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HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Man: Always interested in his past and in his language

Its origins
Its development
Its the
Tool to conduct a government or business
The medium to communicate ones feelings
The vehicle to express and transmits the
Science
Philosophy
Poetry, etc.

History of the language:


Studied as a cultural subject, not only the structure of the language, but also

The social/ political events that affected it


Foreign influences that altered it

What is language?
It is

Mans greatest intellectual tool that makes human culture possible


As old as man and changes from time to time and from place to place
A social aspect of human life because
Man must learn it
It serves
To communicate idea
To preserve human relationship

It distinguishes man from animals


Animal cries, warning calls, etc.
Men articulated speech
Its a signalling system (use vocal sounds)
Its basically spoken (the written language is secondary) no written language without speech
because writing derives from speech. First you learn to speak, then to write

Exception: the sign language of the deaf and dumb, but it also derives from the spoken language of
the community

Function of the language:

Its a multi-purpose instrument:


As a play element, or toy (children love to distort, invent, expect, etc.)
As an instrument of thought (a philosopher or a politician)
To relieve ones feelings (e.g. when you hit your thumb nail and utter a series of curses
or swear words), here you need no audience, only yourself
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To strengthen the bonds of relation among people (when you greet somebody or gossip
or just chat with a friend)
Its basic functions are:
To enable people to communicate
To influence peoples behaviour

Definition of language: its a signalling system which operates with symbolic vocal sounds and is
used by some group of people (speech community) for the purpose of communication and social
cooperation
Origin: there are several theories based on the notions that language began as something echoic made
up of groans and cries emitted in the course of an action, and later, in time, being associated with that
action
Origins of language: the most elementary facts concerning language are:

Language is spoken, not written. Nevertheless, system of recording (later in printing) was an
important step forward to know the ways of life of our ancestors
Language is evolutionary, not static. Changes are constantly going on. Language has been
altered throughout the years (difference between language in Chaucers time and ours, or Old
French with Modern French). Theres a tendency to assume language as something set and
fixed. But changes are still going on.
Words have changed in their spelling and in their pronunciation due to
The American influence exerted through the cinema and the television
The BBC, to establish a correct standard for pronunciation
Speech
Man has achieved speech through the development of mind
Animals characteristic noises, spontaneous and meaningless
Other expressive in a crude way of instincts (anger, sex, joy)
Some others have all the necessary speech organs to speak in the same way primitive
man did

Origins of language:

We dont know even when language arose


We can envisage a corresponding development of language in the course of history

Evidences: many theories considered:

Language of children (the kind of articulated utterances that children make when they learn
how to talk)
Language of primitive people (to learn which elements in it are the most archaic). Evidence
is found in the types of words and expressions which are oldest ones (commands)
The study of higher animals (expressive noises, signals and gestures of the higher apes but
man has developed his brain to create language)
The behaviour of people suffering from speech defects (the patient repeats the process and
goes through it in the same way a child does when learning to speak). This is the least
convincing because language is not a biological inheritance but a cultural one

Language is mans intellectual tool, and it differentiates him from other species
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The theories of the origin of language:


They are based on the notion that language was in the beginning echoic, characterized by sound,
making sense and not imitative, made in the course of an action

1- Bow-wow theory:
Language arose as an imitation of the natural sounds of creatures, objects to which
man was referring to
Compare with child learning language
How he distinguishes a dog from a cat (barking)
By imitating sounds produced by animals
Modern English: echoic words (as splash, cuckoo, crash, bubble, etc.)
2- Pooh-pooh theory:
Language arose from emotional exclamations expressing anger, fear, wonder, etc.
Being so much used they acquired the meaning they imply
E.g. verb to pooh-pooh an idea
3- Gesture theory:
Gesture precedes speech, based on:
Highly developed system of gestures used by primitive men (e.g. Am. Indian)
commerce between tribes that spoke different languages
Extensive use of gestures by animals (chimpanzees)
Speech gesture
Closely related. Probably both grew up together. But nothing says that
gesture came first
Centres in the brain that control hand movements
Linked with centres that control vocal organs
Impossible to believe that man of Old/ New Stone Age developed such
high culture without the aid of speech

Disadvantages:

Impossible to use a gesture language (e.g. at night, in the dark, when separated from other
person by some kind of obstruction, e.g. a tree)
To use it you must have your hands free. What about primitive men when he became a tool-
maker?

There were powerful reasons for the primitive men to create a spoken language, but it doesnt mean
it existed

4- Yo-He-Ho theory:
Appeared in the 19th century
Postulates that language arose from the noises made by a group of men engaged in a
joint labour or effort. Why? We all know what we do when making an effort, this
might have developed into a sound
Virtues:
It gives an explanation to the origin of vowel-consonant structures of
language
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It envisages the origin of language in situations involving human cooperation


with a motivation
It envisages the earlier speech as commands (besides, there are evidences of
this)

Probabilities: with so many theories to weigh probabilities, and great weight given to:

The question of motivation


The question of social cooperation
The question of articulation of sounds

At present: still in doubt, speculations about this issue. Why? Because it is a period which has left us
no record of the language. With writing history begins

Origins of writing:
Writing:

