The reflexes of OE <i>beon</i> as a marker of futurity in early Middle English
In Old English the finite forms of the <i>b</i>Lroot for ‘be’ (<i>beo, bist, bið</i>, etc.) were more likely to appear in contexts involving futurity than the <i>s</i>Lroot (<i>eom, eart, is</i>, etc). The use of the <i>b</i>Lroot for future continues into Middle English. During the compilation of <i>LAEME</i>, we have observed that the complex and variable Old English distinction can become simplified and systematized. In early Middle English the use of <i>b</i>Lforms in the present indicative singular is in some text languages1 restricted entirely to future senses. In the areas where the <i>b</i>Lroot is the norm for present indicative plural, this system is confined to the singular. But in the North and to a certain extent the North Midlands, where <i>ar-/er</i>Lforms are available, the system is extended into the plural. Ilse Wischer’s contribution to this volume offers fascinating and detailed insights into the different forms of the verb ‘to be’ in Old English and their distinctive functions. This paper looks mainly at subsequent developments. It therefore only briefly summarizes the Old English distinctions as background to a micro-dialectal study of three subsystems that emerge during early Middle English. Their identification gives rise to further questions that might reward investigation in the future.