fvfvлекции по истории языка Савко А.А


Лекции
по истории английского языка
Lecture 1
The Subject, aim and objectives of studying the History of the English Language
Sources:
1 I. Ivanova. A History of the English Language. P.7
2 B.A. Ilyish. History of the English Language. P.p.5 – 8, 36-39.
3 T.A. Rastorgueva. A History of the English Language. P.p10 – 23
4 Encyclopedia Britannica, 2002
5 Melvyn Bragg. The Adventure of English. The Biography of a Language. London,
2003.
Every language has a history; and as in the rest of human culture, changes are constantly taking place in the course of the transmission of a language from one generation to another. Languages change in all their aspects, in their pronunciation, word forms, syntax, and word meanings (semantic change). These changes are mostly very gradual in their operation, becoming noticeable only cumulatively over the course of several generations. In studying a foreign language, English in our case, the student inevitably compares it to his native tongue and is often astonished to find great differences not only in the structure of the target language but also in the way ideas are expressed in it.
There is no denying that English spelling is somewhat difficult for a Belarusian learner of English. This is because the written form of the English word is conventional rather than phonetic. Therefore, some phonetic phenomena cannot be explained from the modern point of view without going into the history of the language. When the Latin alphabet was first used in Britain, writing was phonetic. After the introduction of printing in the 15th century, the written form of the word became fixed, whereas the sounds continued to change. This resulted in a growing discrepancy between letter and sound. Hence, such ‘difficult’ words as light, daughter, speak, great, book and many others where their pronunciation and spelling differ. Moreover, if you ask a little English boy or girl to write the word light ( in the meaning of daylight ) he or she would rather spell it as lite because they have not learned its spelling yet .On the other hand, modern spellings show how such words were pronounced in the past. For example, the word light sounded as [lix’t] which is easy to prove if you compare it with the Belarusian word лiхтар (something which produces light).
As far as English vocabulary is concerned, it contains words which are similar to words found in other languages. For example, English – German (mother – Mutter, father – Vater, winter – Winter, hand – Hand, etc.); English - French (revolution – revolution, autumn – autumne, river – rivière, etc,); English –Russian (float – плот; флот); English –Belarusian
(glebe – глеба, must – мусiць, etc.). Without going into the history of English, it is difficult to say whether these words are native or borrowings from the above mentioned languages.
English grammar also presents some phenomena which a Belarusian learner of English will find misleading. For example, the irregular plural of nouns (man- men, foot –feet, mouse – mice, etc), or the same form for both singular and plural of such words as sheep, deer, fish, or the fact that English modal verbs, unlike the other verbs, take no ending –s in the 3d person singular, and many other similar facts. All these things are traced back to a distant past and can be accounted for only by studying the history of the language.
Another important aim of this course is of a more theoretical nature. Study of the history of any language is based on applying general principles of linguistics to the language in question. While tracing its evolution through time, the student will be confronted with a number of theoretical questions concerning the language development in general and its aspects in particular. To find answers to these questions, the student will have to rely on the theory previously studied in the course called Introduction to Linguistics. In this way ties will be established between general principles of linguistics and concrete linguistic facts, in other words, theoretical knowledge will find its application in practice.
While studying the history of the English language we will inevitably have to deal with the history of the English nation considering the ‘traces’ it left in the language development.
It goes without saying that a systematic study of the language’s development from the earliest times to the present day will enable the student to acquire a more profound understanding of modern English, its role in our world and perspectives of its future development cumulatively-
increasing gradually as more of smth is added or used
target language
the language that you are learning or translating into
conventional-
snth that has been used for a long time and is considered the usual type
discrepancy –
a difference between two things that should be the same
borrowing –
a word or phrase, that has been copied from another language
account for –
explain
in question –
the things, people etc in question are the ones that are being discussed
inevitable –
certain to happen and impossible to avoid
.
2. Methods and sources of studying language and its history

As is known, the science of scientific study of language as a system is called linguistics. This term was first used in the middle of the 19th century to emphasize the difference between a new approach to the study of language that was then developing and the more traditional approach of philology. The philologist is concerned primarily with the historical development of languages as it is manifested in written texts and in the context of the associated literature and culture. The linguist, though he may be interested in written texts and in the development of languages through time, tends to give priority to spoken languages and to the problem of analyzing them as they operate at a given point of time.
The field of linguistics may be divided in terms of three dichotomies: synchronic versus diachronic, theoretical versus applied, and microlinguistics versus macrolinguistics. A synchronic description of a language describes the language as it is at a given time; a diachronic description is concerned with the historical development of the language and the structural changes that have taken place in it. The goal of theoretical linguistics is the construction of a general theory of the structure of language or of a general theoretical framework for the description of languages; the aim of applied linguistics is the application of the findings and techniques of the scientific study of language to practical tasks, especially to the elaboration of improved methods of language teaching. The terms microlinguistics and macrolinguistics are not yet well established, and are used purely for convenience. The former refers to a narrower and the latter to a much broader view of the scope of linguistics. According to the microlinguistics view, languages should be analyzed for their own sake and without reference to their social function, to the manner in which they are acquired by children, to the psychological mechanism that underlie the production and reception of speech, to the literary and the aesthetic or communicative function of language, and so on. In contrast, macrolinguistics embraces all of these aspects of language. Various areas within macrolinguistics have been given terminological recognition: psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropological linguistics, dialectology, mathematical and computational linguistics, and stylistics.
The study of language has a long history which began in pre-historic times in different cultures but linguistics as a science was established only in the 19th century in Europe when accumulation of facts about the early stages of living languages called for theoretical interpretation of linguistic evolution.
The Comparative Method
It is generally agreed that the most outstanding achievement of linguistic scholarship in the 19th century was the development of comparative method which comprised a set of principles whereby languages could be systematically compared with respect to their sound systems, grammatical structure and vocabulary and shown to be ‘genealogically’ related. As French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and the other Romance languages had evolved from Latin, so Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit as well as the Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic languages and many other languages of Europe and Asia, had evolved from some earlier language, to which the name Indo-European or Proto-Indo-European, or the common parent language or the original language is now customarily applied. It had been known for centuries that all the Romance languages were descended from Latin and thus constituted one family. But the existence of the Indo-European family of languages and the nature of their genealogical relationship was first demonstrated by the 19th - century comparative philologists. The main impetus for the development of comparative philology came toward the end of the 18th century, when it was discovered that Sanskrit (Note 1), the classical Indian language, bore a number of striking resemblances to Greek and Latin. The English orientalist, Sir William Jones, though he was not the first to observe these resemblances, is generally given the credit for bringing them to the attention of the scholars and putting forward the hypothesis, in 1786, that all three languages must have ‘sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists’.
The next important step came in 1822, when the German scholar Jacob Grimm, following the Danish linguist Rasmus Rask (whose work (1818), being written in Danish, was less accessible to most European scholars)) pointed out in the second edition of his comparative grammar of Germanic that there were a number of systematic correspondences between the sounds of Germanic and the sounds of Greek, Latin and Sanskrit in related words. Grimm noted, for example, that where Gothic (the oldest surviving Germanic language) had an f, Latin, Greek and Sanskrit frequently had a p. The table below illustrates this correspondence. dichotomy -[daɪˈkɒtəmi] дихотомия
the difference between several things or ideas that are completely opposite
synchronic-
синхронический
diachronic-
диахронический
applied-
прикладной
microlinguistics
микролингвистика
macrolinguistics
макролингвистика
techniques-
methods , means
elaboration-
разработка
accumulate-
gather and buld up
call for- require

scholarship-
study
genealogy- the study of the history of families
genealogical
evolve- develop
Proto-Indo-European – протоиндоевропей-ский, индоевропей-
ский праязык
descend-
to have developed from something that existed in the past
comparative philologists-
филологи-компаративисты
orientalist-
someone who studies the languages and culture of oriental countries
accessible-
easy to obtain or use

Germanic Non-Germanic Germanic
Gothic Sanskrit Greek Latin Modern English
fotus padas podos pedis foot
Similar correspondences were also found for some other consonants. Grimm formulated these phenomena as a cyclical soundshift of consonants which got the status of a sound law known as Grimm’s Law. (Grimm’s Law will be dealt with in subsequent lectures.)
Neogrammarians
In the work of the next 50 years the idea of sound change was made more precise, and in the 1870s, a group of scholars known collectively as the Junggrammatiker, young grammarians or Neogrammarians, (Note 2) put forward the thesis that all changes in the sound system of a language as it developed through time were subject to the operation of regular sound laws. At first this thesis was regarded as most controversial, because there seemed to be several irregularities in language change not accounted for by the sound laws, such as Grimm’s Law. In 1875, however, the Danish linguist Karl Verner explained the apparent exceptions to Grimm’s Law (Verner’s Law). Subsequently, many other important sound laws were discovered and formulated to account for other apparent exception and by the end of the 19th century the hypothesis or thesis of the regularity of sound change had been generally accepted and become the cornerstone of the comparative method. Using the principle of regular sound change, scholars were able to reconstruct ‘ancestral’ common forms from which the later forms found in particular languages could be derived. By convention, such reconstructed forms are marked in the literature with an asterisk (*).
