In all historical Indo-European languages adjectives possess practically the same morphological features as the nouns, the the sequence of these two parts of speech is an ordinary thing in Indo-European. However, the Nostratic theory (the one which unites Altaic, Uralic, Semitic, Dravidian and Indo-European language families into one Nostratic super-family, once speaking a common Proto-Nostratic language) represented by Illych-Svitych and many other famous linguists, states that adjectives in this Proto-Nostratic tongue were morphologically closer to the verbs than to the nouns. This theory is quite interesting, because even in Proto-Indo-European, a language which was spoken much later than Proto-Nostratic, there are some proofs of the former predicative function of the adjectives. In other families of the super-family this function is even more clear. In Altaic languages, and also in Korean and Japanese, which are originally Altaic, the adjective plays the part of the predicate, and in Korean, for example, the majority of adjectives are predicative. It means that though they always denote the quality of the noun, they act the same way as verbs which denote action. Adjective "red" is actually translated from Japanese as "to be red", and the sentence Bara-wa utsukusii will mean "the rose is beautiful", while bara is "a rose", -wa is the nominative marker, and utsukusii is "to be beautiful". So no verb here, and the adjective is a predicate. This structure is typical for many Altaic languages, and probably was normal for Proto-Nostratic as well. The Proto-Indo-European language gives us some stems which are hard to denote whether they used to mean an adjective or a verb. Some later branches reflect such stems as verbs, but other made them adjectives. So it was the Proto-Indo-European epoch where adjectives as the part of speech began to transform from a verbal one to a nominal one. And all Indo-European branches already show the close similarity of the structure of adjectives and nouns in the language. So does the Old English language, where adjective is one of the nominal parts of speech. As well as the noun, the adjective can be declined in case, gender and number. Moreover, the instrumental case which was discussed before was preserved in adjectives much stronger than in nouns. Adjectives must follow sequence with nouns which they define - thet is why the same adjective can be masculine, neuter and feminine and therefore be declined in two different types: one for masculine and neuter, the other for feminine nouns. The declension is more or less simple, it looks much like the nominal system of declension, though there are several important differences. Interesting to know that one-syllable adjectives ("monosyllabic") have different declension than two-syllable ones ("disyllabic"). See for yourselves: The last thing to be said about the adjectives is the degrees of comparison. Again, the traditional Indo-European structure is preserved here: three degrees (absolutive, comparative, superlative) - though some languages also had the so-called "equalitative" grade; the special suffices for forming comparatives and absolutives; suppletive stems for several certain adjectives. The suffices we are used to see in Modern English, those -er and -est in weak, weaker, the weakest, are the direct descendants of the Old English ones. At that time they sounded as -ra and -est. See the examples:
earm (poor) - earmra - earmost
blæc (black) - blæcra - blacost
Many adjectives changed the root vowel - another example of the Germanic ablaut:
eald (old) - ieldra - ieldest
strong - strengra - strengest
long - lengra - lengest
geong (young) - gingra - gingest
The most widespread and widely used adjectives always had their degrees formed from another stem, which is called "suppletive" in linguistics. Many of them are still seen in today's English:
gód (good) - betera - betst (or sélra - sélest)
yfel (bad) - wiersa - wierest
micel (much) - mára - máést
lýtel (little) - læ'ssa - læ'st
fear (far) - fierra - fierrest, fyrrest
néah (near) - néarra - níehst, nýhst
æ'r (early) - æ'rra - æ'rest
fore (before) - furþra - fyrest (first)
Now you see what the word "first" means - just the superlative degree from the adjective "before, forward". The same is with níehst from néah (near) which is now "next". Pronouns were the only part of speech in Old English which preserved the dual number in declension, but only this makes them more archaic than the rest parts of speech. Most of pronouns are declined in numnber, case and gender, in plural the majority have only one form for all genders. We will touch each group of Old English pronouns and comment on them.
1. Personal pronouns
Singular Plural Dual
N ic, íc wé wit
G mín úre uncer
D mé ús unc
A mec, mé úsic, ús uncit, unc
N þú gé git
G þín éower incer
D þé éow inc
A þéc, þé éowic, éow incit, inc
N hé (masc.), héo (fem.), hit (neut.) híe (masc., neut.), héo (fem.)
G his, hire, his hiera, heora
D him, hire, him him
A hine, híe, hit híe, héo
Don't they look much like Modern English ones? Through the last 1500 years mín became mine, gé turned into you (ye as a colloquial variant). But changes are still significant: the 2nd person singular pronouns disappeared from the language, remaining only in poetic speech and in some dialects in the north of England. This is really a strange feature - I can hardly recall any other Indo-European language which lacks the special pronoun for the 2nd person singular (French tu, German du, Russian ty etc.). The polite form replaced the colloquial one, maybe due to the English traditional "ladies and gentlemen" customs. Another extreme exists in Irish Gaelic, which has no polite form of personal pronoun, and you turn to your close friend the same way as you spoke with a prime minister - the familiar word, translated into French as tu. It can sound normal for English, but really funny for Slavic, Baltic, German people who make a thorough distinction between speaking to a friend and to a stranger.
