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A History of the English Language. The Roman Empire 55BC Julius Caesar arrives in Britain 43AD Invasion of Britain under Emperor Claudius Building of.

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Presentation on theme: "A History of the English Language. The Roman Empire 55BC Julius Caesar arrives in Britain 43AD Invasion of Britain under Emperor Claudius Building of."— Presentation transcript:

1 A History of the English Language

2 The Roman Empire 55BC Julius Caesar arrives in Britain 43AD Invasion of Britain under Emperor Claudius Building of Hadrian’s wall 436 AD End of the Roman withdrawal The Roman occupation left little influence upon the language, apart from place names such as those ending in Chester/cester from the Latin word castrae meaning camp

3 Anglo-Saxon Invasion 436 AD “Germanic/ northern European” tribes Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded Saxons invaded first but it is the Angles who give us the name of the language Englisc (anglish) Today’s regional variations in accents and vocabulary can be traced to the arrival of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, who brought with them different versions of the same language.

4 The Celts Descendants of Indio-European tribes, who are believed to have originated in south east Europe. Arrived from c500 BC. Displaced by the arrival of the Angle and Saxon tribes. They are driven in the mountains, islands and costal fringes of the far north and west Scots, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Cornish and Breton are all descended from Celtic The Scottish word “sassenachs” is the Celtic word for Saxons. Very few Celtic words remain in modern English River names: Nene Dart Coombe (deep valley)as in Ilfracombe Some nouns: ass, bannock, brock binn Brittany (Breton) Taken to France by migrating Celts 5 – 6c

5 The Runic Alphabet Old English was first written using the runic alphabet Each letter had a name The origins are unknown The common runic alphabet consisted of 24 letters but in its most developed form, in 9 th century Northumbria, it consisted of 31 letters Runic inscriptions are found on artefacts and stone monuments The earliest evidence dates back to 450-80 Ad

6 Main literary work of the period is a poem, Beowulf – transcribed around AD1000, but originally composed some 250 years earlier The story tells of a Scandinavian,hero who kills a monster in Denmark and later becomes the king of the Geats, in southern Sweden Old English Manuscripts

7 Christianity 597AD St Augustine landed at Thanet and introduced the Benedictine order in to England Christian monks brought a huge new vocabulary – mainly Latin but also some Greek, Hebrew and Arabic words The monks established churches, monasteries and schools, where education and culture thrived Within a century most Anglo-Saxons were converted 7 th & 8 th centuries the centre of religious and cultural learning was at Lindisfarne, in Northumberland 9th century Winchester became chief centre for learning. It was where Aelfric translated the bible and other major texts into English (Anglo-Saxon) Some Latin borrowings in the Old English period abbot, alms, alter, anchor, angel, apostle, ark, cancer candle, canon, cap, cedar cell, chalice, chest. cleric, creed, cucumber, deacon, demon, disciple, elephant, epistle, fever, font, giant, grammatical, history, hymn, idol, laurel, lentil, lily, litany, lobster, marshmallow, martyr, mass, master, mat, noon, nun, offer organ, oyster, paper, place, plant, pope, priest, prophet, psalm, purple, radish relic, rule. sabbath, school, scorpion, ;shrine, sock, temple, tiger, title, tunic, verse

8 Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation Written in Ad 731 by the Venerable Bede Written in Latin and translated into Anglo-Saxon in the 9 th Century

9 Old English 500-1050 AD Anglo-Saxon Anglo-SaxonModern English some differences - graphemes æ a þ th (that) thorn ash eth th (this) ρ ð wyn w ʒ yogh g

10 Old English 500-1050 AD Anglo-SaxonModern English wæswas fæderfather woroldworld cwenqueen cyningking monman hushouse feld (a cleared area of woodland) field some similarities

11 Old English 500-1050 AD Anglo-Saxon Anglo-SaxonModern English some differences - vocabulary gelimplice neata frumseaft swefn fitting/suitable cattle beginning/creation dream

12 Old English 500-1050 AD Anglo-Saxon some differences - grammar The man saw the messenger Se guma geseah þ one bodan Se boda geseah þ one guman The messenger saw the man Therefore, the word the before the object of the sentence is þ one and the object noun takes the inflection ‘n’

13 Old English 500-1050 AD Anglo-Saxon some differences - grammar The man saw the messenger Se guma geseah þ one bodan The messenger was seen by the man þ one bodan geseah se guma Hence means the same as

14 Old English 500-1050 AD - Summary of main points Anglo-Saxon derived from a Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages Its alphabet differed from the Roman alphabet There is no single spelling system at the time. So the word ‘evil’ can be found as yfel or efel It was an ‘inflected’ language, so word order did not need to be fixed There were punctuation marks or capital letters in Anglo-Saxon writings and many variations in the spaces between words There were many compound words e.g. ‘banhus’ (bone-house), meaning a person’s body There is a clear line of descent from Old English to present day English, in sounds, spelling vocabulary and grammar 1/3 of the words we use on any page have Old English origins

15 Old Norse Old Norse Words -by (village) -thorpe (settlement) Riding(third part) 739AD First landing of Scandinavian invaders collectively known as the Vikings Old Norse is derived from the same language family as Anglo- Saxon but most often the word endings (inflections) were different, so, for ease of understanding they dropped them. This accelerated the loss of these inflections from English

16 Danelaw During the 9 th century Alfred the Great defeated the Norsemen and they withdrew to the north, behind an agreed line known as the DANELAW. Hence, their influence survives more strongly in the north and north east e.g ‘gate’ Old Norse meaning ‘street’ Generally it was a matter of chance whether the Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse word survived. Sometimes both survived but one changed its meaning e.g. ‘to die’ and ‘to starve’ originally meant the same but the latter acquired a more specific meaning over time