The 20th century Structuralism
Structuralism in linguistics is a general term to describe any one of several schools of 20th-century linguistics committed to the structuralist principle that a language is a self-contained relational structure, the elements of which derive their existence and their value from their distribution and oppositions in texts or discourse. This principle was first stated clearly, for linguistics, by the Swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913). His structuralism can be summed up in 2 dichotomies: (1) langue versus parole and (2) form versus substance. By langue, best translated in its technical Saussurean sense as language system, is meant the totality of regularities and patterns of formation that underlie the utterances of a language; by parole, which can be translated as language behaviors, is meant the actual utterances themselves. Just as two performances of a piece of music given by different orchestras on different occasions will differ in variety of details and yet be identifiable as performances of the same piece, so two utterances may differ in different ways and yet be recognized as instances, in some sense, of the same utterance. What the two musical performances and the two utterances have in common is an identity of form, and this form, or structure, or pattern, is in principle independent of the substance, or ‘raw material’, upon which it is imposed. Structuralism in the European sense then refers to the view that there is an abstract relational structure that underlies and is to be distinguished from actual utterances – a system underlying actual behavior – and that this is the primary object of study for the linguist. Saussurean structuralism was further developed in somewhat different directions by the Prague school, most notably represented by Nikolay Sergeyevich Trubetskoy and Roman Jakobson, both Russian émigrés, the Copenhagen (or glossematic) (Note 3) school, centered around Louis Hejlmslev, John Rupert Firth and his followers, sometimes referred to as the London school. In the United States the term structuralism, or structural linguistics, has had much the same sense as it has had in Europe in relation to the work of Franz Boas (1858–1942) and Edward Sapir (1884–1939) and their followers. Nowadays, however, it is commonly used, in a narrower sense, to refer to the so-called post-Bloomfieldian school of language analysis that follows the methods of Leonard Bloomfield, developed after 1930. Phonology (the study of sound systems) and morphology (the study of word structure) are their primary fields of interest. Little work on semantics has been done by structural linguists because of their belief that the field is too difficult or elusive to describe.
The Prague school
The most characteristic feature of the Prague school approach is its combination of structuralism with functionalism. The latter term (like structuralism) has been used in a variety of senses in linguistics. It can be understood as an appreciation of the diversity of functions performed by language and a theoretical recognition that the structure of languages is in large part determined by their characteristic functions, such as cognitive, expressive and conative or instrumental. The cognitive function of language refers to its employment for the transmission of factual information; by the expressive function is meant the indication of the mood or attitude of the speaker (or writer); and by the conative function of language is meant its use for influencing the person one is addressing or for bringing about some practical effect. A number of scholars working in the Prague tradition have suggested that these three functions correlate in many languages, at least partly, with the grammatical categories of mood and person.
The Prague school is best known for its work on phonology (Note 4). Unlike the American phonologists, Trubetskoy and his followers did not consider the phoneme to be the minimal unit of analysis. Instead, they defined phonemes as sets of distinctive features. For example, in English /b/ differs from /p/ in the same way that /d/ differs from /t/ and /g/ from /k/. Just how they differ in terms of their articulation is a complex question. For simplicity, it may be said that there is just one feature, the presence of which distinguishes /b/, /d/ and /g/ from /p/, /t/ and /k/, and that this feature is voicing (vibration of the vocal cords). Similarly, the feature of labiality can be extracted from /p/ and /b/ by comparing them with /t/ and /d/, /k/ and /g/; the feature of nasality from /n/ and /m/ by comparing them with /t/ and /d/, and so on. Each phoneme then is composed of a number of articulatory features and is distinguished by the presence or absence of at least one feature from every other phoneme in the language.
The Prague school is also known for its theory of markedness which was first developed in phonology but subsequently extended to morphology and syntax. When two phonemes are distinguished by the presence of absence of a single distinctive feature, one of them is said to be marked and the other unmarked for the feature in question. For example, /b/ is marked and /p/ is unmarked with respect to voicing. Similarly, in morphology, the regular English verb can be said to be marked for past tense (by the suffixation of – ed) but to be unmarked in the present (cf. ‘jumped’ versus ‘jump’). There is also a more abstract sense of markedness, which is independent of the presence or absence of an overt feature of affix. On the level of vocabulary, for example, the words ‘dog’ and ‘bitch’ provide examples of markedness of this kind. Whereas the use of the word ‘bitch’ is restricted to females of the species, ‘dog’ is applicable to both males and females. ‘Bitch’ is the marked and ‘dog’ is the unmarked term. The principle of markedness, understood in this more general or more abstract sense, is quite widely accepted by linguists of many different schools, and is applied at all levels of linguistic analysis.
The most valuable contribution made by the post-war Prague school is considered to be the distinction of theme and rheme. By the theme of a sentence is meant that part that refers to what is already known or given in the context (sometimes called, by other scholars, the topic or psychological subject); by the rheme, the part that conveys new information (the comment or psychological predicate). It has been pointed out that in languages with a free word order (such as Russian or Czech or Latin), the theme tends to precede the rheme, regardless whether the theme or the rheme is the grammatical subject, and that this principle may still operate, in a more limited way, in languages like English, with a relatively fixed word order (cf. ‘That book I haven’t seen before’). But other devices can also be used to distinguish theme and rheme. The rheme may be stressed (‘John saw Mary’) or made the complement of the verb ‘to be’ in the main clause. (“It’s John who saw Mary”).
soundshift-
смещение, сдвиг звуков
Grimm’s Law-
Закон Гримма
Neogrammarians
Младограмма-тики
сontroversial-
causing a lot of disagreement, because many people have strong opinions about the subject being discussed
irregularity-
smththat doesn’t follow the usual pattern
hypothesis
/ haɪˈpɒθəsis/
international word
cornerstone-
краеугольный камень
convention –
custom
committed to smth – dedicated, loyal to smth
self-contained –
independent, autonomous
discourse-
дискурc
langue-
language
parole-
speech
referred to as-
call (formal)
elusive-
difficult to describe or understand
cognitive-
когнитивный, познавательный
expressive-
экспрессивный, эмоциональный
conative-
волевой
instrumental -
инструментальный, действенный
phonology –
the study of the system of speech sounds in a language, or the system of sounds itself
voicing -
озвончение
labial –
губной
nasal –
носовой, назальный
theory of markedness –
теория маркированности
marked -
маркированный
unmarked
немаркированный
overt –
obvious , evident
theme -
тема
rheme -
рема
complement –
a word or phrase that follows a verb and describes the subject of the verb.
Sources Used for Studying Language History.
Every living language changes through time, but no records of linguistic changes have ever been kept, as most changes pass unnoticed by the contemporaries.
Therefore, the main source for the history of any language is written documents that have come down to us. And on the basis of these documents a language history is reconstructed.
As for documents themselves, they give a clear picture of the vocabulary and grammar of a certain period. As for phonetic structure, such documents do not always give clear enough information, for, as we have already discussed, sound may change but spelling remains or, as often as not, one letter may denote different sounds, etc. So in this sense written documents may be misleading.
Nevertheless, study of pronunciation of a particular period may be helped by illiterate spellings which are found in private letters and diaries as they are mostly phonetic. (Remember the example with lite = light). So they can give a clue to the pronunciation of this or that word.
Some hints are proved by rhymes. For example, careful study of words, which in spite of similar spelling, do not rhyme together, may help to establish phonetic differences hidden by the spelling. For example, a rhyme light – write gives good reason to suppose that digraph gh was no longer pronounced at the time the text was written.
In many instances the availability of extant texts is not sufficient to explain some phenomena of the language in question. That is why scholars may resort to studying related languages,(the comparative method) which have older written records as is the case, for example, with Gothic, namely the translation of the Bible made in the 4th century AD, while the earliest documents written in Old English date about 7th century AD. Besides related languages, English can be compared to other languages of the Indo-European family, namely those which came into contact with. For example, Latin and French.
Certain information about the early stages of English and Germanic history is to be found in the works of ancient historians and geographers, especially Roman. They contain descriptions of Germanic tribes, personal names and place-names. Some data are also provided by early borrowings from Germanic made by other languages.
Another way of looking into the history of a language is the method of internal reconstruction (Note 6). It is based on comparing different forms of the language at different linguistic levels taken during different periods in the history of its development. Its adherents maintain that a language is a well organised and well balanced structure of elements. Hence, if among the productive systems of the language there occur some smaller, non-productive systems, once can assume that they are relics of preceeding stages of development. When traced into the past, these systems appear more numerous and more productive. For example, modern irregular plurals like oxen, teeth, etc. were found in larger groups of nouns at an earlier period. It follows that the past history of a language can be reconstructed by considering its dialectal varieties, since dialects often preserve forms, words or pronunciations wheihc have become obsolete in the literary standard.
misleading –
confusing
digraph-
диграф
extant-
still existing in spite of being very old
internal reconstruction
внутренняя реконcтрукция
adherent –
someone who supports a particular belief, plan, political party etc
assume-
suppose
relics-
traces, remains of smth
3 Periods in the History of English
Traditionally, the history of the English language is divided into 3 periods, which were originally suggested by the English scholar Henry Sweet, author of a number of works on the English language and its history. They are Old English, Middle English and Modern English. His division was not arbitrary, of course as he took into consideration both intra- and extralinguistic factors, namely, phonetic and morphological, on the one hand, and sociocultural, on the other. Modern linguists, however, disagree with this division (Arakin, Rastorgueva, Ivanova) accounting for their disagreement by the following considerations.
For example, Arakin maintains, that the Old English period needs to be subdivided into 2, the Early Old English period and the Late Old English period, as the changes that had taken place from the beginning till the end of the period were very much pronounced and the language at its earlier stage was a lot different from its final stage. Rastorgueva extends this idea to the other periods and Ivanova, generally satisfied with the extralinguistic factors taken into consideration while dividing English into historical periods, argues whether phonetic and morphological criteria are sufficient for this purpose. pronounced-
very great or noticeable
The table below illustrates the division proposed by Henry Sweet.
Periods Intralinguistic factors Extralinguistic factors
1st period
Old English/ OE
700AD - 1100 period of full endings; any vowel can be found in an unstressed ending
sin9an ( a unstressed)
sunu (u unstressed)
2 period
Middle English/ ME
1100 - 1500 period of leveled endings; vowels of unstressed endings were leveled under a neutral vowel something like[ə], represented by the letter e.
singen ( a e)
sone [su:nə] (u e)
1066, the year of Norman conquest
1485, the end of the War of Roses, the decay of feudalism the rise of capitalism
3 period
Modern English /MdE
1500 – nowadays
Early MdE:1500 – 1660/1700
Late MdE: 1660/1700 – present day
Period of lost endings
sing
son The rise of the English nation and the national language
As is seen from the table, the division is based on both phonetic and morphological features: weakening and loss of unstressed vowels and weakening and loss of grammatical morphemes.
