus keije : eyje, Lansdowne hihe : eyhe, 
Cambr. Gg. 427 hyghe : lye, Petworth hie : ye, where 
the spelling of Petworth corresponds absolutely to 
Chaucer's pronunciation. Perhaps the palatal spirant 
in neighebour should also be considered voiced, 
although it is due to O.E. hh from hj (O.E. nihhebiir 
from neah-jeb-kr). 

124. The voiced guttural spirant which, according 
to the above observations, we must assume in the 
verb laughen (O.E. hlehhan hlyhhan, Angl. hlsehhan, 
Mlg. Mdu. lachen) is in Chaucer about to become 


transformed into a labial spirant ; hence in the MSS. 
the spelling laughwen occurs. Perhaps we ought 
actually to assume the pronunciation lauwen (or 
lawen, from which N.E. laf, spelt laugh), gh in 
burghes ought, no doubt, to be pronounced in a 
similar way. 

125. The palatal semi- vowel i,y corresponds to: 
(a) O.E. palatal spirant or palatal semi-vowel 
between consonant and vowel : berye berie ' berry,' 
merye merie, berien ' bury ' (O.E. byrjan byrijan, 
where ij marks the palatal more clearly than simple 
/), warien, tarien. In these verbs the O.E. /, 
from which the i is derived, is radical. In the 
inflexion of weak verbs the i, j and ij of the Present 
is sometimes preserved in the first conjugation, and 
then carried through the whole inflexion : herien ' to 
praise,' but, on the other hand, weren ' to defend ' and 
weren ' to wear ' ; in the second it has dropped 
entirely, as in axen, loven ; but a trace of the older 
lovien has survived in the derivative lovyere by the 
side of lovere. A final palatal spirant is the source of 
the y in Caunterbury , which y does not always retain 
the force of a syllable even before a following initial 
consonant, cf. S.T. 1/16, 2 2 [Prol. 16. 22]. Final y 
= O.E. i+j may be treated as a semi-vowel, if the 

following word begins with a vowel : many «, so 
besy a. 

(/3) Romance i in the unaccented ending -ie : 
contrdrie, gUrie, victSrie, tragddie, comedie, stikdie. 
Also in verbs like st-kdien, contrdrien, mdrien, cdrien. 
Occasionally also O.Fr. z in the terminations -ial, -ioun, 
-ious, on the syllabic value of which, cf. 8268. 


126. The guttural n corresponds to : 

(a) O.E. n before guttural stops : thank, synken, 
bryngen, syngen, heeng, Engelond, song, long,yong, tonge 
etc., naturally also in forms like thynken, thenken ; 
but not in thenchen etc. 

(/3) O.Fr. n before guttural stops : frank, angwissh 

(7) It is inserted in nightyngale (O.E. nihtejale). 




127. We shall begin with the discussion of tense- 
formation, and consider, in the first instance, the 
characteristic forms of the strong verbs: (i) the 
reduplicating verbs ; (2) the verbs with vowel-grada- 
tion ; (3) the weak verbs. We shall then discuss the 
inflexion of the various tenses in the different moods. 
Finally, we shall consider the formation and inflexion 
of the anomalous verbs. 

Tense-Formation of the Reduplicating 

128. The Present and the Past Participle have the 
same root-vowel, namely : 

(a) Germanic a before // or l-\- cons., nn or n + 
cons. = O.E. a ea, a ; all other cases have a long 
vowel or diphthong before a simple stop or before w : 

(j8) Germanic ai = O.E. a ; 

(•y) West Germanic a before w = O.E. a ; 

(^) West Germanic a before a stop = O.E. ^ i ; 



(e) Germanic au = O.E. ^a ; 

(^ Germanic 6= O.E. 6 ; 

(»?) Germanic 6 mutated by z = O.E. /. 

These vowels develop in M.E. according to rule, 
for example : 

(a) O.Y..fanefealle, M..'E..falle, O.E. halde healde, 
M.E. hglde ; 

(/3) O.E. hate — hgte ; 

(7) O.E. bldwe — bloue, spelt blowe ; 

(^) O.E. j/^/g slepe — sl§pe sleepe ; 

(e) O.E. hleape — l^pe, heawe — heue, spelt hewe ; 

(^ O.E. grSwe — groue, spelt growe ; 

(»?) O.E. Z£/^^ — weepe. 

The Present ofO.K./on and ^^« (from '^'fanhan and 
*hanJmn), with its (long) <^, gradually disappears in 
M.E., and is replaced by other forms. The P.P. 
develops regularly ; fanjenfgnjen — -fgngen. 

129. The (apparent) root-vowel of the Preterite is 
in O.E. e or eo ; both produce M.E. e, in case of 
shortening (, or, united with a following u from w, 
eu (spelt eiv). The only archaic O.E. Preterite of 
importance in Chaucer is heht (by the side of hei) 
from hdtan. 

130. We shall now enumerate the characteristic 
forms of reduplicating verbs found in Chaucer, 
marking later forms (analogy- formations — loan-words) 
by ordinary type. 

(a) falle felfil fallen, 

hglde heeld hglden. 




(/3) {hote) 
(y) blowe 




(^) sleepe slepe 

lete leete 

drede dreede. 

rede reede. 
(e) lepe 


{r\) weepe 

131. Present. 

hglde, cf. 8 3 5 e. 


heet h^^t highte 













leten laten. 







Helde occurs rarely by the side of 
Fgngen, instead of O.^.fon, may be 
derived from the MXg.fangen ; hgngen maybe accounted 
for by a confusion of the strong transitive verb hdn 
with the intransitive w^eak hangian; heng is intransitive 
already in Orrm, and thus also heeng in Chaucer. 
In any case an Inf. f6n, hon by the side of a P.P. 
fongen, hongen could not fail to appear as an 

132. Past Participle. Peculiar is the form laten 
latyn, S.T. 125/4346 [A. 4346]. Harl. 7334 has 
lete, Cambr. Gg. Ictyn. 

133. Preterite. The plural has the vowel of the 
singular. The form honge: {strange) S.T. 69/2421 
[A. 242 1 J can, in spite of the variant henge, only be 
treated as a Pres. PI. 


134. Intrusion ofthe weak inflexion. By the side 
of sleep, weep, occur slepte, wepte; walke, drede, 
r{e)ede are inflected exclusively weak ; Pret. walked, 
dradde, radde redde. It is doubtful whether Chaucer 
uses bette as well as beet. 

Note. Already in Old Angl. sUpan is inflected weak, some- 
times also, in O.W.S., slapan and ondmdan. The Pret. radde, 
from O.E. radan, is of frequent occurrence. Orrm has only 
weak forms for the Preterite or P.P. of slcBpenn, drcedenn, 
radenn and wepeiin, and no instance whatever of walken. 

135. The verb hole requires special comment. O.E. 
hdtan, heht hit, hdten means ' voco, jubeo, promitto ' ; 
hdtte ' vocor,' and thereupon ' vocatus sum.' Hdtan, in 
the sense of 'vocari' occurs only Gen. 344, where it 
is presumably a Saxonism, since Lg. hetan seems 
to have been used in this sense earlier than Engl. 
hdtan. In M.E. haten hgten is used not infrequently 
in the sense of ' vocari,' but it may be doubted 
whether it occurs in Chaucer with this meaning. 
(S.T. 45/1557 f. [A. 1557] the six MSS. have in two 
consecutive lines highte or hy^te, hiht etc., Harl. 7334, 
indeed, hole and hoote). On the other hand, the use, with 
Passive meaning, of the Preterites derived from heht 
Jiet is very common in M.E. and familiar to Chaucer. 
Highte (heht treated as a weak Pret.) and heet 
generally mean ' vocatus sum ' in Chaucer ; on the 
other hand, highte bihighte (or bihight strong ? cf. 
\ 193) 'he promised ' and the P.P. hight ' promised' 
by analogy with it. In the same sense as highte 
heet Chaucer sometimes also uses h(§t (Blaunche 
948, for hete : grete, read hegt : grg§t). This form 
may be looked upon as a confusion of heet with a 


M.E. form hette which does not occur in Chaucer. 
How to account for the form hette itself seems 
doubtful, since O.E. hsbtte, with the force of a Pre- 
terite, does not occur at all, and with the force of a 
Present it occurs only once. Is hette formed after the 
model of the borrowed Present heete, which will be 
discussed below ? Or is it the result of a compromise 
between hit and hdtte ? 

From the Preterite highte 'vocatus sum' the 
Present highte ' vocor ' has been deduced. 

The Present heete biheete (§ 25), which occurs in 
the sense of ' promise, vow,' is a borrowed form. 

Tense-Formation of the Verbs with Vowel- 

136. Four classes , are to be distinguished, which 
may be characterised in the first instance by the 
original (Germanic) vowels of the Pres. and Pret. 
Sing. I. e, i — a ; II. a — 6 ; III. t — ai ; IV. eu, ■A — au. 

137. The first class contains three groups : In 
group A the root ends in a long consonant or a 
consonant group — generally a geminated or protected 
liquid, in group B in a single liquid, in group C in a 
single mute. Verbs, the root-vowel of which is fol- 
lowed by a single mute, but preceded by mute -|- 
liquid, fluctuate between B and C. In O.E. their 
inflexion is generally that of C — with the exception 
of the verb brecan ; in M.E., on the other hand, they 
incline to B, and we shall include them in that class. 

138. Class I. Group A, falls into two sub-divisions 
(a) and (/3) ; in (jS) the root-vowel is followed by a 


geminated or protected resonant ; all other cases 
belong to (a). 

The complete gradation-series (Pres., ist and 3rd 
Pers. Pret. Sing., Pret. PI. etc. P.P.) is in O.E. for 
both divisions : 

(a) e eo (ie i y, u) a ea 

(/S) i a ox g u u 

According to strict phonetic development, the result 
in Chaucer's language should be : 

(a) ( (i, u) dug 

or, by group-lengthening, 

? dug 

(/3) z a g u u 

or, by group-lengthening, 

I a g g u il 

In (a), however, the third grade has become like the 
fourth, the two having been alike in (/3) from the 
beginning ; the two grades are therefore in Chaucer : 
(a) g ox g and (/3) u or u. 

Note. On variable u and its representation, as well as on 
the symbol for short u after w, before mm, nn, etc., cf. the chapter 
on Phonology. 

139. We shall now enumerate the characteristic 
forms which occur in Chaucer : 

(a) swelle 

swal swgllen. 


halp hglpen hglpen. 







wartk(lfci. 1 92/1 941 Hengwrt). 


karf kgrven kgrven. 


starf stgrven stgrven. 













(/3) swrnme 













brenne brinne. 

































































140. With regard to (a), note: yelpe,yeelde corre- 
spond to the 0\d.Ar\g\. jelpejjeldeiO.W.S.jielpejjylpe 
etc.). The i in fighte presupposes an ie from eo (O.E. 
feohte), for which there is mo evidence, unless the 2nd 
and 3rd Pers. Sing. Pres. Ind. have determined the 
root-vowel for the whole of the Present (and even 



for the related Subst.). Breste, thresske = O.E. berste, 
persce ; the metathesis may have been reversed under 
O.N. influence. — abreyde = O.E. dbrejde. The strong 
Pret abrayd is confirmed by rime, Blaunche 192, 
Fame no. Asa rule, the verb is inflected weak : 
Pret. abreyde, likewise in the simple form breyde. 
The form broyded i\j\Od,g [A1049] recalls the grade 
of the old strong P.P. brojden (Lansdowne and Pet- 
worth : browded under Romance influence, cf. em- 
brouded s/Sg [Prol. 89] where Corpus and Petworth 
have embroyded. 

141. On (^) note : brennan (from O.N. brennd) is 
inflected weak whether used transitively or intransi- 
tively, which is accounted for by the fact that O.E. 
beo7-nan (intrans. strong) and bsernan (trans, weak), 
had begun to be confounded already in older M.E., 
the result being the extension of the weak inflexion. 
Brinnan occurs very rarely in the Present with in- 
transitive meaning, as S. T.335/S2 [D 52]. Rennen 
etc. must derive from O.N. renna, rann, runnu, 
runnenn ; the O.E. forms are : iernan irnan etc., 
rarely, rinnan, orn am, urnon, urnen. 

142. Class I. Group B. The gradation series is 
in O.E. : 

e {i) S3 {a or g) St {p) o (u) ; 

in Chaucer: 

# a ^e{p) g {u). 

Characteristic forms : 
stele stal. 

here bar beer b^^r beeren beren bgren bgrn. 
shere shgren shgrn. 

tere totar totgren tgrn. 



come cam coom 

camen coomen comen. 

{neme)nam noom 
trede trad 
breke brak 
speke spak 

speken spgken. 


143. Pres. come P.P. comen = O.E. cunie, cumen ; 
(neme) nomen = O.E. nime, numen. Both verbs form 
the Pret. Sing, in O.E by analogy with the Plural, 
hence with 6 instead oi a o: c6m cdmon, n6in nSmon. 
In later W.S. ncim ndmon also appear, but not until 
M.E. cam cdmen. 

144. By analogy with beren the weak verb weren 
(O.E. werian ' to put on, wear ') has formed a Pret. 
PI. weren, S.T. 84/2948 [A. 2948]. 

I. Group 0. Gradation series in O.E. : 
m ea (M) m e (?) ; 

145. Class 
in Chaucer : 

#(/) af(ef) eg ^ (f). 

On the resulting diphthongs, cf. the chapter on 

Forms : 

yive yaf 


weve waf 


ete eet g§t 

eeten eten 


mete mat 


gete gat 


{quethe) quoth quod. 

see saugh, seih saygh sy 


sitte sat seet se^t 

seeten seten 


bidde bad 


lye lay 





146. Present. The i in yive is the result of 
assimilation to the Palatal (O.E. jiefe jife), whereas 
in gete O.N. influence is apparent. In see, the final h 
of the root has dropped, as already in O.E. {sed). 
The i in sitte, bidde (likewise O.E. licje^ is due to old 
/-mutation, the gemination to tj, dj (in licje to jj^ \ 
lye for ligge {liddhe) is formed by analogy. 

147. Pret. Sing, eet ^^t (O.E. ^i'=Goth. ei) pre- 
serves original length. On the other hand seets^gt, by 
the side of sat, is by analogy with the Plural. In 
quotk quod o stands for older a (O.E. cwmd), which is 
not wholly accounted for by the influence of the 
preceding semi-vowel. 

148. Past Participle. The i in yiven is to be 
explained as in the Present. Woven is an instance 
of transition into the second group, B. By the side 
of the P.P. seyen, the adj. yseene seene (O.E. jesine 
jesyne) which in Chaucer is only construed with the 
verb to be. 

149. Class II. Gradation series in O.E. : 

a, ea {g, g) 6 6 a sb, ea (g) ; 

in Chaucer : 

d,ag(J§) o o d,ag (g). 

On the resulting diphthongs, or the monoph- 

thongisation of them, compare the chapter on 

Forms : 

fare faren. 

swere swoor swooren swgren sworn. 

shape shoop shoopen shapen. 

(stape) stapen. 





































lowen loughen laughen. 


slough slow 

slawen slayn. 

waxe wexe 

•weex wex 

wax wexen 

waxen? wgxen, 




150. Present e for a in sweren, heven is due to 
/-mutation. The semi-vowel in O.E. swerian 
swerijan^ and the geminate in hebban have been 
levelled out by analogy. Shapen (instead of sheppen 
shippen, O.E. scieppan scyppari) may have been formed 
by analogy with the P.P. shapen (hence sK), from 
O.N. skapa ; but perhaps derivation from O.E. 
sceapian might be suggested, since the weak P.P. 
shaped also occurs. On laughen cf § 1 24. The long 
vowel in slee sl§§n is due to loss of h (O.E. sMan from 

151. Participle, g for a in swgren occurs already 
in O.E. Slawen traces back to O.E. slajen, slayn to 
slsejen ; wgxen (like Pret. wax) with a Present wexe 
follows the analogy of Class I. 

152. Preterite, ou 'ow in slough slow, drow, gnow, 
'h = u in Chaucer, Medially, as for instance in 



the PL lowen loughen, we should on phonetic grounds 
expect the diphthong ou, but, by analogy, ii may 
have prevailed in this position also. 

The Prets. haf (for hoof) from heve, wax (and like- 
wise P.P. wgxen) from wexe, follow the analogy of 
Class I. The Pret. weex with unusual, but well- 
attested, preservation of the long vowel, and wex 
correspond to O.E. wdox, which generally takes the 
place of the regular wox {weaxan has thus passed 
from the second gradation series into the reduplica- 
ting class). Further, M.E. wessh from wasshe seems 
to have been formed by analogy with wex. The 
originally weak verb quake, P.P. quaked, has formed 
a Pret. quook by analogy with shake. The true 
Pret. oifare — -foor — is lost, and has been replaced by 
ferde (O.^./erde ixoxa. feran). 

Note. By the side of the strong verb waken awaken 'to 
awake' intrans. there is a weak verb waken (O.E. waciati) 
awaken trans. ' to awaken.' The verb taken is of O.N. origin. 

153. Class III. Gradation series in O.E. / -a -i -i ; 

in Ch. i -g -i -i. 



writen writen. 

)rms : 
































riden riden. 


154. ryven (O.N. rifd) has supplanted O.E. riofan 
(O.N. rjifa) which belonged to CI. IV. The verb 
stryven, borrowed from the O.Fr. (estriver) has con- 
formed to the third gradation series : Pret. Sg. strggf. 

155. Ripan riopan occurs in the Anglian dialects 
by the side of O.E. (W.S.) ripan ' to reap,' Sievers, 
P.B.B. ix. 277. Upon which is based the Pret. 
rgpen in Chaucer. 

156. Class IV. Gradation series in O.E. : 
/o, li ea u o ; 

in Chaucer here (as in CI. I. A, a,) the third grade 
has been assimilated to the fourth, hence : 

e,u f g g. 

On the resulting diphthongs, as well as on i in lye, 
flye, cf. the chapter on Phonology, § 21. 

Forms : 
creepe cr^^p crgpen crgpen. 

cleeve clqven. 

brewe brew, 


sheete skgten. 




cheese ckggs 


flye fleighfley 

lye ' to tell lies.' 


Igren Igrn. 







157. The grammatical change which is preserved 
in sgden from seethe sggth, Igren from leese., is 
abandoned in chgsen (Pret. PI. and P.P. O.E. curon, 
coren) from cheese. 

158. Instead of flyen the MSS. frequently write 
fleen in the Pres. (perhaps even Chaucer himself did 
so, cf. Blaunche 178, Fame 1523 [Globe, Fame iii. 
433, Note]), whereby the verbs to fly and to flee 
become identical in form (0.¥.. fl^ojanfl^ah flujon 
flojen ; fleon (from ^'fldohan), fldah, flujon, flojeri). 
Beeden has been contaminated by bidden (CI. I. C.) 
hence bad forbad, instead oi bg§d forb^^d. 

159. Noteworthy is the anomalous inflexion of 
shouve ' shove, push ' with variable u in the P.P. 
(already in Lay. scufen), and o in the Pret. Sing. 

160. Weak inflexion has intruded into cleeve, Pret. 
clefte ; leese, Pret. Igste, also P.P. Igst by the side of 
loren ; creepe, Pret. crepte beside cr§§p ; flee ' flee,' 
fledde, by the side o{ fleigh. 

Tense Formation of the Weak Verbs. 

161. 01. I. (A) with short root-vowel. Present. 
O.E. erie, derie, herie, werie, styrie ; Chaucer : ere, 
dere, were, stere, but herie (on the personal inflexion 


cf. § 1 84). If any other consonant but r precedes, 
the semi-vowel is assimilated to it in O.E., and the 
result is that jj becomes cj (i.e. gg), fj becomes bb : 
tellan, set tan, streccan, dswebban, lecjan etc. In 
Chaucer the gemination is, as a rule, preserved and 
carried through the whole inflexion of the Present : 
dwellen, tellen, sellen, letten, setten, recchen, strecchen, 
with the exception of bb, that, by analogy, yields to v 
from / (asweven) and Cf, which maintains itself either 
as gg {ddz) {abeggen, leggen), or is supplanted by y, i 
irom j^{aby en abey en, leyen, seyen), cf. § 100 Note; §114 
Note 2. 

162. The Preterite is formed by means of the 
ending -ede (oldest English form -idoR from idd) : O.K. 
erede, derede, werede, and in the same way in Chaucer, 
so far as the forms occur : O.K. styrede, Ch. sterede, 
but, on the other hand, O.K. herede, Ch. heriedie) by 
analogy with the Present ; O.K. dswefede, Ch. 
{aswevede) etc. 

Excepted are, however : 

(a) a number of short-stemmed verbs which dropped 
the i at an early period, and hence, in contradistinc- 
tion to the Present, have a non-mutated root-vowel. 
In Chaucer occur : sglde (O.E. salde, sealde) from 
sellen, tglde (O.E. tealde) from tellan, raugkte Troil. II. 
447 (O.E. reahte) from recchen (O.E. reccan), straughte 
(O.E. streahte) from strecchen (O.E. streccan), as well 
as sayde, seyde from seyen, sayen {ssejde from secjan, 
which, however, is of mixed inflexion in O.E. 
Sievers, Ags. Gr. §§ 41 5, 416, Note 3, P.B.B. ix. 297). 
Note in this connection also the originally anomalous 
formation of the Preterite boughte from {a)byen {a)beyen 
(O.E. bohte from bycjan, Goth. baAhta from bug/an). 


The syncope is fluctuating in dwelled{e) dwelte (O.E. 
dwealde and dwelede). 

The verb liven (O.E. libban, lifian) which in O.E. 
follows the mixed (third) conjugation, has a Pret. livede 
(O.E. lifde, but later also lifedeliofode, etc. ; cf. Sievers, 
P.B.B. ix., 297, N. 2). On the other hand, the Pret. 
of haven han (O.E. habban) which originally belonged 
to the same conjugation is hadde (O.E. hsefde). 
The verb weyen ' to weigh ' (O.E. wejan, Pret. wiej), 
which has passed from CI. I. of the gradation verbs 
into the weak inflexion, has a Pret. weyede. 

Note. On the change oi dxa t in the suffix {e)de, as well as on 
the modifications of the consonantal terminations of the root, 
cf. § 170. 

163. The P.P. is formed by means of the ending 
-ed: stered, heried (O.E. hered); asweved; after the 
same model also lifed {O.^. jelifd). The verbs men- 
tioned under | 162 a, have a syncopated form of the 
Participle in O.E., also lecjan {je)lejd, but the verbs 
in -d -t show the syncope as a rule only in polysyllabic 
inflexional forms. In Chaucer the syncopated Pre- 
terite of this group always has a syncopated Parti- 
ciple : sold, told, straught, sayd seyd, bought, leyd, let, 
set, in the same way also had (O.E. hiefd). 

164. 01. 1. (B). with long root- vowel. The Present 
regularly suppresses they' or i in O.E. after a preced- 
ing consonant : — -fele, dime, hire {hyre), cipe, life {lyfe), 
jrete, -mete, fide, lAne, msene, liere, liefe, swMe, Isede, 
sprdde, cyde, hyde ; in Chaucer : feele, deeme, heere, 
keepe, leeve bileeve, greete, meete, feede, lene, mene, 
meene, leere, lere, leve, swete sweete, lede leede, ^rede, 
hyde : O.E. Hhte, Mste, Chaucer : lighte, laste ; O.E. 


blende, rende, sende, wende, and the same in Chaucer ; 
O.E. blence, menje, fylle, stynte, jyrde, cysse, lyste, 
Chaucer : blenche, menge, fulfille, stente, girde, kisse 
kesse, lyste, etc. 

165. The Pret. has in O.E. regularly a syncopated 
form (for exceptions cf Sievers, Ags. Gr. § 404 
N. I.), and this is also generally the case in Chaucer: 

felte, ferde, herde, kepte, grette, mette, fedde, lente, 
mente, lafte, swatte, ladde, spradde, kidde, lighte, laste, 
blente, rente, sente, wente, bleynte, stente, girte, kiste, 
leste. After m, however, a weak e is inserted : 
demed{e), seemed{e), but rarely otherwise. 

166. In O.E. the P.P. is syncopated as a rule 
only in inflexional forms expanded by the addition 
of a syllable (in verbs in -d -t, sometimes also in 
other cases); in Chaucer even the uninflected forms 
of the P.P. generally appear syncopated: felt, herd, 
kept, gret, met, fed, biwreyd (from biwreye, O.E. 
wr/j-an), teyd (O.E. te'jan ty/an), lent, ment, laft, 
sprad spred, lad, ywet, (O.E. jewseted), kid, hid hed, 
blent, rent, sent, went, bleynt, ymeynd, spilt (from 
spillen), girt, kist, etc. But kythed occurs by the side 
of kid, afered beside the more frequent form aferd, 
stented from stenten, lered from leren (Pret. apparently 
not found) ; naturally no syncope in deemed, seemed, 

167. Originally strong verbs with a long root- 
syllable which become more or less completely weak, 
also generally have syncopated forms : weepe, Pret. 
wepte, sleepe — slepte, drede — dradde — drad, rede — radde 
redde, creepe — crepte,cleeve — clefte, leese — Igste — Igst; but 
walke has a Pret. walked{e), syke — syked(e) and sighte, 


unless the latter form be due to a M.E. Pres. sihten 
(cf. Stratmann 547^) ; the P.P. of breyden is broyded 
(| 1 40) and of (^for) weepen, with adjectival iorce,for- 

168. On the modifications which the root-vowel 
undergoes in the syncopated forms in consequence of 
the shortening, cf § 50. Note the metathesis whereby 
encte, enc{e)d becomes M.E. eynte, eynt; eng(e)d 
becomes eynd; hence blenche bleynte bleynf, drenche 
dreynte dreynt, quenche P.P. yqueynt, menge, P.P. 
ymeynd, senge — seynd, sprenge — spreynd yspreynd. 

Note. Amongst the weak forms of originally strong verbs 
the P.P. Igst zxvdi the Pret. Iqste, the g of which is due to Igren, 
and the P.P. broyded bora O.E. brojden should be noted. 

169. The following classes of long-stemmed verbs 
have a non-mutated vowel in the Pret. and P.P. : 

( 1 ) The verbs in which these forms were originally 
anomalous: O.^.Jjencan — pShte — J}Mf,Ch.a\icer: thenken 
thenchen — thgughte — thgught ; O.E. }}yncan — p-Ahte — 
}>-iiht ; Chaucer : thinken, which in the Pret. (and P.P.) 
instead of the phonetically correct ou = u has acquired 
gu by assimilation to thenken, (cf for instance, S.T. 
'^79l'h9'i'h [B 3933] ^^ ^^^^ ^^^ thgughte: 
brgughte) ; O.E. wyrcan — worhte — worht, Ch. werken — 
wrgughte — wrgught. Here belongs also the strong Pres. 
with weak Pret. and P.P. O.E. brinjan — brdhte — broht, 
which in O.E., has, on the one hand the comple- 
mentary forms branj brunjon jebrunjen, on the other, 
brenjan. These disappear, however, in the M.E. 
period. Chaucer : bringen — brgughte — brgught. 

(2) The verbs which at an early period were 
inflected by analogy with CI. i.: O.E, rec{e)an (also 


r^ccati) and se'c(e)an — rokte, sohte — soht, in Chaucer : 
recchen — rgughte, seeken seechen — soughte — sgught. 

(3) rdc{e)an, tmc{e)an fluctuate in O.E. : rdhte 
North, rdhte, tdhte tdhte — tseht tdht; in Chaucer 
this fluctuation is no longer apparent, on account of 
the identical development of shortened s& and a 
(§ 50): rechen — raughte, techen — taughte — taught. 

170. The consonantal changes which take place in 
the syncopated forms of both the short and long- 
stemmed verbs of this class are the following : 

(a) the ending -de becomes -te in O.E. after /, t, c 
and voiceless s (also ss and x) ; in Chaucer the ending 
is -te, and in the P.P., under the same conditions, -t 
instead of -de and -d: kepte, grette, dreynte (from 
drencte), kiste, but also after an originally voiced s, as 
proved by Igste, Igst from leesen; after y^: lafte, clefte, 
and further in a number of cases which, for the sake 
of better classification, will be discussed below. 

(/3) In pre-historic O.E. c ( = /^) before t became 
k ( = x)> hence forms like O.E. pSkte, piikte, worhte, 
sShte, rohte, reahte, streahte, rdhte rdhte, tdhte tdhte ; 
in Chaucer : thgughte wrgughte, sgughte, rgughte, 
raughte, straughte, raughte, taughte. In later O.E. the 
same change sometimes took place, as the result of 
analogy. In the syncopated forms of the Pret. and 
P.P. in Chaucer we regularly find ght for kt (unless 
k be preceded by another consonant, as dreynte 
from drencte), for instance, pighte from picchen etc. 

Note i. Amongst the old forms in -ta we see that in O.E. 
bohte brohte, Chaucer bgughte brqughte, j before t has also 
become h {=x)- In the really syncopated forms in ({)da, {e)de 
this change cannot occur, since d after / does not become f, cf., 
for instance, O.E. lej'de, M.E. leyde. 


(7) ^■\-d{e) becomes dd{e): kythen kidde kid 
( = kidd). 

(S) Before the ending -de(-te) the gemination is 
simplified, but, in point of fact, only graphically : 
O.E. fj/lde, cyste; Chaucer: V.V. fulfild, Pret. kiste. 
Originally single / as in O.E. tealde, sealde remains 
phonetically short in cases like tglde, sglde, on the 
other hand, dwelte by the side of dwelled{e) from 
dwealde dwelede has actually long /. 

(e) dd-\- de or (cons. -\-d)-\-de becomes dde or cons. 
■\-de, tt-\-t or (cons. + /) + ^e becomes tte or cons. 
^-te. In the P.P. dd-^d, tt+t also =dd, it, which, 
as in other cases, when final, are represented by 
single d, t, cf sette, Pret. sette, P.P. set. But in 
Chaucer older nde, nd from nd+de, nd+d, older Ide, 
Id from ld-\-de, ld-\-d, as well as older rde, rd from 
rd-\-de, rd+d, have become nte or nt, Ite or It, rte 
or rt respectively : wende, Pret. wente, P.P. went, 
sende sente sent, bilde bilte bilt, welde welte, girde 
girte girt. 

(^ Chaucer frequently uses -te -t for -de, d after 
single or geminated n : mente, lente, but wende from 
weenen, brenne brente brent (but P.P. also brend, 
cf. Fame 173 S.T. 83/2896) [A 2896], likewise 
sometimes after a single or geminated /: felte, 
felt ; dwelte, spilt, on the other hand not only as 
a matter of course tglde told, sglde sgld, but also 

Note 2. Some mss. spell even the syncopated participles in 
original -enjed with final / : ymeynt, spreynt (by false analogy 
with bleynt, dreynt), but Chaucer apparently wrote orA}j ymeynd, 
spreynd, seynd. The P.P. oi {kemben), Pret. kembde is kembd, 
variants being kempd and kempt. 


171. 01. II. Present. The O.E. i or J (z ij also /) 
of the termination which traces back to older t, as t 
in its turn to 6j (for which reason no mutation of the 
root- vowel, unless the theme is an i- or Jo- stem) is 
generally suppressed in M.E. In Chaucer : live 
(§ i62),prike {O.^. pricie), love, wone, clepe, answere 
(O.E. andswarie, influenced by swere O.E. swerie), 
make, twicche (O.E. twiccie), longe, folwe, axe, reve, 
clgthe, looke, etc. 

On astonie, harie, cf below. 

172. The Preterite is formed in O.E. by means of 
the ending -ode^zXsx -ode,B.\so -ade,-ude,-ede,the P.P. by 
the ending -Sd, later -od, -ad, in the inflected forms also 
-ed. In Chaucer the endings Pret. -ed{e), P.P. -ed, 
are the rule. Examples : Pret. livede, lovede, wonedie), 
cleped{e), longed, folwed, axed, wyped, looked, etc. On 
the apocope of the final -e, cf § 194. P.P. lived 
(§ 163), loved, waned, mased amased, waked, folwed, 
axed, looked, yfetered, etc. 

173. In some verbs syncope occurs as the result 
of analogy : — priken — prighte ; twicchen — twighte — 
twight ; pleyen — pleyde ; reven — rafte — raft ; but also 
bireved; answiren (generally accented thus) — answerde 
(by the side of dnswerd with apocope of the final e) — 
answered answ^rd; maken — made and maked — maad 
and maked; clothen — cladde and clothed [OS., clddode) 
— clad, exceptionally cled, Blaunche 252, and clothed; 
clepe — cleped{e) — cleped and clept ; (shrede) toshrede — 
shredde. Chaucer affords no genuine instance of the 
strong inflexion of the last-mentioned verb, which 
occurs elsewhere in M.E., and finds an analogy in 
the Mlg. schroden P.P. gesckrdden, shredde occurs S.T. 


410/227 [E. 227] where Harl. 7334 reads shred, 
which may, however, stand for the apocopated weak 

174. The verb astonien may be due to a confusion 
of O.E. stunian with O.Fr. estoner, by the side of 
which estonier, or estonir, seems to have occurred (a 
P.P. is proved by the occurrence of the Fern, estonie) : 
Pres. astonie, Pret. astonyed astoneyd or astoned{e) S.T. 
413/316 [E. 316]. P.P. astonied or astoned. P.P. 
astoned is proved Troil. I. 274 by the rime, but the 
form astonied seems Hkewise to have been used by 
Chaucer, at least in the Pret., and probably also in 
the P.P. — harien to 'drag, traho,' points, at first sight, 
to O.Fr. harier, but the Pres., as well as the P.P. 
haried, suggests a confusion of the French verb with 
O.E. herjian, the / of which is thematic. The Pret. 
harwede corresponds to O.E. herjode. 

175. Adjectives formed from substantives by means 
of the participial ending -£</are very rarely syncopated ; 
but herd and yherd ' hairy ' (: herd) occur. 

176. Some of the verbs borrowed from other Ger- 
manic dialects have syncopated forms, of which the 
following are examples : — {skedden, O.Fris. skedda 
scheddd), Pret. shedde and shadde (treatment of the 
u -root as an a -root) ; steden [bisteden, Mdu. steden 
besteden, cf. O.N. stedja, P.P. staddr). P.P. bistad; 
{hussen hushen, Lg. huschen hussen), P.P. hust; 
skippen (origin?) Pret. skipte; sterten (O.N. sterta), 
Pret. sterte, but also asterted {^.converted P.P.) ; shryken, 
Olg. scrtcdn) Pret. shrighte, but also shryked {skryked). 
deyen, dyen (O.N. doyja is strong, cf., however, § 4 1 
Note), Pret. deyde dyde, dyed. In contradistinction 


to the usage of the languages from which they are 
derived Preterites and Participles like drouped, 
reysed (from reysen ' to raise, rear '), weyved (O.N.), 
reysed ' travelled ' (Lg.), are not syncopated. 

Note. The verb putten (of obscure, perhaps Keltic, origin, 
in older M.E texts aXsoputen) va&^cts putie—put. 

177. The inflexion of verbs borrowed from O.Fr. 

is, in the main, based upon the strong (stem-accented) 
forms of the Romance Present : M.E. Present crye, 
frye, preye, cacche,preeche\ suffre, keevre, covre, assente; 
blaundisshe, punisshe, vaniscke, accomplyce, cheryce; 
suffyse; despyse, playne, remayne; deceyve receyve, meeve^ 
plese, etc. 

