Starting out from two widely-accepted views about the Great Vowel Shift, namely that the sounds affected by it were characterized primarily by the feature ‘tense’ (not ‘long’) and that the development was a push chain (not a drag chain), this paper seeks to explain the changes of the two Old English open long vowels /æ:/ > /ɛ:/ and /α:/ > /ɔ:/ as a simultaneous raising development of the two most open tense vowels. Based on evidence from several Middle English quantitative changes which shows that all Old English aperture correspondences between short and long vowels (e. g. /i/ – /i:/, /e/ – /e:/) were eventually changed in Middle English (cf. the reflexes of open syllable lengthening, e. g. ME weke /e:/ < OE wicu /i/, ME stelen /ɛ:/ < OE stelan /e/), it is then argued that this shift of aperture correspondences is due to raising of all long tense vowels by late Middle English. Further, it is argued that the early raising of the two most open vowels /æ:/ > /ɛ:/ and /α:/ > /ɔ:/ initiated this raising development which eventually resulted in the Great Vowel Shift of all long tense vowels. Thus, the simultaneous raising of OE /æ:/ > /ɛ:/ and /α:/ > /ɔ:/ may be viewed as a prelude to the Great Vowel Shift.
This paper deals with the ways in which English and German have incorporated Latin and French loan words into their Germanic accentual systems. In their earliest attested stages, English and German assigned word accent in the same way. Accent was placed on the first syllable of the word or on the first syllable of the stem, and this Germanic initial accent was also applied to Latin loans and hybrids. But later on, under strongly increased Latin and French influence, both languages developed additional accent patterns which applied to a large number of foreign loans and loan formations. Many of these new patterns are suffix-oriented in both recipient languages. But whereas medieval and early Modern German basically adopted the foreign patterns, Middle English and early Modern English gradually adapted French and Latin loans and loan formations to newly-developed types of patterns which were neither Romance nor Germanic yet more Germanic-like than the Latin and French ones. These diverging reactions to strong foreign influences in English and German are shown to be due to the fact that in Germany, French and Latin influence remained largely restricted to the language of scholars and upper ranks of society for a long time, whereas in post-Conquest England, the strong superstratal French influence affected the basic vocabulary of a much larger proportion of the population.