It should be emphasized that the dates are but a mere convention as they cannot be taken literally. They simply signify the fact the by these periods the changes in the language had become so prominent that they could identify a new period in its history.
literally -
according to the most basic or original meaning of a word or expression
The Role of the Discipline in Training the Teacher of a Foreign Culture
Learning the history of English will enable the student to give answers to a considerable number of practical and theoretical questions. (See Section 1). At the same time, this discipline is not limited to only mere statements of linguistic facts as it is believed to be able to explain them. In studying the history of the English language students are faced with problems concerning the driving forces or causes of language evolution. These causes are believed to be of two kinds, external and internal or extralinguistic and purely linguistic. As for the former, they may include such historic events as social changes, wars, conquests, migrations, cultural contacts and the like. In other words, changes in society or cultural changes are always reflected in the language proving once again the idea that language and culture are inseparable as, on the one hand, language is a part of culture, but, on the other, culture as a whole is transmitted very largely through language. Therefore, a knowledge of cultural backgrounds in the language evolution is essential for the student as a translator of a foreign culture in general.
Note 1
also spelled Sanscrit (Sanskrit samskrta: “prepared, cultivated, purified, refined”), Old Indo-Aryan language, the classical literary language of the Hindus of India. Vedic Sanskrit, based on a dialect of northwestern India, dates from as early as 1800 BC and appears in the text of the Rigveda; it was described and standardized in the important grammar book by Panini, dating from about the 5th century BC. Literary activity in so-called Classical Sanskrit, which is close to but not identical with the language described by Panini, flourished from c. 500 BC to AD 1000 and continued even into modern times. Currently, a form of Sanskrit is used not only as a learned medium of communication among Hindu scholars but also as a language for some original writing. The language, written in the Devanagari script is, in fact, undergoing something of a revival, though it is neither a widespread nor a usual mother tongue. Sanskrit grammar is similar to that of other older Indo-European languages, such as Latin and Greek; it is highly inflected and complex. Sanskrit has three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter), three numbers (singular, dual, and plural), and eight cases (nominative, accusative, instrumental, dative, ablative, genitive, locative, and vocative), although only in the singular of the most common declension does a noun show different forms for each case. Adjectives are inflected to agree with nouns. Verbs are inflected for tense, mode, voice, number, and person.
Note 2
German Junggrammatiker, any of a group of German scholars that arose around 1875; their chief tenet (doctrine) concerning language change was that sound laws have no exceptions. This principle was very controversial because there seemed to be several irregularities in language change not accounted for by the sound laws, such as Grimm's law (q.v.) that had been discovered by that time. In 1875, however, the Danish linguist Karl Verner explained the apparent exceptions to Grimm's law; his formulation of the principle governing those exceptions is known as Verner's law. Subsequently, many other important sound laws were discovered and formulated to account for other apparent exceptions, and, by the end of the 19th century, the hypothesis of the regularity of sound change had been generally accepted.
Note 3
Glossematics is a system of linguistic analysis based on the distribution and interrelationship of glossemes, the smallest meaningful units of a language—e.g., a word, a stem, a grammatical element, a word order, or an intonation. Glossematics is a theory and system of linguistic analysis proposed by the Danish scholar Louis Hjelmslev (1899–1965) and his collaborators, who were strongly influenced by the work of the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Glossematics has been an important component of European structuralism but has had relatively little influence in the United States, except in relation to stratificational grammar, a grammar originated by American linguist Sydney M. Lamb (American linguist and originator of stratificational grammar, an outgrowth of glossematics theory. .Lamb's seminal work, Outline of Stratificational Grammar (1966), describes his theory of the four levels necessary for sentence analysis: the sememic, the lexemic, the morphemic, and the phonemic. These levels are hierarchically related, each “realized” by the elements in the level structurally beneath it.
Note 4
Phonology - study of the sound patterns that occur within languages. Some linguists include phonetics, the study of the production and description of speech sounds, within the study of phonology. Diachronic (historical) phonology examines and constructs theories about the changes and modifications in speech sounds and sound systems over a period of time. For example, it is concerned with the process by which the English words “sea” and “see,” once pronounced with different vowel sounds (as indicated by the spelling), have come to be pronounced alike today. Synchronic (descriptive) phonology investigates sounds at a single stage in the development of a language, to discover the sound patterns that can occur. For example, in English, nt and dm can appear within or at the end of words (“rent,” “admit”) but not at the beginning.
Note 5
Diversification of languages
In the structural aspects of language, their pronunciation and grammar, and in vocabulary less closely involved in rapid cultural movement, the processes of linguistic change are best observed by comparing written records of a language over extended periods. This is most readily seen by English speakers through setting side by side present-day English texts with 18th-century English, the English of the Authorized Version of the Bible, Shakespearean English, Chaucer's English, and the varieties of Old English (Anglo-Saxon) that survive in written form. Noticeably, as one goes back in time, the effort required in understanding increases, and, while people do not hesitate to speak of “Shakespearean English,” they are more doubtful about Chaucer, and for the most part Old English texts are as unintelligible to a modern English speaker as, for example, texts in German. It is clear that the differences involved include word meanings, grammar, and, so far as this can be reconstructed, pronunciation. Similar evidence, together with what is known of the cultural history of the peoples concerned, makes clear the continuous historical connections linking French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian with the spoken (“vulgar”) Latin of the western Roman Empire. This group constitutes the Romance subfamily of languages and is an example of how, as the result of linguistic change over a wide area, a group of distinct, though historically related, languages comes into being. In the transmission of a language from parent to child, slight deviations in all aspects of language use occur all the time, and as the child's speech contacts widen he confronts a growing range of slight differences in personal speech forms, some of them correlating with social or regional differences within a community, these speech differences themselves being the results of the transmission process. As a consequence, the child's speech comes to differ slightly from that of his parents' generation. In urbanized communities an additional factor is involved: children have been shown to be effectively influenced by the speech habits of their peer groups once they have made contacts with them in and out of school. Such changes, though slight at the time, are progressively cumulative. Since ready intercommunication is a primary purpose of language, as long as a community remains unitary, with strong central direction and a central cultural focus, such changes will not go beyond the limits of intercomprehensibility. But in more scattered communities and in larger language areas, especially when cultural and administrative ties are weakened and broken, these cumulative deviations in the course of generations give rise to wider regional differences. Such differences take the form of dialectal differentiation as long as there is some degree of mutual comprehension but eventually result in the emergence of distinct languages. This is what happened in the history of the colloquial Latin of the western Roman Empire, and it can be assumed that a similar course of events gave rise to the separate Germanic languages (English, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and some others), though in this family the original unitary language is not known historically but inferred as “Common Germanic” or “Proto-Germanic” and tentatively assigned to early in the 1st millennium BC as the period before separation began. This is how language families have developed. Most but not all of the languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European family, so-called because in addition it includes the classical Indian language Sanskrit and most of the modern languages of northern India and Pakistan. It includes as subfamilies the two families just mentioned, Romance and Germanic, and several others. It is assumed that the subfamilies, and from them the individual languages of the Indo-European family, are ultimately derived from a unitary language spoken somewhere in eastern Europe or western Asia (its exact location is still under debate), perhaps 5,000 years ago. This unitary language has itself been referred to as “Indo-European,” “Proto-Indo-European,” the “common parent language,” or the “original language” (Ursprache) of the family. But it must be emphasized that, whatever it may have been like, it was just one language among many and of no special status in itself. It was certainly in no way the original language of mankind or anything like it. It had its own earlier history, of which virtually nothing can be inferred, and it was, of course, very recent in relation to the time span of human language itself. What is really special about such “parent” or “proto-” languages is that they represent the farthest point to which our available techniques and resources enable us to reconstruct the prehistory of our attested and living languages. Similarly constituted families of languages derived from inferred common sources have been established for other parts of the world; for example, Altaic, covering Turkish and several languages of Central Asia, and Bantu, containing many of the languages of central and southern Africa If enough material in the form of written records from past ages were available, it would be possible to group all the world's languages into historically related families. In addition, an answer could perhaps be posited to the question of whether all languages are descended from a single original language or whether languages emerged independently among several groups of early peoples (the rival theories of monogenesis and polygenesis, a controversy more confidently disputed in the 19th century than today). In actual fact, written records, when they are available, go back only a fraction of the time in which human speech has been developed and used, and over much of the globe written records are nonexistent. In addition, there are no other linguistic fossils comparable to the fossils of geological prehistory. This means that the history and prehistory of languages will not be able to go back more than a few thousand years BC.
Note 6
Internal reconstruction
The comparative method is used to reconstruct earlier forms of a language by drawing upon the evidence provided by other related languages. It may be supplemented by what is called the method of internal reconstruction. This is based upon the existence of anomalous or irregular patterns of formation and the assumption that they must have developed, usually by sound change, from earlier regular patterns. For example, the existence of such patterns in early Latin as honos : honoris (“honor” : “of honor”) and others in contrast with orator : oratoris (“orator” : “of the orator”) and others might lead to the supposition that honoris developed from an earlier *honosis. In this case, the evidence of other languages shows that *s became r between vowels in an earlier period of Latin. But it would have been possible to reconstruct the earlier intervocalic *s with a fair degree of confidence on the basis of the internal evidence alone.
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B. Self-study

Study the following texts and be prepared to discuss it at the following lectrure.
Some theoretical aspects of language history
The evolution or historical development of language is made up of diverse facts and process. In the first place, it includes the internal or structural development of the language system, its various subsystems and component parts. The description of internal linguistic history is usually presented in accordance with the division of language into linguistic levels. The main, commonly accepted levels are the phonetic and phonological levels, the morphological level, the syntactic level, and the lexical level. Accordingly, the history of the language can be subdivided into historical phonetics (phonology), historical morphology, historical syntax and historical lexicology.
The evolution of language includes also many facts which pertain to the functioning of language in the speech community. These functional aspects constitute what is known as the ‘external’ history of the language and embrace a large number of diverse matters: the spread of the language in geographical and social space, the differentiation of language into functional varieties (geographical variants, dialects, standard and sub-standard forms, etc.), contacts with other languages. Most of these features are connected with the history of the speech community, e.g. with the structure of society, the migration of tribes, economic and political events, the growth of culture and literature. (Note 5. Diversification of Languages.)
