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Old English Online

Lesson 7

Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann

Close around the year 1000, an English monk made a copy of an older poem paraphrasing the first half of the book of Genesis, up to the sacrifice of Isaac. No one knows what he was copying from, but his handiwork (which includes other texts) survives in a single bound volume now located in Oxford's Bodleian Library. The history of the manuscript is rather obscure, up until the time it was bequeathed to the library by Franciscus Junius in 1677, and the history of the Genesis poem in it is even less well known.

Nowhere in these texts is authorship ascribed to anyone. Caedmon was the first individual we know to have been posited as their author, based on Bede's description of his talents and interests, and for a long time the texts were commonly known as -- though not so firmly believed to be -- the poetry of Caedmon. As centuries passed this position continually weakened, and now only part of Genesis (if even that) is thought to be Caedmon's.

Centuries of scholarship have settled on few conclusions regarding this work, but it has become clear that the original Genesis poem was in two parts, one of them labelled B being a translation of an Old Saxon poem dated to the early 9th century, and the other labelled A being a native Old English composition (perhaps originally Anglian, though recorded in West Saxon); which of the two poems is older, and how they came to be conflated, is much debated. A well defended position is that Genesis A dates to ca. 700, which would likely make it older than Beowulf, and might possibly be the work of Caedmon, though more likely it is not following the argument that the author was probably literate. Yet it might well represent the work of a poet in Caedmon's Northumbrian school, and with this unoriginal note we surrender all arguments to the scholars.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Our lesson text describes Noah taking his family into the ark, and there riding out the flood that covered even "the high mountains." Genesis A being a poetic paraphrase, there is no direct correspondence to the Hebrew scriptures, or even to the Latin Vulgate translation of them that the poet arguably must have studied.

Our selection includes lines 1356-1391, found on pp. 42-43 in: George P. Krapp, ed. (1931), The Junius Manuscript, New York: Columbia University. The events portrayed are found in Genesis chapter 7.

Him þa Noe gewat,         swa hine nergend het,
under earce bord         eaforan lædan,
weras on wægþæl         and heora wif somed;

  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- ...
  • þa -- adverbial conjunction <þā> then, when -- then
  • Noe -- proper noun, masculine <Noe> Noah -- Noah
  • gewat -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <gewītan, gewāt, gewiton, gewiten> depart, go -- went
  • swa -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • hine -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • nergend -- noun, masculine <nergend> preserver, savior -- the savior
  • het -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <hātan, heht, hēton, hāten> call, name; order -- commanded
  • under -- preposition <under> under -- on
  • earce -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <earc> ark -- the ark
  • bord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <bord> board, shield -- board
  • eaforan -- weak noun, masculine; accusative plural of <eafora> son, heir -- (his) sons
  • lædan -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <lǣdan, lǣde, lǣded> lead, bring -- to bring
  • weras -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <wer> man -- men
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- into
  • wægþæl -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <wæg-þel> ship, lit. wave-planking -- the ship
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • heora -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- their
  • wif -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <wīf> wife, woman -- wives
  • somed -- adverb <somod> also, together -- also

and eall þæt to fæsle         frea ælmihtig
habban wolde         under hrof gefor
to heora ætgifan,         swa him ælmihtig
weroda drihten         þurh his word abead.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • eall -- adjective <eall> all -- all
  • þæt -- demonstrative used as relative pronoun; accusative singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> who, which, that -- that
  • to -- adverb <> as, for -- for
  • fæsle -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <fæsl> progeny, offspring -- progeny
  • frea -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <frēa> lord, master -- the Lord
  • ælmihtig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ælmihtig> almighty -- almighty
  • habban -- weak verb, class III; infinitive of <habban, hæfde, hæfd> have, possess -- have
  • wolde -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <willan> wish, be willing -- would
  • under -- preposition <under> under -- under
  • hrof -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hrōf> roof -- the roof
  • gefor -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person singular preterite of <gefaran, gefōr, gefōron, gefaren> go, proceed -- (he) went
  • to -- adverb <> as, for -- as
  • heora -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- their
  • ætgifan -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <æt-gifa> food-giver -- provider
  • swa -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • ælmihtig -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <ælmihtig> almighty -- the almighty
  • weroda -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <werod> army, band, host -- of hosts
  • drihten -- noun, masculine <drihten> lord, prince, ruler -- Lord
  • þurh -- preposition <þurh> through, by (means of) -- by
  • his -- 3rd person pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- his
  • word -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <word> word, speech -- word
  • abead -- strong verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <ābēodan, ābēad, ābudon, āboden> bid, announce -- bade

Him on hoh beleac         heofonrices weard
merehuses muð         mundum sinum,
sigora waldend,         and segnade
earce innan         agenum spedum
nergend usser.

