The Origin and Development of Plural Ending in English
Like other Teutonic languages, the English language has two numbers: Singular ad Plural. But there is a good difference of forming plural from singular between Old English and Modern English.
In Old English, most masculine was made plural by adding the ending ‘e’ as in Engle, some by ‘a’ as in suna, a great many by ‘an’ as in guman.
Feminine words were formed their plurals by adding the ending ‘a’, as in griefa some by adding ‘e’ as in bene, some by adding ‘an’ as in tungan and many words without any ending.
From the very beginning of the Old English period the ending- ‘as’(later on ‘es’ or ‘s’) began to gain ground first among the masculine and then in feminine and neuter gender also. But the regular rule of the plural ending in English began during the late Middle English. Most nouns are done plural by adding the ending ‘-s’ such as:
Book books etc
In Modern English, there are many words which are plural in formation but used as singular as: scissors, news, vegetables etc.
There are a good many definite words the plural of which is complete opposite words, such as:
Child children etc
The nouns generally ended in y, f, sh etc. take ‘es’ instead of ‘s’ in the plural as for examples-
Fish fishes etc
There are some words the plural of which generally depend on their use. Shakespeare wrote: She has more hair than wit and more faults than hairs. Here Shakespeare uses the hair in a plural sense, though he has not used ‘-s’ in the first word to indicate plurality; but in the second clause, he uses the ending ‘-s’ in the word.
There are many words of double plural ending, grammatically the uses of which is wrong, but logically such use is not incorrect. For example- there are eight sets of chamberses (Thackeray). Here the word ‘chamberses’ has been done double plural. Once a student (of London), wrote: cats have clawses. Here the word ‘claws’ has been done double plural by adding ‘-es’ to the plural from ‘claws’. But it is noteworthy that the rules of making plural from singular in Modern English is more logical than that of Old English. 0 0 0
(This article ‘The Origin and Development of Plural Ending in English’ originally belongs to the book entitled ‘A Brief History of the English Langauge‘ by Menonim Menonimus)
- Barber C.: The Story of Language.
- Baugh A. C.: The History of the English Language.
- Bolton & Crystal: The English Language.
- Bradley H.: The Making of English.
- Brook G. L.: A History of the English Language.
- Fowler, H.: A Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
- Jespersen, Otto : (i) Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin;
- : (ii) Growth and Structure of the English Language.
- McKnight G. H.: Modern English in the Making.
- Potter, S.: Our Language.
- Smith L. P.: (i) The English Language,
- Sinha, Manindranath: A Handbook of English Philology.
- A Short Notes on Old English
- A Short Notes on Modern English
- Masculinity of the English Language
- Influences of Foreign Languages on English
- Latin Influences in the English Language
- The Scandinavian Influences on the English Language
- Greek Influences on English Language
- The Influence of French on the English Language
- Biblical Influences on the English Language
- William Shakespeare’s Contributions to English
- Why the Loan Words are Called the Milestone of English Philology
- The Great Vowel Shift- Brief Note on Language
- Consonant Shift
- Grimm’s Law
- Word Formation Process in English
- Back Formation-Wikipedia
- Etymology of Unknown Origin
- Words Proper Names
- Words That are Both Nouns and Verbs
- Telescoping Word Formation
- Grammatical Development-English Language
- English Plurals
- Standard English Essay
- Differences Between British and American English
- Note on the History of ‘-Ing’
- Philological Word Notes
- Hybrid Words- Wikipedia
- Example and Definition of Malapropism
- Examples and Definition of Slang
Some Books of Literary Criticism by Menonim Menonimus :
- World Short Story Criticism
- Tawfiq al-Hakim’s Novel,: ‘Return of the Spirit’ –An Analytical Study
- Tawfiq al-Hakim’s Novel: ‘Yawmiyyat Naib Fil Aryaf’ –An Analytical Study
- Analytical Studies of Some Arabic Short Stories
- World Poetry Criticism
- Critical Essays on English Poetry
- World Drama Criticism
- World Novel Criticism
- Indian English Poetry Criticism
- Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features