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THE CONNECTIVES OF THE TEMPORAL
The temporal clause in OE. is always joined to the main clause by an introductory word or formula. This partakes both of the nature of an adverbial conjunction and of a relative. That this is true is made evident by the great number of connectives of which the relative de forms a part, and by the fact that often, in the case of clauses introduced by a phrase composed of a preposition + object (noun of time) + de, it is difficult to decide whether the function of the particular example is adjectival or adverbial.
In OE. this connective is never omitted, at least in colloquial speech, as its counterpart sometimes is in Modern English.
The connectives introducing the temporal clause have been grouped into six divisions, according to the nature of the temporal relations indicated. Therefore we treat here the connectives introducing:
A. Clauses indicating time when.
to a preceding action. E. Clauses determining the time of an action by reference
to a subsequent action. F. Clauses indicating the time of the termination of the A. CLAUSES DENOTING TIME WHEN.
action of the main clause.
This is the most common of temporal connectives in OE. We find cognates in OF. tha, OS. tho, thuo, OHG. do, and ON. Da. The primary use of this conjunction is to introduce a clause denoting time when. Wülfing classes this particle with those which introduce 'Nebensätze zur Angabe des Zeitpunktes, wann etwas geschieht. There are many cases in which da might be translated while or after, just as the modern English when is often used to introduce clauses which logically bear such relations to the main clause; but whatever may be the different meanings which might be assigned to the particle, they certainly have no influence on its syntax. This will be apparent from what follows, and I therefore leave such discussion to the lexicographer.
Yet there are questions of meaning which do cali for some consideration. Đa introduces a clause used to determine time when, as has been said, but an act which preceds another is frequently its cause. So sometimes we have a combination of the causal and temporal notions. In modern English when often has this double force, as in the sentence: 'When the books of a year and of a library were counted by hundreds or thousands, learned men could really know what was best to be known'? In the following sentence the temporal force has almost disappeared : L. 14. 29 Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him. So da in the following sentence has a strong causal coloring: M. 1. 19 Soðlice iosep hyre wer, Ja he was rihtwis and nolde hi gewidmærsian,
Syntax Ælfreds 2. 103. Frederic Harrison, The Choice of Books.
he wolde hi dihlice forlætan. Here the Vulgate reads : Joseph autem vir ejus cum esset justus, et nollet eam traducere. Another illustration of da in its approach to the causal meaning: ÆH. 2. 448. 11 Micele wæron þises mannes geearnunga, þa se Ælmihtiga he him cwæð, þæt his gelica nære on eorðan.
The ease with which the Ja-clause brings two acts into the field of view is so great that da occasionally seems to have a concessive force, as in these examples: John 12. 37 Đa he swa mycele tacn dyde beforan him, hi ne gelyfdon on hyne; BH. 36. 33 ) wende þæt he mid swinglan sceolde þa beldu 3 þa anrednesse his heortan anescian, da he mid wordum ne mihte.
A conditional use is much less clear to me, yet Bosworth-Toller recognize it, and quote this as an illustration: ÆH. 1. 478. 11 ac hit was swa gewunelic on dam timan þæt rice menn sceopon heora bearnum naman be him sylfum, þæt hit ware geðuht þæs de mare gemynd þæs fæder, Ja da se sunu, his yrfenuma, wæs geciged þæs fæder naman. Neither Wülfing nor Mather admits such a use of da, however.
The Latin cum-clause shows parallel development. It was probably purely temporal in origin, but by emphasizing the causal or concessive connotation, the causal or concessive idea became most prominent in the mind of the speaker.
In these clauses this went so far that all idea of time was lost, and we have cum purely causal, or purely concessive, as well as cum with its original temporal signification. Still, as in the OE. sentences referred to, we find cum-clauses which may be considered either as temporal, or causal, or both. I believe that in OE. the causal or concessive or conditional notion never became so strong as to exclude that of time.
This idea of time is always present, though sometimes less prominent, perhaps, than some of the other possible relations of the da-clause to its main verb.
So much for the meaning of da; now let us consider its use. My study has established the fact that da is used only with the preterite tense of the indicative mode.
There are some exceptions, real or apparent, which we shall now consider.
I have examined about thirty-three hundred clauses with this connective or its variants, dada and da ... da, and have noticed only seventeen instances in which either the present tense or the optative mode appears. Most of these are in late or corrupt texts, about ten of them being in the late entries of the Chronicle.
We shall first consider the cases in which the present tense appears: Chron. 261. 25 God hit bete þa his wille bed. This seems to be a perfectly clear case, and we should rather expect the optative as well. Chron. 266. 12 þer efter in þe lengten þestrede þe sunne 7 te dæi, abuton non tid dæies, þa men eten, ð me lihtede candles to æten bi. This appears in the entry for the year 1140; and the phonology is so changed, that it is difficult to say what the mode and tense are. Does the clause mean while men were eating, or at the time that men (habitually) eat? The verb in the following sentence is probably preterite indicative, with a for e: Cart. 2, 290. 14 hit hiera yrfe is þ hit swa umbe sæccen gange into þære Cyrican swa hit þa on dæg wes, pa hit man him to læt. Lch. 3, 82. 11 þæt syndon sa ysene, pa man mid cnifun hæle menn. Neither the tense nor the mode is hard to understand here, but the text is very corrupt and late. HL. 122. 184 And wite þu þæt heo is of dinum sæde geeacnod, swa swa þu nytest, þa þa þu hi ana forlæte. The sense here requires the preterite. May not this be regarded as a preterite of a weak verb lætan?
Of the five apparent exceptions, then, to the rule in regard to the tense with da, only two seem reasonably certain
We pass now to the question of mode. Chron. 215.6 hi ferdon æfter heom into þam mynstre 7 woldon hig ut dragan, þaða hig ne dorsten na utgan; Chron. 264. 4 þa þe castles uuaren maked pa fylden hi mid deoules 7 yuele men (entry for 1137); Chron. 266. 37 þa hi þer inne wæren, þa com þe kinges cuen mid al hire strengthe. See also Chron. 161. 26; 218. 1; 259.37; 264.28; 267.1: also Chron. 266.12; Lch. 3 82. 11; HL. 122. 184, as quoted above. In these cases the optative form is to be accounted for by the weakening of the a of the ending, and there is really no violation of the rule that the indicative is the mode used after da, except in the case of those examples in which the present tense appears also.
In 0. 56. 17 þa æt nihstan hie hæfden getogen eal Creca folc to dæm gewinnum, þa Læcedemonia besætan þa burg Mæssian]e X winter; the reading hæfdon of MS. C. is probably correct.
BH. 162. 21 secgað men, þa Oswald se cyning of Scotta ealonde biscopes bede, ...
þa wes him sended ærest oder biscop redes modes monn. BH. 198. 31 þa eode se mæssepreost to Aidane þæm biscope; bæd hine þæt he for hine gebæde 7 for his geferan, 7 for heora gesyntu to Gode þingade, þa heo swa micelne siðfæt feran scolden; Rood. 11.2 Đa hio þus hiom betweonan spræcen, þa cliopodan þare cwene cæmpan þider. In all these cases, also, we most probably have the weakening of the termination, and not really