The verbs which have an inchoative ending in the 
Romance Present generally retain it in M.E. ; sese, 
however, drops it, whilst in obeye (for obeyshe) only 
the consonantal element is lost, but the i has united 
with the preceding vowel to form a diphthong. The 
latter phenomenon, without the former, also appears 
in rejoyce. 

venquisshe is a late addition to the verbs in -isshe. 
It seems to be derived from the Fr. Perf instead of 
the Present. On the verbs chastyse, sacrifyse and 
exercyse, cf § 1 1 1 . A few verbs are based on the 
forms of the O.Fr. strong P.P. in -t: countrefete, 
peynte. Similarly feynte is formed from O.Fr. feint, 
but the M.E. verb does not acquire the meaning of 
the O.Fr. /emdre, to which M.E. feyne corresponds 
in sense. 

Note. The stem-extension which O.Fr. jouster undergoes in 
M.E. justne does not seem to pertain to Chaucer's language : 
of. S.T. 3/96 [Prol. <)€\juste, though Harl. 7334y«j/«^. 


178. Romance verbs generally retain in M.E. the 
accent of the Romance form on which the English 
Present is based. 

Excepted from this rule are : 

(a) a few verbs in O.Fr. -ier, which in M.E. throw 
back the accent on to the root-syllable immediately 
preceding : contrdrie, stikdie, cdrie, marie, hdrie (§ 1 74, 
on tdrie cf. § 48, V.). 

(jS) the verbs in -isshe -yce, which, as a rule, retain 
the accent on the termination, but may throw it on 
to the preceding root-syllable, the latter chiefly in 
the Pret. and V .V . fiinisshed yp^nisshed, but also in 
the Pres. Idngwisseth. 

(■y) The verbs in O.Fr. -iner, Lat. -tnare, as 
enlumyne, imagyne, at least in the Pret. and P.P. 
enliimyned (not, however, for instance, a verb like 
enfamyne, P.P. enfamyned). Also verbs like French 
empoisonner, emprisoner, cf. empoisoned. 

179. Verbs borrowed from O.Fr. — with the ex- 
ception oi stryve (| 154) — follow the weak inflexion. 
The Pret. is formed by means of the ending -ed(e), 
the P.P. by means of the ending -ed: Pret. and P.P. 
suffred, assented, punisshed, playned, plesed, etc. 

180. Syncope occurs especially in the Pret. of 
verbs the theme of which ends in a vowel : crye — 
cryde ; preye — preyde ; paye — payde. The verbs in 
simple i have in addition the non-syncopated form 
which the poet uses at any rate for purposes of 
rime : cryed beside cryde, espyed beside espyde, 
signifyed. In the P.P. syncope occurs in verbal 
themes in ay, ey, but not in I : payd apayd, affrayd, 
preyd, etc., beside which — and more frequently — payed 


apayed, affrayed, arrayed, assayed etc., but exclusively 
it seems, cryed, allyed etc. 

181. In accordance with a general rule (§ 257) 
the e of the ending -ed becomes mute when the 
antepenultimate bears the accent, though the syncope 
is not as a rule expressed graphically : piknisshed, 
yp'knisshed, vdnissked, enl^mined, empoisoned etc. 
This rule is rarely violated : enliimined AIQ.C 73 (cf. 
Pret. crlstened S.T, 534/217 [G. 217], unless the 
passage should be emended cristned hath : Ell. 
Hengw. and Corpus read cristned, which as it stands 
is metrically inadequate, but in point of fact is the 
only correct form). In the case of themes in -issh 
some MSS. occasionally suppress the i, instead of the 
e, of the inflexional ending, cf S.T. 19/6^7 [Prol. 
657] Petworth -.punsched. 

Note. Verbs like conirdrie, stiidie, cdrie, mdrie are not to be 
regarded as proparoxytons, as the i is only a semi-vowel, hence 
studied, mdried etc. 

182. Proofs of more extensive syncope are afforded 
by the Pret. and P.P. of cacchen which follows the 
analogy of the native verb lacchen (O.E. Ixccan) : 
caughte— caught, further the Participles quit ( = quitt 
from quyted) from quyten, enoynt from {enoynten), 
which itself is formed from the O.Fr. P.P. enoint, 
likewise depeynt from depeynten. On syncope in the 
Personal and Numeral inflexion, cf. below. 

183. The Chaucerian P.P. enoynt might be con- 
sidered a direct derivation from the O.Fr. P.P. 
We must doubtless assume the P.P. creaat to be 
formed by immediate analogy with Lat. creatus 
{"though probably after the model of French learned 


words). Other words of similar formation are used 
only as adjectives, as, for instance, desolaat, elaat, 
exaltaat, fortunaat, others again, like curaat, prelaat, 
only as substantives. 

Inflexion of the Present. 

184. Indicative. In the following paradigms we 
shall consider primarily those O.E. forms upon which 
the Chaucerian ones are based, without, however, 
indicating isolated late phenomena which may seem 
to foreshadow the M.E. development. Chaucerian 
forms which are the result of analogy will be marked 
by special type ; but this seemed superfluous in the 
case of the PI. ending which differs uniformly 
from O.E. 



S. fealle 


feallest (felsf) 






S. here 


berest (biresf) 


berett (bired) 


PI. berad 


S. licje 




lijest {lid) 

lyeth {lyth). 

PI. licjad 


S. bidde 


bidest {bitsf) 


bided {bit) 

biddeth {bit). 

PI. biddad 





Chaucer : 

S. werie 






PI. weriad 


S. herie 






PL heriad 


S. telle 






PI. tellad 


S. secje 


sejest (sejst) 

seyest (seyst). 



PI. secjad 


S. lufie 






PI. lufiad 


185. The form of the stem in M.E. is determined 

partly by the O.E. form of the ist. Pers. Sing, and 

the three persons of the Plural, partly by the 2nd. 

and 3rd. Pers. Sing 

By the former in case of 

gemination, with the 

exception of cj and bb. By the 

latter when the ist. 

Pers. ends in -ie, with the ex- 

ception of herie and 

possibly astonien (S 174). The 

formation of the Present stem of Romance words 

calls for no comment 

in addition to the remarks made 

in §^ 177, 178. The inflexion of the Pres. Ind. is 

sufficiently illustrated by the paradigms given above. 


As regards the endings, only the Plural termina- 
tions would require explanation, which had, however, 
better not be attempted in a grammatical monograph 
such as this. 

It is noteworthy that Chaucer in exceptional cases 
forms the 3rd. Pers. Sing, by means of the ending 
-es, instead of -eth, a usage peculiar to the Northern 
dialects : telles {-.elles) Blaunche 73. 

186. Syncope and Apocope. A. Syncope occurs 
in a limited degree in the 2nd. Pers., to a greater 
extent in the 3rd. Pers. Sing. In the 2nd. Pers. 
there occur by the side of forms like seyest, leyest, 
doublets like seyst, leyst, cf. further § 259. In the 
3rd. Pers. syncope is the rule in seytk, leyth, and by 
the side of lyeth we find lyth. We also find comth, 
makth beside cometh, maketh, likewise loveth A. B.C. 
71, bereth 192/1937 [B. 1937]; 197/2091 [B. 
2091J ; troweth 537/288 [G. 288], lyketh Troil. HI. 
385 etc. If the syncopated e \s, preceded by a lingual, 
the following consonantal changes, which go back to 
the O.E. period, take place : {d)d+ th and t{f) + th 
become tt (spelt £), s+th becomes st, cf slit beside 
slydeth, bit beside biddeth, fint beside fyndetk, bit 
beside byteth, sit beside sittetk, set beside setteth, lest 
beside lesteth, rist beside ryseth. th + th ought to 
become long th ; but cf wryth for wrytheth (mss. 
wrype writhe) Troil. III. 1 2 3 i ; there is nothing new 
to be learnt from worth, which always stands for 

In the PI. syncope is rare : seyn, leyn beside seyen, 

B. Apocope of n is very frequent in the Plural : 
falle^ here, telle, lye, seye etc. 



187. The verb have inflects : Sg. have, hast, hath, 
PI. haven han have, also haveth, the latter especially 
for the 2nd. Pers. PL Verbs like see or slee inflect : 
Sing, see, seest, seeth, PL seen see ; Sing, slee slggst 
slggth PL slggn, slee. 

188. Conjunctive : O.E. Sing, fealle, here, licje, 
bidde, werie, herie, telle, secje, lufie ; PL feallen, beren, 
licjen, bidden, werien, herien, tellen, secjen, lufien. 
Ch. Sing, falle, bere, lye, bidde, were, herie, telle, seye, 
Iffue ; PL fallen, beren, lyen, bidden, weren, herien, 
tellen, seyen, loven. 

Apocope of the PL n is not less frequent in the 
Conjunctive than in the Indicative. 

189. Imperative. 

(a) Strong : Sing, ber, PL bereth ; com, cometh ; 
tak, taketh ; chees, cheeseth ; help, helpeth. 

(/3) Weak : (were, wereth ; herie, herietK) ; telle, 
telleth. Likewise in Romance verbs : {suffre), 
suffreth ; (studie), studieth etc. 

Shortened forms of the PL: come, take or taak, 
chees, help, tel. Forms like herieth are incapable of 
shortening ; likewise studieth and suffreth ; in any 
case shortening is rare in Romance verbs. 

190. Infinitive : O.E. feallan, beran, licjan, biddan, 
werian, tellan, secjan, dbcyjan, lecjan, lufian. Ch. fallen, 
beren, lyen, bidden, weren tellen, seyen, abyen abeyen 
abeggen, leyen, leggen, loven etc. Apocope of n is 
frequent : falle ; bere, lye etc. ; see, flee, slee beside 
seen,fleen, slggn, have etc. 

The Gerund (O.E. bera?ine etc., M.E. berenne 
berene) has in Chaucer as a rule become like the 
Infinitive ; only a few forms are extant which were 



originally dissyllabic, or have become dissyllabic by 
syncope : (to) seene, {to) doom, (to) seyne (O.E. s^onne, 
dSnne, secjanne), but we also find to seen, to see ; to 
doon ; to seyn, to seye. 

191. Participle, fallinge, beringe, lyinge, biddinge 
etc. Apocope of the e is not infrequent, especially 
in rime. The isolated instances of the North- 
English participle in -and, which Harl. 7334 intro- 
duces in the Sompnour's Tale, are not confirmed by 
the Six-Text. 

Note i. The ending -inge is due to a confusion of the O.E. 
participial ending -ende, which in the M.E. period assumed the 
form -inde in Southern, with the ending of the Verbal Subst. 
M.E. -ing -inge (O.E. -unj-inf). The similarity in form seems 
to have been the immediate reason for this confusion, since 
as regards their respective functions the M.E. Part, in -inge is 
easily distinguished from the Verbal Subst. in -ing{e). But 
since the Participle in a previous period sometimes acquired 
the function of the Gerund, cases certainly have resulted in 
course of time — in N.E. — in which the participle or gerund 
appears to have been confounded with the Verbal Substantive. 

Note 2. The Anglo-Norm. Participle in -aunt occurs only 
in the function of a noun. It is genei'ally used as an adjective : 
table dormaunt, theef erraunt, likewise joynaunf, trenchaunt, 
consentaunt, suffisaunt, repentaunt, accordaujit, plesaunt. Sub- 
stantives are, for instance, rejnenaunf, servaunt etc. 

Inflexion of the Preterite. 

192. The Preterite Indicative in strong verbs : 

O.K.: Chaucer: 

S. heold heeld. 

heolde .'' 

heold heeld. 

PI. heoldon heelden. 




Chaucer : 

S. sgnj- 

• sgng. 





PI. sunjon 


S. bijgn (bijan) 




bijon {bijan) 


PI. bijunnon 


S. bsRV 

bar beer. 


bere bare bar. 


bar beer. 

PI. bseron 

- beren baren. 

S. sprsec 






PI. sprdcon 

speken spaken. 

S. swor 



[tggke from taken | 193. J 



PI. swSron 


193. The 2nd. Pers. Sing, is clearly distinguished 
from the ist. and 3rd. persons only in verbs belong- 
ing to gradation-class I. A, /3 : dissyllabic sonje, 
for instance, S.T. 585/294 [H. 294], but treated as 
a monosyllable in Harl. 7334, trisyllabic bigonne 
S.T. 543/442 [G. 442], changed by Harl. 7334 to 
bigonnest, dissyllabic founde Troil. III. 362. But 
even in this group the 2nd. Pers. is assimilated to 
the 1st. and 3rd., for instance, thou drank ; cf also 
monosyllabic tggke Blaunche 483 (from taken). 


Note. Mark as interesting the reading of Corpus, S.T. 
71/2472 [A. 2472] confirmed by Harl. 7334 : as }>ou him bihight 
{•.knight Nom.), Lansd. as }>ou him hihte, the remaining MSS. as 
thou hast him hight. If Chaucer wrote }}ou bihight, we should 
have to assume a strong Pret. bihight (cf. § 135). 

The Plural often drops the final -n. Sometimes 
the Sing, is used for the Plural : yaf, lay, sat, bigan, 
wan, ran etc. 

194. The weak Pret. Ind. has the following 
endings in O.E. : Sg. -e, -es{t), -e ; PL -on ; Chaucer : 
-e, -est, -e ; PI. -en. 

The -e of the ist. and 3rd. Pers. Sing, becomes 
mute in the non-syncopated forms, and is generally- 
dropped in the better MSS. : axed, Ignged, looked, 
wyped etc., also deemed, seemed (where the medial 
vowel is re-inserted). Hence cleped by the side of 
clepte, maked beside made, and dyed beside dyde, 
espyed beside espyde etc. After an originally short 
theme the e is occasionally retained : werede beside 
wered, but especially when the character of the root- 
vowel resists complete lengthening, hence generally 
lovede. In such a case the medial e must necessarily 
be treated as mute (Jovede) ; but there is no doubt 
that the form loved occurs also. In the PI. the 
non-syncopated forms generally drop the ending -en. 
Rare are forms like trisyllabic weyeden 13/454 [Prol. 
454], yelleden 2gZl4S79 [B. 4579], woneden Leg. 
712, useden ib. 787, stremeden Troil. IV. 247 (variant 
■weptyn that), or like quadrisyllable asseegeden Troil. I. 
60. The Romance verb assenten has Pret. PL 
assented, or, with unusual syncope, assenten. 

The syncopated forms drop the -n when metre or 
rime requires it; and in the ist. and 3rd. Pers. 


Sing., and even in the PL, they may from considera- 
tions of metre drop the ^ of the termination. (Cf § 261.) 
The following examples will illustrate the normal 
inflexion of the weak Pret. 

S. tglde lovede loved, 

tgldest lovedest lovedest. 

tglde lovede loved. 

PL tglden ? loveden loved(en). 

S. axed preeved cryde cryed. 

axedest preevedest crydest. 

axed preeved cryde cryed. 

PL axed{en) preveedien) cryden. 

Note. S.T. 117/4088 [A. 4088] the ending -est of the and. 
Pers. Sing, appears to be dropped in the speech of a North- 
umbrian student : ne had thow, or (with Hari. 7334), nad thou, 
instead of naddest thou. Only ED. has syncope in this case : 
nadstow, and Camb. Gg. the full form ne haddist J>ou which is at 
variance with the metre. 

195. The Pret. Oonj. has in O.E. the following 
endings, which remain unchanged in Chaucer : Sg. -e, 
PL -en. Apocope occurs under the same conditions 
as in the Indicative. 

In the weak Pret. the 2nd. Pers. Sing, has in 
Chaucer frequently assumed the endings of the 
Indicative ; cf ne haddestow which read naddestou 
Troil. IV. 276, wgldest TroiL IV. 282 etc. 

In O.E. the strong Pret. Conj. follows the grade of 
the 2nd. Pers. Sing, and the PI. Ind. In Chaucer 
assimilation to the Ind. has generally taken place. 

196. With regard to the P.P. note further the 
following : 

In some verbs the strong P.P. occurs also in a 
shortened form. The verbs with an originally short 


root ending in -r, less consistently those in -/, fre- 
quently syncopate the e of the ending : 6grn, Igrn, 
swgrn, stoln, likewise the verbs lyen, seen, sl§§n, P.P. 
leyn, seyn, slayn (probably never slayen). 

Moreover, some verbs with an originally short 
root drop the n of the ending and let the e become 
mute : come beside comen, drive beside driven, stgle 
beside stolen stgln, write beside writen etc. When 
the root-vowel is originally long the n is more rarely 
dropped (in order to facilitate elision of the e), as 
sonje S.T. 45/1540 [A. 1 540], zyo%«^ 2/58 [Prol. 59] 
yknowe 13/423 [Prol. 423] etc. (cf, on the other 
hand the verbs without a connecting vowel, § 197). 
Forms without n and with a syllabic e as falle, bgre, 
Iggre, swgre, slawe, seye occur principally in rime. 
But, used with the force of adjectives, bake {bake mete 
S.T. 10/343 [Prol. 343]), dronke (a dronke man 
37/1264 [A. 1264], cf. also ib. 1263 [A. 1262] 
where elision takes place) occur as dissyllables 
within the metre. 

The P.P., both strong and weak, is often com- 
pounded with the particle y- (O.E. je-') : yeomen, 
yfallen, ywryen, yleyd, ydrad, ymaad etc., also the 
P.P. of Romance verbs : ypreeved, yserved etc. 
Verbs which have already adopted another prefix do 
not admit of composition with y, unless the prefix 
has ceased to be felt as such, as in the case of 

Note. In rare cases only are other verbal forms united with 
the prefix y-, as the Inf. yknowe S.T. 505/887 [F. 887], ysee, 
Blaunche 205, Leg. i^,yfynde Leg. 425 [cf. Globe, Leg. 425 N.]. 


Anomalous Verbs. 

197. Go. Pres. Ind. Sg. gg, gggst, gggth ; PL gggn, 
Conj. Sg. gg ; PI. gggth. Imp. Sg. gg ; PI. gggth. 
Inf. gggn, gg. P. Pres. gging. P.P. gggn gg (especially 
in ygg agg). Yeede (O.E. jeeode, old Aorist) and 
wente from wenden, are used as Preterites : both 
forms are inflected weak. 

doo. Pres. Ind. doo, doost, dooth ; doon. Conj. 
doo ; doon. Imp. doo ; dooth. Inf t^o^^^ doo. P. Pres. 
(/J/^^. P.P. doon dggn (§31) doo. Pret. dide weak. 

Verb. Subst. Pres. Ind. am, art, is ; been bee, 
rarely arn. Conj. bee ; ^^^« <5^^. Imp. bee ; (5^^/,^. 
Inf. ^^^« bee. P. Pres. ^««^. P.P. been bee. Pret. 
w«.r, were, was ; weren were. Conj. were ; weren 

wil. Pres. Ind. w// w^/, zw/Z^^ wglt, wil wgl; wiln 
wil wgln wgl. Conj. wile wglle. Pret. wglde. P.P. 


198. can. Pres. Ind. can, canst, can ; connen 
conne (can). Inf connen conne. Pret. kouthe koude. 

P.P. /^£72<//^. 

dar. Pres. Ind. dar, darst, dar ; dor (dar). Pret. 

thar. Pres. Ind. thar, tharst, thar ; {thar). 

shal. Pres. Ind. shal, shall, shal; shullen shuln 
shul (shal). Pret. shglde. 

may. Pres. Ind. may, might (iJiaj/st), may; mowen 
mowe mow (inay). Pres. Conj. inowe. Pret. inighte. 

moot. Pres. Ind. moot, moost, moot ; mooten moote 
moot. Pres. Conj. moote. Pres. moste. 


WOOt. Pres. Ind. wggt, wggst, wggt ; witen wite 
{wggf). Pres. Conj. wite. Imp. wite. Inf. witen wite. 
Part. Pres. witinge. Pret. wiste. P.P. wist. 

owe. Pres. Ind. owe, owest, oweth. Pret. gughte. 

The forms in brackets are the result of analogy. 
They are, in the main, instances of levelling out of 
the Plural in favour of the Sing., and we may note 
that it is chiefly the 2nd. Pers. PI. for which a Sing, 
form is used : ye wggt, ye may. 

199. I. Vocalic Stems. 

(a) O.E. Masc. Nouns. The ending of the Nom. 
Sing., to which the Ace. Sing, corresponds, is 

(i) Consonantal in the case of the (?-stems : arm, 
borugh borw (Troil. I. 1038), cherl, doom, dr^^m, 
fissh, mouth, ggth, ring, wal, wolf; staf, whal; heven, 
fowelfoul, thonder, hamer etc., likewise in the case of 
the long-syllabled or polysyllabic i- and «-stems : 
gest, thurst, stench, h§§th ; feeld, somer, winter etc. 

(2) Vocalic by the M.E. resolution of an O.E. 
consonant, as in the case of the c-stems day, wey, 
the long wo-stem snow etc. Noteworthy is peny 
(O.E. penij). 

(3) Vocalic by the loss or resolution of a con- 
sonant in the O.E. period, as in the case of the 
<?-stem shoo. 

(4) Weak e, corresponding to O.E. -e in the longyb- 
stems : ende, herde (Jiierde), leeche, mellere, rydere etc., 
as well as in the short «-stems : bite, mete, stede, lye, to 
which should be added the words in -shipe,z.s freend- 
shipe, Igrdshipe etc. ; corresponding to O.E. -u in the 



short «^-stems sone, wode. Weak e becomes final by 
the apocope of n in mgrwe (O.E. morjen). 

(5) Inorganic weak e in the7b-stems which have 
become long in consequence of the West Germanic 
consonant gemination, whenever the O.E. Nominative 
ended in cj: wegge (O.E. we'cj). 

Note, weye is used beside -wey, and, apparently, more fre- 
quently ; Orrm already uses wefje. Sgime is the rule instead 
of bgtm ; apparently also sialle for j/a/, iere for ieer. Amongst 
words in -ere, wongeer has lost the final e, and the preceding s is 
closed, so that a confusion with the O.Fr. suffix -/i?r seems to have 
taken place. 

200. The Gen. Sg. ends in -es or -s : cherles, 
Ggddes, kinges, Igrdes, fingres etc., dayes {shoos); 

Note i. Assuming the Nom. as stem, the rule is to add -ei 
to the words ending in a consonant, as well as to those mentioned 
in § 199, 2, -s to those ending in weak e, as well as to those 
mentioned in § 199, 3. 

Note 2. By the side of;^fZ'^;^«j there occur the Genitive forms 
hevene, heven, as in O.E. by the side of the Masc. heofon heofones, 
a Fern, heofon, also heqfone, which follows the ^-inflexion. 

201. The Dat. Sg. is, as a rule, like the Nom., 
only a few of the words the Nom. of which ends in 
a consonant, have retained the old -e of the Dative : 
bgrwe (from bgrwe), brgnde, jlighte and flight, Igrde, 
and probably more frequently Igrd, strgnde, toune 
and toun. 

202. The PL of all cases ends in -es, or -s: doomes, 
kinges, Igrdes, fingres ; dawes dayes (from day, cf. §§41, 
44) ; shoos ; sones etc 


By the side of shoos, shoon occurs (already O.E. 
Gen. PI. sceond) by analogy with fggn, tggn (§ 213). 
Peny has a PI. pens. 

203. I. VocaUc Stems. (;8) O.E. Neuters. The 
ending of the Nom. Sing, to which the Ace. corre- 
sponds, is 

( 1 ) Consonantal in the long o- and /-stems : bggn, 
deer, fyr, good, wyf etc. ; wight ; also in the ja- 
stems which have become long in consequence of the 
West Germanic consonant gemination : bed, kin etc., 
further, in some of the short o-stems : bath {clif), lith, 
ship, writ etc., and in the greater number of the 
polysyllabic o-stems : heved h((d, wepen etc. Final 
n is apocopated in even beside eve, niayden beside 
mayde, invariably in game. 

(2) Vocalic by M.E. resolution of an O.E. con- 
sonant : straw (beside stree). 

(3) Vocalic by loss or resolution of a consonant in 
the O.E. period : fee, wo ; tree, knee, stree (beside 

(4) Vocalic, i.e. weak e corresponding to O.E. -e in 
long jb-stems, short /-stems : wyte, spere, and, corre- 
sponding to O.E. u, short wo-steras : mele etc. 

(5) Weak e as the result of analogy in the majority 
of the short, and in some of the polysyllabic, o-stems : 
blade, cgle (but cglfgx, cglblak'), dale, hgle ; berne, welkne 
etc. In these cases the form of the O.E. PI. in -u 
has been determinate. An e seems, moreover, to be 
added to the Nom. of short wo-stems with roots 
ending in a vowel, provided that w is resolved in 
M.E. — not already in O.E. — cf. hewe in contra- 
distinction to tree, knee (on the other hand in long 
stems, for instance, straw beside stree). 


204. The Gen. Sing, ends in -es or -j, as in the 

Masc. : wyves, beddes, kinnes, shippes ; maydens ; 
spares, etc. 

205. Traces of a Dat. Sing, in -e when the Nom. 
ends in a consonant : fyre, lyve (frequently also 
Instrumental), Ignde ; bedde, wedde etc. But if 
rhythm or rime requires it we also find fyr, lyf, 
land, bed etc., in the Dat. Similarly lighte and light, 
shipe(\ 2 2o) and ship. 

206. The PL of the following long o-stems is (cf 
the Nom. and Ace. in O.E.) like the Sing. : deer, fglk ; 
hgrs, n^§t, pound, sheep, swyn, less consistently thing, 
yeer; here belongs also the dissyllabic winter (which 
in O.E. is Masc. in the Sing., Neuter in the PL : 
wintru, more frequently winter, not until late Masc. 
wintras). As a rule the PL ending -es or -s (origin- 
ally the ending of the Masc. o-stems) prevails for 
Neut. nouns : bgnes, fyres, goodes, wyves ; beddes ; 
dives, shippes ; maydens ; fees, trees, knees, strggs ; 
speres, cgles, etc. ; also thinges, ye(e)res beside thing, 

Note. Exceptionally the PI. of words in -ee occurs with the 
ending -es, instead of -s. Thus Blaunche 266 fees, Troil. in. 
1592, and S.T. i84/i7i9[B. \^\()\knees (in both cases the variant 
knowes) should be scanned as dissyllables ; likewise trees dis- 
syllabic, Fame 752 [Globe, Fame ii. 244]. 

207. I. Vocalic Stems (7) O.E. Feminines. The 

Nom. Sing, generally ends in weak -e. This corre- 
sponds to O.E. -u in short i^-stems: care, love, shame, 
etc. ; in short TO^-stems like shade (beside shadwe), 
in short w-stems like dore, nose. In long stems it is 



due to analogy either with all, or most, of the 
remaining cases. Examples of the long stems : 

(i) ^-stems (O.E. Gen. Dat. Ace. in -e) beere,foore, 
halle, lore, sorwe (but sgrwful), throwe, wounde, sowle, 
shepne, -ckestre, strengthe, highte, sighte (O.E. jesikd). 
The verbal substantives fluctuate between -inge and 
-ing. Fight is an exception, the inflexion of which 
was determined by the O.E. Neuter jefeoht. 

(2) /irJ-stems, both those which have become long 
by assimilation, and the originally long ones : brigge, 
egge, fitte, helle, selle, also the words in -nesse; an 
exception is ken ; blisse, lisse, yerde. 

(3) wa-sXsxas : meede, rewe, trewe. 

(4) /-stems (O.E. Gen. and Dat. in -e, later fre- 
quently also the Accusative) : dede deede, gleede, 
neede ; bene, queene ; tyde ; exceptions : bench, might, 
world. — see ends in an accented vowel. 

(5) 2^-stems : querne, but hgnd. — u is apocopated 
in kinrede (O.E. cynrseden). 

Note. The -wd-stems prove that the Nom. of short-syllabled 
steins was also formed by analogy in M.E. : O.E. sceadu. 
Gen. Dat. Ace. sceadwe and sceade, in Chaucer shade and shadwe. 

208. The Gen. Sing, is but scantily represented 
in this group, which contains numerous Abstract 
Nouns and some names of inanimate objects. The 
old form in -e appears for instance in halle, helle, love 
in loi'eday. The Gen. in -es, for instance in queenes, 
worldes, loves {love is Masc. in Chaucer). 

209. Dat. in -e in a Nom. with consonantal ending 
occurs in hgnde by the side of which hgnd (O.E, 
honda hand). 


210. The PI. ends in -es (or -s), cf. cares, dores, 
halles, sgrwes, woundes, dreminges, lesinges etc., hennes, 
deedes, gleedes, queenes, hgndes etc. 

Note, gere is based on the O.E. PI. jearwe, more accu- 
rately perhaps on the Dat. jearwiim jearum. 

211. II. Consonantal Inflexion (a) ^-sterns. Nom. 
Sing. O.E. Masc. Nouns : ape, asse, bonde, housbgnde, 
hunte, moone, name, gxe, teene etc. e has been dropped 
in pley ; old contraction in rgg, here belongs also fgg 
{O.^. jefd, whereas fdj fa is an Adj.). Feminines : 
arwe,erthe, herte, guene{S.T. 576/18) [H. 18], sonne, 
swalwe, tonge, widwe etc., also old loan-words like 
almesse, cherche ; e is dropped in lady ; cases of old 
contraction are bee, flee, flgg, tog etc. Neuters : ye 
' eye,' ere. 

212. Gen. Sing. Amongst the Feminine Nouns 
characteristic forms occur like herte (but also hertes, 
cf. Leg. 5 1 9), Sonne, widwe, cherche, lady. But for 
the most part the form in -es, or -s, seems to be the 
rule for feminine nouns also. 

213. Plural in -en or -n ; gxen, fgon (also fogs) 
pesen ; asshen (and asshes), hgsen, been (and bees), 
fli^n, tggn (and tggs) ; yen. The form in -es or -s is 

the general rule : housbgndes, arwes, tonges, ladyes, 
eres, rggs etc. It is not clear whether Chaucer wrote 
assen or asses, cf. S.T. 342/285 [D. 285]. 

214. II. (/3) Nom. Sing, foot, tooth, man wom- 
man ; book, goes, gggt, ggk {burgh, turf), mous, cow, 
night; mgnthe, ale. Gen. inannes wommannes. Dat. 

foote. An old Gen. and Dat. of burgh is contained 
in the form Canterbury. Plural : feet (but foot when 


used as a name of measure), teeth, men womtnen, 
gees, breecli Sing. (O.E. brSc'), wanting ; no evidence 
for the PI. of mous (and lous) ; kyn ; night ; bookes, 
ggkes, burghes, turves, ingnthes (but a twelfmgnthe). 
A Gen. formed by analogy with the Sing, is con- 
tained in mennes, wommennes. A Dat. PI. feete 
(older M.E. foote, O.E. fotum) S.T. 165/1104 
[B 1104J. 

215. II. (7) fader, broother, mooder, dgughter, 
suster. Gen. fader, but also fadres, broother appar- 
ently also brotheres, moodres (also mooder T). 

Plur. bretheren, dgughtren and dgughtres, sustren 
and sustres. 

216. II. (^^ freend, feend ; Gen. freendes, feendes. 
PL freendes, feendes. 

IVl. II. (e) calf, lamb Igmb, Gen. lambes, ey. No 
evidence for the Plural in -r. Plural chyld (in Sire 
Thopas, which, however, contains many irregularities, 
b\so chylde: wylde S.T. 194/1996 [B. 1996]); Gen. 
chyldes ; PI. children. 

218. Germanic Loan-words. The consonantal or 
vocalic ending of the Nom. Sing, corresponds, as a 
rule, to the original form : for instance, in old loan- 
words : carl, ergs, crook, wggn, Mdu. or Lg. pgt, 
Mdu. calf ' sura ' (orig. ' pulpa ') ; on the other hand, 
O.N. cake, felawe, windowe, Mlg. crouke, drake, knarre, 
snoute, toute ; Mdu. crgne (| 29, ^), grgte, pigge, 
Mdu. or Fris. slinge etc. But O.N. Feminines with 
a consonantal ending frequently add -e : boone, roote, 
sleyghte. On the other hand -e is dropped in beer 
(Mlg. biire), for Blaunche 254 should read thus, 


Compound pilwebeer. Gen. Sing, occurs rarely : 
pigges. Dat. brinke (from Dan. brink'). PL crookes 
legges, felawes ; pgttes etc. 

Note. Keltic words : hog, PI. hggges, cloke (if not from 
M.Lat. clocca, O.Fr. cloque cloche, which, however, is itself 
derived from the Keltic), gonne etc. An e has been added to 
goune (Gael. gUn, W. gdin), daggere (W. Bret, dager'i, but 
cf the M.E. verb daggen, to the stem of which the suffix -ere is 

219. Syncope and Apocope. Words in -el, -er, -en, 
generally syncopate the e of the derivative suffix, 
whether it be original or irrational, whenever a ter- 
mination is added : sowle, welkne, thus shepne for 
sheepen and in the MSS. sometimes wepne for wepen, 
especially before -es of the Gen. Sing, or of the PI. : 
foules, fingres, fadres, moodres, dgughtres, sustres, as 
well as before -en : dgughtren, sustren. But if v pre- 
cedes (probably also in, as in hamer), the e is not 
suppressed graphically, though it loses its syllabic 
value ; hevene beside heven, hevenes, develes (for which 
it would be preferable to write deeveles or deevles), 
thus also after th in brotheres, bretheren. Mayden is 
in the Gen. and PL, not maydnes, but maydens. 

After an unaccented, but metrically numerable, 
syllable, weak e when final or in the ending -es 
becomes mute, thus by the side of mellere {inellere is 
also conceivable) mellere, beside feldwe : felawe 
(^felawshipe\ beside wominennes : wommennes, beside 
housbgndes : hoi'isbgndes, beside felawes : felawes etc. 
Graphically the e is rarely suppressed in the MSS. : 
generally Iddyes, bgdyes bgdies, though occasionally 
Iddys etc. After a syllable with secondary accent 
apocope is general, syncope optional : n^ygheboiuxs 



or n^yghebores, lovedayes, massedayes 284/4042 [B. 

Note. A trisyllabic form maydenys, such as occurs Leg. 722 
according to the MS. Camb. Univ. Gg. 427, in contradistinction 
to the other MSS., is certainly not Chaucerian. How the verse 
could be emended is, however, not apparent. 

220. Final and Medial Consonants. A final / 
corresponds to a medial v (though the usage of some 
scribes varies in individual cases) : wyf, wyves ; 
theef, theeves ; staf, staves ; lyf, lyves lyve etc. 

A geminated consonant which, when final, would 
be expressed by a simple consonant is marked 
graphically when it becomes medial : wal, walks ; 
pot, pgttes. 

An originally short consonant is lengthened 
medially in Ggddes, ggddesse, shippes (but Dat. 
Sing, shipe, cf. S.T. 101/3540 [A. 3540] beside 
ship), liinmes. 

221. Romance Substantives. In cases in which 
Old French makes a distinction in form between the 
Nominative and the Accusative, Chaucer — following 
the early recognizable tendency of Anglo-Norman 
— generally prefers the form of the Accusative for the 
Nom. Dat. Ace. Sing. Thus the French -s is regu- 
larly wanting : due, mesteer, tour, flour (the word 
fitz does not occur in Chaucer so far as I know), and 
words which shift their accent generally appear in 
the form one would naturally expect : emperour, citee 
etc. Well-known exceptions are sire, tempest, Huwe 
and — contrary to the French development — povirte. 
In virgine Chaucer has adopted the learned French 
form. It is questionable whether in addition to the 



form aungel — O.Fr. ang{e)le — he is acquainted with the 
form aungele (O.Fr. angele), cf. ^ 226 N. 

