16 Nouns in West Saxon continue to use umlauts to mark the plural. One of these, broþer, didn't regularly umlaut in Old West Saxon, but did umlaut in the dative singular, and it is believed that this caused the vowel change to spread to the plural before stem vowels were leveled in the singular and plural.
It should be noted that, in addition to the vowel changes, 4 of these nouns (book, brook, oak, and buor) also experience a change in their final consonant, with the first three going /k/ -> /tʃ/ and the last going from /ʁ/ -> /ɹ/. The first of these was from palatalization caused by the original "i" in the ending that triggered umlaut in the first place, and the second was caused by sound changes in Middle West Saxon.
Animate umlaut nouns take the regular -es/-ne in the possessive case, attached to the appropriate singular/plural stem. For the nouns vruend, vuend, mann, and broþer the possessive plural ending is "-en", due to rules of allomorphy.
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OO | EE tooð | teeð M-I [tɔwθ | tɛjθ] "tooth" voot | veet M-I [vɔwt | vɛjt] "foot" book | beec F-I [bɔwk | bɛjtʃ] "book" brook | breec F-I [bʁɔwk | bɹɛjtʃ] "trousers" goos | gees N-A [gɔws | gɛjs] "goose" UO | UY buor | buyr F-I [buʁ | byɹ] "town" luos | luys N-A [lus | lys] "louse" cuo | cuy N-A [ku | ky] "cow" muos | muys N-A [mus | mys] "mouse" OA | EA oak | eac F-I [ɔɑk | ɛɑtʃ] "oak" goat | geat N-A [gɔɑt | gɛɑt] "goat" UE | IE vruend | vriend M-A [vɹøɥn | vɹin] "friend" vuend | viend M-A [vøɥn | vin] "enemy" ONE-OFFS mann | menn M-A [mæn | mɛn] "man" broþer | breþer M-A [bʁɔːɹ | bɹɛːɹ]"brother" nute | nyte F-I [nɔwt | nøɥt] "nut"
The Old West Saxon nouns cild ("child"), ej ("egg"), lamb ("lamb") and cæuf ("calf") with plurals formed by adding a final -r have retained this plural into the present day, though now the suffix is a syllabic -re, with the plural possessive form -ren. However, due to the semantic similarity of these nouns as "offspring" nouns, the R-plural has been extended to all nouns describing offspring, including felp ("whelp"), bridd ("chick"), and especially the suffix -ling, which is quite productive to form offspring nouns. In addition, another use of this plural can be seen with the suffix -ing when it is used to form family names. The normal plural is used with describing multiple members of a family, but the R-plural is used to give a collective sense of all members of the family. This is used even when -ing is used in a more metaphorical sense (which I will go into later when I tackle derivational morphology).
A few nouns experience sound changes between the singular and plural:
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lamb / lambre [ɫɔɑm | ɫæmbɹ̩] cæuf / cæufre [tʃɑwf | tʃɒvɹ̩] bridd / bridre [bɹɪd | bɹɪːɹ̩], possessive plural [bɹɪːrn̩]
For the most part, foreign borrowings are worked into the West Saxon grammar without much difficulty, with a few exceptions. The most prominent of these are borrowings of inanimate nouns from English that retain their ostensibly "wrong" plurals in "-s", though this is written as "-s", not "-es". In addition, there has been a recent trend to regularize these nouns to pluralize in "-en", like other regular inanimates. Currently, both forms are acceptable, but forms with "-en" are considered more informal, and may even be taken as a sign of poor education, especially by older speakers.
The Greco-Roman endings -um, -us, -on and -ma also have irregular plural forms, pluralizing as -a, -i, -a, and -mata respectively. In addition, the animate nouns ending in -us have the possessive endings -u and -un, though you will sometimes see -i used for the possessive singular. It should also be noted that in older texts, the prepositional case forms of -us nouns were -u in the singular and -us in the plural.
W-Stems and H-Stems
Nouns which were originally -wa/-wo stems in Old West Saxon which had a stem ending in a consonant have slightly different inflectional rules. If the stem was originally "heavy" in Old West Saxon (i.e. it had either a long vowel or diphthong, or consonant cluster at the end), then the noun has no inflection in the common singular, and forms a plural with either -us /-ʊz/ or -un /-ʊn/, depending on animacy. The possessive forms are -us and -un for the singular and plural respectively.
Nouns of this type that originally had a light stem in Old West Saxon end in -e in the singular common case and -wen/-wes in the plural. The -e is silent, but lengthens the stem vowel, while -wen and -wes are pronounced /-un/ and /-uz/ and do not trigger lengthening. In the possessive singular and plural case the endings are -wes and wen respectively.
In the old prepositional case, the endings were -u or -we in the singular and -us or -wes in the plural.
Finally, there are the H-Stem nouns. These are nouns that end in a vowel/diphthong + h in the common singular, but lose the final -h when any inflectional ending is applied. Additionally, the prepositional case was formed in the singular by dropping the -h.
Okay, so I've been debating something back and forth to myself regarding the possessive case, and I'm having a tough time deciding whether or not to do it, so I thought I'd put it out there to see what people think. Hopefully that might help me decide one way or the other.
So, one of the uses for the genitive case is as the object of a verbal noun, which we still use with the "of" genitive; for example, in Old English "for middeardes alysednysse" meaning "for the salvation of the world" or even "for the world's salvation." West Saxon will probably keep this around for regular verbal nouns, with animates using the possessive case and inanimates using "of" periphrasis. However, the the imperfect, present progressive and future progressive tenses (actually the durative aspect) are formed with what is called the durative participle which ultimately derives from... a verbal noun.
Part of me wants to make the possessive case be used with these tenses to mark the direct object, at least somewhat. I could do it:
- only with animates and have inanimates just use the common case
- with possessive case for animates and have the inanimates use "of" periphrasis (since that's how they mark the possessive)
- only with pronouns (and have the inanimates use "thereof")
- have this cause the possessive case to stick around for inanimates as well.
- Have the durative participle "break" into its constituent parts when there is a direct object, so "I was watching him" would be something like "I was on his watching"
- Have the object "jump out" of the original prepositional phrase that built up the participle, giving something like "I was his a-watching"
- Jettison the no post-positional possessives rule and say that via analogy these possessives follow the "noun" they modify, like objects in the non-durative tenses