  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- him
  • on hoh -- preposition <on> on(to), upon + noun, masculine <hōh> heel; promontory -- behind
  • beleac -- strong verb, class II; preterite singular of <belūcan, belēac, belucon, belocen> close, lock, shut -- shut
  • heofonrices -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <heofon-rīce> kingdom of heaven -- of the kingdom of heaven
  • weard -- noun, masculine <weard> ward, guard, keeper -- the ward
  • merehuses -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <mere-hūs> sea-house -- of the ark
  • muð -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mūð> mouth -- the door
  • mundum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <mund> hand -- hands
  • sinum -- 3rd person pronoun; used as adjective; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- with his
  • sigora -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <sigor> victory -- of victories
  • waldend -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <wealdend> wielder, ruler, lord -- the Lord
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • segnade -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <segnian, segnade, segnad> bless, consecrate -- blessed
  • earce -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <earc> ark -- the ark
  • innan -- preposition <innan> in, within -- within
  • agenum -- adjective; dative of <āgen> own -- with (his) own
  • spedum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <spēd> means, riches, success -- riches
  • nergend -- noun, masculine <nergend> preserver, savior -- savior
  • usser -- 1st person pronoun; genitive plural of <ic> I -- our

        Noe hæfde,
sunu Lameches,         syxhund wintra
þa he mid bearnum         under bord gestah,
gleaw mid geogoðe,         be godes hæse,
dugeðum dyrum.

  • Noe -- proper noun, masculine <Noe> Noah -- Noah
  • hæfde -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <habban, hæfde, hæfd> have, possess -- had
  • sunu -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <sunu> son -- son
  • Lameches -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <Lamech> Lamech -- Lamech's
  • syxhund -- numeral <siex-hund> six hundred -- six hundred
  • wintra -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <winter> winter, year -- (of) years
  • þa -- adverbial conjunction <þā> then, when -- when
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • bearnum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <bearn> child -- children
  • under -- preposition <under> under -- on
  • bord -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <bord> board, shield -- board
  • gestah -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <gestīgan, gestāh, gestigon, gestigen> mount, ascend -- climbed
  • gleaw -- adjective; nominative singular of <glēaw> wise, prudent -- the wise
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • geogoðe -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <geogoð> youth, youngster -- the young
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- at
  • Godes -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <God> God, Deity -- God's
  • hæse -- noun, feminine; dative singular of <hǣs> behest, command -- behest
  • dugeðum -- noun, feminine; dative plural of <duguð> host, body of retainers; glory -- family
  • dyrum -- adjective; dative plural of <dȳre> dear, beloved -- with beloved

        Drihten sende
regn from roderum         and eac rume let
willeburnan         on woruld þringan
of ædra gehwære,         egorstreamas
swearte swogan.

  • drihten -- noun, masculine <drihten> lord, prince, ruler -- the Lord
  • sende -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <sendan, sende, sened> send -- sent
  • regn -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <regn> rain -- rain
  • from -- preposition <fram> from -- from
  • roderum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <rodor> sky, heaven -- the heavens
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • eac -- adverb <ēac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • rume -- adverb <rūm> roomy, spacious -- abundantly
  • let -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <lǣtan, lēt, lēton, lǣten> let, allow -- allowed
  • willeburnan -- noun, feminine; nominative plural of <willeburne> well-spring -- well-springs
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- into
  • woruld -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <woruld> world -- the world
  • þringan -- strong verb, class III; infinitive of <þringan, þrong, þrungon, þrungen> throng, crowd, press -- to throng
  • of -- preposition <of> from, of -- from
  • ædra -- noun, feminine <ædre> artery, channel -- channels
  • gehwære -- adverb <gehwær> on every side, everywhere -- everywhere
  • egorstreamas -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <ēagor-strēam> sea-stream, current -- currents
  • swearte -- adjective; nominative plural masculine of <sweart> dark, black, swarthy -- dark
  • swogan -- strong verb, class VII; infinitive of <swogan, swēog, swēogon, swōgen> resound, roar -- to roar

        Sæs up stigon
ofer stæðweallas.