The word for "she" was héo in Old English. The word she probably comes from the feminine demonstrative pronoun séo (see below), which derives from the Common Germanic *sjó. But the exact origin of this simple word is unknown, and there is even a version that it came from Celtic languages (Irish sí [shee]) or from Scandinavian.
2. Demonstrative pronouns ('I' means the instrumental case)
Masculine Feminine Neuter Plural
N sé séo þæt þá
G þæs þæ're þæs þára
D þæ'm þæ're þæ'm þám
A þone þá þæt þá
I þý, þon - þý, þon -
N þes þéos, þíos þis þás
G þisses þisse þisses þissa
D þissum, þeossum þisse þissum þissum
A þisne, þysne þás þis þás
I þis, þys - þýs, þis -
Both demonstrative pronouns come from the same two Proto-Indo-European stems: *so- / *sa- and *to-. Originally, in Indo-European languages there was a three-grade system of demonstrative pronouns, namely "this, next to me", "this, next to you", and "that, far from both of us". But, as well as many branches of the family, Germanic languages left only two of them, simplifying the structure to just "this" and " that".
All indirect case forms of the pronouns above begin with þ- [th]. It traces back to the Indo-European *t- which became þ in Germanic.
3. Interrogative pronouns
N hwá hwæt
G hwæs hwæs
D hwæ'm hwæ'm
A hwone hwæt
I - hwý, hwí
Translation is simple. For those who have not guessed yet, hwá means 'who?', hwæt is 'what?'. These pronouns, which actually mean the masculine and the neuter varieties of the same pronoun, derive from Proto-Indo-European *kwis, with *kw becoming hw in Germanic languages. In Gothic the combination hw was considered as one sound which is another proof that the Indo-European the labiovelar sound kw was a single sound with some specific articulation.
Later Germanic languages changed the sound in a different way: in Norwegian it remained as hv, in German turned into w (as in wer 'who', was 'what'), in English finally changed into wh pronounced in most cases [w], but somewhere also like [h] or [hw].
Interesting that the instrumental of the word hwæt, once being a pronoun form, later became the word why in English. So 'why?' is originally an instrumental case of the interrogative pronoun.
Other interrogative pronouns, or adverbs, as they are sometimes called, include the following, all beginning with hw:
hwilc 'which?' - is declined as the strong adjective (see adjectives above)
hwonne 'when?' - this and following are not declined, naturally
4. Other kinds of pronouns
They include definite, indefinite, negative and relative, all typical for Indo-European languages. All of them still exist in Modern English, and all of them are given here:
gehwá (every) - declined the same way as hwá
swilc (such) - all declined like strong adjectives
sé ylca (the same) - declined like a weak adjective
æ'nig (any) - both behave the same way as strong adjectives
nán, næ'nig (no, none) - declined like strong adjectives
þe (which, that)
séþe (which, that) - they are not declined
In Proto-Indo-European and in many ancient Indo-European languages there was a special kind of declension calleed pronominal, using only by pronouns and opposed to the one used by nouns, adjectives and numerals. Old English lost it, and its pronouns use all the same endings as the nouns and adjectives. Maybe the only inflection which remembers the Proto-language times, is the neuter nominative -t in hwæt and þæt, the ancient ending for inanimate (inactive) nouns and pronouns.
And now finally some words about the article. In Proto-Indo-European no traces of definite or indefinite articles can be found, and the majority of ancient Indo-European languages lack it either. But still the article is considered a typical "late Indo-European" feature - it started appearing already when languages of the family existed separately. In Homer's Greek language there was no article, not in Mycenaean Greek, but all classical Greek dialects already have the definite article in wide use. Later the difinite article appears in Romance languages (though Latin did not have it at all), Celtic languages (again - Gaulish had no, but all Insular Celtic tongues generated it), in late Germanic (but not in Gothic nor in Old English), and even in several Slavic languages, those which belong to the so-called "Balkan language alliance" (Macedonian, Bulgarian).
Old English did not use the article. It appeared later, coming, as it always happen, for the demonstrative pronoun. But even in this period the texts show us the frequent use of the demonstrative pronoun before nouns in the sentence: ...he heold þæt rice (he held the kingdom). I do not know why it happens and in general why the article appears in the language, I think it could do well without any.
As for the indefinite article, it was a product of the Old English numerals.