17 Middle English 1050 - 1550

18 The Norman Conquest - 1066 After the Norman Conquest, land and power were taken by French noblemen. French, as the language of the dominant class, became the language of government, administration and high culture. French was seen as the language of sophistication and so adopted by upper class English people English was submerged for nearly 300 years When it did re-emerge as the national language it was heavily influenced by French English - ox, sheep, swine, calf French - beef, mutton, pork, veal


20 Great deal of antagonism between France and England By the end of 12 th century the children of Norman noblemen were speaking English Black Death of 1384 made labour scarce and raised the status of the English speaker By middle of 14 th century, English again being used as language of government and administration 1356 – English used for court proceedings 1362 – English used to open Parliament 1399 – English used in the coronation of Henry IV Resurgence of English

21 Middle English Grapheme changes After 1400, the Old English letters þ ð ρ and æ had fallen out of use And there were some inconsistencies ʒ or g was used for g u was used where we would now use V uu was used to represent w

22 Middle English Spelling changes The French ‘qu’ was adopted in place of the Anglo-Saxon ‘cw’ Irregular words were replaced by more regular forms e.g. the Old English ‘bok’ was ‘bek’ in the plural. This and other words adopted the regular –s ending. Very few irregular plurals exist now

23 Middle English Grammar Inflected noun endings died out The Anglo-saxon þ æm scipum had become to the shippes using a preposition and a regular plural ending New verbs constructions, such as shal be, and hadde maked are in use The infinitive form is now marked by ‘to’ rather than the inflected ‘an’ cuman became to come Inflected verb endings remained Present tensePast tense Iplay(e)played(e) thouplayestplayedest he/sheplayethplayed(e) we/you/theyplaye(n)played(en)

24 Vocabulary Old EnglishFrenchLatin kinglyroyalregal askquestioninterrogate fastfirmsecure risemountascend Holysacredconsecrated popular? learned? literary?

25 Chaucer By mid 14 th century English was being used in literature 1386 Geoffrey Chaucer began work on The Canterbury tales

26 Middle English By the end of 15 th century the pronunciation of English had radically and rapidly changed – within the over the course of a couple of generations, in what is known as the Great Vowel Shift So the sentence so it is time to see the shoes on the same feet now Would sound like this in Middle English saw it is team to say the shows on the sarm fate noo The Great Vowel Shift marks the last major barrier between early English and the Standard English of today

27 The beginnings of Standard English Greatly influenced by the advent of printing, instigated by Caxton’s first printing press 1476 He bases his spellings on the phonetics of his own dialect - the English of London and the East Midlands Literacy is spreading and the demand for English books grows Caxton published around 100 titles - including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales During the 15 th century, written English gradually became more uniform and English grammar simpler Thou, thee, thy and ye were starting to disappear - as was -eth as a verb ending It lives on however, in this famous quotation “cometh the hour, cometh the man”

28 The beginnings of Standard English Why did the East Midlands dialect become the ‘standard’?

29 Early Modern English The Renaissance (‘rebirth’) – late 15 th century Rediscovery of philosophy arts science astronomy chronology mathematics Navigation The Renaissance was a period of changing ideas about humanity and our place in the universe See Crystal page 193 for examples of classical and other vocabulary

30 Shakespeare In his writings, William Shakespeare used more than 33,000 different words 3,000 of those words make their first appearance in his plays The estimated vocabulary of an average adult in Britain today is 15,000 Shakespeare is renowned for his ability to coin new words and phrases thin air stark naked assassination dislocate bare-faced

31 Shakespeare Changes in meaning Hamlet (1.II. Shakespeare uses the word merelyin the sense of entirely wantslacks flushingredness galledsore dexterityspeed

32 The Authorised Version of the Bible 1604 a conference of leading churchmen, supported by King James I, called for a new translation of the Bible It took 47 scholars 7 years to finish it It introduced 8,000 new words to the lexicon The common people – still largely illiterate – could now listen to readings and sermons in their own tongue

33 Concern over the standard of English 1712 The massive influx of new ‘foreign’ was a cause of concern for many. Jonathan Swift, in Dublin, proposes an English Academy, to ‘fix’ the language. It was believed that the language was changing too rapidly and that it was being corrupted. Latin was revered and purists tried to impose its rules on the English language.

34 Concern over the standard of English Prescriptivism You should never end a sentence with a preposition You should never start a sentence with a conjunction You should never split an infinitive

35 Dr Johnson’s Dictionary Published in 1775 Written in two volumes Defined 43,500 words and offered 118,000 quotations of usage The dictionary is famous for the precision of its definitions. Johnson cites the verb ‘take’ as having 113 transitive meanings and 21 intransitive The dictionary also traces the history of the words, up to that date e.g. he gives 15 examples of the spelling of ‘good’: goodgodgodeguodguodegoddegoedgowd goddguidguidegudgwdeguydgewd

36 Role of the Dictionary Designed to record the language in use at a particular time in history The status of dictionaries Word becoming institutionalised How words are selected for entry into the dictionary Language change at word level

37 Modern English 1700 -Present The growth of the English vocabulary DatesNew words and sensesNew words alone 1750-9925,00010,500 1800-4955,00025,000 1850-9973,00033,000 1900-4935,00015,000 1950-12,5005,000 Figures from the Oxford English Dictionary database

38 Modern English 1700 -Present Other factors influencing the language?

39 English Today Can we speak about just one English?

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