222. Vocalic and consonantal terminations occur 
in the majority of cases corresponding to the 
O.Fr. Examples : words in weak e : aunte, cause, 
chaunibre, coroune, ese, face, grace, haunche, joye, 
melodye, nature, preye (praeda), reniembraunce, servyse, 
trompe ; poete,prophete, doute,freere etc. Words with 
consonantal ending : mesteer, squieer, prisoneer, caas, 
paas, deys, estaat, due, heir, peer, emperour, servaunt, 
argument, purpggs ; flour, tour, colour, favour, honour, 
vois, p(gs etc. Words ending in an accented vowel : 
array, cry, degree, see ; mercy, citee, plentee, crueltee, 
benignitee, fey beside feyth etc. It is especially note- 
worthy that Chaucer marks the gender of words 
which end in a suffix capable of inflexion (as in -ain 
-aine, -ier -iere) by a distinction in form, cf chapeleyne 
S.T. 5/ 1 64 [Prol. 164J chambereere — 'chamber- 
woman ' — tresoreere ' female-treasurer '). Unusual is 
peere (Masc. and Fern.) heside peer, cf S.T. 258/3244 
[B. 3244], Purs II. In emperyce. Former Age 55, 
MooderofGod 2, Chaucer uses the younger O.French 
form, instead of the older one {emperets). In lazar 
(O.Fr. lasre, by the side of which Lazare) and aungel 
metathesis has taken place, which in other similar 
cases is occasional and optional. 

Note. Incidentally attention may be drawn to forms like 
quiete, Ariete, which may be designated as pseudo-Romance 
imitations of Latin words. 

223. Apocope of weak e takes place : 

(a) Especially after a double consonant or a con- 
sonant group. The words best and tempest have 


quite lost their e, apparently also /z<rj, cf. 19/655, 
658 etc. [Prol. 655, 658]; we find, moreover, /^j/ 
beside feste, hggst beside kggste, entente and entent, 
presse and pr^^s, force and fgrs, source and sours etc. 
Some MSS., amongst others EUesmere and Hengwrt, 
are in the habit of using the abbreviated forms for 
force, source only in rime, but within the metre the 
full form, even where a monosyllable is required. 
But of. for the converse, Harl. 7334, where we find 
fors and sours, though not in rime, and likewise 
princes, sowdanes, experiens, innocens beside princesse, 
sowdanesse, experience, innocence etc. 

(/3) After a simple consonant -e is apocopated in 
compeer, also in physik, magyk, probably also musyk, 
prenostik, prondstik Fortune 54, in bdner when 
the first syllable is accented, generally also in mdner 
beside vidnere (on the other hand ban^ere baniere, 
maneere maneere); S.T. 19/650 [Prol. 650] the form 
concubyn seems assured by the concord of the best 
MSS. After a simple consonant -e generally loses its 
syllabic value, but like the mute e in Mod. French 
(the metre of which is too much fettered by ancient 
tradition) has left a distinct trace of its original value. 
This is the reason why words \{k.Q face, grace, place, 
space, freere, yre etc. rime in Chaucer only with 
words of a corresponding termination. Rimes like 
plus = place: solas S.T. 1 93/1 971 [B. ig7i\gras = 
grace: Thopas S.T. 195/2021 [B. 2021] are charac- 
teristic for the ruder art of the minstrels whom 
Chaucer mimics in Sire Thopas. 

(7) After a preceding vowel -e is, as a rule, not 
suppressed, although it rarely has any syllabic value 
(cf Surry e 135/173 [B. 173]). Chaucer is specially 


wont to discriminate in rime between the endings 
-y and -ye, the difference between which may be 
illustrated by the Mod. French ami beside amie. A 
rime like Gy : chivalry S.T. 197/2089 [B. 2089] is 
again only conceivable in Sire Thopas. But -e 
regularly blends with a preceding e to form one 
syllable : contree, destinee, meynee (O.Fr. mesniee), 
perree (beside perrye), renomee, are not to be dis- 
tinguished, so far as the ending goes, from citee, 
crueltee, pitee. Note further, abbay, journey ; but on 
the other hand money e, nobleye, Galgopheye; Blaunche 
155 should read valeye {-.tweye), instead of valey 
(: twey). 

After a weak syllable weak -e regularly loses its 
syllabic value : nature, bdtaille, science, but it is not 
suppressed otherwise than in the cases mentioned 

224. The Gen. Sing., so far as it occurs, ends in 
-es or -s : carpenteeres, cherubinnes, emperoures, sena- 
toures, marchauntes (S.T. 476/2425 [E. 2425] Harl. 
tnarchaundes), princes etc., thus also Fortunes. It 
rarely appears in the form of the Nom. as heritage 
Pitee 71, rose S.T. 31/1038 [A. 102,^^, chaumbre 
Blaunche 299. The cars seynt Leonard Fame 117 
(mss. Corseynt, Caxton and Thynne corps of seynt or 
saynt) seems to be a case of O.Fr. inflexion. 

225. -es or -s is also the ending of the Plural : 

braunes, aventures, coursderes, squieeres, officeeres, 
freeres, mii'dcles, peeples, provirbes, stables ; fioures, 
toures, armes, chaumbres, creatures, daunces, duchesses, 
figures, flaumes, lettres, preyeeres, vyces etc. The 
words in -ee have in the Plural monosyllabic -ees : 


auctoritees, degrees, entrees, sees, subtiltees, etc. ; by the 
side oi dees there occurs dys S.T. 36/1238 [A. 1238]. 
Words in -ay -ey have as a rule syllabic -es : alayes, 
assayes, delayes, jayes, layes, virelayes, but syncope 
also occurs, cf. palfreys ; note also trays ( = French 
traits). The Plurals in -yes like allyes, glotonyes, 
maladyes do not rime on the ending -ys, though 
the e rarely counts as a metrical syllable. 

Note. S.T. 589/4 [I. 4] the verse seems to require degrees 
instead of degrees. 

226. After an unaccented syllable the -e of the 
ending -es is syncopated, though it is still frequently 
written, as in the Plural forms pilgrimes, riveres, but, 
on the other hand, humours, pilours, Idzars, caytifs 
rather than caytives (cf. Harl. 7334 for S.T. 27/924 
[A. 924]), dungels etc. \i t precedes, z is written 
instead of s as in O.Fr. (§ 1 09 (5) : stdtutz, mdrchauntz, 
tyrauntz etc. After a syllable under the secondary 
accent the syncope of the e is optional : argumentes 
and argumentz ; thus we find with syncopated e 
amongst others the forms covenauntz, dyamauntz, 
payementz, penitentz, auditours (S.T. 391/1937 [D. 

1937] : sours). 

Note. S.T. 150/642 [B. 642] should apparently read 
aungeles (§ 221). The ordinary form dungeles would necessitate 
an emendation for which there is otherwise no reason. A hint 
in favour of this unusual accentuation is perhaps to be found in 
Mooder of God 79. S.T. 130/55 [B. 5;] episieles is possibly the 
reading required instead of epistles (cf. Lansdowne and Harl. 
7334). A classical affectation on the part of the Man of Lawe 
would conveniently eke out the verse. Cf. § 294. 

227. Syncope of e in the termination -es is im- 
possible when c, ss, s, sh, ch, g or mute + liquid pre- 


cedes ; hence in words like circumstaunces, jangleresses, 
pilgrimages etc., the e always has syllabic value. A 
position of the accent in which syncope would 
become necessary, for ms^-dXice, princesses instead of 
princesses, is avoided under these circumstances. 

Apocope of the final e is not interfered with by a 
preceding sibilant. After mute + liquid -e loses its 
syllabic value when an unaccented syllable precedes, 
but only in that case : constable, manciple ; in the PI. 
only constables, manciples would be possible. 

228. Words in -aunt (also in -enff) sometimes 
take z instead of -es in the Plural, even when the 
ending is accented, cf. alduntz, S.T. 62/2148 [A. 
2148], and servduntz, S.T. 4/101 [Prol. lOi]; cf 
further S 259a. Beside the form grgues {orgies, 
organs) 532/134 [G. 134], a PL orgggn occurs 
284/4041 [B. 4041]. 

229. Words in -s remain uninflected : aas V\.aas,caas 
PL caas, paas PL paas, deys, vers PL vers etc. This 
applies also to Proper Names in -s : Eneas, Ceys 
(Lat. Ceyx), Priamns, Troilus, Verms, Vulcanus, 
Grisildis etc. are the same in the Genitive as in the 
Nominative. Good examples are : the king Priamus 
sone of Troye Troil. I. 2., Ceys body the king Blaunche 
142. These names only admit of a special form for 
the Genitive when they are abbreviated, as Grisildis 
Grisilde Grisild, Cleopataras Cleopatre, Antonius 
Antonie, but the unabbreviated form with its sonorous 
ending is as a rule preferred. 

Note. Occasionally a Lat. Gen. occurs as {domus) Dedaly 
Fame 1920 [Globe, Fame ill. 830]. The form Nicholay with 
its final diphthong is in the Miller's Tale considered equivalent 


to Nicholas, though only in rime, cf. Pompey 136/199 [B. 199]. 
Petrified Greek Genitives are preserved in Eneidos, Meta- 
morphosios (thus Ellesmere, Hengwrt, other MSS. more correctly 
Metamorphoseos), with retention of the PI. form Argonauticon. 
Amongst other classic inflexional forms note Parnaso or Pernaso 
{mount of P- or on P.), Lemnon as well as the Plural forms 
Pierides, Amadrides (for Hamadryades). 


230. The termination of the uninflected Adjective 
corresponds as a rule to the O.E. form. Hence con- 
sonantal ending in o-stems and such as have gone 
over to the (7-stems : blak, glad, war, good, gold, foul ; 
litel, muchel, evel, bitter, heethen, quik etc. The West 
Germanic long jo-stsxus end in weak -e : blythe, 
cleene, deere, drye, keene, greene, newe, sheene, sweete 
(and swoote | 30/8), softe (O.E. sefte, but also softuni) 
etc. Beside nierie the forms inery, mury. An O.E. 
contraction has survived in free. We find vocalic 
ending, in consequence of the M.E. resolution of a 
consonant, in grey, slow, hgly, worthy, from the O.N. sly 
etc. Weak e in consequence of loss of n in the loan- 
word fawe (§ 44 a). 

231. In rare cases weak e has been added to the 
stem by analogy, as in bare, tame, fayr and fayre, 
evene, so also in lyte which, in the Sing., is probably 
only used as a substantive; more frequently in loan- 
words from O.N., as in ilk, lowe, meeke. Short-syllabled 
English K-stems, the O.E. uninflected form of which 
ends in -u, end in Chaucer either in -w or in -we : yelw, 
narw narwe, falwe. Hglwe (also holw ?) stands for 
O.E. holh which is not explained. 


Note. The adjectives badde (really a Participle), wikke, 
dronkehwe, which are new formations, also end in weak -e. It 
is doubtful whether beside hy (high) hye also occurs in an unin- 
flected form. 

232. Strong Inflexion : Sing, good, PI. goode ; blak, 
PI. blake ; smal, PL smale ; sad, PI. sadde etc. Weak 
Inflexion : Sing, and PI. goode, blake, smale etc. 
Participles inflect in the same manner : bgrn borne, 
swgrn swgrne ; dreynt dreynte. 

233. The adjective free is uninflected, likewise those 
adjectives which end in weak -e (but cf. § 237). 
Since, moreover, no weak e can stand after an un- 
accented syllable, all dissyllabic paroxytonic adjec- 
tives and participles (unless syncope occurs) remain 
uninflected as lltel, bitter, cursed, wedded etc. 

Note. On a foreign form of the Pres. Part, cf § 191, N. 2. 

234. Strong inflexion takes place when the Adjec- 
tive is used predicatively, or attributively without an 
accompanying Demonstrative or Possessive Pronoun. 

The Predicative Adjective may also remain unin- 
flected when it refers to a substantive in the Plural. It 
is inflected, for instance, in the following cases : they 
■were seeke S.T. i/i8 [Prol. 18], His ngsethirles blake 
were and wyde S.T. 16/557 [Prol. 557], Ful Ignge 
were his legges S.T. 17/591 [Prol. 591], Thise glde 
wommen that been gladly wyse S.T. 489/376 [F. 376]. 
But it is uninflected in the following examples : Nat 
fuly quik ne fully d§(d they were S.T. 30/1015 
[A. 1015]; in this case Ellesmere, indeed, reads 
quyke, dede, so that apocope or slurring of the e rhay 
possibly have taken place ; but the following example 
is beyond question : Of which this ladyes weren 


ngthingglad (S.T. 41 S/37S [E. 375], cf. Harl. 7334), 
where the shortness of the a in glad {-.bad, clad) 
proves the uninflected form. Hence cases like they 
were as fayn S.T. 77/2707 [A. 2707] etc. must be 
construed in the same manner. 

The Participle used predicatively remains as a rule 
uninflected : they were adrad, were aferd, were hurt, 
were kept, been maad, been bgrn, been went etc. But 
in exceptional cases the inflected form also occurs : 
sin they been thus yniette S.T. 165/1115 [B. 1115], 
thilke that unbrende were Fame 173. 

235. Weak Inflexion takes place whentheAdjective 
is used as an attribute accompanied by a Possessive or 
Demonstrative Pronoun (including the Def. Article), 
or when it occurs in the Vocative : the yonge sonne, 
this ilke monk, here hgte love, my swgrne broother ; 
leeve ' broother, o strange Ggd, But if the Adjective 
follows the Substantive accompanied by the Pronoun 
(Article) without the repetition of Pronoun or 
Article it remains uninflected : on the mgrwe gray 
Mars i. (but, on the other hand : til that the ggd 
Mercurius hous the slye S.T. 489/672 [F. 672]). 
Nor is an e added when the Adjective follows the 
Substantive in the Vocative : Now lady bright. Used 
as a substantival Neuter it remains uninflected : the 


Note. A petrified Vocative seems to occur in cases like 
and 'goode fayre Whyt' she heet, Blaunche 948. Ought the 
epithet '■ goode leef which the Host in the Canterbury Tales 
S.T. 253/3084 [B. 3084] applies to his wife to be similarly 
explained? (Ellesmere without regard to the metre : good life.) 

236. Apocope of the inflexional -e, from con- 


siderations of metre or rime, occurs in the Sing, of 
the weak inflexion : thy gr^§t beautee,o good Custdunce 
S.T. I 5 s/8 17 [B. 8 1 7] etc. Even in accurate MSS. this 
apocope is, of course, often wanting. Apocope 
hardly ever occurs in the PL of the Adj. used attri- 
butively, whether the inflexion be weak or strong ; 
never if the Adj. precedes; cf, however, | 261. 
Some adjectival Pronouns are treated otherwise, cf 
Section V. of this chapter. 

237. The stem-formative -e in adjectives like 
cleene, trewe etc. loses its syllabic value only when 
the inflexional -e of adjectives capable of inflexion 
admits of apocope, or when such adjectives remain 
uninflected. But in point of fact this rarely happens 
(except in cases of elision, slurring etc.). 

238. A strong Gen. PI. is preserved in alter, cf 
§ 255. Only in the PL occur fele, f ewe. 

Note. O.'E.fela is indeclinable, and almost invariably used 
as a Neut. Sing. Subst. combined with a dependent Genitive, 
rarely as an Adj . 

239. French adjectives when uninflected generally 
retain their original termination : apert, desirous, 
excellent, fals,fiers, gentil, hastyf, inaat,parfyt, precious, 
veyn ; blew, coy, gay, hardy, escku ; able, agreable, 
chaste, double, riche, tendre, possible etc. The Part. 
due (O.Fr. deii) has acquired an e. Latin formations 
with Romance endings : desolaat, fortunaat etc. ; 
armipotente (Ital. influence?), mansuete. 

240. The final e becomes mute more readily in 
the case of Romance adjectives than of English ones. 
It is regularly dropped in honest, and in adjectives in 


-yk, as fantastyk, malencolyk. Furthermore the weak 
e becomes mute when the preceding syllable loses 
the accent entirely, and in this case it is even slurred 
after mute + liquid. 

241. The strong and weak inflexions respectively 
are used exactly as in the case of native words : 
This false juge, fierse god of amies, diverse freeres, 
Diverse men diverse thinges seyden, S.T. 136/21 1 
[B. 211], with teres blewe. Apocope also takes place 
under exactly the same conditions — perhaps in pro- 
portion somewhat more frequently : his fals dissimu- 
linge, seynt Cenlie (Voc.) S.T. 528/28 [G. 28]. Here 
also paroxytons remain uninflected : pdrflt blisses, cri'iel 
briddes, silbtil clerkes,pitous teres etc. Proparoxytons, 
with a secondary accent upon the last syllable may 
be inflected or remain uninflected : your excellente 
daughter, hire Excellent beautee. 

242. It seems doubtful whether we may correctly 
speak of a declension of the French adjective. The 

word seynt is generally quoted as an example of 
declension, but Useynte Marie occurs anywhere except 
in the Vocative, we must, on the other hand, remember 
that possibly seynte Benedight and seynte Petres 
occur also: cf the difficult passage S.T. 100/3483 ff". 
[A. 3483] and Harl. 7334; perhaps S.T. 20/697 
[Prol. 697] should also read seynte Peter. It is con- 
ceivable that the popular treatment of the adjective 
was determined by its prevailing use in invocations 
(in which cases it is not always easy to distinguish 
Vocative and Nominative, cf. S.T. 380/1604 [D. 
1604]) ; though Chaucer generally observes the rule : 
seynt fghn, seynt Lay, seynt Beneyt etc. S.T, 


64/2240 [A. 2240] we read ne veyne glorie, Pitee 17, 
with colour ful diverse ; but S.T. 4/122 [Prol. 122] 
the servyse divyne, whilst it is very questionable 
whether Chaucer considered servyse a Fern. noun. 

243. Traces of the French Plural of adjectives 
occur more rarely in Chaucer's poetry than in his 
prose. The whole of the poetical part of the 
Canterbury Tales contains only two examples, one of 
which is, however, specially striking. The Persones 
Tale alone contains a fairly large number, and not 
only that part of it which is borrowed from the 
Somme of Frere Lorens, and which is, apparently, not 
Chaucer's work.^ This phenomenon is more frequent 
in Boethius, the diction of which abounds in Latin 
and Romance elements. 

The French Plural is most easily accounted for in 
the case of French adjectives which follow the noun 
attributively(especiallyif the substantive belongs to the 
Romance portion of the vocabulary) : places delitables 
S.T. 505/900 [F. 899], noumbres proporcionables Boece 
2428; weyes espirituels S.T. ^72)l79 [I- TDlygoodes 
temporeles or temporels S.T. 646/685 [I. 6% ';)\ thinges 
espirituels S.T. 655/784 [I. 784], 787 (in the former 
passage the original runs : les choses espiritex. Filers, 
Erz. des Pfarrers, p. 28), [Ch. Soc. Publ. Essays on Ch., 
V.J. The case becomes more striking when the adjec- 
tive precedes its substantive : in the sovereyns devynes 
substaunces Boece 4403 (orig. supernis divinisque 
substantiis). But the effect produced is foreign in 
the extreme when the adjective forms part of the 

' Cf. Wilhelm Eilers, Die Erzahlung des Pfarrers in Chaucer's Canter- 
bury Geschichten (Erlangen 1882) Magdeburg [Chaucer Soc. Publ. 
Essays on Ch., Part v.]. 


predicate: S.T. 650/730 [I. 730] the travailles that 
been convenable, but Harl. renders the passage : that 
been convenables (correctly ?) ; the form is confirmed 
by rime 195/2038 [B. 2038] that been roiales. In 
the familiar passage 152/711 [B. 711] Swich 
manere necessaries as been plesinges, the last word 
ought perhaps to be construed as a substantive, 
not as a participle. In any case^ the line is 
metrically suspicious. With substantival force: the 

244. Comparison. The Comparative suffix is -er, 
the Superlative suffix -est. Lengthening of the 
single consonant is frequent in comparison, which is 
accounted for by the O.E. lengthening of the final 
consonant in a syllable (O.E. Comparative in -ra cf. 
jlmdra ; this feature was in M.E. transmitted by the 
Comparative to the Superlative) : glad gladder 
gladdest, gr§§t gretter grettest, hggt hgtter hgttest. 
Sometimes, when the word ends in r, -re is used as 
the Comparative suffix instead of -er : deere derre (O.E. 
deore deorrd) in which case the consonant remains 
short in the Superlative : deerest ; but on the other 
hand fayr {^fayre) fayrer fayrest, hy {hygh) hyer 
hyest, hgly hglier hgliest. The following are mu- 
tated in the Comparative and Superlative : ggld, Igng, 
strgng; elder (used as a Subst. in the PI. eldres), 
eldest, lenger lengest; strenger strengest. Comparative 
and Superlative without a cognate Positive : [good], 
bettre, best ; \evU\ werse, werst ; \inuchel muche], 
mgre, mggst mg^st ; [litel], lasse, Iggst. Adjectival 
Superlatives formed from adverbs or prepositions : 
fer, f err est; neigh, ny, next ; fgre, first ; gver, gverest. 
Formed from Comparative stems of a similar 


kind : utterest, upperest, hind{e)rest. An old Super- 
lative in -ma is fgrme. 

245. French adjectives may be compared in the 
English way : richer, gentilest, though in the majority 
of cases there is no evidence of such comparison, 
and in the case of trisyllabic and polysyllabic ones, 
comparison by means of the adverbs mgre and mggst 
is preferred, a method which is also in use for native 

246. In the Comparative no inflexion is apparent, 
since forms in -er either cannot take a weak -e, or if they 
do, ic becomes mute, whilst forms in -e are treated like 
Positives with the same ending. Beside mgre occurs 
the form mo, originally a substantival Neuter, but in 
Chaucer generally used as a PI. Adj., though in some 
cases its original function is still discernible : Ofmaystres 
hadde he mg than thryes ten S.T. 17/576 [Prol. 576]. 
The Superlative is inflected : the beste, the mggste, the 
werste, the firste. In the case of paroxy tons the weak 
-e must be elided or apocopated : hire gritteste ggth 
S.T. 4/120 [Prol. 120], the Mndreste of our e route 
S.T. 18/622 [Prol. 622], his gvereste courtepy S.T. 
9/290 [Prol. 290], better with Harl. and Petworth 
overest. Not so in the case of proparoxytons : the 
seemlikste man, Ta the littereste preeve of his corage 
S.T. 428/787 [E. 787J, according to Skeat's 
emendation. If in dissyllabic Superlatives the 
accent is shifted, the e is also audible : the fayriste, 
the hyiste. 

Apocope takes place, however, occasionally in the 
Superlative, as in the Positive, from considerations of 



Note. Our scheme does not admit of a discussion of the 
adverb in this connection. But to supplement the above 
remarks, the following Comparative forms may be men- 
tioned : bet bettre, best (wel serves as Positive) ; ivers werse, 
■werst ; mqre mggst ; lasse Iggst ; /er, ferre, ferrest ; neigh 
ny, neer, next ; f^r, erst ; fore, first. Note, in addition, the 
following rules : Adverbs formed from adjectives which are still 
extant add a weak -e to the stem if it originally ended in a con- 
sonant, whereas the stem ending in final -e remains unchanged : 
brighte, harde, hye, Ignge, ylyke yliche, cleene, sgfte etc. Ex- 
cepted are the non-syncopated dissyllabic stems ending in a 
consonant which necessarily apocopate the weak -e. Further 
exceptions are the compounds in -ly (O.N. ligr, Adv. -liga, which 
has in many cases taken the place of O.E. -lie -lice that 
survives in -lick -liche), in which -ly has begun to assume the 
character of an adverbial suffix. Isolated exceptions : the com- 
parative particles /»/ {Jul weljful hard etc.), which seems to 
have become separated from the compound (fulhard, O.N. 
fullhardr), fayn ; firom the French word-stock : certeyn, flat, 
playn. The uninflected form of the adjective is as a rule used 
for the Comparative and Superlative : lenger, grettest, fayrest. 
Occasionally-^ is added to the Comparative stem : S.T. 21/714 
[Prol. 714], the merierly (according to three MSS., however, the 
reading should be so meri(e)ly, according to Harl. ful meriely). 
The Superlative not infrequently attracts the weak inflexion of 
a following adjective or participle : The gentileste yborn of 
Lumbardye S.T. 405/72 [E. 72], cf. Harl. Seyn that I have the 
moQste stedefastwyf^S^li 551 [E. 1551], O firste meeving cruel 
firmament 139/295 [B. 295]. 


247. Cardinal Numerals, i. ggn gg, the latter 
form not before vowels ; the numeral appears in 
a weakened form in the Indef. Article an a ; gnes for 
O.E. an in al gnes 'all one' S.T. 324/696 [C. 696], 


for O.E. dnum in /or the ngnes—for then gnes ; weak 
inflexion algne. 2. tweyne tweye (orig. Masc). and 
twQ two (orig. Fern, and Neut.) are used without 
distinction of gender ; the two first-mentioned forms 
occur principally in rime, and hence generally after 
their substantive, but also tweye and tweye. Beside 
these the form bgthe. 3 three, 4 fowre, 5 fyf fyve, 
6 six sixe, 7 sevene, 8 eyghte, 9 nyne, 1 o ten, 1 1 
enleven ellevene elevene, 1 2 twelf twelve, 1 3 thretteene, 
i/^fowrteene, i^ififteene, 18 eyghteteene, 19 nyneteene, 
20 twenty, 30 thritty, 40 fowrty etc., 1 00 hundred, 
1 000 thousand. The forms fyve, sixe, twelve — ioxfyf, 
six, twelf — ^generally appear alone or following their 

248. Romance cardinal numbers like dnk, sis etc. 
are only used as technical terms. 

249. The Ordinal Numerals, with the exception of 
oother, inflect weak : forme firste, oother (beside which 
the French secounde), thridde, ferthe, ffte, sixte . . . 
tenthe .... threttenthe etc. There is no evidence 
for a form like eightetethe, such as Skeat assumes 
Man of Law's Head-Link 5 ; the form must be eyghte- 
tenthe. (The substantive ' tithe ' is tythe). — eyghte and 
twentithe. — oother vAiGO. used as a substantival pronoun 
has a Gen. oothres, PI. oothre (MSS. othere othre other). 

Note. Numeral Adverbs : gties, iwyes, thryes. 





250. Personal Pronoun. 

First Person. 

Second Person. 

Sing. N. jf /, z'c/i, i 



G. {myn.) 


D. me, mee. 

thee the. 

A. me, mee. 

thee the. 

PI. N. we, wee. 

ye yee. 

G. oure. 


D. us. 


A. us. 

Third Person. 





Sing. N. he kee. 

hit it. 

she shee. 

G. (Am.) 


{hire hir.} 

D. him. 


hire hir. 

A. him. 

hit it. 
For all genders. 

hire hir. 




here hir. 





Note i. For the Nom. Sing, of the ist. Pers. Chaucer 
generally uses y (/), more rarely ick, the form ik only excep- 
tionally as a characteristic provincialism; S.T. 11 1/3867 [A. 
3867] it is used by the Reeve from Norfolk. 

Note 2. The pronoun thou occasionally unites with the pre- 
ceding verb : shaltou, •wiltou, wggstou, nadstou=ne haddest thou 

Note 3. Some mss. (as regards the Canterbury Tales, for 
instance, Harl. Corpus etc.) distinguish between the Gen. (Dat. 


A-tc.) Sing. Fern, and the Gen. PI. of the 3rd. Pers., or the 
, Tossessive forms derived from them (with the exception of 
forms expanded by s), in such a manner that for the Sing. 
Fem. they invariably use Aire hir, for the PL consistently, 
or at any rate generally, here her. Other MSS. (for the C.T., 
for instance, Ellesmere and Hengwrt) are wont to employ 
i- forms in both cases, others again the e- forms even for the 
Fem. Sing. I do not venture to decide which was Chaucer's 
own usage. But it is certain that hire hir is the only form he 
employs for the Fem. Sing. 

Note 4. The forms of the Pers. Pron. oure^youre, hire, here 
never occur as dissyllables. 

Note j. The Accusative forms him, hire hir, he7n are due to 
analogy with the Dative ; O.K., and even older M.E., had 
separate forms for the Accusative. The 3rd. Pers. Nom. PI. they 
is based upon O.N. peir ; the Nom. Sing. Fem. she has so far 
not been adequately explained. 

Note 6. The Genitive Sing, forms of all three Persons occur 
only in functions which permit of their being construed as 
Possessive Pronouns. The corresponding forms of the Plural 
need be treated as Genitives only in such phrases as will be 
mentioned in § 255. 

Note 7. The 3rd. Pers. Pron. (as well as the ist. and 2nd. 
Pers. Prons.) does service in the oblique cases also as a Reflexive 

251. Possessive Pronouns. Used attributively be- 
fore the noun : myn my ; thyn thy : his, his, hire hir ; 
our e our; your e your; here her hire hir. Myn and ihyn 
are used before vowels and h, my and thy before con- 
sonants ; in the PI. myne and thyne occur, but only 
before an initial vowel: thyne y doles 537/298 [G. 
298]. Hire oure youre here are never dissyllables. 
Used attributively after the noun : myn PI. tnyne 
(cf. S.T. 414/365 [E. 365]; 438/1093 [E. 1093]); 
{thyn PI. thyne) ; — ; oure ; youre ; — . Predicatively 
and absolutely : myn PI. myne ; thyn PI. thvne ; his. 


keres; (pure) oures ; youre (cf. Leg. 683) generally 
youres ; heres. 

252. Demonstratives. The, the Def. Art. for all 
genders in the Sing, and PI. A survival of the Dat. 
appears in for the ngnes=for then gnes. At + the 
becomes atte; in which connection note, according to 
Zup.LittZeitg. 188 5,col. 609, rt/fe^a/^S.T. 373/1349 
[D. i349] = O.E. tet pdm ealod. — That, with more 
demonstrative force, also stands adjectivally for all 
genders, PI. tho. When used substantivally that 
remains what it originally was, a Neut. Sing. — This, 
PI. thise or thees (generally spelt thes, also these) 
is always monosyllabic. 

253. Interrogatives. Nom. whg who, what; G. 
whgs whos ; Dat. whom whoin ; Ace. whgm whom. 
what. — Which, PI. whiche, which. — Whether ' which 
of two ' ? (when used as a conjunction often synco- 
pated wher). 

254. Relatives. That for all genders in the Sing, 
and PL, but, in point of fact, found only in the Nom. 
and Accus., or in conjunction with prepositions. — 
Which, PI. whiche which, but adjectivally whiche with 
audible e: of whiche two 30/1013 [A. 1013]; 
exceptionally which may assume the function of the 
Genitive : of which vertu = ' by whose power ' S.T. 
1/4 [Prol. 4]. Generally speaking whos does duty 
as a relative Genitive, whom, as a relative Dative. 
Compound Relatives : that-he, that-his, that-hini etc., 
the which, PI. the whiche, the which, but adjectivally 
the whiche with audible e : the whiche brook S.T. 
113/3923 [A. 3923], the whiche toun Leg. 707; 
which that; the which that. 


Correlatives : that that and simply that ; who, 
what ; which PI. whiche which ; whether. 

Indefinite Relatives : who that ' whoever,' what 
that ' whatever,' also simply what ; who so, what so. 

255. Other Pronouns. Self in adjectival function : 
thy selve neyghebour. In conjunction with my, thy, 
our, your, and with him, hire, hem, we sometimes find 
self, sometimes selven selve, for instance, myself, 
myselven my selve ; hemself hemselven hemselve ; these 
forms are in a large measure due to the confusion of 
the adjectival use of j^^with the substantival use. 
Self is used substantivally, for instance, in myself 
S.T. 319/175 [D. 175] (where, however, Ellesmere 
obscures its substantival function). Ilk : the ilke 
contracted in thilke, this ilke. — Swich such, PI. swiche 
swiche (dissyllabic for instance in Fame 35, mono- 
syllabic Blaunche 28). — Ogn ; nggn. — Any. — On 
oother cf. S 249. — Som PL some, always monosyllabic 
whether used substantivally or adjectivally; som- 
what. Al PL alle, generally apocopated before 
an article or pronoun with syllabic force. This is, 
however, not always indicated by the MSS. : al the 
wordes, al thy freendes : exceptionally : alle the S.T. 
1 3 2/1 18 [B. 118]; in a case like S.T. 7/210 [ProL 
210] the reading alle thordres fowre as well as al the 
ordres fowre may be defended ; the Plural alle has, 
however, like other Adjectives in the PL, full syllabic 
value. A strong Gen. PL aller occurs in phrases like 
oure aller cok, youre aller cost, here aller cappe, also in 
alder best, alderwerst, alderfirst. Aught gught; naught 
ngught — eyther G. eytheres ; neyther G. neytheres. — 
E(ch D. §§che, echggn, everich every, everichggn. — Many, 
many ggn, many a(n), PL many. — Men me 'one' indef. 




256. Treatment of weak ^ (§ 6 1 ) in the word con- 
sidered as a unit. We shall first state the two pro- 
positions based upon the law regulating the position 
of the secondary accent (§ 282), the significance of 
which has already been indicated in the chapter on 

I. If each of two consecutive syllables contains a 
weak e, one of these is bound to lose its syllabic 
value, whether absolutely, by syncope or apocope, or 
approximately, but in a degree sufficient for the 
exigencies of accentuation and metre, by slurring. 
Examples : in the weak Pret. Sing., instead of werede, 
lovede, clepede, makede, axede, longede, lookede etc., 
werede or wered, lovede or loved, clepte or cleped, made 
or maked; axed, longed, looked fXc. ; in the PL instead 
of loveden, clepeden, makeden, axeden, longeden etc., 
loveden (?) or loved, depten or cleped, maden or maked, 
axed, longed etc. ; in the same way, instead of Sing. 



cryede PL cryeden : cryde or cryed, cryden; in the 
nominal inflexion, instead oifaderes, hevenes, maydenes 
etc., fadres, hevenes, maydens etc. ; evere or ever 
corresponds to E.O. stfre etc. Isolated exceptions 
from the rule occur in the non-syncopated weak 
Preterite, though it is doubtful whether we find any 
in the Sing, (cf, for instance, weddede S.T. 26/868 
[A. 868], where Ellesmere, Hengwrt, Petworth, 
Lansdowne read wedded, and the verse seems to 
require the complement of a monosyllable), there 
certainly occur in the Plural : weyeden, yelleden, 
stremeden etc., cf § 194. Doubtful is cristened for 
cristnedS.T. 534/217 [G. 217], cf. § 181. 

257. II. After a syllable which, though unaccented, 
is capable of stress, weak e must become mute: apo- 
cope, for instance, in bdner, mdner, instead of bdnere, 
mdnere, also, though not indicated graphically, in 
mdlere, ISvere, ndture, bdtaille ; slurring, for instance, 
in c6ns table, mdnciple ; syncope in ISvers, housbondes, 
Iddyes ladys, h-Amours, Idzars, dungels, tyrauntz (| 226), 
pUgrimes, riveres, p^misshed piinisshd, better punissht 
{piinshed cf § 181), vdnisshed, rdvisshed rdvissht, 
rdvisshedest etc. It is due to this rule that paroxy- 
tonic adjectives have no inflexion. 

Exceptions are very rare: Idngwissheth 460/1867 
[E. 1867], where syncope was not feasible, and only 
a change of accent would have been possible, en- 
luinined A.B.C. 73. Since the e of the termination 
-es cannot be syncopated after a preceding sibilant 
or after mute -|- liquid, Chaucer avoids an accentuation 
like princesses, cSnstables, instead of princesses, con- 
stables § 227. 

258. After a syllable with secondary accent weak e 

WEAK E. 171 

may, but need not necessarily, become mute. If it is 
final it generally retains its value in rime, but 
within the metre it is, in the majority of cases, 
probably not syllabic ; oAtrydere, so^idanesse sot'cdanes; 
apparently even after mute + liquid where slurring is 
possible: insurable (S.T. 13/435 [A. 435] ought 
probably to be read thus, and hence die'te be treated 
as a trisyllable); but heritage Pitee 71 as a quadri- 
syllable. If it is part of the ending -es it cannot be 
syncopated after a sibilant or after mute + liquid 
(^ 227) ; in other cases syncope is optional : emperoiires, 
cdrpenteeres, drgumentes drgumentz, pdyementz, a&di- 
toicrs ; mdsseddyes, loveddyes etc. 