Derives from speech


Purposes:
Communication at a distance
To keep records

Picture writing:

Palaeolithic men made


Paintings on rocks
Pictures drawn on bones, stones, etc.
Purpose: magical
To promote fertility
To acquire the strength of the animal depicted
Later: pictures used for
Sending a message
Keeping records
Nowadays: we use pictures
E.g. traffic signs, figures of man and woman on a door
Some had been simplified and conventionalized until they are no longer recognized as
pictures (e.g. mathematical signs)
It is not writing in the narrow sense because:
They are conventionalized signs
The symbols dont correspond to a particular word but to an idea, they are called
ideograms. In the case of ideograms:
No linguistic form intervenes
No tied to a particular language
Stands for an idea

Writing:

Developed out from pictures by two processes:


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The pictures were simplified and conventionalized until they were no longer
recognized as pictures
They were made to stand directly for linguistic items (first words, syllables,
letters)
Importance: enormous
Before it, all events had to be memorized. But memory has a limit
After it, a serious expansion of knowledge could take place

Branches of the Indo-European Languages:


19th Century: Comparative studies:

Assumed genetic filiation: descent from a common language


Scholars:
Explored similarities observed in different languages
Grouped them in families
Led to:
Assumption that a common parent language existed thousands of years ago
The reconstruction of sounds, words, structures of sentences that belong to languages
spoken before man invented writing

1- Indo-Iranian group (or Aryan)


a- Indian:
Ancient times:
Language found in the Vedas
Later from Classical Sanskrit
Indian grammarian Panini important due to his grammar in Sanskrit
Sanskrit now a dead language
Modern representatives:
Hindi, Bengali
Gypsy (also an Indian language)
b- Iranian:
Iranian:
Iranian Plateau (region)
Two groups:
Eastern group: Avestan (or Zend)
Language of religious books. E.g. The Avesta
No modern representatives
Western group:
Old Peruvian ancestor of Modern Persia
Spoken by a tribe whose leader was Great Cyrus

2- Armenian
Region: south of Caucasus (Black Sea)
Known from 5th C. due to a translation of the Bible
Originally under Persian domination, mixed vocabulary
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3- Albanian
Region: north west of Greece
Formally classed with Hellenic group
Since 11th C. isolated language

4- Hellenic
Ancient times
Hellenic dialects
Ionic (Attic)
Doric
Athens
Became centre of culture
Its dialect: Attic (import)
Attic developed into Koine popular, standard language of
Greece
Nowadays: two varieties:
Popular language
Pure language

5- Italic
Ancient times: dialects:
Oscan (few records)
Umbrian (few records)
Latin: written texts since 13th C.
Influential: language of Rome
Survived in the Romance languages
French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Galician, Catalan, Rumanian,
Provenal
Derive from vulgar Latin, not from Classical Latin
6- Balto-Slavic
Ancient times: only one language
Later:
a- Baltic language:
Lithuanian:
Region: northwest of the Baltic Sea
Changed little. Similar to the language spoken 1000 years ago
Prussian:
Region: known as Prussia, now Germany
Language spoken until 17th C., now extinct
Lettish:
Region: Latvia, in the Baltic region of Northern Europe.
Bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia
to the east and Belarus to the south west.
Language disappeared.
b- Slavic language:
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East group: three varieties of Russian


West group: Polish, Czech, Serbian (or Sorbian) spoken in East
Germany
South:
Bulgarian
Serbo-Croatian (spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo)
Slovenian

7- Celtic group
Shows similarities with the Italic group (verb system, inflections)
In ancient times: spoken by Celts
Language:
Celtic: spread over a huge territory of Europe and Asia Minor
Supported by language of the people who conquered the Celts when they began
to lose their lands in Italy, Gaul, Spain, Germany and Britain
Group:
Gaulish:
Spoken in France and Northern Italy
Died at the beginning of the Christian era (Latin instead)
Known from a few manuscripts and names of people found in Latin texts
Britannic:
Spoken in Britain before the Romans
Disappeared with the race, but remained in three languages in Modern
Times and they are:
Cornish: dead since 18th C.
Briton: spoken in Brittany (France) by Celtic refugees from Britain
Welsh: spoken in Wales
Gaelic:
Spoken in Ireland
Three languages:
Scottish Gaelic: spoken in the Scottish Highlands
Mann: spoken in the Isle of Mann
Irish Gaelic:
It survived until the 19th C., when it was replaced by English
Revived for nationalistic reasons in Eire (but not a real
revival)

8- Teutonic or Germanic group


English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Frisian, Icelandic, German, Dutch (Frisian resembles
more to English)
Latin influence of the Zero Period: (continental borrowings)
Words connected with weather, trade, domestic life: pil, camp, strat, coc, Cycene, managean
(of Latin origin) WTC, Biscop (for bishop), flasce, weall (wall), mul (for mule)
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Latin influence of the First Period: (through Celtic transmission)


Ceaster (for city) this ending for cities (Lancaster, Manchester), Port (Portsmouth), WTC
(village), munt (mountain), tor (tour)

