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Nought or naught is composed of me and ought or aught. woFew. Once common to the whole Gothic family, this pronoun survives only in the English and Scandinavian. Anglo-Saxon FEAwa, Moeso-Gothic fawai, Danish faa. A variety of other pronouns belong to this set, which we have only space just to hint at. Such are thing, something, everything, moshing, wight, whil, deal. We have thus reached the natural termination of this section. Having started from the pronouns which were most nearly associated with definite substantival ideas, we have reached those whose characteristic it is (as their name conveys) to be indefinite, to shun fixed associations, and thus to be ever ready for a latitude of application as wide as the widest imaginable sweep of the mental horizon.
II. ADJECTIVAL PRONoUNS.
480. This section will run parallel to the former, as each group of Pronouns has its substantives and its adjectives. Yet it may be observed that the more subtle quality of pronouns, as compared with nouns, is the cause of a more ready transition from the substantival to the adjectival function, and reversely.
481. The Possessive Pronouns.
These were a genitival shoot from the personal pronouns which became, some more some less, adjectival: those which became most so were the possessives of the first and second persons.
These have, in the earlier stage of the language, had a complete adjectival development, and full means of concord
with substantives; and this began to be the case in some measure even with his, of which we meet with a plural hise (disyllabic), as in the following broken Saxon from the year 1 123, in the Peterborough Chronicle:– Đa sone paer aester sende se kyng hise write ofer eall Engla lande, and
bed hise biscopes and hise abbates and hise peignes ealle pet hi scolden cumen to his gewitene mot on Candel messe deig to Gleav ceastre him togeanes.
Then soon thereafter sent the king his writs over all England, and bade his bishops and his abbots and his thanes all, that they should come to his Witenagemot on Candelmas day at Gloucester to meet him.
All the possessives were originally genitives of the personal pronouns, of which some reached greater perfection in adjectival form than others.
MIN the genitive of Ic has become MINE and MY.
We have now entirely lost that use of MIN or MINE which made it equivalent to of me, but the Germans retain this archaic member in gebenfe mein, think of me. Besides the four adjectival pronouns thus generated from the first and second persons, there are four more that have sprung from the third person, namely, his, her, their, and its. The last of these is a comparative modernism in the language. 482. Out of these again there branches a group of forms whose function is substantival. As among the presentive nouns we find substantives becoming adjectives and adjectives substantives; so likewise here in the more subtle region of the pronoun a substantival set parts off from the adjectival. 483. mine, thine. These forms were originally adjectival, but they have gradually become substantival; while the reduced my, shy, occupy the old domain. When the N was first dropped, it was because the following word began with a consonant, and then the difference between mine, //one, and my, shy, was like that between an and a, or the original distinction between mone and no. In Chaucer's verse we find the N-form unremoved before consonants, as—
Myn purchas is the effect of al myn rente.
But in his prose he was more familiar, and we find my, thy, before consonants in the opening sentences of the Treatise on the Assrolabe:—
Litell Lowys my some, I haue perceiued well by certeyne euidences thine abilite to lerne sciencez touchinge noumbres & proporciouns; & as wel considere I thy bisi preyere in special to lerne the tretis of the astrelabie.
But considere wel, that I ne vsurpe nat to haue fownde this werk of my labour or of myn engin. I nam but a lewd compilatour of the labour of olde Astrologiens, and haue hit translated in myn englissh only for thi doctrine; and with this swerd shal I slen envie.—Ed. W. W. Skeat, pp. 1, 2.
And so it continues in the Bible of 1611 :—
Thou didst ride vpon thine horses, and thy charets of saluation.— Habakkuk iii. 8.
484. Ours, yours, hers, theirs. In these cases the substantival possessive is made by the cumulative addition of the s genitival to its previously genitival termination. Against this s the rustic tradition maintains its old rival N; and hence a uniform series of substantival possessives, mine, shine, hism, hern, ourn, yourn, theirn, current among the purest English folk.
Theirs. The distinction between adjectival their and substantival theirs is well exhibited in the following lines:–
Leave kingly backs to cope with kingly cares;
William Cowper, Table Talk.
His. This is the only one of the possessives that has no variation of form for the substantival function—at least, not in the literary language.
I would rather abide by my own blunders than by his.—Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ch. vi.
Here ends the Substantival list which began at 483.
485. Its. This form is now never used substantivally, but I imagine that its first appearance in the language was in the train of hers, ours, yours, theirs ; and it bears such a character at its earliest appearance.
Each following day Became the next dayes master, till the last Made former Wonders, it's. Henry VIII, i. 1, 16. This obsolete use seems to have preceded the adjectival use of iss, and indeed to have been the introducer of the latter". From the following passage, in which Constance mimics childish prattle, it seems as if children in Shakspeare's time used it for the adjectival its –
Queen. Come to thy grandame, child. Cons. Doe childe, goe to yt grandame childe, Giue grandame kingdome, and it grandame will Giue yt a plum, a cherry, and a figge, There's a good grandame. King john, ii. I. 159. The possessive its is not yet found either in Shakspeare or in our Bible of 1611. Where we now should use iss, these have his :—
. euery thing vpon his day.—Levit. xxiii. 37.
* This distinct recognition of the Substantival as against the Adjectival in possessive pronouns, is something (as I apprehend) peculiar to modern languages. The distinction is bolder in French than in English, and boldest in German. In French it is mon, ton, son, notre, votre, leur, as against le mien, le tien, le sien, le notre, le votre, le leur. In German there is a duplicate apparatus for the Substantival. As against mein, bein, &c., there is, First, meiner beiner, &c., and Second, ber, tie, tué oleinige, Seinige, eeiniae, (Surige, Šárige.
The Demonstrative Pronouns, and the
486. Such is a composite word, made up of so and like. The Saxon form was swil.c, from swa and LIC. In the German form sold the original elements are very traceable: in Danish it is slig, and in Scottish sic. It is curious how words rediscover the elements of their composition after they have become obscure, by a tendency to symphytise again once more with the word which they have already absorbed. Thus we get such-like; and still more usual in Scotland is sic-like.
487. The demonstrative pronouns this and that were thus declined in Saxon :
488. Of these two words, the former has been throughout
our history the more important by far.
It was that, se, seo,
which supplied the definite article, and therefore it was current in some one or other of its cases in almost every phrase that was spoken or written. This will make it easier to understand how it should have come about that tha', the