259. With regard to the treatment of weak e in 
final syllables immediately preceded by the syllable 
with primary stress, a yet more stringent distinction 
must be drawn between medial and final weak e. 

Medial e is rarely syncopated : 

(a) Ending -es : syncope is usual in the appellation 
sires PL ; sometimes in PI. forms like loveres lovers, 
answeres, answers etc., even when the accent is 
shifted to the second syllable (cf. for instance 542/429 
[G. 429]), also in forms like y doles colours etc. even 
when the accent retains its original position (cf. 
537/285 [G. 285]); cf. further §§ 225, 228. 

(jS) Ending -est 2nd. Pers. Sing. Pres. Ind. : seyst, 
leyst beside seyest, leyest, rarely knowest, Blaunche 
137, for knowest, spekest 544/492 [G. 492], leevestou 
534/212 [G. 212]; ending -est 2nd. Pers. Sing, of 
the weak Pret. woldest 254/3135 [B. 3135], haddest, 
ib. 3138 [B. 3138], haddestou ib. 3136 [B. 3136] 
etc. ; in the majority of cases it is counted as a full 


syllable. It is only in pronouns placed after the 
noun that syncope is more frequent. 

(7) Ending -eth 3rd. Pers. Sing. Pres. Ind. cf. 
§ 186; on the shortened form of the Imper. Pi. 
cf § 189. 

(^) Ending -en : syncope is not infrequent in the 
strong P.P. born, shorn, torn, sworn, lorn, stain, leyn, 
seyn 'seen,' invariable in slayn, doubtful whether in 
jiven (263/3425 [B. 3425]^zW« ox yiveT); syncope 
is more frequent in the Inf forms seyn ' to say,' /tan, 
in the Pres. Ind. PL seyn ' they say,' leyn, han, am, 
wiln, woln, shuln. 

(e) In the ending -ed the weak Pret. must be dis- 
tinguished from the weak P.P. As a Pret. termina- 
tion -ed is derived from -ede or -eden, and characterises 
the apocopated, in contradistinction to the syncopated, 
form ; these forms in -ed do not admit of syn- 
cope ; but in some cases, mentioned in the Acci- 
dence, the poet has the choice between the 
apocopated and the syncopated forms. The syncope 
of the P.P. in -ed follows on the whole a strict 
grammatical rule which need not be repeated in this 
connection. But the cases in which a syncopated 
form occurs by the side of one of full syllabic value 
may be enumerated here : kythed kid, afered aferd, 
wept but forweeped, raft, but also bireved, answired 
answ^rd, maked maad, clothed clad, cleped clept ; the 
Romance verbs in -aye, -eye, as payed payd, affrayed 
affrayd etc. On the whole syncope (or slurring 
^ 272) is very rare : loved Blaunche 478, but the 
Adj. balled, which is formed by means of a participial 
suffix, occurs more than once as a monosyllable. 
A syncope of the Participle such as would not be 



permissible grammatically hardly ever takes place 
from metrical considerations ; but Pitee 9 1 must 
read : and we dispeyred that seeken to vour grace. 
Cf., however, § 263. 

Note. Blaunche 115 youres is used as a monosyllable ; but 
it is probably permissible to replace it by the more unusual form 
voure (§ 251). Archaic forms may be expected in the works of 
Chaucer's earlier period ; the corrupt, and in many respects 
modernised, version of Blaunche as transmitted to us accounts 
for the disappearance of some of them from this poem. 

260. Filial weak e often becomes mute immedi- 
ately after the tonic syllable, and in the following 
cases it is never syllabic : 

(a) In the following forms of the Personal and 
Possessive Pronouns, provided they do not occur in 
rime : hire, cure, youre, here, which are also spelt Mr, 
our etc., viyne, thyne ; 

(/8) In the Plural forms thise, some, in swiche (when 
not adjectival in the Plural), whiche (with the same 
exception, and when not preceded by the, § 254), in 
the Dat. eeche ; 

(7) In the strong P.P. of verbs with an originally 
short root, when the -n is apocopated : come, drive, 
write, stole etc. (but on the other hand, comen, 
driven, writen are naturally dissyllabic and stolen 
occurs beside stoln) ; 

(^) In the 2nd. Pers. Sing, of the strong Pret. : 
here bare, iooke etc., with the exception of the verbs 
belonging to the gradation-series I. A, ^ (songe, founde 
dissyllabic, bigonne trisyllabic, § 193) ; 

(e) In the forms were and made'^ not only in the 

^ Where made occurs as a dissyllable, either maked or maden should be 
read, the latter, for instance, S.T. z/33 [Prol. 33]. 


Sing., but also in the PI. when -n is apocopated, and 
in the same way probably in wile, wite, and a few 
other forms ; 

(P In the substantives sone, wane, in the Dat. 
shipe (Nom. ship), in the Romance words in ye, aye, 
eye etc. ; 

(i?) In before, tofore ; there, heere beside the{e)r, 

Note i. The -e in most of the above-mentioned cases has 
not lost its value in rime ; cf., for example, the remarks made 
in § 223y. 

Note 2. On such Romance substantives as have once and 
for all apocopated their -e {best, tempest), or in which it has 
blended with a preceding vowel, cf. § 223. 

261. In the majority of other cases the weak -e 
may either be counted as a metrical syllable, or if 
necessary be considered mute. If, however, mute 
+ liquid or consonant + / precedes, it is necessarily 
audible : table, miracle ; glorie, victorie etc. It is 
always syllabic in the plural of the adjective used as 
an attribute, if the latter precedes the substantive. 
Almost invariably also when it follows, although in 
this case the MSS. — particularly when elision takes 
place — not infrequently apocopate it ; but we find, 
for example, Blaunche AfOO fioures fele. As a rule it 
is preserved in the Infinitive even after apocope of 
the -n ; only isolated instances of monosyllabic 
Infinitives like yive, come, make, shewe shew, swere or 
dissyllabic ones like encense are to be found ; some 
doubtful cases occur, however, in poems the tradition 
of which is corrupt. It is frequently mute in the 
Pres. Ind. and Imper., more rarely in the Pres. Subj., 
sometimes also in the syncopated forms of the weak 



Pret., and in all these cases the PJ. with apocopated 
-n is treated in exactly the same way as the Sing. 
Thus it may become mute in the PI. of the strong 
Pret. after the loss of -n, and this circumstance has 
without question facilitated the not infrequent occur- 
rence of the Sing, for the PI. (§| 193, 198). When 
final in a substantive, -e loses its syllabic value more 
frequently in Romance than in English words ; 
among the latter those especially retain a mute -e, 
the root-syllable of which can only be considered 
semi-long {sone, wane, as we have seen, never occur 
as dissyllables in a verse, love is sometimes dissyl- 
labic, sometimes monosyllabic), more rarely those 
with a lengthened (like lawe, tale), or even originally 
long, root-syllable {tyme, sonne, reeve). The chapter 
on the inflexion of the substantive proved, moreover, 
that some nouns which in the Nom. Sing, owe their 
-e to analogy, may also have a consonantal ending. 

262. Weak e between the primary and the 
secondary accent generally counts as a syllable in 
English words (where it is frequently due to analogy), 
as well as in English derivatives from, or compounds 
with, foreign elements. Thus in neyghebour, bagge- 
pype, nosethirles, wodecraft, pilwebeer, but, for instance, 
yeldekalle, in morwesong, love-dayes, but love-knotte, in 
Engelond, Orewelle, Dertemouth etc. ; in recchelees, 
but dettelees (although from Fr. dette) ; in rekening, 
watering, morwening, by the side of which morning ; 
in boldely, hertely, kyndely and kyndly, needely, seemely 
more rarely seemly, but always seemliest, softely, 
trewely, but also trewly, likewise when -ly is added 
to a French adj. in -e : rudely, richely, solempnely, 
largely ; beside nathelees we find nathelees. In fore- 


ward {^foreword) the e is always mute, and some MSS. 
Vfnte forward, just asforkeed seems to be the correct 
Chaucerian form. The irrational e in everich is 
generally, in every probably always, mute. In 
French words also, an e in this position is often 
syllabic : arrerage, chapeleyne, juggement, oynement, 
amendement, comaundement, reverence, daungerous, but 
covenaunt, remenaunt and remenaunt, colerik, dis- 
chevelee, pomelee (jiomely), lecherous {likerous) and 
lecherous {likerous), sovereyn and sovereyn, suretee and 
surtee eta Practical considerations exercise a very 
considerable influence upon accentuation, for which 
reason, for instance, only seemliest, likerousnesse, with 
syncopated e are possible ; a word like sovereynetee 
may be pronounced either with five syllables or 
with three : sovreyntee ; hence also hostelry e, chivalrye, 
bachelrye etc., regularly appear with syncope, not 
chivalerye etc. An irrational e in French words is, as 
a rule, naturally mute : bokeleer, Christophere, better 
bokleer, Cristophre or Cristofre, but we find, for 
instance, Aperil, Troil. iii. 360. 

263. Syncope of vowels other than weak e rarely 
takes place : bileven also bleven ' remain,' bilyve, gener- 
ally blyve, erande Blaunche 1 34 (O.E. Arende, M.E. 
also ernde), parisshe S.T. 14/491 [Prol. 491] vanisshe 
488/328 (?) [F. 12%'\ perilous 194/1999 [B. 1999] 
posityf 34/1 167 [A. 1 167] (? cf. Harl.), but regularly 
in formations like amorously, naturally etc., for 
reasons of accentuation (| 228); Antony Leg. 657, 
701 ; but the majority of these cases had perhaps 
better be treated as instances of slurring, S 272. 
Syncope has distinctly taken place in croune beside 
coroune, cf. 541/389, [G. 388] and the refrain to 


Gentilesse. The word Jerusaleem never has more 
than three syllables in Chaucer (which is the general 
rule in M.E.), but probably he did not syncopate the 
u, as is Orrm's usage, but treated it as a consonant : 

Syncope of consonants with consequent synaeresis 
need be considered here only in so far as Chaucer's 
dialect contains the full form as well as the shortened 
one, or in so far as the abbreviation is not expressed 
graphically. An opportunity has already been taken 
to mention cases like heved heed, maked{e) made and 
inaked maad {kid beside kythed, clad beside clothed, 
are not cases of syncope, but of assimilation of the 
th after previous syncope of e), han beside have{n). 

Deserving of mention are further whether wer, 
outher or. Rather, Blaunche 562, whider. Fame 602 
[Globe, Fame ii. 94J, and similar cases, are instances 
of slurring of e rather than of syncope of the con- 
sonant. Monosyllabic are sometimes ever, never 
(before a following initial consonant), in which case 
the pronunciation is more probably eur neur than eer 
neer or (§r n^^r. Similarly the form aunter {per 
aunter) occurs beside aventure. The exclamation 
benedicite is as a rule trisyllabic {bencite or bendcitet), 
in an exceptional instance S.T. 52/1785 [A.' 1785] 
quinquesyllabic ; significavit 19/662 [A. 662] must 
be pronounced synficavit. 

Note. If beside Cleopataras the form Cleopatras, or better 
Cleopatra or Cleopatre appears, it is, strictly speaking, not the 
latter which is syncopated, but the former which is extended by 

264. Apocope. Of moment because of its influ- 
ence on the structure of the verse is the apocope of 



a final -n, which, occurs chiefly in the various inflex- 
ional forms of a verb, and frequently involves that of 
a preceding weak e, in other cases at least renders its 
elision possible. The latter is generally the case in 
the Infinitive, the former in the strong P.P. — which 
is however not always capable of apocope — and 
in the PI. forms of Finite Verbs, especially of the 
weak non-syncopated Preterite, the PI. of which as 
a rule simply drops the ending -en. In cases like 
oon 00, an a, myn my etc., the apocope of n does not 
affect the number of syllables in the verse, but has an 
important bearing on hiatus. The same holds good 
with regard to the apocope of m in fro from from. 
The apocope of a final s in Proper Names is also 
worthy of consideration : James fame, Achates Achatee. 
It is frequently connected with weakening, or com- 
plete disappearance, of the preceding vowel : Achilles, 
AcMlle, Antonius AntSnie Antony, Grisildis Grisilde 
Grisild, cf, on the other hand, Cleopataras beside 
Cleopatra Cleopatre, Arcitas beside Arcyte (in Boc- 
caccio Arcitd). 

On the apocope of the ending -eth in the Imper. 
PI. cf. § 189. 

Apart from weak -e, which also becomes the medium 
of abbreviation in the case of the above-mentioned 
Proper Names, no vowel is readily apocopated. 
Final y may appeal? as a semi-vowel in the word 
Caunterbury (§125 a), which accordingly counts either 
as a quadrisyllable or as a trisyllable in the metre ; 
in other cases only when the following word begins 
with a vowel. 

Note. Some prepositions and adverts take an epithetic (e)s 
in M.E., but frequently the non-expanded forms occur also, so 


that the poet has a choice of doublets of varying syllabic value : 
ayeyn ayeynes, togeyn togeynes, ainong amonges, algate algates 
(§ 120 S), etc. Here belongs sX^oyoure besideyoures as a pro- 
noun used predicatively or absolutely. 

265. Aphseresis. For the native word-stock the 
loss of k in //zV it (in /lave only occasionally, in natk 
nadde beside nhath nhadde) must be taken into con- 
sideration ; and above all that of w in was were, 
wil wolde, woot wiste, if ne precedes : ne was and 
nas etc. (§ 271). Moreover, the poet has a number 
of doublets at his disposal in consequence of the 
identity of meaning which some verbs have, or may 
have, according as they are used in their simple 
form, or compounded with certain particles {hi and 
y) : bif alien and fallen, biginnen and ginnen ; yfynde, 
yknowe, ysee, generally fynde, knowe, see ; P.P. yclad, 
yclothed, beside clad, clothed, yfallen beside fallen etc. 
Amongst Romance words aphaeresis is more fre- 
quent, and produces many doublets : apothecarie 
potecarie, epistle pistel (the latter form, however, from 
O.E. pistol), escapen more rarely scapen, esquieer 
generally squieer, honour onour, historie istorie storie, 
dispenden spenden etc. 

266. Synseresis scarcely occurs in M.E. in native 
or Germanic words apart from the case considered 
above, in which it was preceded by syncope of a con- 
sonant. Of course, forms like lyth beside lyeth, 
knowest beside knowest might be considered instances 
of synaeresis rather than of syncope. In Romance 
words it takes place more frequently, but here 
synaeresis is as a rule an accomplished linguistic fact, 
and further fluctuation in syllabic value is therefore 
excluded. Thus, for instance, in reme (from reiaine). 


mene {meien), seel {seiet), veel {veel), preche preeche 
{preeschier), emperyce {empereis), emperour (empereiir), 
due {deu), obeye, obeyssaunt, obeyssaunce, rejoyce. Note 
further the synaeresis in Eneyde Leg. 928 (on the 
other hand Fame I. 378 Eneidos), in Criseyde, Pom- 
pey, Nicholay, Sinay, in Creusa Fame 175, 183, and 
in Averroys. Beside Beneyt from Anglo- Norm. 
Beneeit stands Benedight from Lat. Benedictus. 

267. Diaeresis occurs exceptionally in degrees in- 
stead of degrees, regularly in Greek words in -eus, the 
diphthong of which is resolved after Romance fashion 
into e-u : Theseus, Morpheus etc. 

Note. Fees, Blaunche 266, for fees, may be treated as 
diasresis. But knees for knees should be explained according to 
§ 206 N. 

268. Sjmizesis affects chiefly dissyllabic French 
vowel-combinations which begin with i and u. Such 
combinations (which, in discussion, will not be 
differentiated from the corresponding ones in words 
which though really Latin are treated after Romance 
fashion) are as a rule dissyllabic in Chaucer also ; 
cf ia or iau in amiable, mariage, cerial, celestial, 
cordial, special, licendaat, alliaunce, daliaunce ; ie 
in conscience, experience, science, pacient, insufficient, 
squieer, diete ; iau in absolucioun, avisioun, com- 
missioun, condicioun, confessioun, conclusioun, devo- 
cioun, discrecioun, imaginacioun, lamentacioun, inedi- 
tacioun, mencioun, nacioun, operacioun, opinioun, 
revelacioun, sessioun, contrarious, curious, delicious, 
glorious, gracious, precious; ua va. perpetual; ue in 
crueel, textueel; uou in vertuous, tortuous etc. But 
synizesis occurs also in trisyllabic and polysyllabic 


words, generally within the metre, thus in condicioun 
S.T. 132/99 [B. 99] questioun 542/428 [G. 428], 
religioun ib. 427, avistouns Fame ^2,, curious, glorious, 
victorious, fhisicien; thus we read S.T. 491/448 
[F. 448]y^«n'«/, Leg. 702 storial; imaginacioun occurs 
in rime Blaunche 14. Infamulier synizesis prob- 
ably takes place regularly ; cf. on this word Tobler 
Vom franzosischen Versbau, p. 59 f. Synizesis is 
necessary when without it the first element of the 
combination in a polysyllabic word would receive the 
stress (whether primary or secondary), hence meri- 
dional; this is particularly evident in words com- 
pounded with -ly : specially, perpetiially, paciently, 
curiously, deliciously, graciously. In classical and 
Romance Proper Names the combinations in question 
are treated as in other words : Julian, Linian, Julius, 
Antonius, but also ^Antonius Leg. 588, generally 
Valerian,hut Valerian 535/235 [G. 235]; S39/350 
[G. 350]; 541/408 [G. 408]; generally Almackius, 
but Almackius, e.g. 54 1/4 10 [G. 410]. Before a 
weak e post-tonic i is necessarily only a semi-vowel : 
Antonie, and thus regularly in words like : glorie, 
victorie, tragedie, cdrie, mdrie, as also in berie, inerie. 
Synizesis generally takes place in the Comparative 
of adjectives in -y : holier, besier etc., but frendlier, 
Troil. i. 885, lustier 570/1345 [G. 1345], in which 
each syllable retains its full value. No synizesis 
occurs in similar cases in the Superlative, cf holiest, 
seemliest etc. Seur (O.Fr. seilr^, which is invariably 
monosyllabic, may be considered as a further instance 
of synizesis. Note also Perotheus beside more 
frequent Perotheus ( = Pirithoiis). 

269 Elision. This term comprehends all the 


diverse phenomena which result from the blending 
into one syllable of the final vowel of one word with 
the initial vowel of the next. They are principally 
of two kinds : ecthlipsis or apostrophe, and 'synklisis ' 
if a new term be permissible for a process which is 
comparable to synizesis in a single word. Actual 
crasis is rare. 

Ecthlipsis affects, primarily the final weak e. This 
is regularly elided before an initial vowel (on the only 
case in which elision need not take place, cf § 270). 
A few examples must suffice ; the ecthlipsis of e is 
indicated only in cases where it cannot be apocopated 
before an initial consonant : 

Wei koude he sitte^on hors and fay re ryde 3/94 

[Proi. 94]. 
Wei koude she carina morsel and wel keepe 4/1 30 

[Prol. 130]. 
Whan they were wonneTand in the grete see 2/58 

[Prol. 59].' 
Thestaat, tharray, the nombr^and eek the cause 

21/716 [Prol. 716]. 
With muchel gloria and greet solempnitee 26/870 

[A. 870]. 
Victoria and as a conquerour to liven 27/916 

[A. 916]. 
Short was his goune with sleeves longhand wyde 

3/93 [Prol, 93]. 
Frequently, indeed as a rule, weak e is also elided 
before following h. This affects in English words 
chiefly the initial h in he, him, his, hire, here, hem (in 
the case of elision it would be preferable to spell hit 
without It), how, heer, and various forms of the verb 



have, in Romance words the mute h as in honour, 
honest, humble, humilitee etc. Examples : 

His bootes soupld^his hors in greet estaat 6/203 

[Prol. 203]. 
That hem to seen the peeple'^hath caught plesaunce 

434/993 [F. 993]- 
To eschue and by hire contrari^hire oppresse 527/4 

Nought wolde I tell^how me is wo bigoon 517/1316 

[F. 1 3 16]. 
Of children to thonour of God above 448/1449 

[E. 1449]. 

It is noteworthy that the aspirated French h 
also occasionally permits of elision : 

Of brend goold was the caas and eek the harneys 
83/2896 [A. 2896]. 

The elision of an e finds graphic expression as a 
rule only in the case of the article the and the 
negation ne, and even then it is not always indicated 
by the scribes : nis = ne'^is, nam = n^am, nath, nadde, 
or also nhath, nhadde ; thestaat, tharray, tholde man, 
thonour, etc. In other cases the elided e is, indeed, 
not infrequently apocopated as: And floures fressh 
honour en ye this day. Mars 3, but as a rule only in 
such MSS. as often omit even an e which is metrically 

Closed e may be elided as well as weak e, 
though this happens infrequently, and only before 
an initial vowel, not before h. Ecthlipsis must 
be assumed in the following cases : in the'^alighte 
182/1660 [B. 1660] (Ellesmere and Hengwrt : in 
thalighte), do meTendyte t)2?>J2,2 [G. 32] (Hengwrt: 


do ntendite), on crueltee fne^awreke Pitee i i,ikat hadde 
affrayd m^out of my sleep Blaunche 296. Stedfast- 
nesse 17 ought to be emended : Pite^is exyled, no 
man merciable, either crasis or synklisis having 
taken place ; synklisis probably in prive^and apert 
366/1 1 14 [D. 1 1 14] (JA.aA.prive n^apert. cf. § 270, 
Note.), Tisb^and Piramus Leg. 916. Unaccented 
o is more frequently elided in to : to'^eschue, to'~'en- 
tende, to'^abyden, to'~'Athenes, unto'~'any lovere, Troil. 
i. 20 etc. ; since spellings like tentende, tenforce etc. 
also occur, these must be cases of ecthlipsis ; synklisis 
also in a case like to Placebo'^ answerde 450/1520 
[E. 1520]; crasis in so'^estaatly 9/281 [Prol. 281]?. 
Synklisis takes place without doubt when a final y 
unites with a following initial vowel to form one 
syllable : so besyTa man, so mery^a (var. so myri^a) 
compaignye ; inany^a is united with extraordinary 
frequency, so that the cases in which the two words 
taken together form a trisyllable as 136/213 
[B. 213] are really exceptions ; on the other hand, 
generally, many con. A case like they'^engendred 
21/421 [Prol. 421] may be treated as crasis. 

Note. For very obvious reasons the final sound in every 
never undergoes synklisis. Nor, as a rule, are adverbs in -ly, 
which are frequently followed by a short pause, adapted to this 
process. One might be inclined to scan Blaunche 147 : And 
shiwe hire shortly'^it is no nay ; but the line more probably 
reads : And shdwe hire shdrtly, hit is no ndy, cf. § 272. 

270. Hiatus is the converse of elision, and may 
therefore be appropriately discussed in this connec- 
tion. Neither Old French nor Modern German 
poetry acknowledges any rigid law against hiatus, 
such as Modern French poetry observes. This is true 


also of M.E. poetry in general and of Chaucer's 
verse in particular. He does not hesitate to permit 
the conjunction of a final with an initial vowel, 
provided that the former is not weak e, but he 
betrays a tendency to avoid such a juxtaposition 
whenever it is fairly easy to do so. A careful study 
of the MSS., even the most reliable specimens of 
which cannot ^be credited with an absolutely faithful 
adherence to the original, will prove that after a final 
vowel which is not to be elided Chaucer always 
spelt hit — not it ; before an initial vowel or h he 
regularly used from, oon, noon, an, niyn, thyn, and 
frequently also -lich and -liche instead of -ly, whilst 
before consonants he used fro, a, my, thy, generally 
also and no. Rigidly tabooed is the conjunction of 
syllabically weak e with a following initial vowel. 
In this connection note further the following three 
points : 

(i) The Article the generally unites with a 
following vowel to form one syllable, but may also 
maintain its independence : the ercedeknes curs 
19/655 [Prol. 655] (also 1. 658 Purs is the ercedek- 
nes helle quod he with Harl. ; in no case with Zupitza : 
Purs is the ercedekenes helle seyde he), the olde clerkes 
34/1163 [A. 1 163], that al the Orient 43/1493 
[A. 1494] (^Orient here necessarily dissyllabic, cf 
I 268), on the auter cleere 67122,2,1 [A. 2331], o« the 
auter brighte 69/2425 [A. 2425] etc. 

(2) Initial h permits, as we have seen, the elision 
of a preceding weak e, but it may, on the other hand, 
also conceal the hiatus. It is unnecessary to multiply 
examples : the following will prove that an e which 
is frequently subject to apocope may be syllabic 


before following h : Yit hadde he but litel gooli in 
cofre 9/298 [Prol. 298]. That on his shine a 
mormal hadde he 12/386 [Prol. 386]. 

(3) Chaucer very rarely permits hiatus after a weak 
-e in the csesural pause. Most of the examples 
which have been adduced as evidence in support of 
his doing so are based on erroneous readings which 
have become untenable since the publication of the 
Six-Text. In other cases the emendation is obvious : 
for instance 39/1322 [A. 1322] read Witkouten 
doute hit may stonden so. Yet its occasional 
occurrence must be conceded. The hiatus jars but 
little when the csesural pause coincides with a very 
distinct logical pause: 468/2144 [E. 2144] should 
be punctuated as follows — 

Com. forth, -tny whyte spouse. Out of doute 
Thou hast me wounded in inyn herte, o wyf 
Nor is the hiatus in the following example ob- 
jectionable, although it only coincides with a 
secondary caesura, and the logical pause is only a 
brief one : 

In the ende of which an ounce and natnore 
568/ 1 266 [G. 1266]. 

Here elision would have reduced the energy of 
the statement. There is no such excuse for 322/599 
[C. 599] or 326/772 [C. 772] : 

If that a prince useitK) hasardrye. 
No lenger thanne after deeth they soughte. 
The poet may, of course, have overlooked some 
imperfect verses, and it is significant that the short 
fragment of the Cokes Tale contains no less than 
two examples of this hiatus : 127/4380 [A. 4380]; 


128/4407 [A. 440;]; 570/1348 [G. 1348] and 
405/57 [E. 57] are doubtful. The latter verse may 
easily be emended with the help of Cambr. Univ. 
Dd. 4. 24 (cf. the reprint of the Clerkes Tale, by 
W. A. Wright, p. 3) : 

Ther is right at the west syde of Itaylle, 

and thus Tyrwhitt also reads. Other cases are 
200/2153 [B. 2153]; 282/3989 [B. 3989]. 

Note. Since ne (non) and ne (neque) are spelt alike in the 
MSS. and are occasionally confounded by scholars, it may not be 
superfluous to note that ne admits of absolutely no hiatus, 
whereas it is quite permissible after ne: ne oynement that 
ivolde dense and byte 18/631 [Prol. (i2,\\ yong ne oold Sgl^iio 
[A. 31 10] etc. On the other hand ne (like the pronouns me, 
thee) may suffer elision, for instance Nat Rome for the harm 
thurgh Hannibal ' Nor at Rome,' etc. 139/290 [B. 290]. Exactly 
the same relation holds between O.Fr. ne and ne\ = nz). 

271. Contraction is the elision of e in the 
negation ne, when accompanied by aphsresis of a 
consonant in cases where it was the rule already in 
O.E. : nas (O.E. nies) = ne was, nere (O.E. ndre) = 
ne were, nil (O.E. nylle) = ne wil, nolde, O.E. nolde = 
ne wolde, noot (O.E. ndi) = ne woot, niste (O.E. nyste 
= ne wiste. The same term may be applied to a 
process in which the aphaeresis of a vowel is followed 
by assimilation to the preceding word. Of this I 
can only quote one example : this = this is. 404/ 5 6 
[E. 5 6] ought probably to read : But this the tale 
which that ye shal heere ; 32/1091 [A. 1 09 1 ] We 
moste endure it, this the short and play n. 

272. Slurring is a sort of modified syncope or 
apocope. The vowel which is slurred does not 


disappear entirely, but is reduced to such an extent 
that, together with the vowel of a preceding or 
following syllable, it does not exceed the time of one 
metrical beat. The two syllables occur in one and 
the same word, in hevenes, deeveles, lovede, werede, 
constable, indnciple etc. Scansions like bretheren 
should probably be included under this heading, 
unless it were permissible (having regard to doughtren, 
ootkres, oothre) to assume syncope for them ; in all 
probability also scansions like Antony, naturally, 
like rather and whider, but without doubt all the 
cases where the ending -ye in Romance words is used 
as a monosyllable. Very often the syllables in 
question belong to two different words. A weak e 
in the iinal syllable before a single final consonant 
may be slurred if the following word begins with a 
vowel, or an h capable of elision. Thus we find 
combinations like fader^of, water^he {evet^on, ever^he 
had also better be scanned thus than as eur on, 
eur he | 263), leever^have and very often over^al; 
furthermore riden'^in, getettThim, peseriTupon Leg. 648 ; 
candet^at, litet^asonder ; overlooked^it, biloved^and ; 
Athmes'^hir 60/2098 [A. 2098], Goddes^halfe 
Blaunche 370 and numerous similar ones. Unusual is 
197/2087 [B. 2087] romauncefofprys,m Sire Thopas, 
where, however, Harl. reads romauns. Some cases 
admit of a two-fold interpretation, thus ever^on, ever^he 
ought perhaps to be explained as evere'^on, ever^he; 
wered^he, loved'^he, loved'~'hir (Preterites) as wered^he 
etc. The phonetic effect remains, of course, in either 
case the same. I have not quoted any instances of 
slurring in the ending -eth, because in the Imper. PI. 
the ending admits of apocope, in the 3rd. Sing. Pres. 


more frequently of syncope. In all cases where 
weak n can be apocopated it would be better to 
assume such apocope and consequent elision than 
slurring, thus in the P.P. of some verbs, and invariably 
in the Infin. and the Pres. Plur. or Prat, of finite 
verbs. Read likewise JameTandmsX.&'a.A oi J allies'^ and, 
since the form Jame occurs in rime. 

The weak e in ne and the is also slurred when 
these particles become enclitic to a previous word 
with vocalic termination : / ne saugh this jeer so mery 
a compaignye 22/764 [Prol. 764] emended according 
to Harl. ; / ne seye but for this ende this sentence 
166/1139 [B. 1 1 39]; Or som wight elles ; I ne 
rought who Blaunche 244 ; Me ne lakketh but my 
deeth and than my bere Pitee 105 (emended) ; nathe- 
less is, after all, a similar instance. 

That is S.T. 6/ 180 [Prol. 180], Blaunche 268, as 
well as hit is Blaunche 147 (cf. § 269, N.) must also 
be treated as examples of slurring. A contraction 
such as thats, hits must have left traces in the MSB. 
though, on the other hand, it is obvious how easily 
the scribes could resolve this = this is (| 271) into its 
component parts. Combinations like with a, and a, 
in the appear to me to be very doubtful ; for the 
present I should prefer to consider them non- 


273. Since the rhythm of Chaucer's verse is 
determined by accent, the metrical stress is ne- 
cessarily based on the word- and sentence-accent. 
But not infrequently the normal word-accent and the 


metrical rhythm are at variance, and different 
opinions are possible and have been actually held 
as to the manner in which the conflict may be 
decided. The sentence-stress disagrees less fre- 
quently with the rhythmical stress — a fact which 
offers a valuable hint for the solution of the difficulty 
with regard to word-stress. 

274. There are altogether three methods con- 
ceivable for the reconciliation of accent and rhythm 
when at variance : either the accent must yield to 
the exigencies of the verse — accent-shift ; or the 
rhythm must conform to the normal accentuation — 
inversion of the metrical measure ; or, finally, in 
delivery a compromise must be attempted of such a 
character that the hearer remains conscious both of 
the natural accentuation and of the claims of the 
rhythm — level stress — veiled rhythm. 

275. If in studying a metrical art inherited from 
the past we seek for criteria which may render it. 
possible in any given case to decide without bias in 
favour of one of these three methods, the following 
considerations naturally present themselves. The 
corresponding syllables of different words often vary 
in weight — that is in capacity for stress ; the second 
syllable in a word, like mellere for instance, is dis- 
tinctly more capable of stress than the second 
syllable of a word like fader. On the other hand, 
different parts of one and the same metrical line vary 
in the demands they make upon accuracy of rhythm ; 
for instance, an investigation of modern versification 
amongst various nations teaches us that the con- 
clusion of a verse requires under all circumstances 
rhythmical correctness and is characterised by it 



even in the syllabically accented metres of Romance 
nations (also we might add in the ancient poetry of 
the Indians which is measured by syllabic quantity), 
whilst on the other hand, the beginning of a verse 
even in the rhythmically accented metres of the 
Germanic peoples, permits deviation from the 
correct rhythmical scheme, or at least a veiling of it. 

Starting from 'these preliminary considerations we 
arrive at the following conclusions : 

(i) Where in case of conflict between accent and 
metrical stress the syllabic character of the word 
has been considered exclusively, whilst its metrical 
position has been disregarded, the accent should be 
shifted. Now since a word like mellere, even at the 
end of a verse, is capable of filling out such a portion 
of a rhythmical scheme as may be illustrated thus : 
— -^(^), the inevitable conclusion is that in this 
and all cases in which the metre imperatively 
demands it, the accentuation mellire must be assumed, 
i.e. accent-shift. This assumption receives the most 
gratifying confirmation from the rules laid down 
above on the treatment of weak e, according to 
which the form melleres, for instance, can only be 
treated as a trisyllable when the medial syllable is 

(2) When in case of conflict between accentua- 
tion and metrical stress merely the metrical position 
of the word can be pleaded in justification, inversion 
of the metrical measure must be assumed. 

(3) When both metrical position and syllabic 
weight conduce to the solution of the difficulty, or, 
in an unfavourable case, both are equally indifferent, 
level stress, or veiled rhythm, must be assumed. 



But, in point of fact, inversion of the measure can be 
dispensed with altogether in an accentual verse of the 
second type. For since the portion of the verse in 
question makes the conflict between accentuation and 
rhythm bearable by the very fact that it preserves the 
consciousness of the rhythmical scheme, it will, in all 
cases in which it is possible to assume inversion of 
the measure, be equally possible to assume veiled 
rhythm — level stress. A regard for economy in 
terminology makes the assumption of only two 
categories advisable : namely, of accent-shift and 
level stress. 

276. We shall be guided by these principles in 
the further discussion of our subject. Our immediate 
task is the study of word-accentuation by means of 
a consideration of the position of the primary accent, 
or of the accent in general (i) in native and Ger- 
manic, (2) in Romance words. 

277. In considering the accentuation of the Ger- 
manic word it is necessary to discuss first the normal 
position of the primary accent, then the legitimate 
conditions for shifting it. The normal position of 
the accent corresponds to the O.E. rule. 

(i) In the simple word the accent rests upon the 
root-syllable in contradistinction to the inflexional or 
derivative syllables : fader, in6oder,f{nger, heven, sddel, 
rydere, Idvere, b6dy, w6rthy, thinken, dskedest, wry ting, 
kdlier, hyeste, siemlieste etc. 

(2) In noun-composition the principal accent 
rests upon the iirst element, whose function it is to 
determine the force of the second : plSwman, shirreve, 
cdkewold, wddecraft, notheed, manhood, fr^endshipe. 


freedom, wisdom, wdrthily, bSldely {-ly originally a 
noun). This applies even when the first element is 
a particle (exceptions § 278) : dnswere, foreward, 
forward, forheed (instead of foreheed), iipright, 

(3) In verb-composition, which by this very fact 
is proved to be unreal, the accent does not fall 
upon the initial particle, but upon the verb : arysen, 
bicldppen, biginnen, forg^ten, forbieden, forb^ren, of- 
thinken, tohewen, yse'en, ythinken, ybSren etc. 