Branches of the Teutonic or Germanic group:


a- East Germanic:
Gothic:
Spoken by Goths in AD 200
Introduced in Spain and Italy by the Visigoths and Ostrogoths, later
replaced by Latin
Main record: translation of the Bible made by Wulfila in 4th C.
Disappeared, now dead
Spoken in Crimea until 17th C.
Vandal:
Now dead
Spoken by Vandals who invaded North Africa
b- North Germanic: (or Old Norse)
Parent language of most Scandinavian language found in runic inscriptions
date from AD 300
Two branches:
East group:
Danish (Denmark)
Swedish (Sweden)
Gutnish (Sweden - Island of Gotland)
West group:
Icelandic
Norwegian (Norway)
Fowese (Island of Fowese)
In Britain: represented by:
Angle dialects of the Angles (5th C.)
Danish language (Dane 10th C.)

c- West Germanic:
Old High German High German
German
Bavarian

Old Saxon Low German


Spoken by masses in Germany

Old Franconian
Dutch (Holland)
Flemish (Flanders Belgium)
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Anglo Frisian:

Old Frisian Modern Frisian (Dutch province of Friesland)


Old English Modern English In England:
Anglo-Saxon dialect or Wessex dialects (South of Britain)
Old Mercian (between Humber and Thames)

Conclusion: descent of English:


English:

Is a mixed Low German dialect based on Frisian dialect and Mercian dialect
But is debted to Anglian dialect of the north and Saxon dialect of the south

Germanic or Teutonic group: (Northern Europe)

English
German
Dutch
Flemish
Danish
Swedish
Norwegian
Frisian
Icelandic

Germanic or Teutonic languages

1- West Germanic
High German (Bavarian and German itself)
Low German (Germany) (called Old Saxon)
Dutch/ Flemish (Holland and Belgium)
Frisian (Isles of Holland)
English (Anglo-Saxon and Old Mercian)

2- North Germanic (or Scandinavian) Modern Scandinavia


West Scandinavian
Icelandic (Island)
Norwegian (Norway)
Faroese (Faroese Island in Denmark)
East Scandinavian
Danish (Denmark)
Swedish (Sweden)
Gutnish (Island of Gotland)

3- East Germanic
Gothic (spoken by the Goths)

The main division of the Indo European group


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1- Indo-Iranian (Aryan)
a- Indian group (Vedas): Classical Sanskrit
Modern Representatives: Bengali, Hindi, Gypsy
b- Iranian group:
An eastern group (Avestan or Zend) The Avesta
A western group (Old Persian)
2- Armenian
3- Albanian
4- Hellenic
Dialects: Doric and Ionic (included Attic from Attic, Modern Greek is descended).
Two varieties of Greek: the popular (or demotic) language and the pure language
5- Italic
Dialects: Oscan, Umbrian, Latin. Languages that represent the survival of Latin in the
world are known as Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Provenal,
Catalan, Galician, Rumanian, etc. (all of them derived from Vulgar Latin)
6- Bolto-Slavic
a- Baltic languages:
Lithuanian
Prussian
Lettish
b- Slavic group
East Slavic: Russian
West Slavic: Polish, Czech, Serbian
South Slavic: Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian
7- Celtic
a- Gaulish
b- Britannic: Cornish, Welsh, Breton
c- Gaelic: Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Irish Gaelic
8- Germanic (Teutonic)
Descended from Proto or Pre-Germanic (West Germanic, North Germanic and East
Germanic)
a- East Germanic: Gothic (Vandal)
Gothic: spoken by the Visigoths (conquered Spain)
spoken by the Ostrogoths (conquered Italy)
b- North Germanic: (or Scandinavian) (Old Norse)
West Scandinavian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Faroese
East Scandinavian
Danish
Swedish
Gutnish

In Britain:
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The Anglian
The Danish

c- West Germanic:
Old High German
High German (Bavarian, German)
Old Saxon
Low German (spoken by the masses)
Old Low Franconian
Dutch (Modern Dutch) and Flemish (Belgium: Flanders)
Anglo Frisian
Old English: English
a- Anglo-Saxon
b- Old Mercian)
Old Frisian: Frisian (Friesland)

Outside the Indo-European family

Semitic group (Hebrew, Arabic, Phoenician)


Chinese language
Japanese language
African language
Malayan language (Malaya and Polynesia)
American Indian language
Eskimo language

Languages in England before English


English was introduced in Britain in the 5th C. and before it:

1- Old Stone Age


Lasted until 2000 B.C
Language if there was and disappeared with the race
2- New Stone Age
Lasted until 500 600 B.C
Traces of people Inhabitants of Scotland
Basques
3- Celts: their language Celtic
First language we know about
First Indo-European language
Influence on English: slight (few words passed). Especially on place/ manners:
Cities: London, Devon
Rivers: Thames, Avon
4- Romans:
Conquered Britain in 150 A.D (Claudius)
Influences:
Built churches, roads, baths, etc.
On ways of living/ dressing, etc.
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On language: Latin didnt replace Celtic language as it did in Gaul

Latin influence: two periods:

Continental borrowings: verbs learnt by Teutons before their coming to Britain. Words
connected with war and commerce
First period: (through Celtic transmission). Latin influence was slight because
although Celts absorbed Latin verbs, Teutons exterminated them and didnt assimilate
Celtic or Latin words. No more than five words
5- Teutonic invasion:
410 Romans left England attacked by Germanic sea raiders (called Saxons)
Venerable Bedes History of English tells about it. He completed it in 730 A.D
With Teutons Old English period begins
We can refer to Britain or England