  • sæs -- noun, feminine; nominative plural <> sea, lake -- seas
  • up -- adverb <ūp> up, upwards -- up
  • stigon -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <stīgan, stāh, stigon, stigen> rise, ascend -- rose
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • stæðweallas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <stæð-weall> shore-wall -- shore-walls

        Strang wæs and reðe
se ðe wætrum weold;

  • strang -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <strang> strong -- strong
  • wæs -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • reðe -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <rēðe> fierce, cruel -- fierce
  • se -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- he
  • ðe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • wætrum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <wæter> water -- the waters
  • weold -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <wealdan, wēold, wēoldon, wealden> wield, direct -- directed

        wreah and þeahte
manfæhðu bearn         middangeardes
wonnan wæge,         wera eðelland;

  • wreah -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <wrēon, wrāh, wrigon, wrigen> hide, cover -- covered
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þeahte -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <ðeccan, ðeahte, ðeaht> cover, conceal -- hid
  • manfæhðu -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <mānfǣhðu> wickedness -- wickedness
  • bearn -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <bearn> child -- the children
  • middangeardes -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <middan-eard> middle-earth, world -- of the world
  • wonnan -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <wonn> dark -- with dark
  • wæge -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <wǣg> wave, billow -- billow
  • wera -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <wer> man -- of men
  • eðelland -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <ēðel-land> native land -- the land

hof hergode,         hygeteonan wræc
metod on monnum.

  • hof -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <hof> court; dwelling -- dwelling place
  • hergode -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <hergian, hergode, gehergod> harry, raid, ravage -- ravaged
  • hygeteonan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <hygeteona> injury, insult -- havoc
  • wræc -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person singular preterite of <wrecan, wræc, wræcon, wrecen> wreak, force; tell, utter -- wreaked
  • metod -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <metod> creator -- the Creator
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • monnum -- strong noun, masculine; dative plural of <monn> man, person -- men

        Mere swiðe grap
on fæge folc         feowertig daga,
nihta oðer swilc.

  • mere -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <mere> mere, lake, sea -- the sea
  • swiðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- firmly
  • grap -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <grīpan, grāp, gripon, gripen> grasp, seize -- seized
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- upon
  • fæge -- adjective; accusative singular of <fǣge> doomed, fated -- doomed
  • folc -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <folc> folk, people -- people
  • feowertig -- numeral <fēowertig> forty -- forty
  • daga -- noun, masculine; genitive plural of <dæg> day -- (of) days
  • nihta -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <niht> night -- (of) nights
  • oðer -- adjective <ōðer> other, next, second -- another
  • swilc -- pronoun <swilc> such -- such

        Nið wæs reðe,
wællgrim werum;

  • nið -- noun, masculine <nīð> enmity, hostility -- anger
  • wæs -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • reðe -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <rēðe> fierce, cruel -- fierce
  • wællgrim -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <wællgrim> fierce, cruel -- cruel
  • werum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <wer> man -- to men

        wuldorcyninges
yða wræcon         arleasra feorh
of flæschoman.

  • wuldorcyninges -- noun, neuter <wuldor> glory, praise + strong noun, masculine; genitive singular <cyning> king -- of the King of Glory
  • yða -- strong noun, feminine; nominative plural of <ȳð> wave -- the waves
  • wræcon -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person plural preterite of <wrecan, wræc, wræcon, wrecen> wreak, force; tell, utter -- drove
  • arleasra -- adjective <ārlēas> base, dishonorable, wicked -- wicked
  • feorh -- strong noun, masc/neut; accusative singular of <feorh> life -- life
  • of -- preposition <of> from, of -- from
  • flæschoman -- weak noun, masculine; accusative singular of <flǣsc-homa> body -- body

        Flod ealle wreah,
hreoh under heofonum         hea beorgas
geond sidne grund         and on sund ahof
earce from eorðan