Synchrony and Diachrony in Language History
It goes without saying that language does not change rapidly: there are certain properties in any language that are preserved at any period of its development: the division into vowels and consonants, the distinction between main parts of speech and parts of the sentence. As for English, for instance, some parts of its vocabulary have come down to us, as well as most of the pronouns, many form-words and words indicating basic concepts of life. Many ways of word-formation have remained historically stable, and some grammatical categories (number in nouns, degrees of comparison in adjectives) have undergone little change, while other categories, such as case and gender, have changed considerably. The fact is that the proportion of statics and dynamics in language varies at different historical periods and at different linguistic levels. But still we can always find statics and dynamics both in synchrony and diachrony. Of course, to trace the changes taking place in a language, we are to consider them diachronically. And here we are face with such a notion as linguistic change.
Linguistic changes can be classified in accordance with linguistic levels, such as phonetic and phonological changes, spelling changes, grammatical changes, including morphology and syntax, lexical and stylistic changes. At these levels further subdivisions are possible: phonetic changes include vowel and consonant changes, qualitative and quantitative changes, positional and independent changes and so on. But every separate change enters a larger frame and forms a part of the development of a certain system. In other words, the alternation of one element is part of the alternation of the entire system as it reveals a re-arrangement of its structure, a change in the relationships of its components. For example, in the late 16th – early 17th century in certain phonetic conditions the sonorant [r] changed into [a] giving rise to diphthongs: bear, beer, poor, etc.; the new set of diphthongs with a central glide [ia], [ea], [ua] introduced new distinctive features into the system of vowel phonemes.
Linguistic changes are usually slow and gradual. They proceed in minor imperceptible steps unnoticed by the speakers. The rate of linguistic change is restricted by the communicative function of language, for a rapid change would have disturbed or hindered communication between speakers of different generations.
As was said above, at some historical periods linguistic changes are more intensive and more rapid than at others. For example, changes in vocabulary are more pronounced that, say, changes in grammar or phonetics as they are easier to observe as new words or groups of words spring into being before our eyes. But new words, unless they are borrowings or loan words, are built in conformity with the existing ways of word-formation which are very slow to change. That is they make use of available elements: roots, affixes and follow the productive word-building patterns already existing in the language. For example, hotel – motel, alcoholic – workaholic, manuscript – tapescript, and so on. If the number of words is very large, it takes them several hundred years to be adopted and assimilated. For example, French borrowings of the Middle Ages.
As far as the system of phonemes is concerned, it cannot be subjected to sudden or rapid changes either, since it must preserve the opposition between the phonemes required for the distinction of morphemes. Sometimes phonetic changes affect a whole set of phonemes – a group of vowels or a group of consonants – but, as a rule, they do not impair the differentiation of phonemes, and consequently, communication.
Likewise, the grammatical system is very slow to change. Being the most abstract of linguistic levels, it must provide stable formal devices for arranging words into classes and for connecting them into phrases and sentences.
Synchronic variation.
A linguistic change begins with a synchronic variation, that is, along with the existing language units (words, forms, affixes, pronunciations, spellings, and syntactic constructions) here appear new units. They may be similar in meaning but slightly different in form, stylistic connotations, social values, etc. In the same way new meanings may arise in the existing words or forms in addition to their main meanings. Both kinds of variations, formal (in form) and semantic (in meaning), supply the so-called raw material for impending changes.
Synchronic variation is to be found in every language at every stage of its history. It is caused by two main factors: functional differentiation of language and tendencies of historical development.
As is known, language functions in various forms as a group of mutually intelligible overlapping speech varieties. The range of synchronic variation largely depends on the distinction of the main functional varieties and also on the variable use of language in different conditions of communication, in various social groups and in individual forms of speech. Synchronic differences between the varieties of language may consist of specific items not to be found in other varieties, or in the different use of the same items, which may seem slightly unusual and yet quite intelligible to the speakers of other varieties.
Synchronic variation reveals the tendencies of historical development and is produced by those tendencies. New features, which appear as instances of synchronic variation, represent dynamics in synchrony and arise in conformity with productive historical trends.
Variation supplies material for linguistic change and also provides conditions for its realization. At every period of history, language offers a wide choice of expressive means to the speaker. From this stock the speaker selects forms of expression suitable in the given situation; in making this choice he observes the speech habits of his social group or employs forms of expression current in other varieties of the language; sometimes he creates new expressive means – forms, words, phrases – in accordance with the productive historical tendencies. Old and new forms begin to be used indiscriminately, in free variation, which may lead to a change in their relative frequencies and finally to the substitution of one for another. This synchronic variation ensures a gradual imperceptible realization of the change. If the co-existing competing units lose all differences, one rival will die out and the other will occupy its place (for only in rare cases genuine free variation exists for long, that is, co-existence of absolute equivalents). If the differences between parallel means of expression persist and are accentuated, both rivals will survive as distinct units.
Causes of Language Evolution
The causes or moving factors in language history is one of the most controversial issues of historical linguistics. Various explanations and theories have been suggested expressing different views concerning language evolution.
For example, in the early 19th century representatives of the so-called romantic trend (including J. Grimm) interpreted the history of the Indo-European languages, and especially that of Germanic languages, as decline and degradation, for most of these languages have lost their richness of grammatical forms, declensions, conjugations and inflections since the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of the parent-language.
Linguists of the natural trend (A. Schleicher) conceived language as a living organism. Hence it’s birth, youth, maturity, old age and death.
In the later 19th century the psychological theories of language (W.Wundt, H. Paul) attributed linguistic changes to individual psychology and accidental individual fluctuations.
The study of factual history undertaken by the Neo-Grammarians led them to believe that there are no superior or inferior stages in language history and that all languages are equal; and changes are brought about by phonetic laws which are universal, that is, admit of no exceptions (seeming exceptions are due to analogy or are a result of a further development of language).
Sociolinguists maintained that linguistic changes are caused by social conditions and events in external history, whereas others hold that external factors are no concern of linguistic history. In accordance with this view the main internal cause which produces linguistic change is the pressure of the language system.Whenever the balance of the system or its symmetrical structural arrangement is disrupted, it tends to be restored again under the pressure of symmetry inherent in the system.
The Prague school of linguists was the first to recognize the functional stratification of language and its diversity dependent on external conditions. In present-day theories, especially in sociolinguistics, great importance is attached to the variability of speech in social groups as the primary factor of linguistic change.
As is seen, there are different interpretations of language evolution. But still, it should be understood that , broadly speaking, linguistic changes include such factors as external (extra linguistic) and internal (intralinguistic)/ The term external or extralinguistic embraces a number of aspects of human life: events in the history of people, including the structure of the society, expansion over new geographical areas, migrations, mixtures and separation of tribes, political and economic unity or disunity, contacts with other peoples, the progress of culture and literature. These aspects of external history determine the linguistic situation and affect the evolution of the language.
As for internal factors of language evolution, they arise from the language system. They are normally subdivided into general factors or general regularities, which operate in all languages as inherent properties of any language system, and specific factors operating in one language or in a group of related languages at a certain period of time.
The most general causes of language evolution are to be found in the tendencies to improve the language technique or its formal apparatus These tendencies are displayed in numerous assimilative and dissimilative phonetic changes in different languages, including English. By assimilation is meant a process by which one sound is made similar in its place or manner of articulation to a neighbouring sound. For example, the word ‘cupboard’ was presumably once pronounced as the spelling indicates (and as most 1st –year students unaware of its correct pronunciation pronounce!) with the consonant cluster pb in the middle. The [p] was assimilated to [b] in manner of articulation (voicing was maintained throughout the cluster), and subsequently the resultant double [bb] was simplified. With a single [b] in the middle and an unstressed second syllable, the word cupboard , as it is pronounced nowadays, is no longer so evidently a compound of cup and board, as the spelling still shows it.
Dissimilation refers to the process by which one sound becomes different from a neighbouring sound. For example, the word pilgrim (French pelerin) derives from Latin peregrinus; the sound [l] results from dissimilation of the first [r] under the influence of the second [r]. Both assimilation and dissimilation are commonly explained by ‘ease of articulation’ and are realized in a particular context. Simplification is another phenomenon responsible for phonetic changes. For example, the consonant cluster [kn] in know, knee, etc. was simplified to [n], or [t] was dropped in listen and often.
On the other hand, there are tendencies which resist linguistic change aiming to preserve it as a means fit for communication. These tendencies account for the historical stability of many elements and features ( statics in diachrony). For instance, English has retained many words and formal markers expressing the most important notions and distinctions (most personal pronouns, names of some important everyday things; the suffix-d to form the Past tense, etc.). When nouns lost their case endings, to compensate for the loss prepositional phrases were used more widely.
There is another important factor which should be mentioned in this context. It is interdependence of changes within the sub-systems of the language and interaction of changes at different linguistic levels.
For example, in the course of history English nouns lost 2 of their original four cases. As a result, simplification of noun morphology involved changes at different levels; phonetic weakening of final syllables, analogical leveling of forms at the morphological level, and stabilization of word order at the level of syntax.
Some factors and causes of language evolution are confined to a certain group of languages or to one language only and may operate over a limited span of time. These specific factors are trends of evolution characteristic of separate languages or linguistic groups, which distinguish them from other languages.
On the one hand, English as a member of the Germanic group of languages, shares many Germanic trends of development, but, on the other hand, it has transformed some of them and developed its own trends caused by specifically English internal and external factors. For example, like other Germanic languages, it displayed a tendency towards a more analytical grammatical structure, but it has gone further along this way of development than most other languages, probably owing to the peculiar combination of internal and external conditions and to the interaction of changes at different linguistic levels.
Lectures 2/3
1. Classification of Modern Germanic Languages and their Distribution
Classification of languages means their placement into families or phyla [‘failə] on the basis of lexical or typological similarity or shared ancestry. Languages may thus be classified either genetically or typologically. A genetic classification assumes that certain languages are related in that they have evolved from a common ancestral language. This form of classification employs ancient records as well as hypothetical reconstructions of the earlier forms of languages, called protolanguages. Typological classification is based on similarities in language structure.