Tribes: different tribes, similar dialects some homeland in Europe


Jutes: settled in Kent (in the south eastern part), came from Jutland (Northern
Germany)
Saxons: settled south of the Thames
Angles: settled in the central part. Homeland probably in Denmark

Anglo-Saxon civilization

Teutons destroyed Roman civilization


Different sort of life:
Open air (hated cities)
Devoted to hunting and agriculture
Lived in clans
Formed kingdoms (in the course of time they were reduced to seven)

Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy

Name given to the seven most important kingdoms. They were: Northumbria, Kent,
East Anglia, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, Mercia
Different kings tried to overlord ships on the other kingdoms but their domination was
personal and temporal
1st Kent
2nd Northumbria York its capital was the centre of culture and learning in the 7th
C. and 8th C.
3rd Mercia end of the 8th C.
4th Wessex in the 9th C. held the supremacy, its king achieved the unification of
England

Old English Dialects

Kentish: spoken in Kent by the Jutes


Mercian: spoken between the Thames and the Humber (central part)
Northumbrian: spoken in the north of Humber, included Southern Scotland
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West Saxon: spoken between the Thames and the English Channel

Growth of the English language


Periods: Old English: 480 A.D Period of full inflections (mon-a, sun-u)
Middle English: 1200-1900 Period of levelled inflections (mon-e, sun-e)
Modern English: 1500-present time Period of lost inflections (moon, sun)
Comparison in:

Grammar:
O.E Synthetical language: lots of inflections to show relation between words
M.E Analytical language: inflections were lost
Nature:
O.E Pure language: most of its vocabulary is of Teutonic origin. Few borrowed
words
M.E Composite language: only few words in Modern English are Teutonic. Most
of the vocabulary are words borrowed from Latin/ French/ Scandinavian, etc.

Christianity in Britain
Christianity in Britain was introduced in 601 when Pope Gregory I sent St. Augustine and a group of
missionaries to convert the Angles. It was very important because:

It helped to know the Anglo-Saxons in Britain


It introduced writing (before it Teutons wrote with runes not acceptable for language
writing, only for short inscriptions. Clerics began to use a Celtic version of the Roman
alphabet)
It meant that schools were introduced, established in monasteries
Latin words are borrowed (Latin influence of the 2nd period). Learning advanced because
Latin was once more heard in Britain
Churches and monasteries were built
It was a difficult task, but favoured by the circumstance that in the kingdom of Kent, the queen
and a group of people were Christian. Then they converted the whole kingdom
7th C. new faith spread rapidly St. Augustine (Archbishop of Canterbury)
End of 7th C. most of England was Catholic (a Catholic Church in England)

The English of the Old English Period


The Grammar of O.E

1- The Noun:
In O.E Had a grammatical gender
Had different form for each case and number
There were four main forms or declensions
Type 1: e.g. hund (dog) included masculine noun
Singular
Nominative: hund (hound)
Accusative: hund
Genitive: hundes (hounds)
Dative: hunde
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Plural
Nominative: hundas (hounds)
Accusative: hundas originally six different
Genitive: hundo forms, later reduced to
Dative: hundum three
Type 2: e.g. sceap (sheep) included neuter nouns
Singular
Nominative: sceap
Accusative: sceap
Genitive: sceapes
Dative: sceape
Plural
Nominative: sceap
Accusative: sceap no as ending as
Genitive: sceapa in Type 1
Dative: sceapum
Type 3: oxa (ox) included feminine/ masculine/ neutral nouns
Characterized by an ending in five of its eight forms
In Modern English only one remained: ox oxen
Singular
Nominative: oxa (ox)
Accusative: oxan
Genitive: oxan
Dative: oxan
Plural
Nominative: oxan (oxen)
Accusative: oxan
Genitive: oxcena
Dative: oxcum
Type 4: gos (goose) included mostly feminine nouns
In O.E characterized by changes in root vowel (gos-ges, fot-fet)
In M.E characterized by changes in root vowel (goose-geese, foot-feet,
man-men)
Singular
Nominative: gos
Accusative: gos
Genitive: gose
Dative: ges
Plural
Nominative: ges
Accusative: ges
Genitive: gosa
Dative: gosum
2- The Adjective:
In O.E it had two declensions: weak and strong
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It agreed with the noun it modified in


Number
Gender
Case
Weak declension with an as ending used before
Definite article/ demonstrative/ adjective
Possessive adjective (e.g. The good man)
Singular

Masculine feminine neuter


Nominative goda gode gode
Accusative godaen godan gode
Genitive godam godum godam
Dative godam godan godam
Plural
Masculine feminine neuter
Nominative godan
Accusative goden
Genitive godema
Dative godum

Same for all genders

Strong declension
Used before indefinite article (e.g. A good man)
Used before uncountable nouns (e.g. good meat)
Singular

Masculine feminine neuter


Nominative god god god
Accusative godne gode god
Genitive godes godre godes
Dative godum godne godum
Plural
Masculine feminine neuter
Nominative gode gode god
Accusative gode gode god
Genitive godre godra godra
Dative godum godum godum

