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ARTICLES IN THE BOOK

  1. Adverbial
  2. Agentive ending
  3. Ain't
  4. American and British English differences
  5. American and British English pronunciation differences
  6. American and British English spelling differences
  7. American English
  8. Amn't
  9. Anglophone
  10. Anglosphere
  11. Apostrophe
  12. Australian English
  13. Benjamin Franklin's phonetic alphabet
  14. Bracket
  15. British and American keyboards
  16. British English
  17. Canadian English
  18. Certificate of Proficiency in English
  19. Classical compound
  20. Cockney
  21. Colon
  22. Comma
  23. Comma splice
  24. Cut Spelling
  25. Dangling modifier
  26. Dash
  27. Definite article reduction
  28. Disputed English grammar
  29. Don't-leveling
  30. Double copula
  31. Double negative
  32. Ellipsis
  33. English alphabet
  34. English compound
  35. English declension
  36. English English
  37. English grammar
  38. English honorifics
  39. English irregular verbs
  40. English language learning and teaching
  41. English modal auxiliary verb
  42. English orthography
  43. English passive voice
  44. English personal pronouns
  45. English phonology
  46. English plural
  47. English relative clauses
  48. English spelling reform
  49. English verbs
  50. English words with uncommon properties
  51. Estuary English
  52. Exclamation mark
  53. Foreign language influences in English
  54. Full stop
  55. Generic you
  56. Germanic strong verb
  57. Gerund
  58. Going-to future
  59. Grammatical tense
  60. Great Vowel Shift
  61. Guillemets
  62. Habitual be
  63. History of linguistic prescription in English
  64. History of the English language
  65. Hyphen
  66. I before e except after c
  67. IELTS
  68. Initial-stress-derived noun
  69. International Phonetic Alphabet for English
  70. Interpunct
  71. IPA chart for English
  72. It's me
  73. Languages of the United Kingdom
  74. Like
  75. List of animal adjectives
  76. List of British idioms
  77. List of British words not widely used in the United States
  78. List of case-sensitive English words
  79. List of commonly confused homonyms
  80. List of common misspellings in English
  81. List of common words that have two opposite senses
  82. List of dialects of the English language
  83. List of English apocopations
  84. List of English auxiliary verbs
  85. List of English homographs
  86. List of English irregular verbs
  87. List of English prepositions
  88. List of English suffixes
  89. List of English words invented by Shakespeare
  90. List of English words of Celtic origin
  91. List of English words of Italian origin
  92. List of English words with disputed usage
  93. List of frequently misused English words
  94. List of Fumblerules
  95. List of homophones
  96. List of -meters
  97. List of names in English with non-intuitive pronunciations
  98. List of words having different meanings in British and American English
  99. List of words of disputed pronunciation
  100. London slang
  101. Longest word in English
  102. Middle English
  103. Modern English
  104. Names of numbers in English
  105. New Zealand English
  106. Northern subject rule
  107. Not!
  108. NuEnglish
  109. Oxford spelling
  110. Personal pronoun
  111. Phonological history of the English language
  112. Phrasal verb
  113. Plural of virus
  114. Possessive adjective
  115. Possessive antecedent
  116. Possessive me
  117. Possessive of Jesus
  118. Possessive pronoun
  119. Preposition stranding
  120. Pronunciation of English th
  121. Proper adjective
  122. Question mark
  123. Quotation mark
  124. Received Pronunciation
  125. Regional accents of English speakers
  126. Rhyming slang
  127. Run-on sentence
  128. Scouse
  129. Semicolon
  130. Semordnilap
  131. Serial comma
  132. Shall and will
  133. Silent E
  134. Singular they
  135. Slash
  136. SoundSpel
  137. Space
  138. Spelling reform
  139. Split infinitive
  140. Subjective me
  141. Suffix morpheme
  142. Tag question
  143. Than
  144. The Reverend
  145. Third person agreement leveling
  146. Thou
  147. TOEFL
  148. TOEIC
  149. Truespel
  150. University of Cambridge ESOL examination
  151. Weak form and strong form
  152. Welsh English
  153. Who
  154. You

 

 
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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_English_language

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

History of the English language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers and auxiliary troops under Roman tutelage from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Northern Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a group of dialects reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. The original Old English language was then influenced by two waves of invasion. The first was by language speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family; they conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The second was the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke a variety of French. These two invasions caused English to become "mixed" to some degree (though it was never a truly mixed language in the strict linguistic sense of the word; mixed languages arise from the cohabitation of speakers of different languages, who develop a hybrid tongue for basic communication).

Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English; the later Norman occupation led to the grafting onto that Germanic core a more elaborate layer of words from the Romance branch of the European languages. This Norman influence entered English largely through the courts and government. Thus, English developed into a "borrowing" language of great flexibility and with a huge vocabulary.

Proto-English

The Germanic tribes who gave rise to the English language (the Angles, Saxons, Frisians, Jutes and perhaps even the Franks), traded with and fought with the Latin-speaking Roman Empire in the process of the Germanic invasion of Europe from the East. Many Latin words for common objects therefore entered the vocabulary of these Germanic people even before any of these tribes reached Britain; examples include camp, cheese, cook, dragon, fork, giant, gem, inch, kettle, kitchen, linen, mile, mill, mint (coin), noon, oil, pillow, pin, pound, punt (boat), soap, street, table, wall and wine. The Romans also gave English words which they had themselves borrowed from other languages: anchor, butter, cat, chest, devil, dish and sack.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, around the year 449, Vortigern, King of the Britons, invited the "Angle kin" (Angles led by Hengest and Horsa) to help him in conflicts with the Picts. In return, the Angles were granted lands in the south-east of England. Further aid was sought and in response "came men of Ald Seaxum of Anglum of Iotum" (Saxons, Angles and Jutes). The Chronicle talks of a subsequent influx of settlers who eventually established seven kingdoms, known as the heptarchy. Modern scholarship considers most of this story to be legendary and politically motivated and the identification of the tribes with the Angles, Saxons and Jutes is no longer accepted as an accurate description (Myres, 1986, p. 46ff), especially since the Anglo-Saxon language is more similar to Frisian than any single one of the others.

Old English

Main article: Old English language

The invaders conquered and displaced (to what extent is a matter of some debate) the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants of what became England. The Celts and their languages remained in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. The dialects spoken by the invaders formed what is now called Old English. Later, it was strongly influenced by the North Germanic language Norse, spoken by the Vikings who invaded and settled mainly in the north-east of England (see Jrvk and Danelaw). The new and the earlier settlers spoke languages from different branches of the Germanic family; many of their lexical roots were the same or similar, although their grammars were more distinct, including the prefix, suffix and inflection patterns for many of their words. The Germanic language of these Old English speaking inhabitants of Britain was influenced by contact with Norse invaders, which may have been responsible for some of the morphological simplification of Old English, including loss of grammatical gender and explicitly marked case (with the notable exception of the pronouns). The most famous surviving work from the Old English period is a fragment of the epic poem "Beowulf", by an unknown poet, though substantially modified, likely by one or more Christian clerics long after its composition.

The introduction of Christianity added another wave of Latin and some Greek words.

It has been argued that the contribution from Danish continued into the early Middle Ages.

The Old English period formally ended with the Norman conquest, when the language was influenced, to an even greater extent, by the Norman French-speaking Normans.

The use of Anglo-Saxon to describe a merging of Anglian and Saxon languages and cultures is a relatively modern development. According to Lois Fundis, (Stumpers-L, Fri, 14 Dec 2001) "The first citation for the second definition of 'Anglo-Saxon', referring to early English language or a certain dialect thereof, comes during the reign of Elizabeth I, from an historian named Camden, who seems to be the person most responsible for the term becoming well-known in modern times."

Middle English

Main article: Middle English

For about 300 years following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Norman kings and their high nobility spoke only a variety of French called Anglo-Norman. English continued to be the language of the common people. Various contemporary sources suggest that within fifty years of the Invasion most of the Normans outside the royal court had switched to English, with French remaining the prestige language of government and law largely out of social inertia. For example, Orderic Vitalis, a historian born in 1075 and the son of a Norman knight, said that he learned French only as a second language. A tendency for French-derived words to have more formal connotations has continued to the present day; most modern English speakers would consider a "cordial reception" (from French) to be more formal than a "hearty welcome" (Germanic). Another example is that of the names for meats, such as beef and pork from French boeuf and porc.

