古い Wardale の中英語入門書の復刻版を手に取っている．中英語 (Middle English) は古英語 (Old English or Anglo-Saxon) と何がどう異なるのか．Wardale (2--3) が明快に3点を挙げている．
(a) One of these marked differences is that whereas the latter contained very little foreign element, only a limited number of Latin words and a very few from Celtic and other sources being found, the vocabulary of Middle English has been enormously enriched, especially from Old Norse and French.
(b) Another point of distinction is that whereas in the O.E. period the West Saxon dialect under Ælfred's encouragement of learning had come to be the standard literary dialect, the others being relegated chiefly to colloquial use, in M.E. times no such state of affairs existed. In them all dialects were used for literary purposes and only towards the end of the period do we find that of Chaucer beginning to assume its position as the leading literary language.
(c) But more important than these external points of difference, if perhaps less obvious, and more essential because inherent in the language itself, is the modification which gradually made itself seen in that language. English, like all Germanic tongues, has at all times been governed by what is known as the Germanic accent law, that is by the system of stem accentuation. By this law, except in a few cases, the chief emphasis of the word was thrown on the stem syllable, all others remaining less stressed or entirely unaccented. . . . But by [the M.E. period] all vowels in unaccented syllables have been levelled under one uniform sound e . . .
つまり，古英語と比べたときの中英語の際立ちは3点ある．豊富な借用語，標準変種の不在，無強勢母音の水平化だ．とりわけ，3点目が言語内的で本質的な特徴であり，それは2つの重大な結果をもたらしたと，Wardale (3--4) は議論する．
The consequences of this levelling of all unaccented vowels under one are twofold.
(a) Since many inflectional endings had by this means lost their distinctive value, as when a nominative singular caru, care, an a nominative plural cara both gave a M.E. care, or a nominative plural limu, limbs, and a genitive plural lima both gave a M.E. lime, those few endings which did remain distinctive, such as the -es, of the nominative plural of most masculine nouns, were for convenience' sake gradually taken for general use and the regularly developed plurals care and lime were replaced by cares and limes. In the same way and for the same reason the -es of genitive singular ending of most masculine and neuter nouns came gradually to be used in other declensions as when for an O.E. lāre, lore's we find a M.E. lǫres
(b) The second consequence follows as naturally. The older method of indicating the relationship between words in a sentence having thus become inadequate, it was necessary to fin another, and pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions came more and more into use. Thus an O.E. bōca full, which would have normally given a M.E. bōke full was replaced by the phrase full of bōkes, and an O.E. subjunctive hie 'riden, which in M.E. would have been indistinguishable from the indicative riden from an O.E. ridon, by the phrase if hi riden. In short, English from having been a synthetic language, became one which was analytic.
1つめの結果は，明確に区別される -es のような優勢な屈折語尾が一般化したということだ．2つめは，語と語の関係を標示するのに屈折に頼ることができなくなったために，代名詞，前置詞，接続詞といった語類に依存する度合が増し，総合的な言語から分析的な言語へ移行したことだ．
・ Wardale, E. E. An Introduction to Middle English. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1937. 2016. Abingdon: Routledge, 2016.
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