  • flod -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <flōd> flood, deluge -- the flood
  • ealle -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <eall> all -- all
  • wreah -- strong verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <wrēon, wrāh, wrigon, wrigen> hide, cover -- covered
  • hreoh -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <hrēo> fierce, wild, savage -- savage
  • under -- preposition <under> under -- under
  • heofonum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <heofon> heaven, sky -- the heavens
  • hea -- adjective; accusative plural masculine of <hēah> high -- the high
  • beorgas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <beorg> hill, mountain -- mountains
  • geond -- preposition <geond> over, through(out) -- on
  • sidne -- adjective; accusative singular of <sīd> wide, extensive -- ...
  • grund -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <grund> ground, earth -- earth
  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • sund -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <sund> sea, water -- the water
  • ahof -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person singular preterite of <āhebban, āhōf, āhōfon, āhafen> raise, lift up -- lifted up
  • earce -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <earc> ark -- the ark
  • from -- preposition <fram> from -- from
  • eorðan -- noun, feminine; genitive singular of <eorð> earth -- the earth

        and þa æðelo mid,
þa segnade         selfa drihten,
scyppend usser,         þa he þæt scip beleac.

  • and -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þa -- demonstrative article; accusative singular feminine of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • æðelo -- indeclinable noun, feminine; accusative singular of <æðelo> noble race -- noble race
  • mid -- adverb <mid> within -- within
  • þa -- demonstrative pronoun; accusative singular feminine of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • segnade -- weak verb, class II; 3rd person singular preterite of <segnian, segnade, segnad> bless, consecrate -- blessed
  • selfa -- reflexive pronoun; nominative singular of <self> self, same -- himself
  • drihten -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <drihten> lord, prince, ruler -- the Lord
  • scyppend -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <scieppend> shaper, creator -- Creator
  • usser -- 1st person pronoun; genitive plural of <ic> I -- our
  • þa -- adverbial conjunction <þā> then, when -- when
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- he
  • þæt -- demonstrative article; accusative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- that
  • scip -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <scip> ship -- ship
  • beleac -- strong verb, class II; preterite singular of <belūcan, belēac, belucon, belocen> close, lock, shut -- closed up

Lesson Text

Him þa Noe gewat,         swa hine nergend het,
under earce bord         eaforan lædan,
weras on wægþæl         and heora wif somed;

and eall þæt to fæsle         frea ælmihtig
habban wolde         under hrof gefor
to heora ætgifan,         swa him ælmihtig
weroda drihten         þurh his word abead.

Him on hoh beleac         heofonrices weard
merehuses muð         mundum sinum,
sigora waldend,         and segnade
earce innan         agenum spedum
nergend usser.
        Noe hæfde,
sunu Lameches,         syxhund wintra
þa he mid bearnum         under bord gestah,
gleaw mid geogoðe,         be godes hæse,
dugeðum dyrum.
        Drihten sende
regn from roderum         and eac rume let
willeburnan         on woruld þringan
of ædra gehwære,         egorstreamas
swearte swogan.
        Sæs up stigon
ofer stæðweallas.
        Strang wæs and reðe
se ðe wætrum weold;
        wreah and þeahte
manfæhðu bearn         middangeardes
wonnan wæge,         wera eðelland;

hof hergode,         hygeteonan wræc
metod on monnum.
        Mere swiðe grap
on fæge folc         feowertig daga,
nihta oðer swilc.
        Nið wæs reðe,
wællgrim werum;
        wuldorcyninges
yða wræcon         arleasra feorh
of flæschoman.
        Flod ealle wreah,
hreoh under heofonum         hea beorgas
geond sidne grund         and on sund ahof
earce from eorðan
        and þa æðelo mid,
þa segnade         selfa drihten,
scyppend usser,         þa he þæt scip beleac.

Translation

Then Noah went, as the Savior commanded him, to bring his sons on board the ark, men into the ship and their wives also; and all that the Lord Almighty would have for progeny. And he went under the roof as their provider, as the Almighty, the Lord of hosts, bade him by His word. Behind him the Ward of the kingdom of heaven shut the door of the ark with His hands, the Lord of victories, and blessed (those) within the ark with His own riches, our Savior. Noah, Lamech's son, had [was] six hundred years [old] when he climbed on board with (his) children, the wise with the young, at God's behest, with (his) beloved family. The Lord sent rain from the heavens and also abundantly allowed well-springs to throng into the world from channels everywhere, dark currents to roar. Seas rose up over shore-walls. Strong and fierce was He who directed the waters; covered and hid wickedness, the children of the world with dark billow, the land of men; the Creator ravaged dwelling place, wreaked havoc on men. The sea firmly seized upon doomed people forty days (and) another such of nights. Anger was fierce, cruel to men; the waves of the King of Glory drove wicked life from body. The flood, savage under the heavens, covered all the high mountains on earth and on the water lifted up from the earth the ark and that noble race within, that the Lord himself blessed, our Creator, when he closed up that ship.

