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Paradigms Page 1


1. Paradigms are model patterns for the various word-classes. You should try to learn the OE paradigms indicated here, according to a sequence given you by your lecturer/tutor. Such learning can seem very tedious; however, in the long run, it will save you the effort of scrabbling through this Grammar for every form of words or word-classes which appear frequently. The Paradigms given here are not exhaustive, and you will need to refer to the Glossary for further information.

2. Nouns Most PDE nouns have a very simple paradigm, taking account of number and genitive (or 'possessive') case: PIG : PIG'S : PIGS : PIGS'. OE nouns are similar, but have to take account not only of a more complex case-system but also of 'grammatical' gender. Moreover, you are probably aware of some irregular sequences in PDE: CHILD : CHILD'S : CHILDREN : CHILDREN'S, MOUSE : MOUSE'S : MICE : MICE'S. These 'irregularities' go back to OE times, and were rather more widespread then.

3. OE nouns can be classified into five groups, or declensions. (The act of reciting noun-paradigms is called 'declining'; you may be asked to 'decline' a noun.) In decreasing order of frequency of occurrence in OE, these declensions are:

(1) General Masculine Declension
(2) General Feminine Declension
(3) General Neuter Declension
(4) the -an Declension
(5) Irregular Declensions

For reasons which we do not need to discuss at this stage, Declensions 1 - 3 are often referred to as 'Strong' Declensions, whereas Declension 4 is often called the 'Weak' Declension. (The terms 'strong' and 'weak' are unfortunate, given their use with regard to adjectives and verbs; they are used here because you will come across them in more advanced books.)


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