As for the English language, genetically (historically) it belongs to the Germanic or Teutonic group of languages of the Indo-European linguistic family. Old Germanic languages comprised 3 groups: East Germanic, North Germanic and West Germanic. East Germanic languages no longer exist, as they are dead. Only one language belonging to this group is known, Gothic, as a written document came down to us in this language. It is a translation of the Bible made in the 4th century A.D. by the Gothic Bishop Ulfilas from the Greek language.
Modern Germanic languages embrace 2 groups: North Germanic and West Germanic as they have survived until today. The table below illustrates their division and distribution.
Table 1
Germanic Languages
East Germanic North Germanic West Germanic
dead, no longer exist
- Gothic, came down to us in the translation of the Bible by the Gothic Bishop Ulfilas, 4th A.D. (the Scandinavian group)
Swedish (Sweden, partly in Finland)
Norwegian (Norway, partly in Denmark)
Danish (Denmark, partly in Sweden)
Icelandic (Iceland)
Faroese (the Faroe Islands – a dialect?) English (Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean Islands, etc)
German ( Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein, partly in SwitzerlandDutch (the Netherlands)
Flemish (Flanders, Belgium)
Afrikaans (the South African Republic)
Frisian (partly in the Netherlands and Germany – a dialect?)
Yiddish (the language of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe spoken in X-XII c.c.); in different countries)
Researchers are not unanimous in their estimation of the number of Germanic languages and their distinction. Until recently Dutch and Flemish were named as separate languages, now there is a common term for them – the Netherlandic (Netherlandish) (Note 1) language as spoken in The Netherlands, together with the same language in northern Belgium, which is popularly called Flemish. In the European Middle Ages, the language was called Dietsc, or Duutsc, historically equivalent to German Deutsch and meaning simply “language of the people,” as contrasted with Latin, which was the language of religion and learning. The form Duutsc was borrowed into English and gives modern “Dutch.” The official name of the language is Nederlands, or Netherlandic. In The Netherlands it is also called Hollands (Hollandish), reflecting the fact that
the standard language is based largely on the dialect of the old province of Holland (now North Holland and South Holland).
Frisian and Faroese are regarded as dialects since they are spoken over small politically dependent areas; British English and American English are sometimes thought to be 2 independent languages. By one estimate, the number of people speaking Germanic languages amounts to 440 million (T.A. Rastorguyeva) plus an indefinite number of bilingual nations with English spoken as one of the official languages.
2. Old Germanic Languages and their Classification.
The history of the Germanic group begins with the appearance of what is known as the Proto-Germanic (PG) language also termed Common or Primitive Germanic, Primitive Teutonic or simple Germanic). PG is the linguistic ancestor or the parent-language of the Germanic group. It is believed to have split from the IE related tongues sometime between the 15th and 10th c.c.BC. The ancient Germans or Teutons are supposed to have settled on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in the region of the Elbe. This place is regarded as the most probable original home of the Teutons.
PG is an entirely pre-historical language: it was never recorded in written form. In the 19th century it was reconstructed by methods of comparative linguistics from written evidence in descendant languages.
It is believed that at the earliest stages of history, PG was one language, though dialectally coloured. In its later stages dialectal differences grew, so that towards the beginning of our era German appears divided into dialectal groups and tribal dialects. Dialectal differentiation increased with migrations and geographical expansion of the Teutons caused by over population, poor agricultural technique and scanty natural resources in the areas of their original settlement.
A. Earliest records of Germanic tribes.
The records of ancient Germanic tribes are based on testimonies by Greek and Roman travellers and geographers. The earliest of them refers to the IV c. B.C. made by Phytheas, a Greek astronomer and geographer who sailed from Gaul (France) to the mouth of the river Elbe. He described the tribes of the Teutons.
The next major description of the Teutons came from Julius Caesar, the Roman general and statesman which he left in his book ‘Commentaries on the War in Gaul’ (1 c..BC.)
A century later (1 c.A.D.) Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, gave a classification of the Germanic which until quite recently had basically been accepted by modern researchers. According to it, the tribes in 1st c.A.D. comprised 5 major groups which fell into 3 subgroups: Eastern Germanic, Western Germanic and Northern Germanic. They were 1) the Vindili 2) the Ingaevones 3) the Hermiones 4) the Hilleveones. Table 2 illustrates this division.
A few decades later the Roman historian Tacitus compiled a detailed description of the life and customs of the ancient Teutons where he reproduced Pliny’s classification of the Germanic tribes. Having made a linguistic analysis of several Germanic dialects of later ages, F. Engels came to the conclusion that Pliny’s classification of the Teutonic tribes accurately reflected the contemporary dialectal division.
The traditional tri-partite classification of the Germanic languages was reconsidered and corrected in some recent publications (Rastorgueyva). It appears that the development of the Germanic group was not confined to successive splits; it involved both linguistic divergence and convergence. It has also been discovered that originally PG split into two main branches and that the tri-partite division marks a later stage of its history.
The earliest migration of the Germanic tribes from the lower valley of the Elbe consisted in their movement north, to the Scandinavian peninsula, a few hundred years before our era. This geographical segregation must have led to linguistic differentiation and to the division of PG into the northern and southern branches. At the beginning of our era, some of the tribes returned to the mainland and settled closer to the Vistula basin, east of the other continental Germanic tribes. It is only from this stage of their history that the Germanic languages can be described under three headings: East Germanic, North Germanic and West Germanic.
Table 2
Classification of Ancient Germanic Tribes
Record Languages Tribes Settlement
4th c. B.C. – Pytheas, Greek astronomer and geographer
1st c. B.C. – Julius Caesar< Roman general and statesman
1st c.A.D. – Pliny the Elder, Roman naturalist: classification of the Germanic tribes: East Germanic The Vindili (including the Goths and the Burgundians) Eastern part of Germanic territory
Western Germanic The Ingaevones North-western part of Germanic territory, the shores of the Northern Sea, modern NetherlandsThe Istsaevones The western part of the Germanic territory, on the Rhine (the Franks)
The Hermiones Southern part of the Germanic territory (southern Germany)
Northern Germanic The Hilleveones Scandinavia- 2nd c. A.D. Cornelius Tacitus, Roman historian Characterized the social structure of the old Germanic tribes
B. Material Culture
. According to Julius Caesar, the Germans were pastoralists, and the bulk of their foodstuffs—milk, cheese, and meat—came from their flocks and herds. Some farming was also carried out, the main crops being grain, root crops, and vegetables. Both the cattle and the horses of the Germans were of poor quality by Roman standards. The Iron Age had begun in Germany about four centuries before the days of Caesar, but even in his time metal appears to have been a luxury material for domestic utensils, most of which were made of wood, leather, or clay. Of the larger metal objects used by them, most were still made of bronze, though this was not the case with weapons. Pottery was for the most part still made by hand, and pots turned on the wheel were relatively rare. The degree to which trade was developed in early Germany is obscure. There was certainly a slave trade, and many slaves were sold to the Romans. Such potters as used the wheel—and these were very few—and smiths and miners no doubt sold their products. But in general the average Germanic village is unlikely to have used many objects that had not been made at home. Foreign merchants dealing in Italian as well as Celtic wares were active in Germany in Caesar's time and supplied prosperous warriors with such goods as wine and bronze vessels. But from the reign of Augustus onward, there was a huge increase in German imports from the Roman Empire. The German leaders were now able to buy whole categories of goods—glass vessels, red tableware, Roman weapons, brooches, statuettes, ornaments of various kinds, and other objects—that had not reached them before. These Roman products brought their owners much prestige, but how the Germans paid for them is not fully known.
C. Warfare
In the period of the early Roman Empire, German weapons, both offensive and defensive, were characterized by shortage of metal. Their chief weapon was a long lance, and few carried swords. Helmets and breastplates were almost unknown. A light wooden or wicker shield, sometimes fitted with an iron rim and sometimes strengthened with leather, was the only defensive weapon. This lack of adequate equipment explains the swift, fierce rush with which the Germans would charge the ranks of the heavily armed Romans. If they became entangled in a prolonged, hand-to-hand grapple, where their light shields and thrusting spears were confronted with Roman swords and armour, they had little hope of success. Even by the 6th century, few of the Germanic peoples had adequate military equipment.
D. Form of government
No trace of autocracy can be found among the Germans whom Caesar describes. The leading men of the pagi (kindred groups) would try to patch up disputes as they arose, but they acted only in those disputes that broke out between members of their own pagus. There appears to have been no mediatory body at this date. In fact, in peacetime there appears to have been no central authority that could issue orders to, or exercise influence over, all the pagi of which any one people was composed. In wartime, according to Caesar, a number of confederate chieftains were elected, but they were joint leaders and held office only in time of war. By Tacitus' time a new type of military chieftainship had come into being. For this office only the members of a recognized “royal clan,” such as is known to have existed among the 1st-century Cherusci and Batavians, the 6th-century Heruli, and others, were eligible. Any member of this royal clan was eligible for election, and the chieftainship was in no way hereditary. A chief of this type held office for life and had religious as well as military duties. He could be overruled by the council of the leading men, and his proposals to the general assembly of the warriors might be rejected by them. The degree of his influence depended largely on his own personal qualities. A rudimentary judicial apparatus had come into existence among the Germanic peoples by Tacitus' time. The general assembly elected a number of the leading men to act as judges, and these judges traveled through the villages to hear private suits. Each of them was accompanied by 100 attendants to lend authority to his decisions. A person who was found guilty by these judges had to pay a number of horses or cattle proportionate to the gravity of his offense. But many disputes (e.g., those arising from homicide, wounding, or theft) continued to be settled by the kindreds themselves, and the blood feuds to which they gave rise might continue from generation to generation. Long after the conversion to Christianity the German rulers found it difficult to stamp out the blood feud. .The monarchy did not become fully established in the Germanic world until German peoples had settled as federates inside the Roman Empire, and the leaders of the Ostrogoths in Italy, the Visigoths in Gaul and Spain, the Vandals in Africa, and so on are the first Germanic kings. Other famous German chieftains in this period, such as Athanaric and Alaric, who either lived outside the Roman frontier or whose peoples were not federates settled in the provinces under a treaty (foedus) to defend the frontier, seem to have had little more personal authority than the leaders described by Tacitus
.E. Conversion to Christianity.