Grammar

31. The Root Nouns

The declension class with the most ancient origins includes the root nouns, where inflection is based on the root without an intervening affix (i.e. rather than on a stem formed from the root). This may also be called the radical consonant declension, as the inflectional ending is added to the [final] consonant of the radical (i.e. root); yet another label for this class is mutation plurals, as the [nominative/accusative] plural forms often incorporate a vowel change called umlaut. This class includes some neuter nouns, though only masculine and feminine exemplars are listed here.

    Masc.   Masc.   Masc.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   monn 'man'   fōt 'foot'   tōð 'tooth'   bōc 'book'   burg 'borough'
Gen.Sg.   monnes   fōtes   tōðes   bōce   byrig
Dat.Sg.   menn   fēt   tēð   bēc   byrig
Acc.Sg.   monn   fōt   tōð   bōc   burg
Nom.Pl.   menn   fēt   tēð   bēc   byrig
Gen.Pl.   monna   fōta   tōða   bōca   burga
Dat.Pl.   monnum   fōtum   tōðum   bōcum   burgum
Acc.Pl.   menn   fēt   tēð   bēc   byrig

Spelling Notes

As always, in OE, spelling variations abound in the texts; for example, monn may be spelled mon or mann or man, menn may be spelled men, and a "weak" accusative singular form monnan is also found. Variations are known, too, for forms of the other OE words above.

Other root nouns with umlaut that survived into modern English include goose/geese, louse/lice, mouse/mice, and cow/kine (the last, more prominent in Christmas carols of the 19th century and earlier).

32. The a-stem Strong Nouns

The majority of Old English masculine and neuter nouns (but no feminine nouns) fall into the a-stem declension class; this class also includes the ja-stem and wa-stem nouns. To illustrate where the label for this declension class originated (cf. lesson 6, §30), the following table shows the reconstructed evolution of one masculine word, for 'day', from Proto-Germanic (PGmc) root-affix-ending (i.e., stem + ending) to OE:

a-stem   PGmc Masc.       OE Masc.
Nom.Sg.   *dag-a-z 'day'   >   dæg 'day'
Gen.Sg.   *dag-a-za   >   dæges
Dat.Sg.   *dag-a-i   >   dæge
Acc.Sg.   *dag-a-n   >   dæg
Nom.Pl.   *dag-a-zez   >   dagas
Gen.Pl.   *dag-a:-n   >   daga
Dat.Pl.   *dag-a-miz   >   dagum
Acc.Pl.   *dag-a-nz   >   dagas

(N.B. The a-æ alternation illustrates a sound change called Anglo-Frisian Brightening, in which the sound of PGmc /a/ in Anglo-Frisian dialects was "brightened" to ae unless it preceded a nasal; later, in OE, the ae came to sound like /a/ again when the next syllable contained one of the back vowels /a, o, u/ as in the plural forms above.)

Other a-stem, ja-stem, and wa-stem nouns are shown in the tables below, without the evolutionary apparatus.

a-stems   Masc.   Masc.   Neut.   Neut.
Nom.Sg.   weall 'wall'   heofon 'heaven'   scip 'ship'   wæter 'water'
Gen.Sg.   wealles   heofones   scipes   wæteres
Dat.Sg.   wealle   heofone   scipe   wætere
Acc.Sg.   weall   heofon   scip   wæter
Nom.Pl.   weallas   heofonas   scipu   wæteru
Gen.Pl.   wealla   heofona   scipa   wætera
Dat.Pl.   weallum   heofonum   scipum   wæterum
Acc.Pl.   weallas   heofonas   scipu   wæteru

Spelling Notes

A nominative/accusative singular form weal is also observed. The -u ending shown in the nominative/accusative plural form wæteru is not always present: wæter is often observed.