While the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle continued until 1154, most other literature from this period was in Old French or Latin. A large number of Norman words were taken into Old English, with many doubling for Old English words (examples include, ox/beef, sheep/mutton and so on). The Norman influence reinforced the continued changes in the language over the following centuries, producing what is now referred to as Middle English. Among the changes was an increase in the use of a unique aspect of English grammar, the "continuous" tenses, with the suffix "-ing". English spelling was also influenced by French in this period, with the /θ/ and // sounds being spelled th rather than with the Old English letters and , which did not exist in French. The best-known writer from the Middle English period is Geoffrey Chaucer and of his works The Canterbury Tales is best known.

English literature started to reappear ca 1200, when a changing political climate and the decline in Anglo-Norman made it more respectable. By the end of that century, even the royal court had switched to English. Anglo-Norman remained in use in limited circles somewhat longer, but it had ceased to be a living language.

Early Modern English

Main article: Early Modern English

Modern English is often dated from the Great Vowel Shift which took place mainly during the 15th century. English was further transformed by the spread of a standardised London-based dialect in government and administration and by the standardising effect of printing. By the time of William Shakespeare (mid-late 16th century) the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English.

English has continuously adopted foreign words, especially from Latin and Greek since the Renaissance. As there are many words from different languages and English spelling is variable (to be charitable), the risk of mispronunciation is high, but remnants of the older forms remain in a few regional dialects, most notably in the West Country.

In 1755 Samuel Johnson published the first significant English dictionary, his Dictionary of the English Language.

Historic English text samples

Old English

Beowulf lines 1 to 11, approximately 900

 

Which can be translated as:

Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kingsof spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,awing the earls. Since erst he layfriendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,till before him the folk, both far and near,who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,gave him gifts: a good king he!

(translation by Francis Gummere)

Here is a sample prose text, the beginning of The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan. The full text is at Wikisource:Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader/The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan

Ōhthere sǣde his hlāforde, lfrēde cyninge, t hē ealra Normonna normest būde. Hē cw t hē būde on ǣm lande norweardum wi ā Westsǣ. Hē sǣde ēah t t land sīe swīe lang nor onan; ac hit is eal wēste, būton on fēawum stōwum styccemǣlum wīcia Finnas, on huntoe on wintra, ond on sumera on fiscae be ǣre sǣ. Hē sǣde t hē t sumum cirre wolde fandian hū longe t land noryhte lǣge, oe hwer ǣnig mon be noran ǣm wēstenne būde. ā fōr hē norryhte be ǣm lande: lēt him ealne weg t wēste land on t stēorbord, ond ā wīdsǣ on t bcbord rīe dagas. ā ws hē swā feor nor swā ā hwlhuntan firrest fara. ā fōr hē ā giet norryhte swā feor swā hē meahte on ǣm ōrum rīm dagum gesiglau. ā bēag t land, ǣr ēastryhte, oe sēo sǣ in on t lond, hē nysse hwer, būton hē wisse t hē ǣr bād westanwindes ond hwōn noran, ond siglde ā ēast be lande swā swā hē meahte on fēower dagum gesiglan. ā sceolde hē ǣr bīdan ryhtnoranwindes, for ǣm t land bēag ǣr sūryhte, oe sēo sǣ in on t land, hē nysse hwer. ā siglde hē onan sūryhte be lande swā swā hē meahte on fīf dagum gesiglan. ā lg ǣr ān micel ēa ūp on t land. ā cirdon hīe ūp in on ā ēa for ǣm hīe ne dorston for bī ǣre ēa siglan for unfrie; for ǣm t land ws eall gebūn on ōre healfe ǣre ēas. Ne mētte hē ǣr nān gebūn land, sian hē from his āgnum hām fōr; ac him ws ealne weg wēste land on t stēorbord, būtan fiscerum ond fugelerum ond huntum, ond t wǣron eall Finnas; ond him ws āwīdsǣ on t bcbord. ā Boermas heafdon sīe wel gebūd hiraland: ac hīe ne dorston ǣr on cuman. Ac āra Terfinna land ws eal wēste, būton ǣr huntan gewīcodon, oe fisceras, oe fugeleras.