3- The Verb:
In O.E there were two classes as in M.E
Weak: add ed or t
hope hoped hoped
keep kept - kept
Strong: change root vowel
ride rode ridden
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sing sang sung


Strong verbs: in O.E there were seven classes e.g. only of class one and three that
are well represented in M.E they had two forms of past tense (singular and plural)
Class I

Infinitive past singular past plural past participle


Ridan (ride) rad (rode) ridon riden (ridden)
Writan (write) wrat (wrote) writan writen (written)

Class II

Infinitive past singular past plural past participle


Singan (sing) song (sang) sungan sunger (sung)
Drinkan (drink) dronc (drank) druncon drunken (drunk)

Weak verbs: no difference between the vowel of the past singular and plural

Infinitive past singular past plural past participle


Hieran (hear) hierde (heard) hierdon hierd (heard)

4- The Adverb:
In O.E
Adverbs were formed from adjectives by adding e e.g. wra (angry),
wrae (angrily)
Adverbs formed the comparative and superlative by adding or - ost e.g.
wraor (more angrily), wraost (most angrily)

The Vocabulary of Old English


As O.E is a pure language

Its vocabulary
Contains a few borrowings Latin influence of the 2nd period
From Latin, Greek to enlarge it
O.E depended on its own resources, e.g. by adding suffixes to an existing word:
io was a suffix added to an adjective to form an abstract noun (in M.E
strong-strength)
The syntax of O.E
A few peculiarities
The repeated negative
The verb: different positions in the s
At the end (usually)
At the beginning (to give stress)
The pronunciation of O.E
We refer to the phonology of an old language its approximate, besides,
there were regional and individual differences
Stress system simpler than M.E because most of the words of more than one
syllable were stressed in the first syllable
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Vowels there were seven vowels: a-e-i-o-u-y- that could be short or


long
In O.E
There was a sound y that no longer exists in M.E, though it exists in French
and German
There was a sound similar to the a of cat but no longer exists
The other vowels were like the ones in M.E, though they werent used in the
same words

Short vowels: suffered no change


Long vowels: changed greatly
Diphthongs: changed greatly. There were only two (long and short): eo-eo-ea-ea

O.E vowel O.E word M.E word


a ham stan home stone (u)
a man(n) lamb man lamb ()
dd sd deed seed (i:)
t gld at glad
e we fet we feet (i:)
e settan wel set well
i men tid mine tide (ai)
i sittan hit sit hit
o god sona good soon
u hus cu house cow (au)
u put ful put full
y hydan nys hide mice (ai)
y syn sin (i)

Consonants:

In O.E there were b-c-d-f-g-h-l-m-n-p-w-r-s-t-p--


The symbols b-d-l-m-n-p-t-w- had the same value as in M.E
Differences:
There were no silent consonants, e.g. cueo (know) pronounced (k+n), writan
(write) pronounced (w+r)
Some letters had a double pronunciation, e.g.
1- g Pronounced as g in go in dogga (dog), ges (geese), god (good)
Pronounced y in yet in geong (young), gear (year), cg (key)
2- k Pronounced in words with back vowels corn, camp
A ch sound in words with front vowels cild (child), ceosan
(choose)
Preconsonantal c always k: cnawan (know), cwellan (kill)
3- th its the modern representation of two O.E sounds, it had two
sounds:
As in the represented in O.E by 1
As in thin represented in O.E by 1
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1 both were used indiscriminately

4- The letters f-s- (or ) had two pronunciations according to their position
in the O.E word
At the beginning or end of the word pronounced f-s-th (as in
thin) voiceless sound e.g.
fode (food)
lof (praise)
sunee (son)
mus (mouse)
orn (thorn)
p (path)
In the middle of the word pronounced v-z and th (as in thin),
voiced sound e.g.
scofan (seven)
nose (nose)
braor (brother)

As a consequence of it in M.E we have pairs


Loaf loaves
Knife knives

(final) (middle)

The Viking Age


Vikings:

Came from Scandinavia (northern Europe)


Included:
Swedes
Norwegians
Danes
Reasons for their expansion:
Search for natural resources
Free sea route due to the distribution of the Frisians, maritime power (made by
Charlemagne)
It means creek dwellers
Well known as daring and brave sea warriors
Believed they reached North America before Columbus (c. 1000)
Periods:
Period of early raids: (c. 800-840), only attacks on cities or monasteries where they
carried off gold vessels and slaves
Period of large armies: (c. 850-870) settled there and began to expand, for example, in
East Anglia who later intended to conquer south and east of Britain (after Alfreds
accession to the throne)
War: Treaty of Wedmore (Danelaw). Danelaw was established, they werent
compelled to leave the country but to accept Christianity
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Period of settlement: (c. 870-1040). It began with new invasions. Purpose: to settle in
the land they won
9th and 10th C. north and east was reconquered but the Danes had already
established there powerful settlements (as Yorkshire, East Anglia, etc.)
When the English were driven into exile, the whole of England was under a Danish
king (King Knut) who avoided its unification

Amalgamation of the two races:

It took place gradually


Possibly:
Both races had the same ancestors (language, blood)
At first hostile
Then intermingled by marriage and adopted customs, organization, etc.