278. Exceptions: 

(i) None in simple words. 

(2) In noun-composition : compounds with al: 
almighty etc. ; with mis : misdied, mishdp ; with un : 
unhdp, unheele, unreste, uncouth, unhappy, unkynde, 
unmighty, unsdd etc. ; with for (' German ver ' not to 
be confounded with fore ' fore ') : forgetfulnesse from 
an extinct noun forgit ; with y (O.E. je-") : ywis ; 
compounds with a which are formed by analogy with 
corresponding verb-compounds : abSod from abyden, 
even in old formations like ariste the particle may 
have lost the accent in spite of O.E. i&rist ; the case 
of bi (forby) is almost identical, the old genuine noun- 
compounds with bt — excepting byword (O.E. biwyrde, 
Mhg. btwort) — have all been lost, and younger O.E., 
as well as M.E., formations with be- bi- are in use : 
bihdlf biheeste, bileve etc. Finally nouns in -ere 
denoting the agent follow the accentuation of the 
verb from which they are derived, cf. overc6m.ere 
Boece 4266. 

(3) In O.E. the denominatives are excepted : 
cf dndswarian ; but in Chaucer answere is generally 



accented like other verb-compounds : answe're, but 
also dnswere. 

279. Legitimate shifting of the accent for the sake 
of the metre occurs primarily in rime, and secondly 
in the caesura, without being prohibited in other 
parts of the verse, since its purpose is to be sub- 
servient to metrical exigencies. It consists in the 
following : In a noun-compound the second element 
may be accented instead of the first, provided that 
it or its root-syllable follows immediately upon the 
originally tonic syllable : answire, forheed, upright, 
upriste, brimst6on, manhood, freendshipe, trewly {trewly 
beside triwely), oonly etc. Amongst loan-words 
note O.^.feldwe beside ///awe (but orAy filawshipe), 
windSwe. In the simple word a heavy derivative 
suffix may be accented instead of the root-syllable, 
provided it follows immediately upon the latter. 
Such suffixes are : -ere, -nesse, -esse, the Superlative 
suffix -este, -ing -inge, -y : mell/re, dagg/re ; clennisse, 
gladnisse ; goddisse ; hySste,fayr/ste ; lording; making, 
wryting, bytinge, weepinge ; body. It is noteworthy 
that the suffix -y in rime is either weak, or bears 
merely the secondary accent : b6dy, icnworthy. Of 
inflexional suffixes only the isolated -om in whylom 
whyldm can be in question. Verb-compounds 
admit of no accent-shift from metrical considerations 
{dnswere beside answ/re is otherwise accounted for, 
cf. § 278, 3, on the verbal substantive of. § 281). 
In a noun-compound the second element of which is 
usually accented (cf. § 278, 2) the accent is very 
rarely shifted to the first element ; but Uncouth, 
■iinworthy occur. 



Note. If the second element of a compound has suffered 
mutilation to such an extent as to be unrecognisable, the 
remainder is treated as if it were the suffix of a simple word : 
hence lady can be accented lady. 

280. Parathesis is the union of two (or several) 
originally separate words which as regards their 
syntactical functions — and inflexion where such takes 
place — were co-ordinate. The parathetic com- 
pounds which were created in the M.E. period are 
accented according to the O.E. (by no means the 
M.E.) sentence-stress, provided the latter does not 
offend against the laws of composition-stress. Hence 
in a union of two nouns the former will normally 
bear the accent : sonday, hdlyday (in the MSS. some- 
times spelt as two words), gdodman, good-wyf, Idng- 
swerd 192/1943 [B. 1943], Oxenford, Cdunterbury 
etc. The same holds good when two particles 
belonging to the same part of speech are united : 
elleswhere, also ; but with a legitimate shift als6. If 
a preposition is united with a noun or with an 
adverb, the noun or adverb will bear the accent : 
alyve, bilyve blyve ; bifore, bihynde, tofore, withSuten 
etc. The preposition used as an adverb before 
another preposition bears the accent : into, imto 
(§58 N.), but also into, untd and probably always 
up6n (frequently spelt up on). The pronominal adverb 
before a preposition used as an adverb is originally 
unaccented : heerin, therefdre, there6f, but also therfore, 
tyrof {tMr of) etc. 

If the O.E. sentence-stress is at variance with the 
composition-stress, the latter prevails. The preposi- 
tion used as an adverb, as well as the ordinary pre- 
positional adverb, bears the accent in O.E. if it stands 


before the verb : fore seon, lip ahebban, ■kppe -bringan. 
If the particle enters into a closer union with the 
verb it loses its accent in M.E. by analogy with the 
older verb-compounds (which, as a matter of fact, are 
also unreal compounds): And Arcita anoon his 
hSnd uphdf {WS&. up haf) 69/2428. For also sdoth as 
sSnne uprlst on morwe (mss. up rist, Var. rist tip), 
Troil. IV. 1443, likewise uproos Troil. I. 85. But 
what that G6d forwoot moot needes bee 294/4424 [B. 
4424], likewise _/(7rze/oW Fame 45. By hygh imdgind- 
cibun forncdst {Sf^x.forn cast, for cast etc.) 294/4407 
[B. 4407] Sire Thopas wolde outryde (MSB. out ryde 
192/1940 [B. 1940]. Participial forms: up-f6stred 
S3i/i22[G. 1 22],«/'-^^/</i? 533/189 [G. 189]. Beside 
these, however, cases are found in which the particle 
retains its tone : That for woot dl withouten 
ignordtunce Troil. IV. 1 07 1 ; Up roos the sdnne and 
■Ap roos Emelye 65/2273 [A. 2273] (where at the 
beginning of the verse we must assume level 
stress) ; but in such instances there is no neces- 
sity for assuming parathesis, and in the former of 
the two passages quoted we should be justified in 
replacing /c^r by _/(7rf in order to indicate the indepen- 
dence of the particle. However, the accented par- 
ticle generally follows the verb in M.E., or is separated 
from it by another word ; the latter is the case, for 
instance, in To live -with hire and dye and by hire 
stonde 140/345 [B. i^c^X And out she comth Leg. 858; 
the former in Tisbe rist up Leg. 887. In She rist hire 
up Leg. 810, the particle both follows the verb and 
is separated from it by another word. The noun 
has in O.E. a stronger stress than the verb, as a rule 
even when it follows the latter. In those M.E, 



instances of parathesis which one feels inclined to 
construe as Imperative sentences, the initial verb bears 
the accent by analogy with genuine noun-compounds : 
pikepurs, tredefoul etc. 

281. The Verbal Substantives in -ing -inge, when 
compounded with a particle, are often accented 
otherwise than the verb from which they are derived : 
not only in cases like forseeing, forwiting, i.e. in 
compounds which by no means necessarily pre- 
suppose the parathesis of particle and verb (any more 
than the German ' Thursteher' postulates a verb 
' thiirstehen '), but also in cases like Mginning, i.e. in a 
noun-compound, which is probably derived immedi- 
ately from the corresponding verb-compound. Side 
by side with this form there occurs, however, one 
with the accent corresponding to that of the verb : 
biginning. Occasionally the Pres. Part, also has 
noun-accentuation; this fSrknowinge wyse Troil. I. 79. 

282. As regards the position of the secondary 
accent two frequently antagonistic tendencies may 
be recognised in the language of the 14th. century, 
the historical source of which must be discussed 
elsewhere : on the one hand a tendency to accentu- 
ate the second element of a compound felt as such, 
and consequently to emphasise a living derivative 
suffix by the accent ; on the other hand a tendency to 
bring about a regular alternation of accented and 
unaccented syllables in a word. In Chaucer's poetry 
— as in that of all poets who aim more or less 
consistently at a regular alternation of accented and 
unaccented syllables — the latter tendency is, in case 
of conflict, destined to prevail, the former only 


attains to indirect expression in their work, namely, 
in so far as it tends to account for the possibihty of 
shifting the primary accent. The position of the 
principal accent once given — whether it be the 
normal or an exceptional one — that of the secondary 
accent follows in Chaucer as a matter of course. 
Words like wisdom, mdnhood, friendshipe, hyest have 
no secondary accent, but, on the other hand 
mdrtirdhom, wSmanhbod, fndydenheed, felawshlpe, 
sdemliest ; cf. further arysen, forgeten with bvercdmen, 
iinderstSnden, forheed with outrydere, unworthy with 
■Anworthy, biginning with biginning, f6rseelng, forwit- 
Ing etc. 

A weak e is apocopated, syncopated or slurred 
whenever the secondary accent would fall upon it ; 
but sometimes the necessity for this is obviated 
by the syncope or slurring of a weak e belonging 
to a preceding syllable. On this relation are based 
the propositions discussed in §§ 256, 257. 

It is further noteworthy that the e of the 2nd. 
Pers. Sing, termination -est is not weak, since it 
is capable of secondary accent : dskedest, nobledest 
etc. In isolated cases the -en of the non-syncopated 
weak Preterites, and much more rarely the -eth of the 
3rd. Pers. Sing. Pres. Ind., and the -ed of the P.P., 
bear the secondary accent. Cf §S 256, 257, excep- 
tions. The Comparative suffix -er rarely bears the 
secondary accent, ^sfr^ndlier (Ysx. frendliour), Troil. 
I. 885, lAstier 570/134S [G. 1345]. As a rule 
synizesis takes place in such cases (cf § 268). 

Note. On a case like episteles for epistles cf. § 226 N. ; on 
occasional accentuation of a weak e in foreign Proper Names 


283. Accentuation of Romance words. In French 
the accent rests, as we know, upon the last syllable 
of the word which is capable of accent, hence either 
upon the ultimate, or upon the penultimate, if 
the ultimate contain weak e. In M.E. the treatment 
of French nouns differs from that of French verbs 
with regard to accentuation, and they must therefore 
be considered separately. 

284. The French noun often retains its original 
accent in Chaucer. This statement can be proved 
only in the case of dissyllabic words, or trisyllabic 
ones with a weak e in the final syllable. Instances 
of accentuation like pitee, honSur, vertii, natiire, 
maneere, victSrie, contrdrie are frequent in Chaucer, 
and (with very rare exceptions : r^medye beside reine'die, 
vicary beside vicdrie) the only permissible ones in 
rime. But the accentuation corresponding to N.E. 
usage is very frequent within the metre : pitee, hSnour, 
virtu, ndture, mdner etc. In words like victorie, 
contrarie, historic this accentuation seems limited to 
cases in which the final e may be elided, since 
it is incapable of secondary accent, whereas the 
preceding semi-vowel can neither disappear absolutely 
nor be easily transformed into a full vowel ; hence 
victori^dnd 26/872 [A. 872] cdntrari^hire 527/4 
[G. 4]. On the other hand, there is no objection 
to accenting constable, ■manciple, cf. further § 227. 

285. A number of nouns of the character indicated 
do not in any case admit of the recession of the 
accent from the second to the first syllable. This 
applies especially to nouns the first syllable of which 
contains a parasitic e before impure s, as for instance 


estaat, and to a large number of compounds the first 
element of which is a particle. The prefixes a{ad) and 
de resist accentuation to an extraordinary degree, e.g. 
abet, achaat, accord, apert, array, arest, assent, assyse, 
avys, avow, awayt; debaat, deceyte, decree, defence, 
degree, delyt, delyvre, desyr, despeyr, despyt, devout. 
But Blaunche 384 ddfaute seems to occur. Other 
particles like dis- di- are more fluctuating : probably 
always disuse dzspdrt (etymologically delay also 
belongs here), but on the other hand cf. discreet 
beside discreet ; others again, like abs- con- betray no 
perceptible aversion to the accent. No conclusion as 
to M.E. pronunciation can be drawn from direct 
comparison with N.E. : thus renoun occurs in Chaucer 
by the side of renSun (M.E. discrete fluctuated in 
accent, and in this case also the pronunciation 
discrete has become established). 

286. In polysyllabic words there is a tendency to 
throw the accent two syllables further back, in short 
to reverse the positions of the primary and secondary 
accents (the position of the latter is the same in 
Romance as in native words) : emperhur for hnperdur, 
argument drgument, in the same way, soveriynetee, 
condicibun, imagindcibun, dbeysdunce. To what extent 
this process had been accomplished in Chaucer's 
language cannot be wholly determined from the 
metre, since both the primary and the secondary 
accents are capable of metrical stress. But that the 
process was not unknown may be deduced from 
cases of syncope like auditours for auditoures, which 
necessarily postulate an accentuation aikditoiirs 
(§ 226), further from a few cases in which in 
synizesis the accentuation of the word in its full 


syllabic value has been preserved : condtcioun 6f 
poverte 132/99 [B. 99] religioun 542/427 [G. 427] 
(in rime synizesis naturally produces accent-shift, 
hence imdgindcidun, but Blaunche 14 hnaginacibun, 
or rather Imaginacidun ?), finally, in cases of 
synaeresis like dunter beside dventiire. Whether, con- 
versely, from the occasionally syllabic force of a weak 
final e in words like aventure we ought to conclude 
that in such cases the primary accent maintains 
its position, must be left an open question. In 
further discussion I shall venture to assume that 
Chaucer's normal method of accentuation was to 
reverse the respective positions of the primary and 
secondary accents in French words the structure of 
which made it permissible. Weak e is incapable 
of accent, hence sovreyntee occurs beside sbvereynetee, 
nor, presumably, was the first element accented in 
the combinations ia, io etc. (§ 268), unless such a 
combination constituted the first syllable of the 
word), hence meridional. 

287. The M.E. accentuation of Romance deriva- 
tives ignores, as a rule, the M.E. accentuation of 
the original Romance word ; thus we accent delitable, 
desirous, in spite of delyt, desyr, and in the same way 
acceptable, d^ceyvable in spite of accepten, dec^yven ; 
but Venus 68 the accentuation agreable occurs by 
analogy with the verb agreen, and in achdtour 
17/568 [A. 568] the influence of the noun achdat is 
evident, since no M.E. achaten corresponds to the 
French verb acater acheter from which the noun 
denoting the agent is derived. On the participial 
formations in -aunt cf. § 291. 

Considerations of Romance composition hardly 


affect the accentuation (apart from the case mentioned 
^285) unless an unaccented English particle occurs 
side by side with a Romance one of similar form and 
meaning, thus immortal Troil. I. 103, and elsewhere ; 
on the other hand, impossible, naturally also innocent, 
since there is no such word as nocent ; thus mischdunce 
is the normal accentuation in Chaucer as nowadays, 
but, again, mischeef beside mischief, since cheef alone 
has not the force of the compound. Note further 
prenostik Fortune 54, and more frequently advocat 
instead oi ddvocaat — other Romance compounds are 
accented according to the general rule ; by the side 
of pitSus or pitous we find despitous ; on despitously 
cf. § 288. 

288. Amongst the English derivatives from 
original Romance words those in -nesse are of 
primary importance ; fdlsnesse, with legitimate accent- 
shift /a/j^^i'i'^, ritdenesse, strdungenesse ; in polysyllabic 
words an endeavour is made to secure the secondary 
accent for -nesse : foolhdrdynesse. 

On the composition of English nouns and particles 
with Romance nouns note the following. Only those 
English words which are generally unaccented in 
composition appear as the first element in com- 
pounds : almerciable ; undble, unreprovable. When 
the English word forms the second element in a 
compound it is apt to receive the secondary accent : 
prdntishood, pitously, despitously. Estdatly, dev6utly 
are accented thus on account of estdat, devSut, 
but there are no instances of dfnorbusly, ciiribusly, 
but rather with slurring or synizesis dmorously, 
naturally; cicriously, pdciently, spicially, cf S8 263, 



289. In Chaucer the French verb is generally ac- 
cented like the strong forms of the Romance Present. 
This statement was fully substantiated in §§ 177, 
178, and in the same connection the most important 
exceptions from the rule were mentioned. The 
latter, in point of fact, only betray a tendency to 
carry out the principle deduced from the rule more 
consistently than is done in French. There is 
little to add to the remarks made in the paragraphs 
quoted above. 

290. Such verbs as are compounded with a dis- 
syllabic nominal stem probably reversed the re- 
spective positions of the primary and secondary 
accents in Chaucer, hence probably mMtiplye, 

j-iistifye ; possibly this is also the case when the 
verb is compounded with a dissyllabic particle, as 
countrefete. Other instances of unusual accentua- 
tion are disslmuleth 543/466 [G. 466], pArfiled 
6/193 [Prol. 193]. 

291. The Pres. Part, in -aunt is, when used sub- 
stantivally always, and when used adjectivally usually, 
accented like the ordinary Romance noun : remen- 
dunt, servdunt servaunt, trenchdunt trenchaunt, 
sikffisdunt, repentdunt ; but in the latter case verbal 
accentuation also occurs : accordaunt 2/37 [Prol. 
37], discor daunt, consentaunt 310/276 [C. 276] (Var. 
consented^, recr^aunt Troil. I. 814. 

292. The Verbal noun in -ing, -inge derived from 
Romance verbs frequently shifts its accent if the 
verbal theme is monosyllabic : arminge, preching, 
offringe. In case of a polysyllabic theme the ending 
-ing is apt to acquire the secondary stress, the 


frequent result of which is a deviation of the primary 
accent from the position it occupies in the inflected 
forms of the verb : appdraillinge, chdlanging, chdstis- 
inge, cdmpleyning, desiringe, enbibing, governing, pur- 
chasing, sermoning etc. A similar deviation takes 
place, though far more rarely, in the case of the 
Participle in -inge, -ing: ambling apertening. In by 
far the majority of cases the participle has the accent 
of the verb; but naturally imagining ^tc. § 178. 

293. Latin words in a Romance form, as, for 
instance, creaat, desolaat are treated exactly like 
genuine Romance words. Latin words which have 
been adopted without change retain as a rule their 
original form, but words that are practically formulas 
and occur frequently, seem to allow a shifting of the 
accent without which, for instance, the familiar syn- 
cope in ben(edi)cite would be unaccountable. 

294. Foreign Proper Names, especially those of 
classic origin, display many peculiarities of accentua- 
tion. The original accentuation of names like Julius, 
Ercules, Scithero Cithero ( = Cicero), Troilus, Scithia 
corresponds to the usual M.E. pronunciation of 
polysyllabic Romance nouns, and hence they retain 
as a rule the original accent ; but the form. Pridnius 
occurs beside Priamus Troil. I. 2, Fame 159 (or, 
in this case, Pridin ?), beside Perotheus also Perotheus 
and Perotheus. Faroxytons with a sonorous ending 
are apt to shift the accent. Dissyllabic ones are 
accented after the French fashion when they occur 
in rime, in any other position more rarely so : Tisb^e, 
Circes, Cypris, Cled, Ekk6, Erro, Juno, Plato, Veniis. 
Polysyllabic ones are frequently, indeed as a rule, 


transformed into proparoxytons : Achates Ackatee, 
Achilles, Xnchises, but Anchises, Fame 171, Polimites 
{=Polynices), Eneds, but Eneas, cf. Fame 165,175, 
VMcaniis, Mddea, Laddmid, ( = Laodamia) etc., thus 
we find beside Apollo : Apollh (in rime) beside 
Perndso : Pernasb (in rime), and even beside 
Placebo : Placebo (likewise in rime). The names 
in -eiis = eu? are naturally accented thus : Theseiis, 
Egeus etc., but we find, for instance, Morpheus 
beside Mdrpheiis. Amongst names which derived 
their form from Boccaccio, note Arcyta and Arcitd, 
as well as Criseydd, Troil. I. 169. 

Weak e in the final syllable favours accentuation 
of the penultimate : AcMlle, AntSnie, Arcyte, Criseyde 
(the ordinary form of the name), Elye, Eneyde (beside 
Eneidbs) Isiphyle (beside Isiphile), Ovyde, Stdce, or of 
the one before the antepenultimate : Gdnimede, 
Emelye (in Boccaccio Emilia'), fsdye etc., but, as a 
rule, it is Virgile although Virgyle Leg. 924. Note 
further forms like Antony and Antony, Cleopdtaras 
Cleopdtre, Grisildls Grisilde and Grisild etc. 

Troilus V. i486 Thebes is peculiarly accented in 
rime, S.T. 2g\gTi [B. 973] within the metre pro- 
bably Athenes, as if here the French PI. ending -es 
were influenced by a reminiscence of Lat. -as 
(cf episteles ^ 226, N.). By analogy we should 
perhaps be justified in reading S.T. 405/63 [E. 6i'\ 
and similar cases Sdluces. The ordinary accentua- 
tion of these words is naturally Thebes, Athenes, 

295. An investigation of the M.E. sentence-stress 
would form part of a general discussion of M.E. 


metre, or of a sketch of alliterative poetry in the 
M.E. period. Chaucer's verse contributes nothing to 
the solution of the most important problems, as 
indeed no metre can do which is incapable of in- 
dicating what words in a given series extending over 
several syllables are of primary importance for the 
rhythm of the sentence. Both the primary and 
the secondary accent are in Chaucer capable of 
metrical stress. As a rule, all dissyllabic words 
have one metrical stress, the trisyllabic ones 
either one or two, according to the position of 
the principal accent. Monosyllabic words are 
generally metrically unstressed, though the great 
majority of them are capable of stress. Exceptions 
are the, ne ' not,' and perhaps an a. A studious 
sifting of the cases in which monosyllables, though 
as a rule unaccented in a sentence (prepositions, 
conjunctions etc.) may bear the metrical stress, would 
hardly serve any useful purpose for the reason that 
Chaucer's verse does not reflect all the more delicate 
shades of sentence-stress, any more than for instance 
NE. or Nhg. metre does, and because any safe 
conclusions which might be arrived at in this 
direction are for the greater part self-evident. 


296. Only two amongst the various forms of verse 
employed by Chaucer can lay claim to any con- 
siderable and independent importance. They may 
conveniently, and without fear of misapprehension, 
be denoted by the terms ' normal short line ' and 



'heroic metre.' The former will be considered first 
and a characterisation of it will be followed by a 
survey of other short lines which Chaucer uses in 
one single specimen of his work in conjunction with 
the normal line. A discussion of heroic metre in 
which Chaucer wrote the great majority of his poems, 
and amongst them his masterpieces, will form the 

297. The normal short line was transmitted to 
Chaucer by the older poetry of the M.E. period, and 
its history reaches back into the 12th century. It 
must be regarded as an imitation of the Romance 
octosyllabic verse, though, on its first appearance in 
English poetry, it does not withstand the influence of 
a closely related native verse-form, i.e. the ' original 
short line ' (Proverbs of Alfred, King Horn). Chaucer's 
structure of the normal short line differs in no 
essential point from that of the more distinguished of 
his predecessors. But cf. § 31 7. 

298. The normal short line contains 4 beats. The 
last beat may either (a) conclude the line ; or (jS) it 
may be followed by one unaccented syllable ; or (y) 
by two unaccented syllables, the former of which is 
slurred. Examples : 

(a) This king wol wenden Sver s£e Blaunche 6j 
This lady that was Idft at hSom „ 77 

Swich a Ust anoon me tdok „ 273 

Why that is an avisiSun Fame 7 

As he that wiery was for g6 „ 1 1 S 

Naked fleetinge in a see ,, i 3 3 

(j8) Withouten sleepe and been in sSrwe Blaunche 2 1 
A nd in this bdok were writen fables „ 52 


Bord ne man ne nothing elks Blaunche 74. 

That lyth ful pale and ndthing rddy „ 143. 
(7) TJ my wit what cduseth swevenes Fame 3 ff. 

Eithei^on m,6rwes or on evenes. 
The verse-endings in (/3) and (7) are essentially the 

299. Between every two stressed syllables, or beats 
(thesis, ' Hebung '), there is invariably an unstressed 
or weak element (arsis, ' Senkung '). The first stress 
is, as a rule, preceded by an anacrusis (' Auftakt '), so 
that in its complete form the rhythm of the verse is 
iambic. The anacrusis may, however, be suppressed. 
A few examples will suffice : 

Bid him creepe intd the b6dy 
Swich a lestanoon me tSok 
Took my hdrs and fdrtk I w^nte 
G6 wefdste and gdn to ryde 
Every man dide right anoon 
Cduseth swiche 6fte 
Be so pdrfit ds men fynde 
Tt'irne us ivery dreem to g6od 
Mette I trdwe stedfastly 

Note. The assertion that there is invariably an arsis between 
two stresses will seem untenable to an over-credulous reader of 
the ' Deeth of Blaunche ' or the ' Hous of Fame ' in their present 
form. But the extant versions of these poems in particular are 
corrupt to a degree such as, in the absence of more reliable and 
independent evidence, justifies a more radicaf criticism than the 
general condition of Chaucer's poems requires or warrants. 
Many passages call for incisive treatment, but even when 
dealing tentatively with others a memory of the prevailing 
characteristics of the poet will save the commentator from 











Fame 35. 








imputing to the author the sins of ignorant copyists. One 
example, for many, may serve to illustrate the point in question : 
Ne trie ne ndught that 6ught wds, Bist tie mdn ne ndught dlles 
Blaunche 1 58 £ emend : Ne trie ne nothing thdt ought wds, Bdst 
ne mdn ne ndthing elles. 

300. The arsis is, from a metrical point of view, 
always monosyllabic ; in other words, anapaestic or 
trochaic rhythm is foreign to the metre. Nor does 
dissyllabic anacrusis occur. The chapter on prosody 
showed us by what means the poet could, under 
certain circumstances, reduce two syllables to one. 
We may remember that by syncope, synseresis and 
synizesis an absolute monosyllable may be pro- 
duced, by slurring an approximate one (§ 272). 

Note. The mss. afford — especially in the Deeth of Blaunche — 
several verses which only violent slurring could reduce to the 
correct number of syllables, i.e. which contain a dissyllabic arsis. 
But the majority may easily be emended, as was in some cases 
done already in Urry's edition. An examination of them will 
show that the metrical error was not infrequently caused by the 
insertion of a gloss into the text, for instance, a Proper Name 
was added to the appellative employed by the poet (also the 
reverse), or a Substantive took the place of a Personal Pronoun, 
or a dissyllabic synonym of a monosyllable. The practical con- 
clusions to be derived from such observations will be drawn with 
the less hesitation, because otherwise consistency would force us 
to let verses stand which are too long by a whole foot. {e.g. 
instead of Now for to speke of Alcione his wyf, Blaunche 76, 
read : Now for to speken of his wyf; So whan this lady koude 
heere no word, Blaunche loi, read : So whan she koude heere no 
word). A dissyllabic arsis should be removed from Blaunche 
1 36 : Go bdt quodfuno to Mdrfheiis, by inserting the Pronoun she 
for the Proper Na.mefuno ; Blaunche 213 by changing Alids to 
A ! ; Blaunche 264, by deleting queene. A fertile source of dis- 
syllabic arsis is a habit of the scribes of repeating a word used 
in one clause of the sentence in a corresponding clause where it 



should only be supplied mentaUy. Two striking instances of 
identical character, taken from the Hous of Fame, will serve to 
illustrate our meaning ; the interpolated word is in brackets : 

Why thdt is an avisioun 

And {why) this a rdveldcioun. Fame 7 £ 

Why this afdntome {why) thise ordcles Fame 1 1. 

Schipper (Metrik p. 281) does not object to tlie dissyllabic arsis 
in Chaucer, or — to speak more accurately — he considers every 
species of slurring permissible. He quotes as an instance in 
point ' proving considerable skill ' Blaunche 87. For him alas / 
she loved alder best. It is evident that the e in loved might be 
slurred with the following vowel, but I fail to see how and with 
what word she could also be slurred. The verse as it stands 
seems to be the welding together of two variants. For him, she 
lived dlder best and For him aids she l&ved best. Blaunche 95. 
Schipper causes sorowe to be slurred, but the only Chaucerian 
forms are sorwe and (with apocope of e) sorw. 

301. Level stress occurs especially at the be- 
ginning of a line : Cer'tes I nil never ete breed, 
Blaunche 92. Ra'ther than thdt I shSlde deye, ib. 240. 
Now' for to spiken of his wyf ib. 76 (cf. § 300 N.). 
Doun' to his hert to make him warm ib. 491. Hooni 
for it was a Idnge terme ib. 79 etc. It occurs with 
the next greatest degree of frequency at the beginning 
of the second half of the line, if immediately after 
the second stress a sort of caesura falls : And why 
theffSctlfol'weth of sdme Fame 5. With floures felej 
fayr/ under feet Blaunche 400. Right' as it was/ 
wo'ned to d6o ib. 150, which, however, may possibly 
be emended to : Right! as it waned was to dSo. More 
rarely it occurs in the second foot if a sort of caesura 
falls after the first (cf. Note) : Than pleye/^ither at 
che'sse or tables 5 i , which, however, possibly ought to 
read : Than pleyen either at chesse or tables. 


Note. In Germanic metre it is customary to count the first 
foot as beginning with the first beat. This is a mistake, for the 
metrical anacrusis (even when suppressed) claims a rhythmical 
period as much as any other arsis, and it is a mere convention 
that in music a bar is always considered to begin with a beat. 
Whether the rhythm of a verse is trochaic or iambic, cannot be 
decided a priori even in Germanic metre. The M.E. normal 
short line which indirectly at least (through the medium of the 
French vers octosyllabe) traces back to the iambic dimeter, and 
is perhaps directly descended from it, is naturally defined as an 
iambic metre, in which, however, the anacrusis is sometimes 
replaced by a pause. 

302. In addition to the cases of level stress, 
which, from the point of view of Germanic metre, 
might appear legitimate, there occur — though in- 
frequently in Chaucer — others of greater importance, 
which can be accounted for by the persistent 
influence of the Romance system of metre (as, on 
the other hand, the absence of the anacrusis is due 
to the influence of originally Germanic metrical 
schemes). Only acatalectic verses are in question. 
For instance : He was war of me hdw I stSod 
Blaunche 515, Yift that ever he abSod his lyve ib. 
247, Of Decembre the tenthe day Fame ill, I ferde 
the werse dl the mSrwe Blaunche 99. Fugityf of 
Troye contree Fame 146. Was in the gldsing 
ywrought thiks Blaunche 327, Right even a quarter 
before day ib. 198 etc. 

Note. A verse like' Fame 20 : Forwhy this is more than 
that caiise is is less striking, in so far as the accentuation required 
logically this is mdre than thdt is in some respects of an 
exceptional character, and we have long since grown accustomed 
to the fact that an antithesis cannot always attain to rhythmical 


303. In Sire Thopas Chaucer handles the normal 
short line as in Blaunche or Fame. Although he 
permits himself a certain license in the treatment of 
the rimes after the fashion of the minstrels whose 
style he is parodying, yet his metre remains free 
from the crudeness that characterises the work of 
some of the members of that guild. Only two verses 
lack smoothness and rhythmical perspicuity. What 
eyleth this love at me S.T. 193/197S [B. 1975], 0/ 
roinaunces that been roidles 195/2038 [B. 2038]. 

304. Besides the normal short line there occurs in 
the stanza of Sire Thopas a shorter verse of three 
beats, and further, in some expanded stanzas, a verse 
of one beat (cf. \ 348). The verse of three beats is 
iambic and perfectly regular in structure : Ther any 
ram shaL stdnde S.T. 192/1931 [B. 1931J. Ye b6the 
biikke and hare 192/1946 [B. 1946]. For ndw I 
w6l you roune 195/2025 [B. 2025]. Of B eves and 
Sir Gy. 197/2089 [B. 2089]. And priked as he 
were w6od 1 9 3/ 1964 [B. 1964]. Level stress only 
occurs in legitimate cases : And sleepe under my 
gSre 193/1979 [B- 1979]- In the main body of the 
stanza the anacrusis is never wanting, though it may 
be absent when the verse occurs in the cauda 
(Abgesang) of an expanded stanza : Neyther wyf 
ne chylde 194/1996 [B. 1996]. Dwellinge in this 
place 194/2006 [B. 2006]. The short line of one 
beat occurs only with a feminine ending : in toune, 
so wylde, with mace, thy mdwe, in londe. 

Note. A few proverbs transmitted under Chaucer's name 
(Minor Poems, ed. Furnivall ni. 432) have no bearing upon the 
poet's metre. Other species of short lines occur only in pseudo- 
Chaucerian poems. 


305. Heroic verse occurs in older M.E. poetry 
only in such isolated instances (cf. Note) that to 
Chaucer would be due the credit of having introduced 
it into English literature, even if his treatment of it 
did not differ essentially from that of his predecessors 
(or predecessor?). Chaucer first made use of this 
metre in lyric poetry, not until a later period in the 
epic. The earliest poem in which he employed it, 
the Compleynte to Pitee, was probably composed 
before the Italian journey of 1 372-1 373 (I should 
like to date it 1370- 1372), and thus we can hardly 
escape the conclusion that in the first instance this 
verse was an imitation of the French vers d^ca- 
syllabe. Yet it was in Italy that he first became 
thoroughly alive to the significance of this metre. 
After that Italian journey heroic verse became his 
sole poetical instrument, destined in the future to be 
laid aside but twice so far as we know, and in each 
case for a definite reason, in the Hous of Fame" and 
in Sire Thopas. Of yet greater significance is the 
fact that Chaucer's heroic verse deviates in all those 
points from the French vers decasyllabe, in which 
the Italian endecasillabo deviates from the common 
model, and approximates as nearly to the verse of 
Dante and Boccaccio as Germanic metre can 
approach Romance. Incidentally we may also note 
that the heroic verse in the Compleynte to Pitee is far 
more closely allied to the French vers decasyllabe 
than, for instance, in Troilus or the Canterbury 
Tales. The free treatment of the caesura after 
Italian fashion is far less apparent in the older 
poems than in the later ones, and anyone who 
compares the Compleynte as transmitted in Harl. 


78 with the text of the remaining MSS., and pays 
greater attention to the point in question than I was 
able to do in my edition (Essays on Chaucer VI., 
p. 165 ff. Ch. Soc. Publ), will perhaps arrive at the 
conclusion that the extant final version of the poem 
is based upon an earlier one, in which French treat- 
ment of the metre was more distinctly evident, and 
of which MS. Shirley has preserved some traces. 

Note. Schipper (Metrik l. p. 436) to whom the credit 
belongs of having been the first to raise the question as to 
Enghsh heroic verse before Chaucer, mentions as the oldest 
poems in vvrhich it occurs the two songs contained in MS. Harl. 
2253 : Boddeker, W.L. xiv., G.L. xviii. (Wright, Specimens of 
L.P. No. 41 and 40, also Reliquas Antiquae I. 104) where, in his 
opinion, the fifth and sixth lines of every stanza and the 
concluding line of the refrain are in this metre. Since, as I 
pointed out, Engl. Lit. I. 310. Note, the religious song in 
question is an imitation of the secular one, this two-fold 
occurrence can only count as a single one. But I have been 
unable to convince myself that this is a genuine instance of 
a metre, which — whether in origin or in character — may be 
identified with Chaucer's heroic verse, though in isolated 
instances it seems to be an exact equivalent. On the other 
hand I should Hke to recognise an imitation of the decasyllabic 
line in a case where Schipper has overlooked it (cf. Metrik I. 
399). In the middle portion of the song, L'en peut fere et 
defere (Wright, Pol. Songs, p. 253 ff, Wulcker's Lesebuch I. 
74 ff.), the Cauda of each strophe ends with three verses which 
hardly admit of any other interpretation : For miht is rihtjtke 
ISnd is Idwelis etc., but in the corresponding verses of the 4th 
stanza the last arsis is regularly latent : For wille is re'djthe 
Idnd is ■wre'cfiil etc. 

