eMoE. form forth [forp], which would regularly develop to MoE. [fo:b]. (Cf. Wright. EHNEG. § 34, which is, however, contradictory to the explanation given in § 116 in which forth is quoted as sharing the development of ME. o:r to o:r. Cf. also EMEG. § 68—9.)
The spelling furth undoubtedly represents ME. furth, which is from furthor. Jordan § 35 Anm. 2. This form may also be represented by the forms in o and oo.
If this form was the only form extant in eMoE., MoE. [fo:p] would have to be explained as a spelling pronunciation, which would not be impossible since forth is a word which is mainly used in the written language. But the o-form may quite as well have continued to exist from ME.
Wright (EHNEG. § 116) assumes a form fotrth subsequenüy fo:rth, but does not explain its origin. A different explanation, but also from o:, is found in Ekwall § 17, 85 (ME. o: > tu). The difficulty in both cases is how to explain o.*.
The value u: < ME. o: is sometimes assumed from the spelling oo in eMoE., by Wyld even from this very text (SHE. § 239), but there is evidence enough to show that this proof is far from conclusive. (Van der Gaaf. Neophilologus IV, p. 147: 'It can, however, easily be demonstrated that oo does not always represent a long sound in late ME. and early Mod. Engl.. From about the middle of the 15th century onwards oo began to be used as a symbol for [b].').
This word occurs in three main forms:
1) . swerde 07106'.
2) . sweord 10831', -e 11715', 12802, -es 09922', 10824' 34',
3) . sword 12736, -e 09931' 33' 34' (2), 11625', 21312', 24604'
33', 25228', 26335', -es 10002', 11629', 12418'. Cf. OED. 1—4 sweord (1 sueord, swurd), 3—6 swerd, 4—6 swerde, sworde, 6 sweard, swtxrde, swourd, swoordfe. So the spelling sweord(e is not mentioned in the OED. after the 14th c
It is possible that the form sweord, like weomen is merely a blend of the two spellings swerd and sword, though the originals mostly have sweard, rarely swerd (Cf. introduction p. XIX and table VI).