Evidence suggests that before the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, none of the great Germanic peoples was converted to Christianity while still living outside the Roman frontier, but that all the Germanic peoples who moved into the Roman provinces before that date were converted to Christianity within a generation. The Vandals seem to have been converted when in Spain in 409–429, the Burgundians when in eastern Gaul in 412–436, and the Ostrogoths when in the province of Pannonia about 456–472. In all these cases the Germans embraced the Arian form of Christianity (Note 2) ; none of the major Germanic peoples became officially Catholic until the conversion of the Franks under Clovis (496) and of the Burgundians under Sigismund. The reason for their adoption of Arianism rather than Catholicism is very obscure. The last Germanic people on the European continent to be converted to Christianity were the Old Saxons (second half of the 8th century), while the Scandinavian peoples were converted in the 10th century. England had been converted in the 7th century.
3. Germanic Alphabets and Old Germanic Writings
Germanic tribes used 3 different alphabets for their writings which partly succeeded each other in time.
The earliest of these was the Runic alphabet (Note 3) each separate letter being called a rune. The word rune originally meant ‘secret’, ‘mystery’ and hence came to denote inscriptions believed to be magic. According to scholars, this alphabet was derived either from Latin or from some other Italic alphabet, close to Latin, in the 2nd c.A.D. somewhere on the Rhine or the Danube where the Germanic tribes came into contact with Roman culture. This alphabet was used by such tribes as the Goths, Anglo-Saxons and Scandinavians. The runes were used as letters, each symbol indicating a separate sound. Besides, a rune could also represent a word beginning with that sound and was called by that word. For example, the rune denoted the sound [θ], [ð] and was called ‘thorn’ and could stand for OE Þorn (NE thorn). The letters of the runic alphabet are angular, straight lines are preferred, curved lines are avoided. This is due to the fact that runic inscriptions were cut in hard material: stone, bone or wood. The shapes of some letters resemble those of Greek and Latin; others have not been traced to any known alphabet.
The number of runes in different OG languages varied from 28 to 33 runes in Britain against 16 or 24 on the continent. That is the number of runes in England was larger: new runes were added as new sounds appeared in English.
Neither on the mainland nor in Britain were the runes ever used for everyday writing or for putting down poetry and prose works. Their main function was to make short inscriptions on objects, often to bestow on them some special power or magic.
The two best known runic inscriptions in England are the earliest extant OE written records. One of them is an inscription on a box called the ‘Franks Casket, the other is a short text on a stone cross known as the Ruthwell Cross. The Franks Casket was discovered in the early years of the 19th c. In France, and was presented to the British Museum by a British archeologist A.W. Frank. The Casket is a small box of whale bone, its four sides are carved: there are pictures in the centre and runic inscription around. The longest of them, in alliterative verse, tells the story of the whale bone, of which the Casket is made.
The Ruthwell Cross is a 15ft tall cross inscribed and ornamented on all sides. The principal inscription has been reconstructed into a passage from an OE religious poem, The Dream of the Rood, which was also found in another version in a later manuscript.
Many runic inscriptions were preserved on weapons, coins, amulets, tombstones, rings, various cross fragments. Some runic insertions occur in OE manuscripts written in Latin characters. The total number of runic inscriptions in OE is about 40; the last of them belong to the end of the OE period.
Next came Ulfiala’s Gothic alphabet used in his translation of the Bible. It’s a peculiar alphabet based on the Greek alphabet with some admixture of Latin and Runic letters. (The Gothic alphabet should not be confused with the so-called Gothic script which is used in German writings and is a modified version of Latin script).
The latest alphabet to be used by the Germanic tribes is the Latin alphabet. It superceded both the Runic and the Gothic alphabets when a new technique of writing was introduced, namely that of spreading some colour or paint on a surface instead of cutting or engraving the letters. The material used for writing was either parchment or papyrus. Introduction of the Latin alphabet accompanied the spread of Christianity and Christian religious texts written in Latin.
Since the Latin alphabet was adequate to represent all the sounds of Germanic languages, it was adapted to the peculiar needs of the separate languages. For example, to denote the dental fricative [θ], [ð] the runic was used (derived from Latin D).
Ulfilas’s Bible, otherwise called the Silver Code (Codex Argenteus) is kept in Sweden. Along with other OG writings, next comes the Old High German Song of Hilderbrandt, a fragment of an epic, 8th century, and the Beowulf, an OE epic, probably written in the 8th c. Then come Old Icelandic epic texts collected in the so-called Older Edda comprising songs written down in the 13 c.
Linguistic Features of Germanic Languages
A. Phonetic peculiarities of Germanic Languages. Word Stress and its role in further development of Germanic languages.
In ancient IE, prior to the separation of Germanic, there existed two ways of word accentuation: musical pitch and force stress (otherwise called dynamic, expiratory or breath stress). The position of the stress was movable and free, which means that it could fall on any syllable of the word – a root morpheme, an affix or an ending – and could be shifted both in form building and word-building. (cf. Russian: домом, дома, дома, etc.).
But these properties of the word accent were changed in PG. Force or expiratory stress became the only type of stress used. The stress was now fixed on the first syllable, which was usually the root of the word and sometimes the prefix; the other syllables – suffixes and endings – were unstressed. The stress could no longer move either in form-building or in word-building. This phenomenon has played an important role in the development of the Germanic languages, and especially in phonetic and morphological changes. Due to the difference in the force of articulation, the stressed and unstressed syllables underwent different changes: accented syllables were pronounced with great distinctness and precision, while unaccented became less distinct and were phonetically weakened. The differences between the sounds in stressed position were preserved and emphasised, whereas the contrasts between the unaccented sounds were weakened and lost. Since the stress was fixed on the root, the weakening and loss of sounds mainly affected the suffixes and grammatical endings. Many ending merged with the suffixes, were weakened and dropped. E.g. (the reconstructed word )PG *fiskaz Goth fisks Oicel fiscr OE fisc
The First or Proto-Germanic Consonant Shift (Grimm's Law).
Comparison with other languages within the IE family reveals regular correspondences between Germanic and non-Germanic consonants. It looks as if the Germanic consonants 'shifted' as compared with their non-Germanic counterparts. This phenomenon was first observed and later formulated in terms of phonetic law (1822) by (Rasmus Rask and Jacob Grimm.(See Lecture 1)Hence its name- Grimm's Law. By Grimm's Law, which includes 3 acts, voiceless plosives (stops) developed in PG into voiceless fricatives (1 act); voiced aspirated plosives were shifted to pure voiced plosives or voiced fricatives; and voiced plosives changed into voiceless plosives (stops).
1 act 2nd act 3d act
[p] [f] pater – fadar
[t] [θ] tres reis [i:]
[k] [h] cor(d) - heorte [b] [p] слабый – slepan
[d] [t] древо – treow
[g] [k]горе - caru [bh] [b] bhrata – broðor
[dh] [d] vidhave –widve
[gh] [g] гость - Gast
[bh – b - - p – f ]
[ dh – d - t- θ ]
[ gh – g – k – h ]
The correspondences found between IE and Germanic consonants are interpreted in the following manner: the Germanic sounds are the result of a development of the original IE sounds caused by external and internal factors.
C. Verner’s Law
Careful investigation of Grimm’s Law revealed some inconsistencies, which were generally explained as exceptions to the rule. In some cases it is voiced stops rather than voiceless fricatives that correspond in Germanic to IE voiceless stop. For example,
Latin Greek Sanskrit Gothic Old English
Pater
pater pitar
fadar fder
[t] [] ?? [d]
The Danish scholar Karl Verner was the first to explain them as the result of further development of Germanic languages. According to Verner, all the early PG voiceless fricatives [f, θ, h] which arose under Grimm’s Law, became voiced between vowels if the preceding vowel was unstressed; otherwise they remained voiceless. The voicing of fricatives occurred in early PG at the time when the stress was not yet fixed on the root-morpheme.
[ f – v- b] seofon
[θ – ð – d] O Icel hundrað – hundert
[h – g] Goth swaihro –OE sweger
[s – z – r] Lat auris – Goth auso – Icel eyra (ear)
The change of [z] into [r] is called rhotacism.
As a result of voicing, there arose an interchange of consonants in the grammatical forms of the word, termed grammatical interchange. Part of the forms retained a voiceless fricative, while other forms acquired a voiced fricative. For example, heffen (Inf.)- huob Past sg.) heave; ceosan (choose) curon (Past pl.). Some modern English words retained traces of Vener’s Law: death – dead; was- were, raise – rear.
Throughout history, PG vowels displayed a strong tendency to change. The changes were of the following kinds: qualitative and quantitative, dependent and independent. Qualitative changes affect the quality of the sound, for example [ o - a] or [ p – f]; quantative changes are those which make long sounds short or short sounds long. For example,[ i – i:]; dependent changes are restricted to certain positions when a sound may change under the influence of the neighbouring sounds or in a certain type of a syllable; independent changes or regular (spontaneous) take place irrespective of phonetic conditions, that is they may affect a certain sound in all positions.
In accented syllables the oppositions between vowels were carefully maintained and the number of stressed vowels grew. In unaccented positions the original contrasts between vowels were weakened or lost; the distinction of short and long vowels in unstressed syllables had been shortened. As for originally short vowels, they tended to be reduced to a neutral sound, losing their qualitative distinctions and were often dropped in unstressed final syllables (fiskaz).
Strict differentiation of long and short vowels is regarded as an important characteristic of the Germanic group. Long vowels tended to become closer and to diphthongize, short vowels often changed into more open vowels. IE short [o] changed in Germanic into more open vowel [a] and thus ceased to be distinguished from the original IE [a]; in other words in PG they merged into [o]. IE long [a:] was narrowed to [o:] and merged with [o:]. For example, L nox Goth nahts; L mater OE modor; Sans bhra:ta OE bro:ðor .