306. Chaucer's heroic verse always contains 10 
syllables when it has a masculine ending, eleven 
(or twelve when the eleventh is slurred) when the 



ending is feminine. Here again ' syllable ' is used 
in the metrical sense of the term, to which the 
grammatical definition — at any rate in cases of 
slurring — approximates, but does not wholly corre- 
spond (§ 272, cf. § 300). Examples : 

Ful wel biloved and famulier was he S.T. 7/215 

[Prol. 215]. 
That naturelly wolde holde an oother way 139/298 

[B. 298]. 
This constable whan him lest no lenger seeche 

146/521 [B. 521]. 
Wyd was his parisshe and houses fer asonder 

14/491 [Prol. 491]. 

307. Three exceptions from the above rule are, 
I believe, admitted by some scholars : 

(l) Suppression of the anacrusis. Chaucer cer- 
tainly permits its suppression in the normal short 
line of four beats ; but the inherent difference 
between this verse and heroic metre ought not to be 
disregarded. That Chaucer himself was conscious 
of this difference is proved beyond a doubt in my 
opinion — which was Tyrwhitt's also — by Fame 1094- 
1098 [Globe Fame III. 5- 10] (cf. specially Thowgh 
som lyne fayle in a sillable). Personally, when in 
reading a Chaucerian poem in heroic metre I come 
upon a verse without anacrusis, I experience a jarring 
sensation for which I should be loth to make the 
poet responsible. And the less since a sensible 
recension of any fairly well transmitted poem will 
leave but few such cases, and of these some again 
may be removed by slight emendations. In this 
connection I may express my regret at not having 


supplied the anacrusis in Pitee i6. Deed as stoon 
etc. ought to read '■As deed as stoon', which would 
also be more conformable to the linguistic usage of 
the poet. Experience proves that especially at the 
beginning of a line, the more superfluous mono- 
syllables are easily omitted by the scribes. 

(2) Dissyllabic anacrusis occurs far less frequently 
than even suppression of the anacrusis, and should 
therefore be yet more emphatically repudiated, 
though for the same reasons. S.T. 8/260 [Prol. 260], 
for instance, I have no doubt that instead of With a 
threedbare cope : we should read : With threedbare 
cope. If 147/561 [B. 56 1 J In name of Cryst were 
not confirmed by the united authority of Ellesmere, 
Hengwrt, Camb. and Harl., a scrupulous editor 
would probably read with Corpus, Petworth, 
Lansdowne, In the name of Cryst. 200/2147 [B. 
2147] comprehended should be pronounced as a 
\.'i\syV^?i!c^e = comprended {\Ak.ew\se 485/223 [F. 223] 
comprehenden = comprenden) ; in Boece the syncopated 
form is also in use graphically. 

(3) A redundant syllable at the CESura after the 
model of the feminine caesura in the O.Fr. epos 
occurs without doubt in Lydgate and some later 
poets. But it is hardly compatible with a metrical 
system which does not fix the position of the caesura, 
and though we do occasionally come upon such 
passages in Shakespere, we are justified in demand- 
ing greater correctness of form from the epic than 
from the dramatic poet. This a priori reasoning 
is by no means refuted by facts. If we assume 
apocope, elision and slurring to the same extent at 
the caesura as in other positions in the verse (which 

THE C^SURA. 217 

we are perfectly justified in doing, as proved above 
all by the example of Italian verse), only an ex- 
tremely limited number of verses remain, in which 
the redundant syllable would have to be removed by 

Note. — Some readers of Schipper's Metrik would perhaps 
welcome in this connection an examination of the cases which 
Schipper i. 415 f. (under the heading 'feminine caesura after the 
second beat, so-called epic csesura') quotes in support of the 
redundant syllable at the caesura. I pass over the cases in 
which the syllable can be gained only at the cost of a hiatus, 
since Schipper himself considers them doubtful, and my readers, 
I hope, do not. But here belongs also Prol. 184 studie^and, 
since the preceding semi-vowel certainly protects the final -e 
from apocope (cf. §§ 261 and 284), but by no means from elision 
(§ 269). Prol. 18 were is, of course, monosyllabic. It would be 
necessary to write weren to secure a redundant syllable in 
holpen. Prol. 266 hadde should be changed to had, as frequently 
elsewhere; Prol. 193 e in Jiurfi/ed is , shirred. Prol. 132 the 
e in curteisye, as often in similar words, is non-syllabic ; 550 
dore is, as usual, monosyllabic ; 740 the best MSB. do not read 
woote but woot (§ 198) ; 22 the y of Caunterbury is a semi- 
vowel just as in 16, where it does not occur in the caesura. 
152 there is no reason against reading Hire nose treiys, or even, 
which considering the state of the MSS. might be preferable Hire 
nose was streyght. Monk. T. 3385 and 3409 slurring takes 
place in the caesura : fader'~'and, heveri^haih (or, in the latter 
case, elision : hevene'^hath, the elision being in this instance not 
metrically but linguistically necessary). If we read Prol. 198 
with Harl. and shoon instead of that skoon, slurring must also 
be assumed in balled, cf , however, § 259. Prol. 148 But sore 
wepte she, if oon of hem. were deed looks, judging by the MSS., 
like an Alexandrine. But if we write wept she, or change (for 
which no adequate reason) with Zupitza to weep she, there would 
be no objection to blending she with if in one syllable (§ 269). 
But I suspect that she ought simply to be deleted. A verse But 
sore wepte, if oon of Item were deed -would be metrically superior 


to the one transmitted, and would not be less compatible with 
the linguistic usage of the poet. These remarks obviously 
dispose of the cases enumerated by Schipper p. 455 ; only, with 
regard to Monk. T. 3413, I should like to add that sone, even if 
not followed by a vowel, could not metrically count as a dis- 

308. The rhythmical character of the verse is 
essentially determined by the caesura, which in 
Chaucer — as in the Italian poets — is moveable. Four 
species of caesura are of primary importance, two 
masculine (i and 3) and two feminine ones (2 and 4). 

(i) after the fourth accented syllable : 
And whan that T \by lengthe of certeyn yeres 
Hadde ever^in oon || a tyine sought to speke, Pitee 8 f. 
T fond Mr deed | and buried in an herte Pitee 1 4. 

(2) after the fifth, when the fourth is accented : 
Of his miracles || and his cruel yre Parlement 1 1. 
The day gan faylen || and the derke night 

That reveth bestes ^from here besynesse Parlement 
85 f 

(3) after the sixth accented syllable : 

This sorwful prisoneer || this Palamoun S.T. 

32/1070 [A. 1070]. 
As thowgh he stongen were || unto the herte 

32/1079 [A. 1079]. 
This Palamoun answer de 11 and seyde agayn 

32/1092 [A. 1092]. 

(4) after the seventh syllable when the sixth is 
accented : 

The fayrnesse of that lady || that I see 32/1098 
[A. 1098]. 



The holy blisful ntartir || for to seeke 1/17 

[Prol. 17]. 
The chambres and the stables || weren wyde 2/28 

[Prol. 28]. 
Of these four species of metrical section the first is 
by far the most frequent, and the second occurs more 
frequently than the third or fourth. The two last 
are distinctly less, represented in poems of the earlier 
periods than, for instance, in the Canterbury Tales. 

309. The beat which immediately precedes or 
follows the caesura need not coincide with a primary 
stress, in short, need not be the strongest accent in 
the section of the verse concluded by the caesura : 

Of Engelbnd || to Caunterbury they wende 1/16 

[Prol. 16]. 
Inspired hath || in every holt and heeth i /6 [Prol. 6]. 
As wel in Cristendbm || as heethenesse 2/49 

[Prol. 49]- 
B^tfor to tellen you || of his array ijyi [Prol. 73]. 
That toward Caunterbicry || wolden ryde 1/27 

[Prol. 27]. 
In the feminine caesura the arsis may consist of 
an enclitic monosyllable : 

Or if men smdot it || with a yerde smerte 5/149 

[Prol. 149]- 
Ful worthy was he || in his lordes werre 2/47 

[Prol. 47J. 

310. The caesural pause does not necessarily 
coincide with the most emphatic pause in the 
sentence. In accentual metre the logical structure 
of the verse certainly provides a basis for the division 
of the line, but the harmonious balance between the 


two sections of the verse is always carefully con- 
sidered, and the historical tradition to which Chaucer 
is linked, and in accordance with which the break is 
placed as near the middle of the verse as possible, helps 
to maintain it. Thus in the first verse of Troilus : 

The double sorwe || of Troilus to tellen, 
we must certainly place the caesura after the fourth 
syllable, although the clause into which it cuts only 
ends with the word Troilus. But if the caesural 
pause which metrically would be most appropriate 
falls after the sixth or seventh syllable when the 
sixth is accented, whilst an equally strong, or even 
stronger, logical pause occurs after the second or 
third syllable of the verse, it will be legitimate to 
assume two caesuras : 

With grys || and that the fyneste || of a lond Sjig^ 

[Prol. 194]. 
Of court II and been estaatlich || of maneere S/140 

[Prol. 140]. 
And palmers || for to seeken || straunge strondes 

1/13 [Prol. 13]. 
Somtyme || with the lord || of Palatye 3/65 

[Prol. 65]. 
A loviere || and a lusty || bacheleer 3/ 1 80 [Prol. 180]. 

Note. If the logical pause follows the metrical caesura we 
need not assume a double caesura, for instance : 

Andsofte unto himself^ he seyde : Fy 51/1773 [A. 1773]. 

Is in this large worlde\^ysprad, quod she, iZil\i,i,i, [B. 1644]. 
In refutation of Schipper's diverging interpretation of these 
verses (Metrik I. 457) I should like to point out that even the 
marks of division in the MSS. confirm my opinion in both cases, 
whilst where the metrical and logical cjesura are at variance, 
they are generally placed with regard to the latter. 

THE C^SURA. 221 

311. Two csesural pauses are the rule in a verse 
when none of the principal kinds of caesura discussed 
in § 308 occurs. In this case the caesural stresses 
generally rest upon the second and eighth syllables : 

That I II was of here felawshipe || anoon 2/32 

[Prol. 32]. 
Andheeld || after the newe world || the space 6I176 

[Prol. 176]. 
Of grece || when she dronken hadde || hire 

draughte 4/135 [Prol. 135]. 
And I seyde || his opinioun \ was good 6/183 

[Prol. 183]. 

Note. This double cassura also occurs in the Italian endeca- 
sillabo (which, as a matter of fact, is generally divided in 
accordance with one of the methods discussed §308), cf Rispdse, 
poiche lagrimdr Ttii vide. Inf. I. 92 ; O musa tu che di caduchi 
allori Gems. Lib. I. 2, i. 

312. The metrical c^sura — as is evident from 
some of the examples quoted — may even separate 
closely connected words. But in all such cases it is 
obligatory that the caesura should fall upon some word 
bearing a fairly strong accent (which is not otherwise 
necessary § 309). If two substantives standing in 
genitival relationship to each other, or if an adjective 
and the noun it qualifies are to be separated, a yet 
further condition must be fulfilled : namely, that the 
word before which the caesura occurs should bear more 
than one stress, as in the examples quoted above : 

The double sorwe || of Troiliis to tellen, 
A loviere || and a lusty || bdcheleer. 
If in the first instance we imagine the name Ector 
instead of Troilus, we should certainly divide : 
The double sorwe of Ector \\for to tellen. 


Enclitic or proclitic words cannot be separated by 
the caesura from the more strongly accented words to 
which they belong. 

313. Extremely rare are the cases in which the 
verse has a single caesura, the stress of which rests 
upon the second syllable. One would at first sight 
be inclined to divide S/T 8/274 [Prol- 274] as 
follows : 

His resons || he spak ful solempnely, 
and Hengwrt divides thus, but EUesmere on the 
other hand : 

His resons he spak || ful solempnely. 
But a deviation from the logical structure does not 
seem admissible in a case like the following : 

By forward^ and by composicioun 28/848 [Prol. 

In case of a double caesura it occasionally 
happens that the caesural stresses rest upon the first 
and eighth — instead of the second and eighth 
syllables : 

Purs II is the ercedeknes helle || quod he 19/658 
[Prol. 658]. 

Ginglen || in a whistling wynd \\ als cleere 5/1 70 
[Prol. 170]. 

Note. Schipper p. 458 quotes 24/848 [Prol. 848] amongst the 
examples of 'obscured caesura,' assuming the caesura to fall after 
the word and. But after his arguments on p. 456 f. Schipper 
was certainly not justified in deviating in this verse from the 
natural structure of the sentence. The other examples which he 
quotes in support of ' obscured caesura ' are, with one exception, 
instances of double caesura with the caesural stresses upon the 
second and sixth, or upon the second and eighth syllables. 

THE C^SURA. 223 

The one exception, Prol. 507 (15/507)13 a regular caseof Cffisura 
after the fourth syllable, and there is no trace of ' obscuration ' 
—not even if we read He sette not, or He sette nat, since the 
cassural stress need not be the strongest accent in the section of 
the verse concluded by the csesura (§ 309). But in point of 
fact we ought, in conformity with Chaucer's custom in such 
cases, to read with Hengwrt, Corpus, Petworth, Lansdowne, 
nought {noght) instead of nat {not). 

314. Though probable, it is not absolutely certain 
that Chaucer further permitted himself that species 
of caesura which sometimes occurs in Provengal and 
O.Fr. lyrics, namely, a pause after the fourth syllable 
when the third is accented. Some of the verses 
which have been transmitted to us in this form 
permit of a different interpretation, a few others — 
when correctly read and scanned — seem to be 
incomplete and without anacrusis. 405/63 [E. 63] 
we should probably be justified in accenting And 
Sdluces instead of And SaMces (| 294), in the same 
way. Mars. 5 or Troil. I. 22 might be But yi lovers 
(§ 259 y). Defective is for instance 9/294 [Prol. 
294], Twenty bookes || clad in bldk or r^ed; the 
reading of Cambridge (l-clad) is wholly unsupported, 
and clothed in Harl. would completely efface the 
iambic character of the line. An emendation seems 
necessary. Tyrwhitt's conjecture A twenty bookes is 
probably correct (cf. Child in Ellis. E.E.P. p. 372, 
§ 100, N.d.). But undoubted cases appear to be 
amongst others : that no drope || ne fille upon hire brest 
4/1 3 1 [Prol. 131]. Three persones 5 39/341 [G. 
341], Kdlendeeres A.B.C. 73. 

This caesura seems to occur sporadically in the 
Ital. endecasillabo also, at least amongst the older 
poets, cf Inf. VI. 14 Con tre g6le || caninamente 


latra; Blanc, Gram. p. 701, indeed treats the verse 

315. Chaucer's heroic verse is far more decidedly- 
iambic in character than the Italian, indeed so much 
so that deviations from the iambic scheme (with the 
exception of the case considered last, if it be proved 
genuine) may fairly be treated as instances of " level 
stress.'' It seems superfluous to quote examples 
in support of this rule. But the exceptions, i.e. the 
cases in which the rhythm is veiled deserve con- 

316. Level stress occurs primarily at the begin- 
ning of a line: Sheweth untd Pitee 59, Under colour 
ib. 66, Prey en for speed Troil. I. 17, Dwelleth with 
iis ib. I. 119, After hire cours ib. I. 140, After the 
dSeth Leg. 580, Regned his queene, ib. 582, Useden 
thd Leg. 787, After the scale S.T. 4/125 [Prol. 125], 
Maken mortreux 1 1/384 [Prol. 384], (read the second 
part of the verse : and eek wel bake a pye), Lyned 
with tdffata 13/440 [Prol. 440] etc; likewise Eek on 
that dother syde Pitee 102, Thus for your deeth ib. 
118, Gan for to syke Troil. I. 192. Right for despyt 
ib. I. 207, Bothe of thasseege ib. I. 464, Shoop him 
an hdost Leg. 625, Glorie and honour Leg. 924, 
Trouthe and hondurS.T. 2/46 [Prol. 46], Short was 
his gSune 2,l9Z [Prol. 93] etc. It occurs with the 
next greatest degree of frequency after the caesura, 
the position of which is indifferent, provided it is 
masculine and does not take place after the eighth 
syllable. A few examples will suffice : To tellen 
you II al the condicioun 2/38 [Prol. 38], And for to 
festne his hood \\ under his chin 6/195 [Prol. 195], 
And heeld || after the newe world [j the space 6/iy6 



[Prol. 176] etc. Comparatively rare are the verses 
in which Chaucer yields more to Romance influence 
than seems permissible from the standpoint of 
Germanic metre, by extending level stress to 
syllables which occur neither at the beginning of the 
verse nor immediately after the caesura. If, namely, 
the second section of the verse consists of 6 syllables 
it occasionally reveals a structure which — if the 
rhythmical scheme were framed in accordance 
with the word- and sentence-stress — might be defined 
as a combination of two anapaests (instead of three 
iambics). Examples : 

Keepeth ay wel || thise corounes, quod he 535/226 

[G. 226]. 
Sin that thou wolt || thyne y doles despyse 5 37/298 

[G. 298]. 
O grete God\ that parfournest the laude 1 87/ 1797 

[B. 1 797 J. 
For reverence |{ of his mooder Marye 189/1880 

[B. 1880]. 
Governed is |j by Fortunes errour Fortune 4. 
Ful wel she song || the servyse divyne 4/122 

[Prol. 122]. 
Shalyive it you || as ye han it deserved 541/390 

[G. 390]. 
Everich a word || if it bee in his charge 2.\lTH 
[Prol. 733]. 

In this connection we may discuss a few doubtful 
cases : 528/29 [G. 29] we must read instead of 
And thou thatflSur || Sfvirgynes art dlle 
with Arch. Seld. B. 14 : 

And thou that fldur art || 6f virgynes dlle. 


A.B.C. 73 Kdlendeeres || enlumyned been they ^av^A 
be accented enliimined (§ 257 and 282), since the 
cffisura of this verse is of such a character as hardly 
to permit of level stress in the second section of 
the verse. 

The vers That everich of you || shalgoon where him 
leste 53/1848 [A. 1848] is objectionable in more 
than one respect. Anyone who considers the 
context of the passage will admit that direct speech 
might very well take the place of indirect speech, 
and would therefore agree to the following change : 

Everich of you || shal goon where as him leste. 

Impossible is And that oother knight highte 
Palamoon 30/1014 [A. 1014], ^ verse which we 
should least of all expect in Chaucer's child of 
sorrows, the Knightes Tale. But it is difficult to 
decide what Chaucer actually may have written, 
perhaps : And that oother ]| ivas cleped Palamoon, or 
yet more probably : That oother knight || was cleped 
Palamoon. That highte was copied by the scribe 
from the previous line {Of whiche two Arcyta hight 
that oon), whereas most probably Chaucer varied the 
expression (as in Leg. 724 f.), seems likely. 

Chaucer does not seem to treat the six-syllabled 
section before the caesura with equal license. For 
this reason I should now no longer read 12/392 
[Prol. 392] — as I did in my edition of the Prologue : 
In a goune of /aiding || {un') to the knee, but per- 
haps : {Clad) in a goune of f aiding || to the knee. 

317. Enjambeinent (Run-on Lines). The separ- 
ation of even closely connected elements of a 
sentence by the conclusion of the metrical line is an 


indispensable device for the animation of poetical 
speech and the avoidance of monotony. 

The application of this device lies under a two- 
fold restriction, but of so slightly defined a character 
as to be observed only by the delicate tact of a con- 
summate artist. In the first place too frequent a 
use of enjambement is checked by an instinct that 
prompts the avoidance of a restless and disjointed 
style. In the second place the intensity of enjambe- 
ment is kept within bounds by the consciousness 
that it must remain possible for the hearer to grasp 
the verse as a metrical unit, and the sentence as a 
connected whole. No epic poet has availed himself 
of enjambement with greater felicity than Chaucer, 
none has by the most varied and yet measured use 
of this device, with which the mobility of the caesura 
is closely allied, been more successful in producing a 
combination of movement and repose, variety and 
uniformity. This applies more particularly to his 
treatment of heroic verse, and above all to the best 
passages of the Canterbury Tales. In the short 
rimed couplet the poet occasionally displays somewhat 
excessive boldness in the linking of lines and even 
couplets by chains of words. But we pardon his 
temerity the more readily as this metre is especially 
liable to degenerate into a monotonous jingle, and as 
it is by means of enjambement that Chaucer has 
succeeded in so far surpassing the rhythmical art of 
his predecessors in this metre. 

The following observations will be devoted solely 
to the consideration of the limits in intensity imposed 
upon enjambement. 

318. The separation of what is naturally connected 


is felt the more intensely, the less material weight 
belongs to either of the two clauses thus separated. 
But the poet may effectively counterbalance the lack 
of material weight by the force of logical weight, as 
Chaucer, for instance, does in the following case of 
the word Fy: 

And softe unto himself he seyde : Fy 

Upon a lord that wol han no mercy S^/^773 f- 
[A. 1773]- 

The same passage affords us an opportunity for 
yet further comment : if the first clause lacks material 
weight, the second is so much the heavier, since it 
extends as far as the metrical caesura, or even — as 
the relative clause is an indispensable complement to 
the word lord — fills up the whole of the second verse. 
But the enjambement is thereby lessened, of which 
we may easily convince ourselves in the following 
manner. If we imagine the second verse changed 
to : Upon this lord, he wol han no mercy, and next 
to : Upon him, for he wol han no m,ercy, we see that 
the strength of the enjambement increases pro- 

Now, as a rule, the enjambement in Chaucer is 
somewhat modified by the addition of greater weight 
either to both elements, or at least to one of the two. 

The following means are used amongst others to 
increase weight : in the case of a substantive or 
substantival pronoun besides a relative clause — 
especially a noun in apposition : 

And though that I, unworthy sone of Eve, 

Be sinful, yit accepteth my bileeve 529/62 f. [G.62], 

or some addition of appositional force : 


That hath destroyedivel ny al the blood 
Of Thebes, with his waste walles wyde 

39/ 1 3 30 f. [A. 1330], 
or, in the case of the verb, every sort of adverbial 
definition or adverbial complement denoting direction 
towards a place : 

But mercy, lady bright, that know est weel 
My thought and seest what hdrmes that I feel. 

64/2231 f [A. 2231]. 

Sey thus on my behalf (MS. on my halfe) that he 

Go faste into the grete see. Blaunche 139 f 

In the following examples weight is added both to 

the verb and to the noun : 

Alias to bidde a woman goon by nighte 

In place there as peril fallen mighte. Leg. 838 f. 

I saugh his sleeves purfy led at the hond 

With grys, and that the fyneste of a lond. 

6/193 f- [Prol. 193]. 
The adverb is occasionally strengthened by a con- 
secutive clause : 

He ^ Alma redemptoris' gan to singe 
So loude that al the place gan to ringe. 

187/1802 f [B. 1802]. 
Inversion is a very important means of modifying 
enjambement, in so -far as it separates the elements 
to be ultimately divided by the conclusion of the 
verse by the previous insertion of other elements : 
That in hire cuppe nas no ferthing scene 
Of grece, whan she dronken hadde Mr draughte. 

4/134 f [Prol. 134J. 
Divyded is thy regne, and it shal be 
To Medes and to Y&csos, yiven, quod he. 

263/3424 f [B. 3424]. 


O lord, our lord I thy name how merveyllous 
Is in this large v^oxXdi ysprad, quod she, 

182/1643 f. [B. 1643]. 
In the last example ^ is ysprad' is a more compact 
unit than thy name, for which reason the words ' in 
this large worlde ' add to the weight of the second 
clause as a whole. 

319. The significance of inversion for the modifica- 
tion of enjambement brings us to the most important 
point in the discussion of the question thus raised. 
Each of the two elements to be separated by the 
conclusion of the verse must bear a distinct stress. 
Proclitic or enclitic words must therefore not be 
separated from the words to which they belong. If 
in the example quoted above, Blaunche 139 f., the 
first element (he) is somewhat too weakly stressed, 
this is to some extent atoned for by the fact that the 
dominating accent of the expanded second element 
rests upon the conclusion of the following line : 
Go faste into the grete see. 

It is above all important that the accent of the 
first element should not be obscured by the following 
one : they must therefore not succeed each other too 
closely. Hence Chaucer generally observes the rule 
that when the first clause occurs at the end of a verse, 
the predominant stress of the second should not fall 
before the second syllable of the following line. 
Moreover, cases like the following, in which the 
second element is an independent word in that posi- 
tion, are extremely rare in his heroic verse : 

But wherfore that I speke al this : nat yore 
Agoon, it happed m.e for to biholde Pari. 17 f. 


The stress of the second element may only fall 
upon the first syllable of the verse if it is decidedly 
weaker than the stress of the first element. Since 
the second may not be an actually enclitic word, 
this case again necessitates an inversion of rather 
unusual character, namely, inversion of the elements 
to be separated. The following interesting and rare 
example was procured by emendation. Leg. 858 f. 
reads, as transmitted : 

And out she coinetk and after him gan espy en 
Bothe with hire herte and with hir yen. 

I hope I shall not meet with opposition if I assume 
that Chaucer must have written : 

And out she cometh, and after him. espy en 
Gan bothe with hire herte and with hire yen. 

320. As I remarked above, Chaucer sometimes 
proceeds with greater boldness in the normal short 
line than in heroic verse. The Deeth of Blaunche is 
especially distinguished by the frequency of enjambe- 
ment, as well as by the energy, not to say harshness, 
of several of these metrical separations or linguistic 
combinations. The following examples are all taken 
from the 290 verses of the Prologue to that poem, 
from which one example has already been quoted, 
§ 318, and if we wished to include slight instances 
several more might be mentioned. The cases which 
most seriously oiifend against the rule given above 
will be mentioned last. I venture to quote from the 
text as emended by myself, but in any instance of 
considerable deviation from the MSS. I add the 


And wel ye woot, ayeynes Kynde 

Hit were to liven in this wyse. 16 f. 

Nat longe tyme to endure 

Withouten sleepe, and been in sorwe. 20 f. 

But men might axe me why soo 

I m.ay not sleepe, and what m.e is. 30 f. 

My selven can not tellen why 

The sooth ; but trewly, as I gesse, 34 f- 

To tellen shortly, whan that he 

Was in the see, thus in this wyse, 68 f. 

Sende me grace to sleepe and meete 

In my sleep som certeyne swevene, 1 18 f. 

For as she preyd, right so was doon 

In deed ; for Juno right anoon ... 1 3 i f- 

This messageer took leeve and wente 

Upon his wey, and neur ne stente ... i S3 f- 

This god of sleep, with his oon ye 

Cast up, axed^: Who clepeth theer? 184 f. 

Anoon this god of sleep abrayd 

Out of his sleep, and gan to goon . . . 192 f. 

And called hire, right as she heet, 

By name,and sayd : My sweetewyj . . . 200 f. 

But, sweete^ herte,for 3 that ye 

Burie my body, swich^ a tyde 

Ye inowe it fynde the see bisyde. 206 ff. 

Swich a lest anc^^n me took 

To sleepe that right upon my book . . . 273 f. 

^ and axed {asked). '■good sweie. ^for omitted. *for such(e). 

RIME. 233 

And I ne may ne night ne morwe 

Sleepe, and thus ^ melancolye 

And dreed I have for to dye. 22 ff. 

Hath wonder that the king ne cooin 

Hooin,for it was a longe ter^ne. 78 f. 

I ferde the werse al the morwe 

After, to thenken on hire sorwe. 99 f. 

And yive me grace my lord to see 

So one, or wite wher so he bee. 1 1 1 f. 

/ will yive him the alderbeste 

Yift that ever he abood his lyve. 246 f. 

With regard to the last example, note that the relative 
sentence refers, not to the second of the two elements 
separated by the conclusion of the verse, but to both 
considered conjointly, hence scarcely contributes at 
all to the modification of the enjambement. 


321. Only end-rime is of fundamental importance 
for Chaucer's versiiication ; alliteration occurs fairly 
often, sometimes by accident, sometimes as a deliberate 
artifice, but always merely in the function of an 
accompanying ornament, never as an essential element 
of the poetical form. We shall therefore, in the 
first instance, discuss only end-rime, which we desig- 
nate simply as rime. A brief consideration of alli- 
teration will then follow. 

322. We distinguish according to gender between 
masculine and feminine rime. I nstances of masculine 

1 this (tkys, pis). 


rime are — breeth : heeth, day : lay, licour : flour, 
auditours : sours ; of feminine — sonne -.yronne, melodye: 
ye, cordge : pilgrimage. Amongst the feminine rimes 
we must also include the so-called gliding rime, as in 
hevene : stevene, nevene : sevene, since these words 
metrically considered never have more than two 
syllables, or as in berie : merie, tragedie : comedie, 
since the i in such words is always a semi-vowel in 
metre. Hence cases like swevenis : swevene is, beriis 
(for beries) : mery is, may, on account of the first 
element in each of these combinations, be treated as 
feminine rimes. 

323. The most important element in rime is the 
tonic syllable of the rime-word. It coincides with 
the last stressed syllable of the verse, which need 
not be a primary stress ; secondary stress suffices, for 
instance, inilodye : ye, cordge : pilgrimdge, aAditburs : 
sours, seemeljf •.fetisly, Mstieste -.fayreste etc. 

324. A rime is adequate if the vowel of the 
tonic syllable of the rime-word and all the phonetic 
elements following are identical with the corresponding 
elements of the word to which it is linked. Our 
immediate task is to investigate in what measure 
Chaucer's rimes fulfil this condition. 

325. We shall in the first instance consider the 
tonic vowel of the rime-syllable with regard to 
quantity and quality. As regards quantity Chaucer's 
method may briefly be stated as follows : he rimes 
long vowels with long ones (also diphthongs with 
diphthongs), short vowels with short ones, variable 
vowels either with variable ones or with either of the 
other two groups. Only the latter part of this state- 



ment seems to require further discussion. However, 
as a full and detailed enquiry into the quantity of 
Chaucer's vowels was made in ch. i., a few examples 
will suffice to recall what was said there. A word 
like best (bestia) is linked, on the one hand, with 
§ist, on the other, with words like best (optime), 
brest ; was rimes with caas, wel with d^§l, upgn with 
gQQn 547/563 [G. 563] etc. A vowel which 
changes its quality together with its quantity, is not 
to be considered variable : thus beside breest with 
e we find brest with ^, whilst beside the form wel 
with a variable vowel there occurs one with a decided 
vowel- length : wel, wgfl and weel. Without change 
of quality a short vowel may, in some instances, be 
lengthened by shortening the following consonant. 
This occurs especially in Romance words in the case 
of r, and, to a yet greater extent, of toneless s : 
werre were, passe pace (the latter the ordinary form), 
Boesse Boece, Lucresse Lucrece etc. 

Of Germanic words the following come into question 
— hadde {hade : blade 1 8/6 1 7 [Prol. 6 1 7], spade : hade 
16/553 [Prol. 553]). In goddes PI. oi god {goddis : 
forbade is 472/2295 [E. 2295]), goddesse {goddis : 
forbade is Scogan 15) the MS. spelling seems rather to 
indicate treatment of the vowel as variable. The 
treatment seems doubtful in the rimes shape : hape 
{shappe : happe,shap : hap) 566/1208 [G. 1208], and 
unhape : shape (unhappe : shappe, unhap : shap) Scogan 
29, where either hape stands for happe, or in happe 
and shape the vowel is pronounced with variable 
quantity, or, finally, in shape the final -e has become 
apocopated and the preceding vowel been shortened 
in consequence, so that the word can rime with hap. 



For the sake of rime long Romance u can be 
shortened under secondary stress in the ending -ous, 
so that links like amorus : Aurelius, curius -.Julius, 
lecherus : Apius, desirus : Theseus become possible. 
Conversely the u of the Latin termination us is 
sometimes lengthened for the sake of rime on long 
English « — hous : Kaukasous 367/1 1 39 [D. 1139]. 

It is worthy of note that variable i and u in an 
open syllable are so rarely linked in Chaucer with 
the corresponding long vowels (there are no cor- 
responding short ones). But Leg. 370 writen (PI. 
Pret.) rimes with endyten S.T. 268/3580 [B. 3580], 
brike : Anioryke. On a more complicated case 
(Troil. II. 933) cf. § 326. But if Fame 649 [Globe, 
Fame II. 141] we get neyghebores : dores (this is the 
correct spelling), we must remember that in 
the first word originally long u under secondary 
stress — though it maintains its quantity in a rime 
like neyghebour : honour 507/961 [F. 961] — is, on 
the whole, to be considered a variable vowel in 
Chaucer, as a frequently recurring for ou, even 
in good MSS., seems to prove. 

326. The quality of the tonic syllable in a rime- 
word is also as a rule carefully respected by 
Chaucer. In cases where the same word is used in 
different rimes, it has more than one phonetic form 
in the language of the poet, as, for instance, fel, fil 
' he fell,' kisse kesse ; heet h§§t, d§§d deed, Crete Creete ; 
dradde dredde ; sg soo, twg twoo ; proporcign pro- 
porcioun, Palamggn Palamoun etc. 

But the poet seems to have allowed himself a 
certain degree of licence: Troil. II. 933, he rimes 
riden : abiden : yeden ( = ieden ? not, as generally, 


yeeden ?) ; he links open and closed e in hemes : 
dremes 286/4120, l§^ : leef 53/1838, swere : heere 
Troil. III. 384 ; on open and closed 0, cf. §§ 3 1 and 72. 
Romance u and u were discussed § 75 ; it may be 
added that Lat. u appears exceptionally to have the 
sound of u in coitu 458/181 1 [E. 1811J : eschu 
(O.Fr. eschiu, esktu, ' shy '). 

327. The unaccented vowel of the feminine rime 
is as a rule weak e. It has been noted above that 
Chaucer does not generally apocopate this final e 
when preceded by a vowel or simple consonant, nor 
does he ignore it in rime, even though within the 
metre it is never syllabic (as in sone and in the PI. 
some), or at least very rarely so (as in the Romance 
substantives in -jye). The rigid distinction of rimes 
in j/e and ^, -ce and -s (which are only confounded 
once or twice in Sire Thopas, cf. § 223 ^ and y) 
provides therefore a very essential criterion for the 
differentiation of genuine works of the poet from such 
as are falsely attributed to him. 

On the other hand, Chaucer's language admits in 
this respect also certain doublets like heer heere (hie), 
th§(r there (ibi), (§k and eeke, vicary (for vicdrie) and 
vicdyre, Senec and Senekke etc. 

Further, a few remarkable instances of apocope in 
rime occur — sp§§k for speke 3rd. Sing. Pres. Conj. : §§k 
586/324 [H. 324], cf. Anglia I. 535 ; feel iox feele 
1st. Sing. Pres. Ind. 64/2232 [A. 2232] : weel (this 
spelling is absolutely necessary, cf Harl. and Cambr. 
wel : fel). 

Here belongs probably also 298/4577 [B. 4577] 
§fk : br(§k, where br^^k should probably be parsed as 
3rd. Sing. Pret. Conj. (in which case, of course, eeke : 


breeke would be conceivable, but in the best MSS. 
apocope has taken place). Cf. further allou (for 
alloue, spelt allowe) the, §328. 

328. In a feminine rime Chaucer not infrequently 
links two words with one. In this case, he on the 
one hand takes the liberty of treating a sonorous 
vowel like weak e, as in the well-known rimes — 
Rome : to me, youthe : allow the \ on the other hand, 
of transforming weak e before a consonant into i 
(which, of course, in more than one M.E. dialect 
frequently takes its place), especially in the termina- 
tion -es : werkis : derk is ^zgjGS [G. 66], werkis: 
clerk is : derk is 145/481 [B. 481], clerkis : clerk is 
294/4426 [B. 4426] ; 448/1428 [E. 1428], «o«/j : 
noon is 15/523 [Prol. 523], agoon is : onis ^^^19 
[D. 9] etc. In these cases elision more frequently 
takes place in the rime which consists of two words — 
sonis : wane is Fame 75, causis : cause is ib. 19, 
placis is 386/1767 [D. 1767], sydis : gyde is 
528/45 [G. 45], goddis : forbode is 472/2295 
[E. 2295], swevenis : swevene is 285/41 1 1 [B. 41 1 1] 
etc., or synklisis as in beriis : mery is 287/4156 
[B. 4156^ Beside -is for -es (which also occurs in 
rimes on single words talis : Alis = Alys 343/319 
[T>. 3 1 9]), -id for -ed occurs, as in confoundid : y- 
woundid : wounde hid 132/103 [B. 103]], and -ith 
for -eth as in savith : significavit 19/661 [Prol. 661]. 

