By David Burnley (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Language of Chaucer
It says here that . . This type too is common in Chaucer, but alongside them is an older type in which the it-subject remains unexpressed. The only remains of this in modern English are the archaisms methinks 'it seems to me' and woe is· me 'it is misery to me'. 'S, in which the subject is left unexpressed, the present-tense verb has third-person concord, and the pronoun is in the dative or 36 accusative case. Such constructions have traditionally been called without any great accuracy impersonal constructions.
27 Finally, it should be noted that om1sswn of the relative occurs in Middle English in circumstances which would seem unidiomatic in the modern language: He sente after a cherl was in the town Which that he knew for subtil and for bold. (C 140-1) Verbs Verbs in the Germanic languages can be divided into two great classes: the strong and the weak. In Chaucer's Middle English, as in modern English, these are distinguishable only by the forms of the preterite and the past participle. In the strong verbs, the preterite was formed by a change in the root vowel, and the past participle by the addition of the inflexional ending e(n).
AI though it has not been shown in the above lists, the past participles of Chaucer's verbs, both weak and strong, can occur in two forms: with or without the prefix y- I i-. This prefix is a phonetically-reduced form of the Old English prefix ge- found chiefly in the dialects of the south and west in Middle English. In Chaucer the southern form ycleped is found alongside the east Midland cleped, andycame(n) alongside came(n). Infinitive The infinitive of the verb frequently terminates in -en, but forms lacking the final n are common, and such forms allow 29 elision with the initial vowel in the syllable following.