Sources: 1) Расторгуева Т.А. История английского языка (на английском языке). М:, 2001б стр. 24-33, 63-65
2) Ильиш Б.А. История английского языка (на английском языке). Ленинград, 1973, стр.9-11, 30-32
3) Иванова И. И др. История английского языка. Санкт-Петербург, 2001, стр.7-9
Note 1
Netherlandic (Netherlandish) is a West Germanic language that is the national language of The Netherlands and, with French, one of the two official languages of Belgium. Although speakers of English usually call the Netherlandic of The Netherlands “Dutch” and the Netherlandic of Belgium “Flemish,” they are actually the same language. Netherlandic, which occurs in both standard and dialectal forms, is the language of most of The Netherlands, of northern Belgium, and of a relatively small part of France along the North Sea, immediately to the west of Belgium. Netherlandic is also used as the language of administration in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Afrikaans, which is a derivative of Netherlandic, is one of the official languages of South Africa. The spoken language exists in a great many varieties ranging from Standard Netherlandic, or “General Cultured Netherlandic”)—the language used for public and official purposes, including instruction in schools and universities—to the local dialects that are used among family, friends, and others from the same village (these exist in far more variety than does the English of North America). Standard Netherlandic is characterized grammatically by the loss of case endings in the noun. In Belgium efforts were made to give Netherlandic equal status with French, which had assumed cultural predominance during the period of French rule (1795–1814). In 1938 Netherlandic was made the only official language of the northern part of Belgium. The use of Standard Netherlandic together with the local dialect is much more widespread among the people of The Netherlands than it is in Belgium. The dialects of the area bounded roughly by Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam are closer to Standard Netherlandic than are those of the other dialect areas. Together with English, Frisian, and German, Netherlandic is a West Germanic language. It derives from Low Franconian, the speech of the Western Franks, which was restructured through contact with speakers of North Sea Germanic along the coast (Flanders, Holland) in the period around AD 700. The earliest documents in the Netherlandic language date from approximately the end of the 12th century, although a few glosses, names, and occasional words appeared somewhat earlier.
Note 2
a Christian heresy first proposed early in the 4th century by the Alexandrian presbyter Arius. It affirmed that Christ is not truly divine but a created being. Arius' basic premise was the uniqueness of God, who is alone self-existent and immutable; the Son, who is not self-existent, cannot be God. Because the Godhead is unique, it cannot be shared or communicated, so the Son cannot be God. Because the Godhead is immutable, the Son, who is mutable, being represented in the Gospels as subject to growth and change, cannot be God. The Son must, therefore, be deemed a creature who has been called into existence out of nothing and has had a beginning. Moreover, the Son can have no direct knowledge of the Father since the Son is finite and of a different order of existence
.According to its opponents, especially the bishop Athanasius, Arius' teaching reduced the Son to a demigod, reintroduced polytheism (since worship of the Son was not abandoned), and undermined the Christian concept of redemption since only he who was truly God could be deemed to have reconciled man to the Godhead.
Note 3
also called futhark writing system of uncertain origin used by Germanic peoples of northern Europe, Britain, Scandinavia, and Iceland from about the 3rd century to the 16th or 17th century AD. Runic writing appeared rather late in the history of writing and is clearly derived from one of the alphabets of the Mediterranean area. Because of its angular letter forms, however, and because early runic inscriptions were written from right to left like the earliest alphabets, runic writing seems to belong to a more ancient system. Scholars have attempted to derive it from the Greek or Latin alphabets, either capitals or cursive forms, at any period from the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD. A likely theory is that the runic alphabet was developed by the Goths, a Germanic people, from the Etruscan alphabet of northern Italy and was perhaps also influenced by the Latin alphabet in the 1st or 2nd century BC. Two inscriptions, the Negau and the Maria Saalerberg inscriptions, written in Etruscan script in a Germanic language and dating from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, respectively, give credence to the theory of Etruscan origins for runic. There are at least three main varieties of runic script: Early, or Common, Germanic (Teutonic), used in northern Europe before about 800 AD; Anglo-Saxon, or Anglian, used in Britain from the 5th or 6th century to about the 12th century AD; and Nordic, or Scandinavian, used from the 8th to about the 12th or 13th century AD in Scandinavia and Iceland. After the 12th century, runes were still used occasionally for charms and memorial inscriptions until the 16th or 17th century, chiefly in Scandinavia. The Early Germanic script had 24 letters, divided into three groups, called ttir, of 8 letters each. The sounds of the first six letters were f, u, th, a, r, and k, respectively, giving the alphabet its name: futhark. The Anglo-Saxon script added letters to the futhark to represent sounds of Old English that did not occur in the languages that had used the Early Germanic script. Anglo-Saxon had 28 letters, and after about 900 AD it had 33. There were also some slight differences in letter shape. The Scandinavian languages were even richer in sounds than Old English; but, instead of adding letters to the futhark to represent the new sounds, the users of the Nordic script compounded the letter values, using the same letter to stand for more than one sound—e.g., one letter for k and g, one letter for a, , and o. This practice eventually resulted in the reduction of the futhark to 16 letters. Other varieties of runes included the Halsinge Runes (q.v.), the Manx Runes, and the stungnar runir, or “dotted runes,” all of which were variants of the Nordic script. More than 4,000 runic inscriptions and several runic manuscripts are extant. Approximately 2,500 of these come from Sweden, the remainder being from Norway, Denmark and Schleswig, Britain, Iceland, various islands off the coast of Britain and Scandinavia, and other countries of Europe, including France.
Lecture 4/5
Theme 3: Historical Conditions for the Development of the English Language
1. Early history of the British Isles (See Table 1)
To begin with, it should be said that archeological research has uncovered many layers of prehistoric population on the territory of the British Isles.
According to historians, the first people to have inhabited the British Isles were Iberians, the inhabitants of the peninsula in southwestern Europe, occupied by modern Spain and Portugal. It was the Greeks who called them so, probably after the Ebro (Iberus), the peninsula's second longest river (after the Tagus).
But the earliest people whose linguistic affiliation has been established were the Celts (Note 1). They came to Britain in three waves and immediately preceded the Teutons. Economically and socially the Celts were a tribal society made up of kins, kinship groups, clans and tribes; they practiced a primitive agriculture and traded with Celtic Gaul (modern France).
Normally, modern Celtic languages are divided into 2 groups, Gallo-Breton and the Gaelic. The former include Gallic, which was spoken in Gaul, and British represented by Welsh (Cymry) spoken in Wales, then Cornish in Cornwall (extinct since 18th c.), and Breton in Brittany. The latter comprise Irish, Highland Scots (Erse), and Manx, spoken on the Isle of Man by a few hundred people.
In the 1st century B.C Gaul was occupied by the Romans who had known about insular Celts from Pytheas’s records (see Lecture 2). Having occupied the country, Caesar made two raids on Britain, in 55 and 54 B.C. Although he failed to subjugate the Celts, Roman economic penetration to Britain grew. But it wasn’t until A.D. 43 that the country’s conquest and Romanisation started.
The Roman occupation lasted nearly 400 years and came to an end in the early 5th century A.D. when the Roman troops were withdrawn from Britain due to internal and external causes.
After the departure of the Romans, Britain remained unprotected from numerous enemies surrounding it such as the Picts and Scots from Scotland and Ireland and Germanic tribes from the mainland which made piratical raids on the British shores. Besides, the Britons fought among themselves which also weakened the country. So it is quite natural that they were unable to offer resistance to the enemies that attacked them in the middle of the 5th c. A.D.
According to Venerable Bede (673-735), an ancient monastic scholar and historian who wrote the first history of Britain (Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum), the invaders came to Britain in A.D. 449 under the leadership of two Germanic kings, Hengist and Horsa; they had been invited by a British king as assistants and allies in a local war. The newcomers soon dispossessed their hosts, and other Germanic people followed. They came in multitude, in families and clans, to settle in the occupied territories.
According to Bede, the ‘newcomers were of three strongest races of Germany, the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes (and also Frisians). It is uncertain whether they belonged to different tribes or perhaps constituted two mixed waves of invaders differing mainly in the place and time of arrival. They were called Angles and Saxons by the Romans and by the Celts but preferred to call themselves Angelcyn (English people) and applied this name to the conquered territories: Angelcynnes land (land of the English), hence England.
The conquerors settled in Britain in the following way: the Jutes or Frisians settled in Kent and the Isle of Wight; the Saxons occupied territories south of the Thames and some stretches north of it, and depending on location were called South Saxons, West Saxons and East Saxons (late also Mid Saxons). The Saxons consolidated into a number of petty kingdoms, the largest and most powerful of which was Wessex, the kingdom of West Saxons. The last people to settle in Britain were the Angles which occupied most of the territory north of the Thames up to the Firth of Forth, namely the districts between the Wash and the Humber, and to the North of Humber. They founded large kingdoms which absorbed their weaker neighbours: East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria
Since the settlement of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain the ties of their language with the continent were broken, and its further development went its own ways. It is at this time, the 5th century that the history of the English language begins. The Anglos-Saxons occupied the territory of modern England and part of Scotland while Wales, Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Cornwall remained Celtic.
Old English Kingdoms and Dialects
The Germanic tribes founded seven separate kingdoms, which during four centuries struggled with one another for supremacy. They were Kent, Sussex, Essex, Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria, which consisted of two parts, Bernicia and Deira. In this prolonged struggle it was sometimes Kent, or Northumbria and sometimes Mercia that would take the upper hand (pre-written history) and Wessex (the period of written records) (Note 2). In 828 the struggle came to an end with the decisive victory of Wessex. Ecgbert, king of Wessex, subdued Mercia and Northumbria. Since then kings of Wessex became kings of England, and the capital of Wessex, Winchester, became the capital of England.
The Germanic tribes spoke closely related tribal dialects belonging to the West Germanic subgroup. Their common origin and their separation from other related tongues as well as their joint evolution in Britain transformed them eventually into a single tongue, English. Yet, at the early stages of their development in Britain the dialects remained disunited. On the one hand, the OE dialects acquired certain common features which distinguished them from continental Germanic tongues; on the other hand, they displayed growing regional divergence. The feudal system was setting in, and the dialects were entering a new phase; tribal dialectal division was superceded by geographical division, in other words, tribal dialects were transformed into local or regional dialects.
