4. Dialect characteristics

Select a dialect area!

Middle English dialect areas

 

South-Eastern (Kentish) dialect features

Map

 

1. The ME South-Eastern (Kentish) dialect, henceforth SE, was derived from the OE Kentish dialect where breaking before -l + CONS occurred variably. Reflexes of the broken OE forms are typically found in ME SE:
  beald, eald, eald, healdan > ME SE bld, chld, ld, hld
  Note lengthening of vowel before -ld, -rd, -mb, -nd, -ng in late OE. (cf. 25)
 
2.  Independent eME vowel/consonant changes in SE:
  > /O;/ (south of the Humber)     stn > stn, sw > zu (cf. 16)
        after g: > w, > w    gn > gu, gd > gud
  (o >) o > eME ie > i /je;/ (C12)    bo > by, dofol > dyvel, lornian > lyrny (cf. 19, 23)
  a > i /ja;/ (a after r) (C12)    dad > dyd; grat > grat (cf. 21)
  eo > > e    heorte > hrte > herte (cf. 7)
  ea > > a    eall > ll > all, -weard > -wrd > -ward (cf. 8)
        (but cf. OE K > e    ws > wes, þt > þet, hwt > huet) (cf. 2)
  y > e    synn > zenne, dyde > dede, yrie > cherche (cf. 3)
  >     ms > ms (cf. 10)
  s- > z-, f- > v-    > , for > vor (cf. 74)
 
3.  Lengthening of short vowel in open syllable in disyllabic words:
  Lengthening of a, e, o (1200-1250) (common to all dialects; cf. 28-32):
  macian > mken, beran > bren, boren > bren
  NB: No lengthening in trisyllabic forms, which may lead to asymmetry in paradigms (and subsequent analogical levelling of forms):

  sadol > sdel / pl. sadeles, cradol > crdel / pl. cradeles
 
4.  Forms:
  a. hi (‘she’)
  b. hi, hy nom., hem, ham dat./acc. (‘they’, ‘them’)
  c. -inde pr.p.
  d. -(e)þ 3 sg. pres.
  e. -eþ pl. pres.
  f. -eþ pl. imp.


South-Western dialect features

Map

 

1. The ME South-Western dialect, henceforth SW, was derived from the OE West-Saxon dialect with breaking before -l + CONS:
  beald, eald, eald, healdan > ME SW bld, chld, ld, hld
  Note lengthening of vowel before -ld, -rd, -mb, -nd, -ng in late OE. (cf. 25)
 
2.  Independent eME vowel/consonant changes in SW:
  > /O;/ (south of the Humber)     stn > stn, sw > s(w) (cf. 16)
  o > /{;/ > (c. 1400)    bon > bn > bn (cf. 18)
  a >     laf > lf, grat > grt (cf. 20)
  eo > > e    heorte > hrte > herte (cf. 7)
  (ea) > > a    eall > ll > all, -weard > -wrd > -ward; ws > was (cf. 2, 8)
  y remained in early ME () > i (c. 1400)    hyll > hll > hill (cf. 3)
  remained in early ME () > (c. 1400)    ms > ms > ms (cf. 10)
  s- > z-, f- > v-    secgan > /"zedZ@n/ (typically written seggen), for > vor (cf. 74)
 
3.  Lengthening of short vowel in open syllable in disyllabic words:
  Lengthening of a, e, o (1200-1250) (common to all dialects; cf. 28-32):
  macian > mken, beran > bren, boren > bren
  NB: No lengthening in trisyllabic forms, which may lead to asymmetry in paradigms (and subsequent analogical levelling of forms):

  sadol > sdel / pl. sadeles, cradol > crdel / pl. cradeles
 
4.  Forms:
  a. heo, ho /h{;/ (‘she’)
  b. hi(e), hy nom., hem, ham dat./acc. (‘they’, ‘them’)
  c. -inde pr.p. (-ing)
  d. -(e)þ 3 sg. pres.
  e. -(e)þ pl. pres.
  f. -eþ pl. imp.


West Midland dialect features

Map

 

1. The ME West Midland dialect, henceforth WM, was derived from the OE Mercian dialect with no breaking before -l + CONS:
  bald, cald, ald, haldan > ME WM bld, cld, ld, hld
  Note lengthening of vowel before -ld, -rd, -mb, -nd, -ng in late OE. (cf. 25)
 
2.  Independent eME vowel/consonant changes in WM:
  > /O;/ (south of the Humber)     stn > stn, sw > s(w) (cf. 16)
  o > > (c. 1400)    bon > bn > bn (cf. 18)
  a >     laf > lf, grat > grt (cf. 20)
  eo > > e    heorte > hrte > herte (cf. 7)
  ea > > a    eall > ll > all, -weard > -wrd > -ward (cf. 8)
        (but cf. OE South-West Mercian (> sWM) > e    ws > wes, þt > þet, hwt > huet) (cf. 2)
  > a (nWM)    ws > was (cf. 2)
  a > o (before nasal)    man > mon, þancian > þonken (cf. 68)
  y remained in early ME () > i (c. 1400)    hyll > hll > hill (cf. 3)
  remained in early ME () > (c. 1400)    ms > ms > ms (cf. 10)
 
3.  Lengthening of short vowel in open syllable in disyllabic words:
  a. Lengthening of a, e, o (1200-1250) (common to all dialects; cf. 28-32):
  macian > mken, beran > bren, boren > bren
  NB: No lengthening in trisyllabic forms, which may lead to asymmetry in paradigms (and subsequent analogical levelling of forms):

  sadol > sdel / pl. sadeles, cradol > crdel / pl. cradeles
  b. Lengthening (and lowering) of i, u (N., N.Midl., c. 1300; cf. 33-35):
  yfel > ivel > vel / iveles gen.
wicu > wik / wkes pl. (‘week’)
bysi > bisi > bsi / bisiness derivative
sunu > sun / snes pl. (‘son’)
sumor > smer / sumeres pl.
 
