chapter
36 Pages

UNIT 2: History, culture, language origins

One of the most spectacular features of the earliest English is the remodelling of its pronoun system. It's also revealing on phonological grounds, and it's with those phonological grounds that begin our analysis of the remodelling process. The stressed form tends to appear under conditions of syntactic focus and/or thematic emphasis, while the unstressed form appears in virtually all other positions and conditions: it is the 'normative' form. The distinction between stressed and unstressed forms appears readily in other present-day Germanic languages. Given the abundant present-day evidence that speakers find it useful to have a system of pronouns that may be distinct from the set that is actually written, then it's likely that a speaker of English, found it useful to employ the same kind of distinction. It also describes culturally and linguistically, from classical Old English.