Relation between the two languages:

In some places Danes gave up their language early


In other places Danish continued to be heard (for example, in Scotland till the 17th C.)
Consequences:
Some people spoke Danish
Others spoke English
Others were bilingual they favoured the introduction of Danish words
Finally, English gained its supremacy and Old Norse died out but before it got well mixed
with English
Two languages similar:
They melted into one
It would have been impossible to say whether a word is of Danish or English origin if
we had no English literature before the invasion
O.E (Old English) O.N (Old Norse)
sit seat
house husband
shirt skirt
ride raid
true trust

Scandinavian influence on the English language:


Its manifestation is in three directions:

Introduction of loan words:


Nouns: fellow, sky, skirt, sister, husband
Verbs: call, get, fall, die, crawl
Verb are O.E syndom
O.N aront (arent)
Pronouns: they, their
Conjunctions: though
Prepositions: till, fro
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Scandinavian place names: found in north and east of Britain and Scotland. Mainly seen in
the endings:
1- By (town) in towns like Derby, Appleby, Whitby
2- Thwaite (a clearing): Applethwaite, Gunthwaite
3- Toft (a piece of ground): Eastoft, Nortoft, Brimtoft
4- Gate (way road): Applegate, Sandgate
5- Thorpe (village): Marblethorpe, Gunthorpe, Bishopthorpe
Proper names:
1- Ending in -son are of Scandinavian origin: Stevenson, Robinson
2- Ending in -ing are of British origin: Manning, Harding

The Norman Conquest:


Circumstances promoting the use of French:

The close connection between England and the continent


The king as well as the nobles spent half of their reigns in France
Lands held by nobles in Normandy
English not cultivated by upper classes who showed indifference to it because they didnt
need it
A lot of French literature was produced to please the tastes and interests of the French patrons.
Productions included: Proverbs of Solomon, Roman the Brut, History of the English,
Chronicles, Allegories, Lives of heroes, etc.

Norman French and English:

Most of the Middle Class people were bilingual


Some understood both but spoke one
Two languages spoken side by side. Norman French had greater prestige and social status
though 90 % of the population spoke English
The two languages mingled during a slow process that took centuries to give a different
language Middle English in the year 1300. But Middle English was still a Saxon
language

The Reestablishment of English:


After 1200 several conditions changed:

Normandy: it was lost by King John so kings and nobles were forced to consider England as
their main concern, although some still had lands in the south of France
In 1204 due to the loss of Normandy the process of separation was accelerated when the
nobles were compelled to give up one of their possessions and double allegiance was left to
be awkward
Another flood of foreigners from Porteau during Henry VIIs reign provoked a general
reaction. The reasons were that English officers were dismissed
Hundred Years War: with France, a feeling of animosity towards French, the language of the
enemy

Changing conditions:
The rise of the Middle Class due to:
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An improvement to the conditions of the labouring class


Black death
Affected lower classes mostly
Provoked a shortage of labour
Peasants revolt: brought about two consequences
Importance given to labourers
The reestablishment of English in the 14th and 15th centuries in:
Schools: where French was used in teaching due to scarcity of competent teachers. In
1350 English was adopted
Law Courts: where French was used in legal affairs. In 1356 it was ordered that all
law courts should be conducted in English. (official recognition of English)
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Writing: English had to compete with Latin and French, displaced both in the 15 C.

Middle English Period: (1150-1500)


A period of fundamental and extensive changes:

Affected grammar, spelling, vocabulary and pronunciation


There was a double process: influence of French and development of English

Grammar changes: tended to simplification:

Decay of inflections:
Had already begun before Norman Conquest but it accelerated (it changed from full
to levelled inflections)
All the vowels of final unaccented syllables were labelled to e, certain uniformity
Loss of grammatical gender: became dependant on meaning

Spelling changes:

Mainly orthographical, not indicating a change in pronunciation


ew qu as in wen, queen
Soft g before front vowels was introduced with the value of g as in gesture, gentle
Hard g where retained was written g as in guide, guest

Vocabulary:

French influence was felt more intensely due to:


A mutual interchange between languages
Transference of words: periods:
1- Early period (1150-1250) words used by the lower classes in contact with
French nobility. E.g. baron, messenger, feast
2- Late period (1250-1500) words used by the upper classes when trying to speak
English

Surnames: were introduced with the French influence:

1- In France used since 1000 but died with the person. Later became hereditary
2- In England at first used to distinguish one from another. How were they created?
Some genealogical in origin Thompson, Robinson
22

Influenced by place names Field


Influenced by personal characteristics Longfellow, Goodman, Goldman
Influenced by occupation Baker, Tyler

Pronunciation:

Varied from district to district, from generation to generation and even between individuals:
1- In Midland and the southern dialects the long of O.E became long o and written with a
double o but pronounced the same as it is today, as in home /hum/, stone /stun/ , loaf
/luf/
2- Another development was the lengthening of short vowels (in open syllables) and the
shortening of long ones (in closed syllables)
3- The third important change concerns the long vowels, they tend to be shortened
4- In certain words, by a process known as metathesis, an r or s came to change its position

