Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

ME -Lich(e)l-ly. (1)

Academic journal article Studia Anglica Posnaniensia: international review of English Studies

ME -Lich(e)l-ly. (1)

Article excerpt


The aim of this paper is to look at the development of the ME -lich(e) > -ly. Although the /t[integral]/-deletion in this adjectival/adverbial suffix has been noted by scholars for a long time, as it was functioning for several centuries, its geographical and chronological spread have not been given proper attention. Only a few attempts have been made to account for the evolution of the suffix. The mechanism that prompted /t[integral]/-deletion was according to most scholars (Jespersen 1954: 406; Marchand 1962: 329; Onions 1976: 542 and QED Online; see also below) due to the Scandinavian influence (OSc -lig- > ME -ly).

We hope that we have demonstrated that the above sources seem not to be right. Quite contrary to their claims the evidence shows that the aforementioned change must have originated in the West Midlands. Moreover, it is argued that the factors prompting the deletion in -lich(e) are both the simplification taking place in allegro speech and the phonotactic constraints.


The ME -lich was an adjectival suffix going back to the OE -lic, which was used to form adjectives from nouns or other adjectives, e.g., cynelic 'royal', deofollic 'diabolic', etc. (Quirk and Wrenn 1956: 111). The ME period witnessed further expansion of -lic. The phonological aspect of the affricate deletion in the ME suffix -lich(e) has not been widely discussed. Only some authors in their Middle English grammars mention the phenomenon. Fisiak (1965) and Marchand (1969) who are morphologically oriented discuss briefly the emergence of -ly. As for dictionaries, both the QED Online and ODEE (Onions 1976) list the -ly suffix and give short comments on the rise of the affricate-less forms pointing to the Scandinavian influence. A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English (LALME) includes -ly among other linguistic items presented therein and provides a map with the localization of particular tokens of the suffix (see Vol. I: 455-457). Laing (1989) includes some essays which although devoted to problems connect ed with ME dialects, refer to -ly. More recently, dual-form adverbs (adj./adv. -ly) became of particular interest to several scholars. Donner (1991) investigates their development in the Middle English period. Nevalainen (1994 and 1997) examines Late Middle and Early Modem English. Opdahl (2000) discusses dual-form adverbs in present-day English. Yet, none of these works gives a deeper insight into the phonological development of the -lich(e) suffix in Middle English.

The ME -lich, -liche was also an adverbial suffix, going back to the OE -lice. According to The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology (ODEE) "[its] general sense is in a manner characteristic to one who or a thing that is so-and-so called' (as defined by the simplex), hence, 'in so-and-so fashion', 'to so-and-so degree"' (Onions 1976: 541). Primarily, it was only -e which served as an adverb formative. An example such as the OE deope 'deeply' illustrates its use, where deop was an OE adjective. By the same virtue, at the beginning it was a whole adjective ending in -lic, such as cildelic, which was treated as a derivative base for the adverb cildelice. It must have been at the time when adding -lic was regarded as compounding not suffixation. Only later did a reanalysis take place by means of which the base for adverbial derivation was the same as for the adjectival one and a new adverbial suffix -lice arose. Later it was appended also to adjectives which did not end in -lic, i.e. blindlice, blodlice (Kastov sky 1992: 396). The scheme underneath presents the pattern of adverb formation. "Base" stands in for an adjective.

Scheme 1. The pattern of adverb formation in OE

a)Base + -e > Adverb -- PARALLELISM [right arrow]

b)Base + -lic > Base + -e> Adverb -- REANALYSIS [right arrow]

c)Base - -lic > Base + -lice > Adverb.

Table 1 below gives a summary of the frequency, and hence productivity of -LIC and -LICE types in OE. …

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