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Paradigms Page 4

9. Irregular declensions

These minor declensions can be subdivided into three groups, classified by their way of forming the plural: (a) -a plurals, (b) uninflected plurals, (c) 'mutation' plurals.

(a) Sg: sunu SON (nom), sunu (acc), suna (gen), suna (dat);
Pl: suna (nom), suna (acc), suna (gen), sunum (dat)

The -a plural declension includes the masculines sunu SON, wudu WOOD, and the feminines duru DOOR, nosu NOSE and hond HAND. Hond declines like the others, except that it has an endingless Nom and Acc Sg.

(b) In general,uninflected plurals decline like the General Masculine, Feminine and Neuter Declensions above, except that the Nom and Acc Pl is the same as the Nom and Acc Sg. Of importance here are 'relationship' nouns. Fæder FATHER belongs to the General Masculine Declension (except that the Dat Sg and, sometimes, the Gen Sg are endingless), but Masc brōþor BROTHER and Fem mōdor MOTHER, dohtor DAUGHTER decline according to the following paradigm:

Sg: dohtor (nom), dohtor (acc), dohtor (gen), dehter (dat);
Pl: dohtor (nom), dohtor (acc), dohtra (gen), dohtrum (dat)

Sweostor ,SISTER follows the same paradigm, except that the Dat Sg is identical to the Nom/Acc/Gen Sg.

(c) 'Mutation' plurals are so-called because the Dat Sg and some of the plural forms change the stressed vowel of the singular form; this reflects a prehistoric OE sound-change, known as 'i-mutation' or 'i-umlaut'. The details of this sound-change need not concern us here, although, if you know modern German, you will have come across something similar in the alternation between Apfel APPLE and Äpfel APPLES. A number of these nouns remain irregular in PDE, eg. fōt FOOT, gōs GOOSE, mūs MOUSE, but others, eg. bōc BOOK, frēond FRIEND, have become regular. Fōt provides a useful model paradigm, although other nouns show minor deviations from this model.

Sg: fōt (nom, acc), fōtes (gen), fēt (dat);
Pl: fēt (nom, acc), fōta (gen), fōtum (dat)

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