Period of greatest French influence:

After 1250, climax 1400


Total number of borrowed words: 10.000 (70 % still in use)
Produced a differentiation in meaning
Duplication: as a consequence English has a dualistic character. E.g.
house mansion
ask demand
cow beef
In spite of it and the modification suffered, the language was still English because its basic
elements were English

Latin borrowings of the third period (or Pre-Renaissance):


Cause: new impetus given to the study of Latin. When? 1066 to 1480
Few borrowings main source: translation of the Bible (Wycliff)
Synonyms at three levels: due to the influence of French and Latin words. E.g.
English French Italian
ask question interrogate
holy sacred consecrated

Middle English Dialects:

Four main dialects:


Northern
Middle land: east and west
Southern
Great variety among them until 15th C., when one of them became the standard dialect

Rise of the standard language:

In the course of the 15th C.


East Middle dialect recognized in its written and oral form
Spoken in London
23

Other dialects:
Northern in Modern Times represented by:
Lowland Scotch
Poems of Burne (18th C.)
Southern found only in the rustic language of the peasants
Causes:
It was the language of London
Centre of social and cultural life
Capital of England when Winchester fell into the 2nd rank
Old English Chronicles written in English since King Alfreds days
Translation of the Bible in English (by Wycliff)
Chaucer, a Londoner, wrote in English
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were in that region
It was an intermediate language:
Intelligible to both South and North
Received more French words
More difficult grammar than North but less than South
The only one patronized by the Printing Press
Invented in Germany by Gutenberg
Introduced in the 14th C. by William Caxton in England
Favoured the establishment of the standard language
Fixed spelling
Favoured the spread of popular education
Made possible the use of books by the lower classes
15 C. in spite of having a standard language no complete uniformity was achieved
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as the language of England

Early Modern Period:


Factors that made it possible:

Introduction of Printing Press


Discovery of America (1492). The expansion of the British nation to remote lands began with
it
The Renaissance:
Constantinople fell to the Turks and scholars fled to Europe with their books and
knowledge
th
Italy and Germany (15 C.)
th
England (16 C.)
Emphasis on Latin arts, literature
Influence of England due to:
Introduction of Latin words
Latin used as a medium of expansion
Latin translations: introduction of verbs (art, music, literature, etc.)
Provoked radical changes in the vocabulary
Slight changes in grammar: conservative tendency
The Reformation: (15th and 16th C.)
24

Affected English due to:


Introduction of words expressing hate, disapproval, etc. in connection with
Religious struggle
Influence of the Bible:
Strong formative effect upon people
New words (Latin)
Publication of Pamphlets in England (Protestants were mostly people of lower
classes)
Increase of national feelings due to:
Change from the Medieval system of holding lands from a Lord to a
powerful state of a national merchant class
Change of system that led to a greater interest and pride in the national
language or vernacular

1- The Scandinavians (end of the 11th C.)


The period of the invasions 780-1050
The period of the early raids 800-840
The period of large armies 850
The period of settlement 870-1040

2- The Norman Conquest (1100-1200)


William of Normandy 1066
Between 1066 and 1350 the French influence change the whole course of the
English language
1042 Edward the Confessor (Ethelreds son) was restored to the throne

3- The Reestablishment of English (1200-1500)


1204 King John lost Normandy
French reinforcement 13 C. (new invasion)
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The Hundred Years War 1337-1453


The Black Death 1349
The Peasants Revolt 1381

4- Middle English Period (1150-1500)


th
Period of greatest influence: increases slightly at the end of the 12 C., and more
rapidly from 1200 to 1250. But it is great in 1250 and rising to a climax at the end of
the 14th C. (1400)
Latin borrowings in Middle English Latin influence of the third period (or Pre-
Renaissance) (1066-1485)
Vulgate version of the Bible by Wycliff (1324-1384)
The rise of the standard language (1500)

5- Modern English Period (1500-present time)


Invention of the Printing Press (Germany) middle of the 15 C.
th

Renaissance:
In Europe 1453
In England 1500
Subdivision of the Modern Period
Tudor English Period 1500-1625
25

The English of the remainder of the 17th C. 1625-1700


The remaining period up to 1900
Restauration 1660

The Appeal to Authority:


The temper of the 18th Century:
Characteristics:

Strong sense of order


Desire for regulation
Conformity to a standard correctness, founded on reason/ Latin/ logic

Expansion of the British Empire:


It was due to:

Certain circumstances
Chance
Desire for gold (wealth)

16th Century:

Spain:
Greatest maritime power but Englands rival was France
England:
Had permission in USA in the Atlantic sea board (Jamestown, Plymouth)
France:
Had permission in USA (Montreal, St. Lawrence)
American Revolution:
Deprived England from its colonies in America but the language remained English

England:
16th Century:

Possession in India to promote trade (Bombay, Calcutta)

18th Century:

Possession in Australia Captain Cook discovered it when gold was found heavy
immigration

18th and 19th Centuries:

Africa: British seized the clutch settlement of Cape town and from it controlled the whole
of South Africa

Consequences of the expansion:


New activities, places, trade routes (were important avenues for the transmission of new words)