This may be translated as:

Ohthere said to his lord, King Alfred, that he of all Norsemen lived north-most. He quoth that he lived in the land northward along the North Sea. He said though that the land was very long from there, but it is all wasteland, except that in a few places here and there Finns [perhaps Sami] encamp, hunting in winter and in summer fishing by the sea. He said that at some time he wanted to find out how long the land lay northward or whether any man lived north of the wasteland. Then he traveled north by the land. All the way he kept the waste land on his starboard and the wide sea on his port three days. Then he was as far north as whale hunters furthest travel. Then he traveled still north as far as he might sail in another three days. Then the land bowed east (or the sea into the land he didnt know which). But he knew that he waited there for west winds (and somewhat north), and sailed east by the land so as he might sail in four days. Then he had to wait due-north winds, because the land bowed south (or the sea into the landhe didnt know which). Then he sailed from there south by the land so as he might sail in three days. Then a large river lay there up into the land. Then they turned up into the river, because they dared not sail forth past the river for hostility, because the land was all settled on the other side of the river. He hadnt encountered earlier any settled land since he traveled from his own home; but all the way waste land was on his starboard (except fishers, fowlers and hunters, who were all Finns). And the wide sea was always on his port. The Bjarmians have cultivated their land very well, but they did not dare go in there. But the Terfinns land was all waste except where hunters encamped, or fishers or fowlers.

Middle English

From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century

Here bygynneth the Book of the Tales of CaunterburyWhan that Aprill, with his shoures sooteThe droghte of March hath perced to the rooteAnd bathed every veyne in swich licour,Of which vertu engendred is the flour;Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breethInspired hath in every holt and heethThe tendre croppes, and the yonge sonneHath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,And smale foweles maken melodye,That slepen al the nyght with open eye(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

Glossary:

  • soote: sweet
  • swich licour: such liquid
  • Zephirus: the west wind (Zephyrus)
  • eek: also
  • holt: wood
  • the Ram: Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac
  • yronne: run
  • priketh hem Nature: Nature pricks them
  • hir corages: their hearts

Early Modern English

From Paradise Lost by John Milton, 1667

 Of man's disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat, Sing, Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst ispire That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, In the beginning how the Heavens and Earth Rose out of chaos: or if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventures song, That with no middle Flight intends to soar Above the Aonian mount, whyle it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose of rhyme.

Modern English

Taken from Oliver Twist, 1838, by Charles Dickens

The evening arrived; the boys took their places.  The master, inhis cook's uniform, stationed himself at the copper; his pauperassistants ranged themselves behind him; the gruel was servedout; and a long grace was said over the short commons.  The grueldisappeared; the boys whispered each other, and winked at Oliver;while his next neighbors nudged him.  Child as he was, he wasdesperate with hunger, and reckless with misery.  He rose fromthe table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand,said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:'Please, sir, I want some more.'The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. Hegazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for someseconds, and then clung for support to the copper.  Theassistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.'What!' said the master at length, in a faint voice.'Please, sir,' replied Oliver, 'I want some more.'The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle; pinionedhim in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

See also

  • Phonological history of the English language
  • American and British English differences
  • English phonology
  • English studies
  • List of dialects of the English language
  • List of archaic English words and their modern equivalents
  • List of Germanic and Latinate equivalents
  • Lists of English words of international origin
  • Languages in the United Kingdom
  • Middle English creole hypothesis

References

  • American Heritage Dictionary A full-scale dictionary emphasising the earliest theoretical Proto-Indo-European origins of English words, including an interactive list of Proto-Indo-European roots.
  • Project Gutenberg's Beowulf translation by Francis Gummere
  • John C. Wells (1982). Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22919-7 (vol. 1), ISBN 0-521-24224-X (vol. 2), ISBN 0-521-24225-8 (vol. 3).
  • J.N.L. Myres, The English Settlements (Oxford History of England), Oxford University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-19-821719-6.
  • A short history - A short history of the origins and development of the English language
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