The ja-stem nouns had stems ending in -j- plus the vowel, resulting in modifications of the nominative ending. The masculine and neuter ja-stems may have variant forms in which -e- or -i- precede the ending, as in the nominative plurals secgeas of secg 'man' and rīciu of rīce 'kingdom' (not shown), but they usually have the same endings as do the a-stems.

ja-stems   Masc.   Masc.   Neut.   Neut.
Nom/Acc.Sg.   here 'army'   ǣfen 'evening'   cynn 'kin'   wēsten 'waste'
Gen.Sg.   heriges   ǣfennes   cynnes   wēstennes
Dat.Sg.   herige   ǣfenne   cynne   wēstenne
Nom/Acc.Pl.   herigeas   ǣfennas   cynn   wēstennu
Gen.Pl.   herigea   ǣfenna   cynna   wēstenna
Dat.Pl.   herigum   ǣfennum   cynnum   wēstennum

Spelling Notes

The -i- in all herig- forms is optional (e.g. herges), as is the -e- after -g- where it appears in the plural forms (e.g. herigas or even hergas). The doubling of n shown in forms of ǣfen and wēsten is optional (e.g. ǣfenes, wēstene), as is its doubling in the nominative/accusative singular/plural forms cynn (e.g. cyn).

The few wa-stem nouns had stems ending in -w- plus the vowel, resulting in modifications of the nominative ending. They generally have -u or -o in the nominative/accusative singular (and, in the neuter, the nominative/accusative plural as well), and then -w- before the ending, but otherwise they are inflected like the a-stems, e.g. masc. bearu, gen. bearwes 'grove, woods', neut.pl. searo, gen.pl. searwa 'armor, device' (neither shown).

wa-stems   Masc.   Masc/Neut.   Neut.
Nom/Acc.Sg.   ðēaw 'custom'   hlǣw 'mound'   hlēow 'protection'
Gen.Sg.   ðēawes   hlǣwes   hlēowes
Dat.Sg.   ðēawe   hlǣwe   hlēowe
Nom/Acc.Pl.   ðēawas   hlǣwas   hlēowu
Gen.Pl.   ðēawa   hlǣwa   hlēowa
Dat.Pl.   ðēawum   hlǣwum   hlēowum

Spelling Notes

The noun hlǣw is treated as masculine in some instances, but as neuter in others; in the latter context, the nominative/accusative plural ends in -u as opposed to -as (i.e. hlǣwu). The -w ending after -o- is generally optional (e.g. hlēo); in conjunction with the -u ending in the nominative/accusative plural also being optional, those forms may be spelled without -wu (e.g. nom/acc. pl. hlēo). Some nominative/accusative singular forms may end in either -o or -u (e.g. masc. bearo/bearu 'grove, woods', neut. searo/searu 'armor, device').

33. The o-stem Strong Nouns

All nouns in this declension class are feminine; this class also includes the jo-stem and wo-stem nouns. Long-vowel feminines such as ār 'honor', and nouns with two syllables such as sāwol 'soul' (not shown), do not have -u in the nominative singular.

o-stems   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   giefu 'gift'   ār 'honor'   frōfor 'solace'   costung 'temptation'
Gen.Sg.   giefe   āre   frōfre   costunga
Dat.Sg.   giefe   āre   frōfre   costunga
Acc.Sg.   giefe   āre   frōfre   costunga
Nom.Pl.   giefa   āra   frōfra   costunga
Gen.Pl.   giefa   āra   frōfra   costunga
Dat.Pl.   giefum   ārum   frōfrum   costungum
Acc.Pl.   giefa   āra   frōfra   costunga

Spelling Notes

Forms of gief- may also be spelled gif-. The ending -u in the nominative singular appears only in words with a short root syllable (e.g. giefu or gifu); the nominative singular giefo is also found. Genitive plural giefa may also be spelled giefena (or gifena), which exhibits a borrowing from the weak n-declension (cf. lesson 8, §36). Middle vowel syncopation, such as in forms of frōfor (e.g. frōfre), occurs only after a long root syllable. Nouns ending in -ung often have the ending -a (as shown) instead of -e in the singular, but -e forms also occur (e.g. costunge). Nominative/accusative plurals may also be spelled with -e instead of -a (e.g. giefe or gife, frōfre, costunge).