4.  Forms:
  a. heo, ha (sWM); ho, scho (nWM) (‘she’)
  b. heo, ha nom., ham dat./acc. (sWM); þay nom., hem dat./acc. (nWM); (‘they’, ‘them’)
  c. -inde (sWM); (-ande) (nWM) pr.p.
  d. -(e)þ (sWM); -(e) -(e)s (nWM) 3 sg. pres.
  e. -eþ (sWM); - (nWM) pl. pres.
  f. -(e)þ (sWM); -(e) -(e)s (nWM) pl. imp.


Northern dialect features

Map

 

1. The ME Northern dialect, henceforth N, was derived from the OE Northumbrian dialect with no breaking before -l + CONS:
  bald, cald, ald, haldan > ME N bld, cld, ld, hld
  Note lengthening of vowel before -ld, -rd, -mb, -nd, -ng in late OE. (cf. 25)
 
2.  Independent eME vowel/consonant changes in N:
  remains in eME > (c. 1300)    stn > stn (cf. 17)
  > ai > (c. 1300)    d > dai > d (cf. 40)
  e > ei > (c. 1300)    we > wei > w (cf. 48)
  o > >     bon > bn > bn (cf. 18)
  a >     laf > lf, grat > grt (cf. 20)
  eo > > e    heorte > hrte > herte (cf. 7)
  (ea) > > a    eall > ll > all, -weard > -wrd > -ward, ws > was (cf. 2, 8)
  y > i    hyll > hill (cf. 3)
  >     ms > ms (cf. 10)
  > /y;/ (typically written ui) (c. 1300)    bld > bld, gd > gd (cf. 13)
 
3.  Lengthening of short vowel in open syllable in disyllabic words:
  a. Lengthening of a, e, o (1200-1250) (common to all dialects; cf. 28-32):
  macian > mken, beran > bren, boren > bren
  NB: No lengthening in trisyllabic forms, which may lead to asymmetry in paradigms (and subsequent analogical levelling of forms):

  sadol > sdel / pl. sadeles, cradol > crdel / pl. cradeles
  b. Lengthening (and lowering) of i, u (N., N.Midl., c. 1300; cf. 33-35):
  yfel > ivel > vel / iveles gen.
wicu > wik / wkes pl. (‘week’)
bysi > bisi > bsi / bisiness derivative
sunu > sun / snes pl. (‘son’)
sumor > smer / sumeres pl.
 
4.  Forms:
  a. scho (sche late ME) (‘she’)
  b. þey, þe3, þai, þay, thay nom., þaim, þam(e) dat./acc. (‘they’, ‘them’)
  c. -and pr.p.
  d. -(e)s 3 sg. pres.
  e. -es pl. pres.
  f. -(e)s pl. imp.


East Midland dialect features

Map

 

1. THE ME East Midland dialect, henceforth EM, was derived from the OE Mercian dialect with no breaking before -l + CONS:
  bald, cald, ald, haldan > ME EM bld, cld, ld, hld
  Note lengthening of vowel before -ld, -rd, -mb, -nd, -ng in late OE. (cf. 25)
 
2.  Independent eME vowel/consonant changes in EM:
  > /O;/ (south of the Humber)     stn > stn, sw > s(w) (cf. 16)
  o > >     bon > bn > bn (cf. 18)
  a >     laf > lf, grat > grt (cf. 20)
  eo > > e    heorte > hrte > herte (cf. 7)
  (ea) > > a    eall > ll > all, -weard > -wrd > -ward, ws > was (cf. 2, 8)
  y > i    hyll > hill (cf. 3)
  >     ms > ms (cf. 10)
 
3.  Lengthening of short vowel in open syllable in disyllabic words:
  a. Lengthening of a, e, o (1200-1250) (common to all dialects; cf. 28-32):
  macian > mken, beran > bren, boren > bren
  NB: No lengthening in trisyllabic forms, which may lead to asymmetry in paradigms (and subsequent analogical levelling of forms):

  sadol > sdel / pl. sadeles, cradol > crdel / pl. cradeles
  b. Lengthening (and lowering) of i, u (N., N.Midl., c. 1300; cf. 33-35):
  yfel > ivel > vel / iveles gen.
wicu > wik / wkes pl. (‘week’)
bysi > bisi > bsi / bisiness derivative
sunu > sun / snes pl. (‘son’)
sumor > smer / sumeres pl.
 
4.  Forms:
  a. sche (scho nEM) (‘she’)
  b. þey, þe3 nom., hem (them lME) dat./acc. (‘they’, ‘them’)
  c. -ing (-ende East Anglia) pr.p.
  d. -(e)þ (-(e)s lME) 3 sg. pres.
  e. -e(n) pl. pres.
  f. -e pl. imp.

 

South-Eastern (Kentish) South-Western West Midland East Midland Northern