Even a sonorous e is occasionally transformed to 
/ in the weak rime-syllable : open e in goddis (for 
goddesse) : forbode is Scogan 15, closed e in dytis for 
dytees Fame 662 [Globe, Fame I'l. 114] : lyte is. 
The fairly corrupt passage Fame 620 ff [ll. 112] 
should doubtless be emended thus : 


And natheless hast set thy wit, 

A I thowgh that in thyn heed full lyte is^ 

To maken bookes, songes, dytis etc.^ 

329. Of the consonants necessary to form an 
adequate rime we must, in the first instance, consider 
the final ones in masculine rime, and the medial 
ones in feminine rime. As a rule there is complete 
coincidence between the links in any given rime- 
combination. Very rarely small deviations occur : 
advocatz : alias 312/293 [C. 292], (Petworth : ad- 
vocas, Sloane : advocase, whilst Harl. Corp. and 
Lansdowne have a totally different reading ; the 
same rime occurs in O.Fr. poets) ; terme : yerne 
Blaunche 79 is not to the point, since erme (§48, 
IV. 7) would suit the context better than yerne; 
somewhat unusual remains Troil. II. 884 syke : 
endyte : whyte. In rimes like reherce : werse, or 
reherce : diverse it is only a question of different 
symbols for the same sound, h is treated as mute 
in wounde hid 13 2/ 1 06 [B. 106] {: confoundid : 

Chaucer is also extremely accurate with regard to 
final consonants in a feminine rime. But S.T. 
19/661 [Prol. 661] he rimes savith : significavit ; 
391/1933 \J^- 1933] Davit (for David) : eructavit ; 
Blaunche 7 3 he uses the Northern form telles (instead 
of telleth) riming with elles, 

330. Frequently, though not so often as in O.Fr. 
poetry, the initial consonant of the tonic rime-syllable 
is affected by the assonance, cf. pardoun : adoun, 

' MSS. : /u/ lytel is. 

^ Fairfax, Bodley : To make songes dytees (diteys) bookys. 

Caxton, Thynne : To make bookes, songes or (and) ditees. 


accorde V. : corde N. Nor does Chaucer, in such 
cases, disdain those cheap combinations in which 
two words with the same derivative suffix, or 
two compounds in which the second element is 
identical, rime with each other. Here belong 
words in -nesse, as, for instance, goodnesse : sooth- 
fastnesse, gladnesse : lyknesse, shamefastnesse : besy- 
nesse ; in -ly, for instance, softely : openly, sodeynly : 
deliverly ; in -ment, like eggement : torment ; in -tee, 
like tretee : magestee, deyntee : Trinitee ; further 
cases like natnore : everemore, like presence : absence, 
like recorde : accorde, commende : amende etc. 
(Amongst merely adequate rimes cases like the 
following may be compared — reverence : diligence, 
richesse : gentillesse, and in a further sense, such as 
is : nis, was : nas, wolde : nolde.) Another, less 
numerous group of such rimes is formed by cases in 
which a noun in the PI. is linked to a noun in the 
Sg. followed by the Verb. Subst. : clerkis : clerk is, 
place is : place is, causis : cause is etc. 

The most artistic of the rimes with the same 
initial consonant are without doubt those in which 
each element is an independent word, identical in 
form, but differing in meaning, as see ' to see ' : see 
' the sea,' seeke ' seek ' : seeke ' sick,' Aeere ' hear ' : 
keere ' here,' style ' post ' : style ' style, diction,' /em 
' fern, plant ' : fern ' previous, before ' etc. The 
number of such combinations is necessarily limited. 

331. Sometimes the rime extends beyond the 
tonic syllable and includes the vowel of the preceding 
syllable — amendement : esement, trewely : hertely, 
pitee : citee, humilitee : adversitee, alenge : chalenge ; 
without an intervening consonant, for instance, in 


scorpioun : confusioun ; sometimes even the initial 
consonant of the preceding syllable, as execucioun : 
fornicacioun, subjeccioun : presumpcioun ; finally, also 
the vowel of the next syllable but one preceding — 
confusioun : condusioun, affecciouns : protecciouns, 
dommacioun : habitacioun, constellacioun : operacioun, 
significaciouns : tribulaciouns. The majority of such 
combinations are of the commonplace type. 

332. Intermittent rime which is akin on the one 
hand to assonance, on the other to alliteration, 
occurs, for instance in cases like abregge : alegge, un- 
kyndely : unwitingly, nightertale : nightingale etc. 

333. Rime is rarely employed in Chaucer except 
at the conclusion of a line. It is not my intention 
to point out special effects which are occasionally 
produced by sectional rime, or other conceits. The 
sequence of rimes will be discussed in the following 
section on the stanza. In this connection I only 
wish to remark that no law regulating the alternation 
of gender in rime is discernible in Chaucer's work. 

334. Alliteration. We possess a creditable article 
on Alliteration in Chaucer by F. Lindner (Jahrb. 
fur rom. u. engl. Spr. u. Lit. xiv. 311, English 
version in Ch. Soc. Pub. Essays on Ch. Vlll.), to 
which I should like to refer the reader interested in 
this subject. But at the same time, I cannot refrain 
from expressing my opinion that the subject has by 
no means been thoroughly exhausted by Lindner's 
treatment of it. I miss in his article : 

( I ) The differentiation of alliterative formulas and 
alliterative combinations of other kinds ; 



(2) An investigation of the question whether 
and to what extent syllables in the arsis may 
be considered as participating in the alliteration ; 
Lindner apparently ignores accentuation ; 

(3) A more accurate statement of the different 
forms in which alliteration considered metrically occurs 
in Chaucer ; 

(4) A more systematic answer to the question on 
what occasions Chaucer specially makes use of 
alliteration, to what varying extent this device is 
employed in different forms of metre and in the 
poet's various works (Lindner considers exclusively 
the Canterbury Tales), or in portions of them. The 
desire for a fresh investigator, or at least a fresh 
investigation, seems therefore pardonable. 

Within the limits of the present sketch the follow- 
ing observations will suffice. They owe a good deal 
to Lindner's article, but in some points go beyond it. 

335. In Chaucer's poetry we find a number of 
alliterative formulas, the majority of which were 
transmitted to him by the language of daily life as 
well as by that of poetry, but in part may have been 
coined by him, for the character of a formula is 
imparted to any given combination of words, not 
only by traditional use, but very largely by qualities 
which recommend it for popular employment. Thus 
no one will hesitate for a moment to declare com- 
binations like straunge strondes, or as meeke as {is) a 
mayde to be formulas — without waiting to enquire 
how often they occur in pre-Chaucerian poetry. But 
the case is doubtful even in the ■^\\xzs,& jighten for the 
(or oure) feyth, cf And foughten for oure feyth at Tra- 


missene 2I62 [Prol. 62]. And it is absolutely certain 
that from 2/54 [Prol. 54] In Lettow hadde he reysed 
and in Ruce, we have no right to infer a formula 
reyse{n) in Ruce. 

A number of systematically grouped alliterative 
formulas may follow here : Blood and bones, braun 
and bones, dale and doune, flessh and fissh, hunte and 
horn, holt and heeth, style and stoon, toun and tour, 
thikke and thenne, word and werk ; hood ne hat, herde 
tie hyne -jfreend or fo. — Foul and fayr, keene and coo Id, 
long and lene, seek and sore, stern and stout, war and 
wys, wyly and wys, weery and wet, wylde and wood, 
leef ne looth ; looth or leef. — Dyken and delven, hakken 
and hewen, hawken and hunten, swelten and sweeten, 
wanen and wenden, weepen and waylen ; sleen or 

Fresshe floures, hardy herte, hye halles, mighty 
maces, povre persoun, straunge strondes, wedded wyf, 
wyde world, wikked wight, a worthy wominan, worthy 
wommen : floures fresshe, groves greene. Miles hye, 
robes riche, rubies rede, sorwes sore, woodes wylde, 
woundes wyde. 

A seynt of silk, water of a welle; foul in flight. — 
Big of bones, fair of face. — Drewen a draught, drinken 
a draught, han the hyer hond, hangen doun the heed, 
hyden the (his) heed, leden the (a, his) lyf leven his lyf 
seen a sight, singen a song, sooth to seyne, to seyne {the) 
sooth, tellen a tale, taken by taylle, wandren by the 
weye, winnen to wyf, syken sore, smellen sweete. 

As besy as bees, as meeke as a mayde, as reed as 
rose, as stille as stoon. 

Now Chaucer very frequently employs such for- 
mulas as compact units, but he sometimes also 


resolves them into their component parts, inverts 
them, modifies them more or less, sometimes welds 
two into one. He also frequently unites such 
formulas, as if they were simple notional words, with 
other notional words alliterating with them. 

336. In the normal short line of four beats there 
are frequently two staves, which occur, as the follow- 
ing examples prove, in the most diverse positions in 
the verse : 

And nSthing ndedeth it,pardie Fame 575 [ll. Qj^. 
Bee hit rSuned, xdd or songe Fame 722 [ll. 214]. 
Andfdr I shSld the Wt ahr^yde 

Fame 599 [11. 51]. 
And p^^nest thee to pr/jse his art 

Fame 627 [11. 1 19]. 

That dooth me Useful 6fte ier Fame 610 [ll. 102]. 

The position of the staves produces the most 

artistic effect, when, as in the two last examples, 

they are upon the first and third, or upon the second 

and fourth beats. This is also the most frequent 

position for them. Chaucer's short line rarely has 

three staves, as in the following examples : 

That have his service sought and seeke 

Fame 626 [ll. 1 18]. 
Or as craft countrefeteth Y^ynde 

Fame 12 13 [iii. 123]. 

337. In some cases the two verses of a rimed 
couplet seem linked by alliteration, whether according 
to the formula a-a^ or ab-ab, or even aa-aa : 

Is for thy \ore and for thy prow ; 
Lat see, darst thou yit \ooke now ? 

Fame 579 f. [11, 72]. 



Til that he ielt that I hadde heet, 

And "ielt eek that myn herte beet ib. 569 f. [ll. 62]. 

T -wol thee telle I am. 

And whider thou shall, attd why / cam 

ib. 601 f. [n. 93]. 

But other combinations also occur — especially 
when the last verse of a rimed couplet is linked to 
the first one of the following couplet. In the follow- 
ing three examples we find the combinations a-aa, 
abb-a, aa-bab : 

Thou art noyous/br to carte, 
And nothing needeth it pardee 

Fame 575 f. [IL 6'j\ 
That dooth me ilee iul ofte ier. 
To Aoon al his comaundement ib. 610 f. [ll. 1 02]. 

¥irst I that in my ieet have thee. 

Of which thou hast a iere and -ponder 

ib. 606 f [IL 99]. 

A couple of examples from the Deeth of Blaunche 
may further illustrate the use Chaucer makes of 
alliteration in the short rimed couplet. The second 
one proves that the same stave occasionally recurs 
in a series of consecutive verses. 

I have greet wonder, by this light. 

How that I live, for day ne night 

I may not slepe welny nought. 

I have so many an ydel thought. 

Purely for defaute of sleepe. 

That, by my trouthe, I take no keepe 

Of nothing, hou hit comth or gooth, 

Ne me nis nothing \eef nor \ooth Blaunche i ff. 


The raayster hunte anoon, ioot hoot, 
With a greet home blew three moot 
At the uncouplinge of his houndis, 
Withinne a whyle the herte iounde is 
Yhalowed and rechaced iaste ... ib. 375 ff. 

Note. Even in the short line of three beats two staves 
sometimes occur, for instance : At Vopering in the -place 
Vjijigio [B. 1910]. As it -was Goddes grace it)ili<)l'i [B. 191 3]. 
His lippes rede as rose 191/1916 [B. 1916] etc. 

338. Alliteration is more in evidence in heroic 
verse than in the short line. The former not only 
sometimes contains two staves — varying in position 
— ^but not infrequently even three. The alliteration 
produces the finest effect when the staves fall upon 
the first, second, and fourth beats, whilst the caesura 
occurs after . the arsis following upon the second 
beat, as in the following verses : 

And which they weren || and of what degree 

2/40 [Prol. 40]. 
Ther shiveren shaftes || upon sheeldes thikke 

74/2605 [A. 2605]. 
Hw hardy herte || mighte him helpe naught 

76/2649 [A. 2649]. 
But it is very effective also when the first, third, and 
fifth beats alliterate, whilst the third is the caesural 
beat : 

And har away the hoon || bitwixe hem ho the. 

3S/1180 [A. 1 180]. 
And euere gaped up || into the eyr. 

100/3473 [A. 3473]. 

The effect is less satisfactory when, the position of 

the staves remaining the same, the position of the 


caesura is changed ; or when two of the three staves 

fall upon the fourth and fifth beats ; or when two fall 

upon the first and second, the third upon the fifth 

beat ; or, finally, when all three staves occur before the 

caesura. One example follows of each of these cases : 

My ipurpos was || to Yitee to compleyne Pitee 5. 

That in this viorld || nas never ■wight so wo ib. 3. 

FuH worthy was he || in his lordes werre 

2/74 [Prol. 74]. 
Ther stomblen steedes strange {{ and doun gooth al 

75/2613 [A. 2613]. 
If the verse has only two staves they would most 
appropriately rest upon the first and third beats, or 
upon the second and fourth : 

A \ovie/r || and a lusty || bacheleer 3/80 [Prol. 80]. 
Out-goon the swerdes || as the silver brighte 

75/2608 [A. 2608]. 
Other possible combinations will not be mentioned in 
this connection. 

Occasionally four staves occur in a verse ; as, for 
instance, in 

/ wretched wight || that weepe and wayle thus 

28/931 [A. 931] 
(according to Harl.) ; perhaps also in the following 
verse, although the preposition thurgh occurs in the 
place of the metrical ictus, but does not bear the 
logical stress (cf § 341) : 

He thurgh the thikkest || 0/ the throng gan threste 

75/2612 [A. 2612]. 
Occasionally the verse contains two different alliterat- 
ing staves in each hemistich, in the order aa-bb, for 
instance, in the following consecutive verses : 


Out-hrest the hlood |{ with sterne stremes rede ; 
With mighty maces || ^ hones they tohreste ; 

75/2610 [2610]. 
The following verse should probably be considered a 
similar instance, since the particle whan is, in con- 
sequence of its position, less emphatic for the ear : 
For -Wei he vfiste || whan that song was songe 

21I711 [Prol. 711]. 

339. In heroic metre the same alliteration some- 
times extends through more than one line, as, for 
instance, in the following passage: 

H^ rolleth under {cot || as dooth a bal, 
He ioyneth on his ieet || with his tronchoun. 
And he him hurtle th || with his hors adoun. 
He thurgh the body is hurt, || and sithen take, 
Maugre his heed, || and hrought untoo the stake ; 
As forward was, || right ther he moste ahyde 

75/2614 f. [A. 2614]. 

340. Chaucer uses alliteration most extensively and 
effectively in descriptions of battles and kindred 
subjects. This is by no means the result of accident, 
for M.E. possessed rich stores of traditional formulas 
bearing on such subjects, a fact which is further 
attested by the purely alliterative poems of the 1 4th. 
century, the martial passages in which are in many 
respects the most successful. Anyone who compares 
the well-known battle-scene in Joseph of Arimathie, 
489-517, with the account of the tournament in the 
Knightes Tale (from which, following Lindner's 
example, we have above quoted numerous verses) 
will be compelled to acknowledge some closer 
historical connection between the two. With 

' MS. iAe bones. 


reference to Chaucer, note further the description 
of the Battle of Actium in the Legend of Cleopatra 
(Leg. 63s ff.)- 

341. Chaucer is not one of the poets who con- 
sisteritly unite alliteration and end-rime in their 
verse. Rich as his language is in alliterative 
formulas, and numerous as the alliterative verses 
are which flow from his pen, yet there is no evidence 
to prove that he ever consciously observed any rule 
binding upon alliterative poetry. It is therefore 
difficult to determine where in his poetry alliteration 
begins, and where it ends. The following remarks 
on the relation in his poems between alliteration on 
the one hand, and accent and metrical stress on the 
other, as well as on the character of the alliteration 
in his verse, do not therefore claim to be a final 
settlement of the question. 

With regard to the relation between alliteration 
on the .one hand, and. accent and metrical stress on 
the other, it is obvious that all such syllables may 
alliterate as are capable of word- or sentence-accent, 
as well as of metrical stress. This applies also to 
words under a weaker accent, like was, hadde, or like 
he, him, hire etc., if these pronouns are not logically 
emphasised. But such slightly accented words do 
not necessarily bear the alliteration, even when they 
have the same initial symbol as more strongly accented 
ones, cf. for instance, whan in the verse 21/711 
[A. 711], quoted in § 3 3 8. Whether they do so or not, 
depends essentially upon their position in the verse, 
and on the position and number of the other staves. 

Unaccented monosyllables, and English prefixes 
in the arsis, are incapable of alliteration. I am not 


equally convinced that this applies to the unaccented 
first syllable of a Romance word or of a foreign 
Proper Name. In the following case, for instance ; 

That cleped is Calyopee 

Fame 1 400 [Globe, Fame iii. 310] 

the similarity in the initial consonants cannot have 
escaped Chaucer ; it probably pleased him, i.e. this 
is without doubt an instance of alliteration. 

In case of conflict between metrical rhythm and 
word-accent, the alliteration is determined by the 
word-accent. But if it is a case of variance between 
metrical rhythm and sentence-stress, the question 
arises as to whether the conflict is of a character to 
render an emphasis of the ictus prescribed by the metre 
absolutely unendurable. If this question is answered in 
the affirmative, the sentence-stress necessarily attracts 
the aUiteration, cf Fame 1213 [Globe, Fame iii. 123] 
(§ 336)- But if in the negative, then sometimes the 
more strongly accented syllable will alliterate, some- 
times the syllable under the metrical ictus : the 
former, for instance, in 75/2617 [A. 2617] (§ 239), 
the latter in 7 5/26 1 5 [A. 26 1 5] (§ 2 39), and probably 
also 72/2612 [A. 2612] (§ 238). In no case can 
both alliterate at the same time; thus in 75/2615 
[A. 261 5] He ioyneth on his ieet with his tronchoun it 
is not permissible to assume, in addition to the f- 
rime, an ,^-rime on he, his-his, although he { = ^ the 
latter') and the first his ('of the former') have 
a stronger sentence-accent than the notional words 
following them. 

342. With regard to the quality of the allitera- 
tion in Chaucer it will suffice to note the following : 


Alliteration of the smooth breathing cannot be 
denied, though it occurs less frequently than allitera- 
tion of h and of real consonants. Apparently sp, st, 
sk can alliterate with simple s, but sh, which denotes 
a single sound, though one with double articulation, 
only alliterates with itself ; wh alliterates with w. 

If amongst the words alliterating with each other 
there are frequently such as stand in the relationship 
of derivative and radical to each other, or such as are 
merely derivational variations from the same stem, 
or inflexional variations of the same word, or, finally, 
such as are absolutely identical, the eiifect of the 
alliteration is not thereby diminished, but rather 
increased. Iteration is an artistic device for 
which Chaucer displays an unusual predilection, and 
which as a rule he uses most effectively, though 
sometimes, indeed, to an exaggerated degree. Two 
examples will suffice (but cf likewise Fame 568 f 
[n. 60] ; 610 f [n. 102] ; § 337 and S.T. 75/2614 f 
[A. 2614] § 339) ; the second one is open to criticism. 

Ful vcva.Ti.y~a fat par trich hadde he in vauwe. 
And man ^ breme and man)?"^ luce in stuwe 

10/349 i. [Prol. 349]. 

That, of his mercy, God so merciadle 
On us his grete mercy multiplye. 
For reverence of his mooder Marj/e 

189/1878 ff [B. 1878]. 

343. Alliteration, as well as end-rime, contributes 
in Chaucer, each in its own characteristic way, though 
in a varying degree, to the elevation of poetic diction. 
But whereas alliteration comparatively speaking but 
rarely adds emphasis to the rhythmical structure of a 


verse, it is the further and invariable function of 
end-rime to confirm the rhythmical unity of a line, 
and at the same time to group the individual verses 
in larger entities and rhythmical systems. 


344. The rhythmical systems employed by Chaucer 
are, with only two exceptions, isometrical. The 
simplest isometrical system is the rimed couplet 
which, however, since its conclusion does not admit 
of a uniform punctuation, can lay no claim to the 
name of stanza, but is rather akin to stichic com- 

345. Two species of rimed couplets occur in 
Chaucer : a short one consisting of normal short 
lines, and an heroic one consisting of heroic verses. 
The short-rimed couplet was transmitted to the poet 
by his English predecessors, and is the oldest form 
of his epic poetry. The Deeth of Blaunche the 
Duchesse (i2th. Sept., 1369 — June 20th., 1370) was 
composed in this metre, and probably many another 
lost work of the poet. At a later period — so far 
as we know — he only once, for a special purpose, 
reverted to this form, namely in the Hous of Fame 
(1384). Chaucer himself introduced the heroic 
couplet into English poetry. He did not discover 
this metrical form, until he had for years availed 
himself, even for epic purposes, of seven-line stanzas 
in heroic metre. He employed it for the first time 
in the Legende of Goode Women (1385). From 
that time onwards it is his ordinary vehicle for epic 


narrative : by far the greater part of the Canterbury 
Tales — namely the whole frame and the greater 
number and most successful of the Tales — is 
conveyed in heroic metre. The poem of Palamon 
and Arcyte when revised for insertion in the C.T. 
exchanged the seven-line stanza for the new form. 
Cf. with reference to these facts my Chaucer-Studien 
I. 48 f., 56, no f, 144 f., 149, 150. 

Note. According to Skeat, Prioresses Tale etc. p. xix f., 
Chaucer is supposed to have imitated the heroic couplet from 
Guillaume Macliault, more especially from his ' Complainte 
ecrite apr^s la bataille de Poitiers et avant le sihge de Reims par 
les Anglais' (1356-1358). It may readily be granted that the 
English poet was probably acquainted with this poem. Yet it 
remains somewhat extraordinary that so long a period should 
have elapsed before the idea occurred to him of making use of 
the same metrical system. Moreover, we ought to bear in mind 
that for the Englishman the really great and decisive step was 
not so much the use of a longer rimed couplet, as the imitation 
of the heroic metre. For if we consider that in the Legende of 
Goode Women Chaucer starts from the idea of a cycle of Lives 
of Saints (hence the secondary title : the Seyntes Legende of 
Cupyde S.T. 130/61 [B. 61]), also that the Southern cycle 
of Legends was composed in couplets of M.E. Alexandrines, 
we can easily understand — without dwelling on any possible 
reminiscences of Machault's Complainte — how the idea occurred 
to him of composing this particular work in rimed couplets of 
the heroic verse with which he was already familiar. 

346. The greater number of Chaucer's isometrical 
stanzas is composed of heroic verses. Only in the 
Deeth of Blaunche a few stanzas consisting of lines 
of four beats have been inserted, which may perhaps 
serve as examples of the lyric poetry of his youth. 
They are probably based on French forms of popular 


origin. A monostrophic six-line song runs (rime- 
scheme aabbad) : 

Lord, hit maketh myn herte light. 
Whan I thenke on that sweete wight. 
That is so seemly on to see. 
And wissh to God, hit might so bee 
That she wolde holde me for Mr knight. 
My lady that is so fayre and bright 

Elaunche i 175-1 i8o. 

The same Black Knight who sings this song as an 
earnest of his love-poetry had previously recited 
another song, a lay, a maner song Withoute note, 
withoute song (47 1 f.). This lay consists of two dis- 
similar stanzas which run : 

/ have of sorw so grete woon 

That joy e gete I never noon. 

Now that I see my lady bright. 

Which I have loved with al my might. 

Is fro r)ie deed and is agoon. 

Alias the^ deeth ! what eyleth thee 
That thou noldest han taken me. 
Whan that^ thou took my lady sweete. 
That was so fay r, so fressh, so free. 
So good eek^ that men may wel see. 
Of al goodnes she had no meete 

Blaunche 475 fif. 

The order of rimes is therefore aabba — ccdccd. 
The first stanza shows a combination of continuous 
rime and embracing rime (like the little mono- 
strophic song, but in a different arrangement), the 

' the wanting in MS. ^whan that Thynne, (whan, when) MSS, 
^ eei wanting. 



second is an instance of tail-rime (§ 348). In 
Thynne's edition (1532) the two stanzas are assimi- 
lated to each other : a verse has been added to the 
first, and in the second, to the detriment of the sense, 
the lines have been transposed : ccddcc. Chaucer 
himself distinctly refers to dissimilar stanzas, perhaps 
even to an uneven number of verses in the whole 
poem, in the words : He made of ryme ten vers 
or twelve Of a compleynte to himselve (463 f.), cf, 
however, Ellis in Furnivall's Trial Forewords, p. 1 1 4 — 
P- 133- 

347. Of the isometrical stanzas in heroic verse the 
finest is the seven-line stanza, which occurs for the 
first time in the Compleynte to Pitee. The rime- 
order is ab ab bcc, and the stanza is clearly tripartite, 
the first two parts of it (J>edes) being equal to each 
other but unequal to the third, the cauda (Abgesang). 
Chaucer often observes this tripartition, even in the 
logical structure of his argument, without pedantically 
binding himself to it. The second stanza of the 
Compleynte to Pitee may serve as an example : 

And whan that I by lengthe of certeyn yeres 
Had evere in oon a tyme sought to speke. 
To Pitee ran /, al bispreynt with teres. 
To prey en hire on Crueltee me awreke ; 
But eer I might with any word outbreke. 
Or tellen any of my peynes smerte, 
I fond hir deed and buried in an herte. 

This stanza occurs in O.Fr. and Provencal art- 
poetry, and probably developed according to the 
following scheme : ab ab aab (thus in Bernart de 
Ventadorn), ab ab baa, ab ab bcc. Although not 



its creator, Chaucer may claim the stanza as his own. 
The skill with which he constructs it and the extent 
to which he uses it have given it a far greater signi- 
ficance than it originally possessed. The English 
poet has set his own peculiar seal upon the system, 
especially by the consistency with which he employs 
a new rime for the last couplet ; whereby the 
structure becomes more clearly outlined and the 
conclusion more defined. Chaucer remained loyal to 
the seven-line stanza even after he had become 
acquainted with the Italian ottave-rime in Boccaccio's 
epics. The ottave-rime, which is only differentiated 
from the seven-line stanza by the interpolation of a 
verse : ab ab {a)b cc, cannot, as regards harmonious 
proportion of the parts, sustain comparison with it : 
the ottave-rime contains four parts instead of three ; 
the tripartite frons {Aufgesang) is far too long for 
the Cauda {Abgesang). 

Hence, in his second, Italianate period (1373- 
1 384), Chaucer wisely employed the seven-line stanza 
in a preponderating degree ; not only in poems like 
the Lyf of Seynt Cecyle (Second Nonnes Tale) or the 
Parlement of Foules, but also in romantic epics like 
Palamoun and Arcyte (the first lost version) and 
Troilus, the metre of which challenged a comparison 
with Boccaccio's ottave-rime. He uses the same 
stanza in the introduction (proem and story) of the 
Compleynte of Mars, and later in the epic part of 
Anelida and Arcyte ; the touching story of Griseldis 
(Clerkes Tale), the legend of the pious Christian boy 
murdered by the Jews (Prioresses Tale), a few Links 
in the Canterbury Tales, and most of his lyrical 
products are also in this form. 


Next in importance, though considerably below 
the seven-line stanza, ranks the eight-line stanza 
which — like almost all his complex metrical schemes 
— Chaucer also imitated from O.Fr. poets. The 
rime-scheme is ab ab be be, the cauda is therefore 
symmetrical with the/rowj, and the stanza must have 
developed out of the old form ab ab ba ba. This 
stanza occurs for the first time in the A.B.C., then in 
the Former Age, in the Envoy to Bukton, in the 
Ballade de Visage sans Peinture (Fortune), in 
narrative poetry only in the tragedies contributed 
by the Monk of the Canterbury Tales. 

Only isolated instances of other stanzaic forms 
occur : one of six-lines {ab ab eb) in the Envoy to 
the Clerkes Tale, an eight-line one, with the rime- 
scheme (ababbeeb) which is unusual in Chaucer, in 
the Compleynte of Venus translated from the French 
of Oto de Gransons ; a nine-line one {aab aab bee) 
in the lyrical part (the real Compleynte) of the Com- 
pleynte of Mars ; another nine-line one {aab aab bab) 
prevails in the Compleynte of Anelida. On the 
stanzas of the Envoys and on the form of the 
Roundel, cf. §§ 350, 352. 

348. Only two metabolic stanzas occur in 
Chaucer : one borrowed from art-poetry in the Com- 
pleynte of Anelida (Anel. 256-271 ; 317-332) and 
a popular one in Sire Thopas. Both are constructed 
on the principle of the tail-rime {rime cou^e), which 
prevails also in the frons of the 9-line stanza 
mentioned in \ 347. The stanza in Sire Thopas 
is, however, tail-rime {rime couee) properly so- 
called. The metabolic stanza in Anelida is a 
blending of normal short lines and heroic verse. 



and is arranged as follows (the capitals indicate 
heroic verse) : 

aaaB aaaB bbbh bbbh. 

The tail-rime in Sire Thopas appears in two forms : 
in the simple normal form of six lines (the normal 
double form of 1 2 lines does not occur in Chaucer), 
and in the expanded form. The simple normal 
form consists of four normal short lines and two 
short lines of three beats each, and the rime-scheme 
is as follows (the capitals indicate the normal short 
line): KKb KKb or KKb CCb. The expanded 
form again consists of two varieties : the interpolat- 
ing and the continuative, which are differentiated by 
the fact that in the first case a short line of one 
beat (y) introduces the second section of the stanza; 
in the second case a similar line (y) introduces a 
third section : AAi5 7 BBc (occurs only once), and 
AAb AAb y AAc or AAb AAb y BBc. The 
tail-rime stanza was the favourite metre of the 
M.E. minstrels, whose crude art Chaucer parodies in 
Sire Thopas. For further details, cf. ten Brink's 
Engl. Lit., I. 207, 249 f., 267 (Engl, translation). 

349. Relation between Stanza and Poem. 
In epic poetry the rule is that the same system — 
whether rimed couplet or stanza — should be repeated 
the requisite number of times up to the end of the 
poem, with any variation in the rime that may be 
preferred (so long as 'the rime-order in the stanza 
remains the same). But in Sire Thopas Chaucer 
intentionally varies his treatment of the rime cou^e. 
In that series of fragments called the Canterbury 
Tales, which is distinguished by the variety of its 


rhythm, structure and subjects, each tale must be 
considered an independent unit, and thus it is no 
accident if those tales which are most closely- 
interwoven with the dialogue and action of the 
pilgrimage should appear in the same metrical form 
as the description of the journey to Canterbury. But 
this metrical frame-work is composed in the heroic 
couplet, which only once or twice gives place to the 
seven-line stanza ; if we consider the last redaction of 
the fragments undertaken by the poet, we shall find 
that he allowed such stanzas to remain in one 
place only S.T. 190 [Sire Thopas]. Lyric pieces 
are, however, sometimes interpolated into epic 
poems : in Troilus without change in the pre- 
vailing system, in the Deeth of Blaunche with 
a slight change (in the Lay, not in the 
Song), with more considerable deviation in the 
Parlement of Foules, where a Roundel is inserted 
amongst the seven-line stanzas, and especially in the 
Prologue to the Legende where a Balade appears 
amongst the heroic couplets. The Compleynte to 
Pitee and the Compleynte of Mars are lyric poems 
with epic introductions, the fragment of Anelida and 
Arcyte might also be considered such. In Pitee the 
same system is employed for both main divisions, in 
the two other cases a variation takes place ; Anelida 
is, however (if we except the Canterbury Tales), the 
sole example of a poem which, taken as a whole, is 
not isometrical. 

350. In lyric poetry three species may be dis- 
tinguished : poems consisting of similar stanzas, 
poems consisting of dissimilar stanzas, and mono- 
strophic poems. 


The first kind is by far the most important and 
the most numerous. Some of the examples belong- 
ing to it have a stanzaic conclusion to the actual 
lyrical structure, the envoy (Prov. tornada, French 
envoi), in which the person for whom the poem is 
intended, or whom it is to influence, is addressed, 
or in which the connection between the poem and 
the person is expressed in some other way, or 
which, though more rarely, by an unexpected 
digression to general topics, winds up with some 
concise epigrammatic dictum. In the art-poetry of 
Provence, where the envoy first makes its appearance, 
and where it attains its highest development, it 
generally takes the form of an incomplete stanza, the 
rime-scheme of which corresponds to the conclusion 
of the last stanza of the actual song. But the 
O.Fr. art-poets, particularly those of a later period, 
frequently deviated from this rule. Chaucer's 
treatment of the envoy will be discussed presently. 
Less frequently than an addition of this kind, there 
occurs a sort of independent preamble. In the first 
of the classes into which we divided Chaucer's lyric 
poetry, only the Compleynte of Mars is introduced by 
a stanza which — though in form identical with the 
others — reveals itself unmistakably as a proem (cf. 
in the second division The Compleynte of Anelida). 
The nucleus of Chaucer's poems in isometrical 
stanzas is built up, as Bradshaw was the first to 
recognise, in such a manner that the total number of 
stanzas is divisible by three. Judging by the extant 
MSS. there are three exceptions to this rule. But 
of these three the hymn Mooder of God is only an 
apparent one, since there is evidently a stanza wanting 


in this poem, which, in its present form, consists 
of 20 stanzas (cf. Furnivall, Trial Forewords, p. 94), 
the structure was therefore 7x3. The extant 
version of The Former Age (Aetas Prima), a 
paraphrase of the 5 th, Metrum from Boethius De 
Consolatione 11., consisting of 8 stanzas, is corrupt 
(the last verse of the 7th stanza is wanting) ; it 
is not only a somewhat careless specimen of the 
poet's craft (in the 6th stanza the rime-order is 
abab bcac, instead of abab bcbc), but it is also 
more descriptive than lyric. The A.B.C. was bound 
to contain 23 stanzas. In all other instances the 
rule holds good : in the Compleynte to Pitee the 
Compleynte itself contains 3x3 stanzas, the lyrical 
part of the Compleynte of Mars contains, in addition 
to the proem, 5x3 elegiac stanzas, and all poems 
of the first division, transmitted as separate entities, 
are based on the principle of divisibility by three. 
Even in the lyric poems which share the stanzaic 
form of the epic in which they are inserted, Chaucer 
almost invariably follows the same principle. In 
the Introduction to the Lyf of seynt Cecyle, the 
Hymn to the Virgin imitated from Dante contains 
three stanzas S.T. 528/36 ff. [G. 36 ff.], and the 
prayer immediately following 529/57 ff. [G. 57 ff.] 
contains the same number ; the Invocation to the 
Virgin in the Prologue to the Prioresses Tale 
182/1657 ff. [B. 1657] also consists of three 
stanzas. In Troilus the song in which the love- 
lorn hero imitates Petrarch's 88th Sonnet (Troilus I. 
400-420,) is a triplet ; but on the other hand, 
Antigone's love-song (ib. II. 827-875) contains seven 
stanzas (unless we wish to admit a proem), and the 


song which Troilus sings at the climax of the action 
(ib. III. 1744-177 1 ), again a paraphrase of a Metrum 
of Boethius, contains four stanzas. 