jo-stems   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   bliss 'bliss'   hild 'battle'   milts 'mercy'   wynn 'joy'
Gen/Dat/Acc.Sg.   blisse   hilde   miltse   wynne
Nom/Gen/Acc.Pl.   blissa   hilda   miltsa   wynna
Dat.Pl.   blissum   hildum   miltsum   wynnum

Spelling Notes

The noun bliss may be spelled blīðs; milts may be spelled milds; the nominative singular wynn may be spelled wyn. The nominative/accusative plurals may also be spelled with -e instead of -a.

wo-stems   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   lǣs 'pasture'   mǣd 'meadow'   nearu 'distress'   stōw 'place'
Gen/Dat/Acc.Sg.   lǣswe   mǣdwe   nearwe   stōwe
Nom/Gen/Acc.Pl.   lǣswa   mǣdwa   nearwa   stōwa
Dat.Pl.   lǣswum   mǣdwum   nearwum   stōwum

Spelling Notes

Nominative/accusative plurals may end in -e instead of -a. The -w- in forms of lǣs and mǣd (with long -ǣ- roots) is optional. The form mǣd may also serve as the accusative singular. The ending -u in the nominative singular appears only in words with a short root syllable (e.g. near-). Where -w- is preceded by a consonant, a "parasitic vowel" (e, o, or u) may intrude (e.g. nearowe).

34. The i-stem Strong Nouns

Nouns in this class are found in all three genders, but few of them are neuter; neuters are inflected like masculines except they have final -u rather than -e in the nominative/accusative plural. The masculine and neuter nouns often borrow case endings from the a-stem declension (cf. §32 above), while feminine nouns often borrow case endings from the o-stem declension (cf. §33 above).

i-stems   Masc.   Fem.   Neut.
Nom.Sg.   mere 'sea'   dǣd 'deed'   sife 'sieve'
Gen.Sg.   meres   dǣde   sifes
Dat.Sg.   mere   dǣde   sife
Acc.Sg.   mere   dǣd   sife
Nom.Pl.   mere   dǣde   sifu
Gen.Pl.   mera   dǣda   sifa
Dat.Pl.   merum   dǣdum   sifum
Acc.Pl.   mere   dǣde   sifu

Spelling Notes

The nominative/accusative plurals of mere may be spelled meras -- borrowed from the a-stem declension; similarly, wine 'friend' (not shown) exhibits, as its nominative & genitive plurals, both the original forms wine & winigea and the borrowed inflections winas & wina. The feminine noun dǣd exhibits, in addition to the forms above, the accusative singular dǣde and the nominative/accusative plural dǣda -- both borrowed from the o-stem declension. The same borrowing patterns are observed in other i-stem nouns.

35. The u-stem Strong Nouns

There are few surviving members of this declension class, generally in the masculine gender; those with long root syllables, or that are bi-syllabic like winter 'winter', do not have final -u in the nominative/accusative singular and are comparable to a-stems so that they may assume that inflection. Most feminine nouns that were u-stems in the earlier languages have fallen together with the o-stems. Forms of the masculine u-stems may have the endings -o or -a in the nominative/accusative singular, and -u or -o in the dative singular and the nominative/accusative plural.

u-stems   Masc.   Masc.   Fem.   Fem.
Nom.Sg.   medo 'mead'   sunu 'son'   duru 'door'   hond 'hand'
Gen.Sg.   meda   suna   dura   honda
Dat.Sg.   medo   suna   dura   honda
Acc.Sg.   medo   sunu   duru   hond
Nom.Pl.   meda   suna   dura   honda
Gen.Pl.   meda   suna   dura   honda
Dat.Pl.   medum   sunum   durum   hondum
Acc.Pl.   meda   suna   dura   honda

Spelling Notes

The form medo is often spelled medu; either way, an umlaut process acting on -e- in an accented syllable, followed by a single consonant and either -o or -u, changes -e- to -eo- -- resulting in alternate spellings meodo or meodu. The nominative/accusative singular forms sunu may be spelled suno or suna; the dative singular form suna may be spelled suno or sunu; and the nominative/accusative plural forms suna may also be spelled suno or sunu. The singular dative form dura may be spelled duru. Forms of hond- may be spelled hand-.