1- Borrowings: produced an expansion in the vocabulary


a- From America: moccasin, toboggan, totem
26

b- From Mexico: chocolate, tomato, potato


c- From Cuba: barbecue, cannibal, tobacco
d- From Peru: llama, puma, condor, alpaca
e- From Africa: banana, chimpanzee, gorilla
f- From Australia: kangaroo, boomerang

2- New words: connected with:


a- Commerce: capital, discount, finance, insurance
b- Politics: legislator, Prime Minister, Democratic, Socialist
c- Art: romantic, aesthetic, expressionist
d- Recreation: jazz, foxtrot
e- New fashion: jeans, bikini, mini

3- Influence in grammar:
a- Wide extension of the progressive tenses 1
b- Extension of the passive (progressive passive) 1
1
it showed that grammar cant be fixed (it went on changing)

English in the scientific age:


Introduction of words in connection with sciences

1- 16th C. words connected with:


Human body: tibia, skeleton, tendon, abdomen
Diseases: catarrh, smallpox, mumps, epilepsy
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2- 17 C.
Introduction of scientific words written in a plain style as that later was also used in
other types of writing
Scientific vocabulary
Names of sciences: theology, chemistry, genetics
New substances: oxygen, uranium, acid, nylon
Instruments: barometer, electroscope
Parts of the body: vertebra, femur

Sources of new words:

1- Compounding from Greek and Latin: (especially scientific or technical words)


Chlorophyll vitamin eugenics

Light green leaf life well to be born
Others:
Bio life
Mono one
Poli more than one
Micro small
Morph form
Phono sound
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2- Loan words: borrowings oldest method, most familiar


3- Affixation:
Suffixes: an ancient method of word formation, e.g. kingdom, freedom, relationship,
friendship, careless, moneyless, length, strength, writer, reader
Prefixes: e.g. unfortunate, unlucky, transoceanic, transformer, transcontinental,
postwar, postpone, postgraduate
4- Compounding: from a new word by joining two existing words, e.g. weekend, railway,
bookcase, air-raid, railway-station, policeman, postman
5- Coinages: (or deliberate inventions, especially when referring to a trade mark used as a
common norm)
Kodak camera
Victrola phonograph
Frigidaire refrigerator
Biro pen ball pointed pen
6- Common words from proper names:
Lord Sandwich sandwich
Judge Lynch to lynch (USA)
Marquis of Sade sadist, sadism
Pullman (Am. Engineer) pullman (coach on a railway)
Sir Robert Peel bobby (policeman)
7- Old words with a new meaning: (old words used with a new sense)
Record: original: only a phonographic disc
Cabaret: original: a shed, then a small drinking place; now, a special type of restaurant
Manufacture: original: to make by hands; now, just the opposite
8- Abbreviations or shortenings: (when the short form is recognized as a word)
e.g. zoo, lab, maths, curio, pub, telly, bus, van, bra, etc.

Slang:

Peculiar kind of language:


Always changing
Always forcing its way into respectable language
Cannot be ignored:
A part of language and a source from which English will continue to be fed in the
future
A matter of fashion
The result of:
A desire to give novelty and freshness to language
A desire to renew it
What makes a word slang? the sense in which it is used

Cultural levels:

There are local and class dialects (slang and standard)


Technical, Scientific vocabulary
In the middle position:
Spoken standard:
28

Language spoken by educated people


Conformed to grammar rules
Written standard:
Language of books
Differ in grammar and vocabulary from spoken form
Varies from Elevated style of poetry to plain style
Vulgar:
Language of the ignorant, uneducated people
Rich in slang expressions

The Standard Speech:


England:

Late Middle Ages rise of East Midland, dialect as literary standard language
19th C. strong tendency to adopt a uniform style of speech due to the influence of Public
School System a variant of South Eastern English:
Ceased to be a regional dialect
Spoken by gentry, a class dialect
Had great prestige as correct and pure language
Not easy to define
Gives place to regional and personal variations (small in written language, but marked in
spoken language)
There is a standard literary language too since educated English spoken by people from all
parts of the world can understand each other
It is the product of certain historical, social and cultural factors and not the imposition of one
way of speaking upon others

English Dialects:
New world:

New communities were set up in America, Canada, Australia, etc.


As there was a standard speech before the expansion of the British Empire, they could carry
it. Besides, it was firmly established
Brought new words to cope with the new environment
Language influenced by the language spoken in different places

Dialects:

Local forms of the educated standard language, numerous in Britain


Reflected conditions that prevailed from remote times
Types:
1- Scotland:
A variety of Northern English
Influenced by Southern English in the 16th C.
A literary language works by Fergusson, Burns, etc.
Gradually lost grounds
2- Ireland:
29

No currency in Literature
Many people there speak in accordance with the received pronunciation of
England
3- Australia:
Its slang is incomprehensible to the outsider full of aboriginal words
Based on the language of the lower English classes prisoners sent there in the
17th C.
Variations in pronunciation and vocabulary
4- South African:
Influenced by the language of Dutch and Portuguese who occupied Africa
before the English
African dialects
5- Canadian:
Similar to American English
Early settlers came from USA
Described as a variation of American English strongly influenced by American
T.V, films, etc.