In one species of the first division, namely the 
balade, the number of stanzas prescribed is not only 
one divisible by three, but actually three. Chaucer 
had become acquainted with and practised the balade 
in the form used by the contemporary French poets of 
the Puys, which had, in point of fact, only essentially 
formal qualities in common with the more popular 
Provencal ballada, and only shares the name of the 
poem called thus in later English and German poetry. 
The three stanzas of the balade are not only identical 
in structure, and hence in the arrangement of the 
rimes, but the very rimes are identical (which is not 
otherwise the case in Chaucer) ; each stanza concludes 
with a line forming a refrain, which is at the same time 
an integral part of the stanzaic structure. The stanza 
in Chaucer's balades generally contains 7 lines, thus in 
Hyde Absalon (Prologue to the Legende), in Gentil- 
lesse, Stedfastnesse, Compleynte to his Purs and 
Trouthe. Two poems are in form compound Balades : 
Fortune and the Compleynte of Venus consist each 
of three terns, each being in form a complete balade; 
in both poems the stanza contains 8 lines. Amongst 
the simple balades an envoy is added to Stedfastnesse, 
Trouthe and Purs. In the two former poems the 
envoy is a complete stanza, identical with the other 
stanzas of each poem, the refrain being varied in 
Stedfastnesse. In Purs it consists of a short system 
of S lines, riming in the order aabba, and — a most 
unusual occurrence — with totally new rimes, and con- 
sequently without repetition of the refrain. In another 


connection (Litteraturblatt fur roman. u. engl. Philol., 
1883, No. 11) I tried to prove that this envoy was 
a later addition to the poem in question ; these 
formal proofs may now serve to supplement the 
arguments brought forward there. In a compound 
balade the independent position of the envoy would 
not be surprising. Fortune, whose 3x3 stanzas are 
arranged in the order ab ab be be, has an envoy in the 
form ab ab bab; the rime b is totally new, a, however, 
corresponds to b in the stanza of the last tern. The 
Compleynte of Venus, the terns of which are com- 
posed in stanzas riming ab ab bccb, has, exceptionally, 
an expanded envoy: aab aab aab; rime a is new, b 
corresponds to a in the stanza of the first triad, 
to c in the stanza of the third, which is of course 
a mere accident. Under these circumstances the 
repetition of a refrain would be inconceivable in 
either case. 

An extension of the term envoy is exemplified in 
the Envoy to the Clerkes Tale, which consists of six 
stanzas, each containing six lines, riming through- 
out ab ab eb {c is therefore not linked in the stanza, 
but only in the poem). Envoy in Chaucer means 
further epistle, missive. The Envoy to Bukton which 
accompanied the despatch of the Confessions of the 
Wyf of Bath consists of three eight-line stanzas, the 
envoy to Scogan of 2 X 3 seven-line stanzas. Again, 
each of these poems contains an envoy properly so- 
called : in the Envoy to Bukton the envoy proper 
refers to the enclosed poem of the Wyf of Bath ; in 
the Epistle to Scogan it conveys the practical purport 
of the whole poem. Both envoys are complete 


351. The second class, to which belong the Pro- 
vengal descort and the French lai, is represented by 
only two examples in Chaucer. Both are, as regards 
contents, elegies. The isometrical lay in two stanzas, 
sung by the Black Knight in the Death of Blaunche, 
was quoted above (§ 346). Fairly complicated in 
structure is the Lament of the heroine in .Anelida and 
Arcyte. It consists of a monostrophic proem, two 
movements of six stanzas each, and a concluding 
strophe. As a matter of fact, only two stanzas 
occur : an isometrical one of nine lines (§ 347) and 
a metabolic one of sixteen lines (§ 348). The latter 
occupies the fifth place in each of the two movements ; 
the former is used everywhere else, even in the proem 
and the conclusion. 

352. A system which suffices to constitute a whole 
poem can, strictly speaking, only be designated a 
strophe if in a variety of poems it is so frequently 
employed that its re-appearance, like that of an old 
acquaintance, is immediately noted — as, for instance, 
in the case of the Italian sonnet. But we will 
venture to apply the term to all cases in which the 
structure of the system in question is clearly evident. 

The following may therefore be considered mono- 
strophic poems in Chaucer (the Proverbs are again 
excluded) : the above (§ 346) quoted six-line love- 
song of the Black Knight, one of the songs of Troilus 
(v. 638-644, naturally a seven-line stanza), Chaucer's 
Wordes unto Adam (likewise a seven-line stanza), 
finally, the Roundel in the Pari, of Foules (cf. Parallel 
Text Edn. of Chaucer's Minor Poems, II., pp. 98-99 
[Pari. 680-699]). The latter, of which only one MS. 
has preserved the complete form, may be quoted here 


in conclusion of our sketch. We supplement the 
repetitions that are not indicated in the MSS., and, 
following Furnivall's example (Trial-Forewords, p. S 4), 
insert the pronoun thy in the first line : 

Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe. 
That hast this wintres wedres overshake 
And driven away the large nightes Make. 

Seynt Valentyn, that artful hye on lofte. 
Thus singen smale foules for thy sake : 
Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe. 

Wei han they cause for to gladen ofte, 
Sith eech of hem recovered hath his make ; 
Ful blisful mow they singen, whan they wake : 

Now welcome, somer, with thy sonne softe. 
That hast this wintres wedres overshake 
And driven away the large nightes blake. 


The following corrections are taken from Holthausen's review 
of the second German edition of ten Brink's Chaucer's Sprache 
und Verskunst, in Anglia, Beiblatt, vol. Xll. Nr. vili. p. 237 fF. 
The article did not appear until after the proof-sheets of the 
translation had been passed for the press, or the emendations 
would have been inserted in the text. 

§ 12 a Mdu a : labben etc., not Mlg. 

§ 21 £ (2) O.N. f : sky, not Olg. eo, 10. 

%2°P Mdu. origin, not Mlg. 

§ 107 a O.N. burdr, not burd. 

§ 1 18 a (3) rarely after orig. 1, not before. 

§ 207 last line : nqse, not nose. 

§ 207 (5) « is apocopated, not u. 

§ 214 monthe, not mijnthe. 


(Substantives, numerals and pronouns ate not marked as such. 
The numbers refer to the paragraphs.) 

aas 229. abye V. cf. aiegge. 

abbay 223 (y). accomplyce V. 177. 

aiegge V. 161, 190 ; cf. bye. accor daunt Vsxt. A. 191 N2. 

abeye V. cf. abegge. adrad Part. 234. 

able K. 239. afer{e)dVaA. 166, 234. 

abreydeV. 139, 140. affrayeV. 180. 




agreable A; 239. 
al 255. 
alaunt 22S. 
alay 225. 
ale 214. 
allye 225. 
allye V. 180. 
almesse 211. 
algne 247. 
<j:»2 V. 197. 
Amadrides 229 N. 
amase V. 172. 

«(«) 247- 

answere'V. 171, 173. 
Antontus 229. 
a«y 255. 

apay{e)d Part. 180. 
a^« 211. 
a/^r/ A. 239. 
Argonauticon 229 N. 
argument 222, 226. 
Ariete 222 N. 
arw 199 (i). 
armes 225. 
armipotente A. 239. 
array 222. 
amzy«rfPart. 180. 
arz£/« 211, 213. 
i^jjizy 225. 
assay e V. 1 80. 
«zjj« 211, 213. 
asseege V. 194. 
assente V. 177, 179, I94- 
asshen, asshes 211, 213. 
asterte V. cf. sterte. 
astonie V. 174. 
asweve V. 161, 163. 
aucioritee 225. 

auditour 226. 

aught 2'i^. 

aungeli2i, 222, 226 and N. 

aunte 222. 

aventure ■ZT,'^. 

awake V. cf. wake. 

axe V. 171, 172, 194. 

badde A. 231 N. 

fe/Jg V. 149. 

^<2^e Part. adj. 196. 

banere 223 (/3). 

^ar« A. 231. 

bataille 223. 

i5aM 203 (l). 

bed 102, (l), 204, 205, 206. 

^i?« 211, 213. 

fee V. 197. 

beedeV. 156, 158. 

fe^re 207 (i). 

fewc/^ 207 (4). 

bene 207 (l). 

benignitee 222. 

fere V. 142, 184, 186, 188, 189, 

190, 191, 192, 196. 
berne 203 (5). 
best 223 (a), 
fei/ Sup. 244, 245. 
bete V. 130, 134. 
bettre Comp. 244 ; Adv. 246 N. 
beye V. cf. bye. 
bidde V. 145, 146, 158, 184, 186, 

188, 190, 191. 
biginne V. 139, 192, 193. 
bikeeteY. 135. 
bikight Pret. 193 N. 
bildeV. i7o(«). 
bileeve V. 164. 



bireve V. cf. reve. 

bistede V. cf. stede. 

bistrydeV. 153. 

bite 199 (4). 

bitter A. 230, 233. 

blade 203 (5). 

blak A. 230, 232. 

blaundisske \' . 177. 

blencfie V. 164, 165, 166, 168. 

blende V. 164, 165, i66. 

blew A. 239, 241. 

blinne V. 139. 

blisse 207 (2). 

bloweV. 130. 

blythe A. 230. 

^^^ 2ig. 

bqnde 211. 

^o<?^ 214. 

^^^« 203 (i), 206. 

booiu 218. 


bgrn Part 232, 234. 

bgrugh, bgrw 199 (i), 201. 

^^M« 247. 

botme 199 N. 

braunes 225. 

breech i\i,. 

brekeV. 142. 

brenne V. 139, 141, 170 (f). 

^r£j/£ V. 139, 140. 

brewe V. 156. 

breyde V. 140, l67< 

brigge 207 (2). 

bright A. 235. 

bringeV. 169, 170 N. 

iJ^^K^ 218. 

brinne V. cf. brenne. 

irgnd 201. 

broother 215, 219. 

brouke V. 156. 

burgh 214. 

^jffe V. 153. 

byeV. 162, 170 N. ; cf. abegge. 

bynde V. 139. 

4y/i? V. 153, 186. 

caa:^ 222, 329. 
caccheY. 177, 182. 
calf 2ii. 
can V. 198. 
fare 207, 210. 
farzV V. 178 (a), 181 N. 
carl 21%. 
carpenteer 224. 
Caunterbury 214. 
cause 222. 
cay tif 226. 
certeyn Adv. 246 N. 
Cej/J 229. 
chambereere 222. 
chapeleyne 222. 
chaste A. 239. 
chastyse V. 177. 
chautnbre 222, 225. 
cheese V. 156, 157, 189. 
cherche 211, 212. 
cherl l<)<) (i), 200. 
cherubin 224. 
cheryce V. 177. 
-chestre2oy (i). 
chivalrye 223 (y). 
chy Id 217. 
cink 248. 
circumstaunce 227. 



citee 221, 222. 

cleene A. 230, 237. 

cleeve V. 156, 160. 

Cleopataras 229. 

clefie V. 171, 172, 173. 

cUf 202 (i), 206. 


clotheY. 171, 173. 

cgle 203 (5), 206. 

colour 112. 

comeV. 142, 143, 186, 189, 1 96. 

compeer 223 (/?). 

concubyn 223 ()8). 

consentaunt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

constable 227. 

contrarie V. 178 (a), 181 N. 

contree 223 (-y). 

convenable A. 243. 

coroune 222. 

countrefete V. 177. 

courseer 225. 

covenaunt 226. 

covre, keevre V. 177. 

tow 214. 

<:<?)' A. 239. 

cr^oai^Part. 183. 

creature 225. 

cre«/« V. 156, 160, 167. 

cristened 'Pr&X. 181. 

fr^«« 218. 

c«»(7^ 218. 

crgij 218. 

crouke 218. 

crowe V. 130. 

cruel K. 241. 

crueltee 222. 

crj' 222. 

frj/^ V. 177, 180, 194. 

curaat 183. 
cursed Part. 233. 

dagger e 218 N. 

rffl/^ 203 (5). 

darV. 198. 

daunce 225. 

</izy 199 (2), 200, 202. 

deceyveV. 177. 

Dedaly ziq'ii . 

dee 225. 

de{e)de207 (4), 210. 

ife«?«« V. 164, 165, 166, 194. 

/feirr 203, 206. 

</^^r^ A. 230 ; Compar. 244. 


degree 222, 225 and N. 

//e/ay 225. 

delitable A. 243. 

delve V. 139. 

depeynte V. 182. 

&r« V. 161, 162. 

desirous A. 239. 

desolaat A. 183. 

despyse V. 177. 

destinee 223 (y). 

</i?y^, ^/ye V. 176. 

i/^j/j 222, 229. 

divers A. 241, 242. 

divyne A. 242, 243. 

<fo(7 V. 190, 197. 

<ibo;« 199 (i), 202. 

^ore 207, 210. 

dormaunt Part. adj. 191 N 2. 

double A. 239. 

</g*!f^/«r 215. 

doute 111. 

drake 218. 



drawe V. 149, 152. 

dre{e)deY. 130, 134, 167, 196. 

driijn 199 (i). 

dreming{e) 210. 

drenche V. 168. 

dreynt Part. 232. 

drinke V. 139, 193. 

dronke Part. adj. 196. 

dronkelewe A. 231 N. 

droupe V. 176. 

t/ryg A. 230. 

dryveV. 153, 196. 

due 221. 

duchesse 225. 

</«e A. 239. 

dwelle V. 161, 162. 

dyamaunt 226. 

(/k^ V. cf. deye. 


ggr Adv. Compar. 246 N. 

e^^e 207 (2). 

elaat K. 183. 

emperour 222, 224. 

emperyce 222. 

empoysoned Vart. 178 (y), 181. 

««rfa 199 (4). 

Eneas 229. 

Eneidos 229 N. 

enfamyne V. 1 78 (y). 

enlumyne V. 178 (y), 181. 

enoynt Part. 182, 183. 

entent{e) 223 (a). 

entree 225. 

epistle 226 N. 

^r« 211, 213. 

^r« V. 161, 162. 

erraunt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

^rr/ Adv. Sup. 246 N. 
«r//5e 211. 
^jiT/^z^ A. 239. 
«« 222. 

espirituel A. 243. 
ifj^^^ V. 180. 
estaat 222. 
«/£ V. 145, 147. 
evel A. 230. 
eve{n) 203 (i). 
«7/^«« A. 231. 
exaltaat h. 183. 
excellent A. 239, 241. 
exercyse V. 177. 
experience 223 (a). 
£/ 217. 
eyghte 247. 
eyghteteene 247. 

^« 222. 

fader 21s, 219. 

y&//e V. 130, 184, 186, 188, 190, 

191, 196. 
/a/j A. 239, 241. 
f alive A. 231. 
fantastyk A. 239. 
fareY. 149, 152. 
favour 222. 
/azffi A. 230. 

_/5zy/? A. 234 ; Adv. 246 N. 
fayr{e) A. 231 ; Compar. 244. 
fee 203 (3), 2o6 and N. 
feede V. 164, 165, 166. 
feeld i()<) (i). 
^f/e V. 164, 165, 166. 
feend 216. 
felawe 218, 219. 



feU A. 238. 

fer Adv. Comp. 246 N. 

ferde Pret. 152, 165. 

ferrest Sup. 244. 

ferthe 24^. 

fest{e) 223. 

fewe A. 238. 

/eyne V. 177. 

feynte V. 177. 

fey{th) 222. 

fiers A. 239, 241. 

ffte 249. 

fifteene 247. 


fighte V. 139, 140. 

figure 225. 

finger 200, 202, 2ig. 

_/&-j^ Sup. 244, 246 ; cf. 249. 

fissh 199 (i). 

^/fe 207 (2). 

flaume 225. 

/ff« 211, 213. 

flee V. 156, 160, 190. 

fleete V. 1 56. 

flight 201. 

flgqiw, 213. 

flour IT.!, 225. 

y^^-^V. 156, 158. 

_;^/,6 206. 

_/^/7£/^ V. 171, 172. 

fgngeV. 130, 131. 


jffe(7r« 207 (i). 

foot 21 i^ 

forbeede V. cf. beede. 

fqrce,fgrs 223. 

fqrme Sup. 244 ; cf. 249. 

forsake V. 149. 

Fortune 224. 
fortunaat h. 183. 
forwee^ed 7s.xi. 167. 
yozz/ A. 230. 
fowel,foul 199 (i). 
fowre 247. 
fowrteene 247. 
fowrty 247. 
/r^e A. 230, 233. 
freend 216. 
freere 222, 225. 
_/^^/« V. 196. 
./9y« V. 177. 
7^/ Adv. 246 N. 
/«^//« V. 164, 170 (S). 

fyndeV. 139, 186, 193. 
^5''' 203, 205, 206. 

Galgopheye 223 (y). 

game 203 (i). 

^oy A. 239. 

gentil A. 239, 243 ; Comp. 245. 

gere 210 N. 

gest 199 (i)- 

gete V. 145, 146. 

ginne V. cf. biginne. 

girde V. 164, 165, 166. 

glad K. 230, 234 ; Comp. 244. 

gleede 207 (4), 210. 

glotonye 225. 

gnaweN. 149, 152. 

^? V. 197. 

Ggd 200, 220. 
ggddesse 220. 
goone 218 N. 
good h. 230, 232. 
good 201 (r), 206. 



goos 214. 

ggqt lli,. 

goune 218 N. 

grace 222, 223 (y8). 

grave V. 149. 

greene A. 230. 

gr^^tA. subst. 235; Compar. 244. 

greete V. 164, 165, 166. 

grey, gray A. 230, 235. 

Grisildis 229. 

grgte 218. 

growe V. 130. 

grynde V. 139. 

Gy 223 (y). 

^fl/& 207 (i), 208, 210. 

Aamer 199 (i). 

hardy A. 239. 

^arzV V. 174, 178 (o). 

haunche 222. 

haveV. 162, 163, 187, 189, 194, 195. 

he{e) 250. 

^f^^ cf. heved. 

heere V. 164, 165, 166. 

heete V. 135. 

%M 207 (2). 

heethen A. 230. 

j^fzV 222. 

>4«/^e V. 131 ; cf. hqlde. 

helle 1&J (2), 208. 

hclpe V. 139, 189. 

hen 207 (2), 210. 

herd A. 175. 

z^^nfe 199 (4). 

ker{e) 251. 

herieY.\6i, 162, 163,184, 188, 189. 

^fr/« 211, 212. 

heve V. 149, 1 50,, 152. 

heved, h^^d 203 ( i ). 

heven 199 (i), 200 N. 2. 

hewe 203 (5). 

^we V. 130. 

highteW. 135, 193 N. 

hind{e)rest Sup. 244. 

^«>(«) 251. 

^zj 251. 

hit, it 250. 

^gjf 218N. 

hqlde y. 130, 1 3 1, 1 92. 

^?/a 203 (s). 

hqlwe A. 231. 

^^/c A. 230 ; Comp. 244. 

hqnd 207 (5), 209, 210. 

honest A. 240. 

hqngeY. 130, 131, 132. 

honour 222. 

hqqst{e) 223 (a). 

^?^/ A. 23s ; Comp. 244. 

hqrs 206. 

;5^j^« 213. 

hqteV. 131, 115, 193 N. 

humour 226. 

hundred 247. 

hunte 211. 

^ar/ Part. 234. 

ffuwe 221. 

;^y<& V. 164, 165, 166. 

^J'^'^j ^ A. Comp. 244. 

/, ich, ik 250. 
ilk A. 235, 255. 
ille A. 231. 
imagyne V. 178 (y). 
-ing{e) 207 (i), 2ia. 
innocence iij, (a). 
?■/ cf. ^zV. 



janghresse 227. 

jay 225. 

journey 223 (y). 

joye 222. 

joynatint Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

juste V. 177 N. 

^f^/<? V. 164, 165, 166. 

keevre V. cf. covre. 

kempe V. 170 N. 2. 

<J«// Part. 234. 

kerve V. 1 39. 

kesse V. cf. ^zjj^. 

^z« 203 (i), 204. 

^z«f 200, 202. 

kinrede 207 (5). 

>fejj^, kesse V. 164, 165, 166. 

knarre 2t8. 

/J«?e 203 (3), 206 and N. 

knowe V. 130, 196. 

j&y^^e V. 164, 165, 166. 

lady 211, 212, 213, 219. 

lamb, Iqmb 2iy. 

langwisshe V. 178 (j8). 

/ajje Comp. 244. 

lasteV. 164, 165. 

lauglieV. 149, 150, 152. 

/ay 225. 

lazar 222, 226. 

/e?c^^ 199 (4). 

le{e)de V. 164, 165, 166. 

leefh. 235. 

/£(«)re V. 164, 166. 

leeseV. 156, 157, 160, 167, 168 N., 

Ig^st Sup. 244. 
le{e)te V. 130, 132. 

leeve V. 164. 


I'SS^i leye V. 161, 163, 163, 186) 

190, 196. 
Lemnon 229 N. 
lene V. 164, 165, 166. 
Leonard Gen. 224. 
lefie V. 130. k 
leste V. 164, 165. 
/?//« V. 161, 162, 163. 

leve V. 164, 165, 166. 
leye V. cf. legge. 
light 205. 
ligkte V. 164, 165. 
lim 220. 
/zVj« 207 (2). 
litel A. 230, 233. 
/2V>4 203 (i). 

live V. 162, 163, 171, 172. 
Igjnb cf. lamb. 
Iqnd 205. 

/^«f A. Comp. 244. 
IgngeV. 171, 172, 194. 
lookeV. 171, 172, 194. 
Iqrd 200, 201, 202. 
/^r« 207 (i). 
louke V. 156. 
love 207, 208. 
/4;z/e V. 171, 172, 184, 186, 188, 

190, 194. 
loveday 208, 219. 
lowe A. 231. 
-ly Adv. 246 N. 
lye 199 (4). 
lye V. 145, 146, 184, 186, 188, 

190, 191, 193, 196, 
lye V. 156. 



lyfiot,, 220. 
lyke V. 186. 
lyte A. 231. 

maad Part. 234. 

moat A. 239. 

inagyk 223 (/8). 

make V. 171, 173, 186, 196. 

maladye 225. 

malencolyk A. 240. 

;««« 214. 

manciple 227. 

manerie) 223 (/3). 

mansuete A. 239. 

many 255. 

marcJuMint iii„ 226. 

OTaw V. 171, 181 N. 

wzaj^ V. 172. 

masseday 219. 

way V. 198. 

mayde{n) 203 (i), 204, 206, 219 

and N. 
meede 207 (3). 
meeke A. 231. 
me{e)n V. 164, 165, 166. 
w«0rf Sup. 244. 
;«i?^/e V. 164, 165, 166. 
meeve V. 177. 
mele 203 (4). 
melhre 199 (4), 219. 
m,elodye 111. 
■me{n) 255. 
menge V. 164, 166, 168, 170 


mercy 222. 

inerie, snery, jnury A. 230. 
mesteer 221. 
Metamorphosios 229 N. 

;»«?fe 199 (4). 
OT^fe V. 145. 
■meynee ■zi'^ (y). 
m.ight 2oy (4). 
miracle 225. 
w?^ Comp. 246. 
moneye 223 (■y). 
menthe 214. 
mooder^iJ^, 219. 
moone 211. 
m.ggst Sup. 244, 246. 
woo/ V. 198. 
wzjire Comp. 244. 
mgrwe 199 (4). 
»«o?<j' 214. 
mouth 199 (i). 
muchel K. 230. 
OT^rj' A. cf. merie. 
musyk ■2.i'^ (fi). 
my{n) 251. 

name 211. 

narw{e) A. 231. 

nature 222, 223. 

naught, ngught 255. 

»«^(ie 207 (4). 

w^»ze V. 142, 143. 

-nesse 207 (2). 

w^K/e A. 230. 

Wifji:/ Sup. 244. 

neygh, ny Adv. Comp. 246 N 

neyghelour 219. 

neyiher 255. 

Nicholay 229 N. 

night 7,1^. 

nobleye 223 (y). 

«^^« 255. 

«^j« 207. 



nought cf. naught, 
nyne 247. 
nyneteene 247. 

obeye V. 177. 

officeer 225. 

ggk 214. 

o?/(/ A. 230 ; Comp. 244. 

ones Adv. 249 N. 

??(«) 247, 255. 
ggth 199 (i). 
oother 249. 
orgqgn 228. 
qrgues 228. 

tfare 251. 
gverest Sup. 244. 
<ra'« V. 198. 
^xe 211, 212. 

^aa^ 222, 229. 

falfrey 225. 

i>arfyth. i-y),-2.i^\. 

Pamaso 229 N. 

payeV. 180. 

payement 226. 

peeple 225. 

peer{e) 222. 

/^M 222. 

penitent 226. 

/is^j/ 199 (2), 202. 

perree 223 (y). 

pesen 213. 

peynte V. 177 ; cf. depeynte. 

phisyk 223 (y8). 

/wy^e V. 170 (;8). 

Pierides 229. 


pilgrim 226. 

pilgrimage ivj. 

pilour 226. 

pilwebeer 21Z. 

pitee 223 (y). 

//«« 223 (|S). 

/to Adv. 246 N. 

playn Adv. 246 N. 

playne V. 177, 179. 

plentee 222. 

plesaunt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

/&je V. 177, 179. 

plesingie) 243. 

//if)/ 211. 

//^ye V. 173. 

/oifife 222. 

Pompey 229 N. 

possible A. 239. 

/^/ 218, 220. 

pound 2Qi(i. 

poverte 221. 

preeche V. 177. 

preeve V. 194, 196. 

prelaat 183. 

prenostik 223 (y8). 

presse,pr^qs 223 (a). 

preye 222. 

preyeY. 177, 180. 

preyeere 225. 

Priamus 229. 

/^■^e V. 171, 173. 

prince 224. 

princesse 223 (a), 227 

prisoneer 222. 

prophete 222. 

proporcionahle A. 243. 

proverbe 225. 

punissheV. 177, 178 (/S), 179, 181. 



purpqqs 222. 
purs 223 (a). 
putten V. 176 N. 

quake V. 152. 
queene 207 (4), 208, 210. 
quencfie V. 168. 
quene 211. 
querne 207 (5). 
quethe V. 145, 147. 
quiete ill N. 
quik A. 230, 234, 
quyte V. 182. 

recche V. 161, 163. 

recche (reck) V. 169. 

receyve V. 177. 

rfc^^ (reach) V. 169. 

re{e)deV. 130, 134, 167 

rejoyce V. 177. 

remayne V. 177. 

reinenaunt Part, subst. 191 N. 2. 

remembraunce 222. 

r^K^ V. 164, 165, 1 56. 

rOT«^ V. 139, 141, 193. 

renomee 223 (y). 

repeiitaunt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

r^z/e V. 171, 173. 

rewe 207 (3). 

reyse (raise) V. 176. 

reysed Part. 176. 

riche A. 239 ; Comp. 245. 

ring 199 (i). 

ringe V. 139. 

rivere 226. 

ro^ 211, 213. 

rg^«« Part. 155. 

rose 224. 

rj/t/e V. 153. 
rydere 199 (4). 
ryseV. 153, 186. 
ryve\. 153, 154. 

sacrifyse V. 177. 

jarf A. 232. 

jfljye V. cf. seye. 

science 223. 

j^e 222, 225. 

see V. 145, 146, 148, 187, 190, 

seeche V. cf. seeke. 
seek A. 234. 
seeke V. 169. 
j««»z£ V. 165, 166, 194. 
seethe V. 156, 157. 
selle 207 (2). 
j^//^ V. 161, 162, 163. 
senatour 224. 
sendeY. 164, 165, 166. 
j««f? V. 168, 170 N.2. 
servaunt 191 N., 222, 228. 
serve V. ig6. 
servyse 222. 
j£j« V. 177. 

jf//e V. 161, 162, 163, 186. 
sevene 247. 
j^y^, saye V. 161, 162, 163, 164, 

186, 188, 190. 
seynt A. 241, 242. 
shade, shadwe 207 and N. 
shake V. 149. 
shalV. 198. 
shame 207. 
shape V. 149, 1 50. 
shave V. 149. 



shedde V. 176. 

sh^e) 250. 

skeene A. 230. 

sheep 206. 

sheete V. 1 56. 

shepne 207 (i), 219. 

shere V. 142. 

ship 203 (i), 204, 206, 220. 

-shipe 199 (4). 

shoo 199 (3), 202. 

shouve V. 1 56, 1 59. 

shrede V. 1 73. 

shrinke V. 139. 

shryke V. 176. 

shryve V. 1 53. 

shyne V. 153. 

j^^/g V. 153. 

sigkte 218. 

signify e V. 180. 

singeV. 139, 192, 193, 196. 

««^« V. 139. 

j« 248. 

jzV/^ V. 145, 146, 147, 186, 193. 

six 247. 

sixte 249. 

skippe V. 176. 

skryke V. cf. shryke. 

she V. 149, 150, 151, 152, 187, 

190, 196. 
sk{e)peY. 130, 134, 167. 
sleyghte 218. 
slinge 218. 
j/i5W A. 230. 
j/y A. 230, 235. 
slydeV. 153, 186. 
slyieV. 153. 
smal h. 232. 
smyte V. 153. 

snoute 218. 
jMO'ze' 199(2). 
jg/?a A. 230. 
jo/aj 223 (^). 
j<?;« 255. 
somer 199 (i). 
fo«« 199 (4), 200, 202. 
JO««e 211, 212. 
sgrwe 207 (i), 210. 
source, sours 223. 
sovereyn A. 243. 
sowdanesse 223. 
wz£/e V. 1 30. 
jow/i? 207 (i), 219. 
space 223 (yS). 
speke V. 142, 192. 
j/«>-« 203 (4), 204, 206. 
spille V. 166. 
spinneW. 139. 
spredeV. 164, 165, 166. 
sprenge V. 168, 170 N. 2. 
springe V. 1 39. 
squieer 222, 225. 
stable 225. 
stafv)<) (l), 220. 
j^a//« 199 N. 
j/a/« V. 149. 
statut 226. 
j/«^« 199 (4). 
j^^ife V. 1 76. 
stele Y. 142, 196. 
stench 199(1). 
stenteV. 164, 165, 166. 
j/^r/^ V. 1 76. 
sterue V. 139. 
stinge'V. 139. 
j/z«/J« V. 1 39. 
stireV. 161, 162, 163. 



stqnde V. 1 49. 

straw 203 (2). 

streccheV. 161, 162, 163. 

stree 203 (3), 206. 

streme V. 194. 

strengthe 207 (i). 

strond 201. 

strqng A. 235 ; Comp. 244. 

stryve V. 1 54. 

studie V. 178 (a), 181 N., 189. 

subtil K. 241. 

subtiltee 225. 

suffisatmt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

suffreN. 177, 179, 189. 

suffyse V. 177. 

Surrye 223 (y). 

suster 215, 219. 

swalwe 211. 

sweete, swoote A. 230. 

swe(e)te V. 164. 

swelle V. 139. 

swereV. 149, 150, 151, 192, 196. 

swich 255. 

swimme V. 1 39. 

swinkeV. 139. 

swgrn Part. 232, 235. 

jwj/w 206. 

jy/J^ V. 167. 

^aw/e A. 231. 

takeV. 149, 152N., 189. 

/arzV V. 178 (a). 

/«£■/;« V. 169. 

^«««g 311. 

&//« V. 161, 162, 163, 164, 185, 

188, 189, 190, 194. 
tempest 221. 
femporel \. 243. 

ten 2^7. 

tendre A. 239. 

tenthe 249. 

/era 199 N. 

tereV. 142. 

//4(i/ 252, 254. 

tharN. 198. 

//^e 252. 

theef 220. 

thenche, thenke V. 169. 

A^ey 250. 

thing 206. 

thinke V. 169. 

//^zj 252. 

thonder 199 (l). 

Thopas 223 (/3) 

/>5o« 250. 

thousand 247. 

//<rae 247. 

thresshe V. 139, 140. 

thretteene 247. 

thridde 249. 

thringe V. 139. 

thritty 247. 

throw'e 207 (i). 

throwe V. 130. 

/>5?7aj Adv. 249 N. 

thryve V. 153. 

thurst 199 (l). 

A^j/C^) 251. 

/o«^« 211, 213. 

igg2ii, 213. 

/<;o/>4 214. 

/o shrede V. cf. shrede. 

foun 201. 

^«/- 221, 225. 

/0»/« 218. 

/nyj 225. 



trede V. 142. 

tree 101 {1), 206 N. 

trenchaunt Part. adj. 191 N. 2. 

tresoreere 222. 

irewe 207 (3). 

Troilus 229. 

trompe 222. 

trowe V. 186. 

turf 11^ 

tweye, tweyne 247. 

t-wiccheV. 171, 173. 

/i«/o 247. 

iwyes Adv. 249 N. 

/yrf^ 207 (4). 

tyraunt 226. 

unbrend Part. 234. 
upperest Sup. 244. 
Kje V. 194. 
utterest Sup. 244, 

valeye 223 (y). 
vamssheW. 177, 181. 
venquisskeV. 177. 
Venus 229. 
WfW 229. 
wej/« A. 239, 242. 
virelay 225. 
virgine 221. 
T/^yj 222. 
Vulcanus 229. 
zy« 225. 

wa-^g (awake) V. 149, 152 N 
wakeW. 1S2N., 172. 
a/a/ 199(1), 220. 
ffi/ffl/fe 130, 134, 167. 
if^j/ A. 230. 

was Pret. 197. 

•wasshe V. 149. 

wcur^, ware V. 149, 151, 152. 

wed 205. 

wedded Part. 233. 

we(e) 250. 

weene V. 1 70 (f). 

weepeY. 130, 134, 167. 

we^^e 199 (5)- 

we/& V. 170 (t). 

welkne 203 (5), 219. 

wendeV. 164, 165, 166. 

we«/ Part. 234. 

wepen 219. 

w^re V. 161, 162, 188, 189, 190, 

were (wear) V. 144. 
werke V. 169. 
werse Comp. 244. 
werst Sup. 244, 246. 
weve V. 145, 148. 
wexe V. cf. waxe. 
wey{e) 199 (2) and N. 
weye V. 162, 194. 
weyve V. 176. 
whal 199 (i). 
w^a/ 253, 254. 
which 253, 254. 
who 253, 254. 
widwe 111, 212. 
Tw^^^ 203 (i). 
a/z'/l/^e A. 231 N. 
wilV. 19s, 197. 
windowe 2 1 8. 
winne V. 139, 193, 196. 
winter 199 (i), 206. 
W(7 203 (3). 
wode 199 (4). 



wglde V. 130. 

wo^ 199(1). 

wemman 214, 219. 

•woneV. 171, 172, 194, 199 N. 

wqngeer 199 N. 

wQon 218. 

ivggtY. 198. 

world 207 (4), 208. 

wortfie V. 139, 186. 

worthy A. 230. 

wounde 207 (i), 210. 

wreke V. 142. 

wringe V. 139. 

a/>"z/ 203(1). 

wryeY. 153, 196. 

wrj/& V. 153. 

wrytheV. 153, 186. 

wyd A. 234. 

7£'jy203 (i), 204, 206, 220. 

wynde V. 139. 

wj^fi V. 172, 194. 

ayj A. 234. 
ayfe 203 (4). 

J/ cf. /. 
j'«2il, 213. 
yfeteredVaxX. 172. 
yfynde Inf. 196 N. 
y herd A. 175. 
yknowe Inf. 196 N. 
j'OT^/ Part. 234. 
j/j^g Inf. ig6N. 

_y«(*) 250. 
yeelde V. 139, 140. 
^e«r 206. 
j'^Z/fi V. 194. 
yelpeV. 139, 140. 
_j'«/'Z£' A. 231. 
yerde 207 (2). 
yiveV. 145, 146, 14 
>o«f A. 235. 
youre 251. 




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