There were four main dialects spoken at that time in Britain: Kentish, the dialect developed from the tongue spoken by the Jutes and Frisians; West Saxon, the main dialect of the Saxon group, spoken in the rest of England south of the Thames and the Bristol Channel, excluding Cornwall and Wales, where Celtic tongues were spoken. Other Saxon dialects have not survived in written form and are not known to modern scholars; Mercian, spoken by the Angles between the Humber and the Thames; Northumbrian, another Anglian dialect, from the Humber north to the river Forth (hence the name – North –Humbrian).
The boundaries between the dialects were uncertain and probably movable. The dialects passed into one another imperceptibly and dialectal forms were freely borrowed from one dialect into another. Throughout this period the dialects enjoyed relative equality; none of them was the dominant form of speech, each being the main type used over a limited area.
Scandinavian Raids
In the 8th c. raiders from Scandinavia (the Danes} made made their first plundering attacks on England. The struggle of the English against the Scandinavians last over 300 years, in the course of which period more than half of England was occupied by the invaders and reconquered again. The Scandinavians subdued Northumbria and East Anglia, ravaged the eastern part of Mercia, and advanced on Wessex. Like their predecessors, the West Germanic tribes, they came in large numbers to settle in the new areas. They founded many towns and villages in northern England with a mixed population made up of the English and the Danes. Since the languages of the conquerors and the conquered were similar, linguistic amalgamation was easy (fisc – fiscr).
Wessex stood at the head of the resistance. Under King Alfred of Wessex, one of the greatest figures in English history, by the peace treaty of 878 England was divided into two parts: the north-eastern half was called Danela9 (Danelaw) and the south-western part united under the leadership of Wessex. The reconquest of Danish territories was carried on successfully by Alfred’s successors, but in the late 10th century Danish raids were renewed again; they reached a new climax in the early 11th century headed by Swayn and Canute (Knut). The attacks were followed by demands for regular payments of large sums of money called Danegeld (Danish money) collected from many districts and towns. In 1017 Canute was acknowledged as king, and England became part of a great northern empire, comprising Denmark and Norway. On Canute’s death (1035) his kingdom broke up and England regained political independence; by that time it was a single state divided into 6 earldoms.
King Alfred’s Literary Activity
King Alfred known as Alfred the Great is normally given credit not only for his military and diplomatic skills, but also for his literary and translating activities. Because it was under his reign that learning and literature began to flourish in Wessex in the 9th century. He is said to have gathered a group of scholars at his court at Winchester. An erudite himself, Alfred realized that culture could reach the people only in their own tongue. He shared the contemporary view that Viking raids were a divine punishment for the people's sins, and he attributed these to the decline of learning, for only through learning could men acquire wisdom and live in accordance with God's will. Hence, in the lull from attack between 878 and 885, he invited scholars to his court from Mercia, Wales, and the European continent. He learned Latin himself and began to translate Latin books into English in 887. He directed that all young freemen of adequate means must learn to read English, and, by his own translations and those of his helpers, he made available English versions of “those books most necessary for all men to know,” books that would lead them to wisdom and virtue. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by the English historian Bede, and the Seven Books of Histories Against the Pagans, by Paulus Orosius, a 5th-century theologian—neither of which was translated by Alfred himself, though they have been credited to him—revealed the divine purpose in history. Alfred's translation of the Pastoral Care of St. Gregory I, the great 6th-century pope, provided a manual for priests in the instruction of their flocks, and a translation by Bishop Werferth of Gregory's Dialogues supplied edifying reading on holy men. Alfred's rendering of the Soliloquies of the 5th-century theologian St. Augustine of Hippo, to which he added material from other works of the Fathers of the Church, discussed problems concerning faith and reason and the nature of eternal life. This translation deserves to be studied in its own right, as does his rendering of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. In considering what is true happiness and the relation of providence to faith and of predestination to free will, Alfred does not fully accept Boethius' position but depends more on the early Fathers. In both works, additions include parallels from contemporary conditions, sometimes revealing his views on the social order and the duties of kingship. Alfred wrote for the benefit of his people, but he was also deeply interested in theological problems for their own sake and commissioned the first of the translations, Gregory's Dialogues, “that in the midst of earthly troubles he might sometimes think of heavenly things.” He may also have done a translation of the first 50 psalms. Though not Alfred's work, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, one of the greatest sources of information about Saxon England, which began to be circulated about 890, may have its origin in the intellectual interests awakened by the revival of learning under him. His reign also saw activity in building and in art, and foreign craftsmen were attracted to his court.
Old English Written Records
The records of OE writings embrace a variety of matter: they are dated in different centuries, represent various local dialects, belong to diverse genres and are written in different scripts. The earliest written records of English are inscriptions on hard material made in a special alphabet known as the runes. (See previous lectures)
The two best known runic inscriptions in England are the earliest extant OE written records. One of them is an inscription on a box called the Franks Casket, the other is a short text on a stone cross found near the village of Ruthwell and known as the Ruthwell Cross. Both records are in Northumbrian dialect.
The Franks Casket was discovered in the early 19th c. in France, and was presented to the British Museum by a British archeologist A.W. Franks. The Casket is a small box made of whale bone; its four sides are carved; there are pictures in the centre and runic inscriptions around. The longest among them , in alliterative verse tells the story of the whale bone, of which the Casket is made.
The Ruthwell Cross is a 15ft tall stone cross inscribed and ornamented on all sides. The principal inscription has been reconstructed into a passage from an OE religious poem, The Dream of the Rood, which was also found in another version in a later manuscript.
Many runic inscription have been preserved on weapons, coins, amulets, tombstones, rings, various cross fragments. Some runic insertion occur in OE manuscripts written in Latin characters.
A most important role in the history of the English language was played by the introduction of Christianity. The first attempt to introduce the Roman Christian religion was made in the 6th century during the supremacy of Kent. In 597 a group of missionaries from Rome dispatched by Pope Gregory the Great landed on the shore of Kent. They made Canterbury their centre and from there the new faith expanded to Kent, East Anglia, Essex, and other places. The movement was supported from the north; missionaries from Ireland brought the Celtic variety of Christianity to Northumbria. In less than a century practically all England became Christianized.
The introduction of Christianity gave a strong impetus to the growth of learning and culture. Monasteries were founded all over the country, with monastic schools attached. Religious service and teaching were conducted in Latin. A high standard of learning was reached in the best English monasteries, especially in Northumbria as early as the 8th and 9th centuries. During the Scandinavian invasions the Northumbrian culture was largely wiped out and English culture shifted to the southern kingdoms, most of all to Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. From that time till the end of the OE period, Wessex with its capital at Winchester remained the cultural centre of England.
OE scribes used two kinds of alphabet: runic and Latin. The bulk of the OE records is written in Latin characters but the scribes made certain modifications and additions to indicate OE sounds.
Like any alphabetic writing, OE writing was based on a phonetic principle: every letter indicated a separate sound. This principle, however, was not always observed, even at the earliest stages of phonetic spelling. Some OE letters indicated two or more sounds; some letters stood for positional variants of phonemes: a and . Fricatives stood for 2 sounds each: a voiced and a voiceless consonant. (See Table 2)
The letters could indicate short and long sounds. The length of the vowels is shown by a macron: b t [ba:t] )boat or by a line above the letter; long consonants are indicated by a double letter. Below is an extract from Orosius’s World History as translated by King Alfred in West Saxon dialect, 9th c.).
Table 1
Origins of the English Language
Dates Tribes/People Notes
300 B.C The Iberians The Iberian Peninsula, modern Spain and PortugalVII c.B.C The Celtic tribes: the Galls, the Brythons, the Belgae Celtic languages:
1) the Gallo-Breton group:
-Gallic, spoken in Gaul (modern France)
-British represented by Welsh (Wales), Cornish (Cornwall), extinct in the 18th c.)
-Breton (Brittany)
2) the Gaelic group:
-Irish (Ireland)
-Scots (Erse), Highland Scotland-Manx (the isle of Man, a few hundred)
1 c. B.C.
ruled about 400 years The Roman invasion:
- 55 B.C., Julius Caesar
-54 B.C., Julius Caesar
-43 A.D. Claudius
- 80 A.D –Scotland-410 Roman legions recalled from Britain-a brief stay and return to Gaul-advanced as far as the Thames, a short stay
- colonization: military camps, roads, fortifications, cities, protective walls -Romanisation
Vс AD (449) The Anglo-Saxon invasion (Hengist and Horsa): the Jutes/Frisians, the Saxons, the Angles – An9elcyn, An9elcynnes land - EnglandSettlement:
-The Jutes/Frisians: Kent, the Isle of Wight-the Saxons: south and north of the Thamesthe Angles: north of the Thames – river Forth, between the Wash and Humber; to the north of HumberVI c.AD 7 kingdoms:
-Northumbria: 2 parts
-Mercia-East Anglia-Wessex-Sussex-Essex
-Kentstruggled for supremacy
4 basic kingdoms with dialects:
-Northumbrian, Mercian (Anglian)
-West Saxon
-Kentish
828 – rise of Wessex, king Ecgbert subdued Mercia and Northumbria, Winchester – the capital
VII с – XI c The Danish invasion -Danela9 (Danelaw) -878
-1066 –Canute(Knut) – king of England-1042-Edward the Confessor (Anglo-Saxon dynasty)
Old English Written Records
Dialects The Runic Alphabet Dialects The Latin Alphabet
IX c. Northumbrian -Ruthwell Cross, a religious poem engraved on a stone cross near the village of Ruthwell in South-East Scotland-The Franks Casket – made of whalebone and found in France; a short poem about whalebone -West-Saxon
IX-XI c.c. -King Alfred’s original compositions and translations
-The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
-works of abbot Ælfric
-sermons of Wulfstan
-Mercian
IX c.
-translations of the Psalter and hymns
Kentish
Northumbrian -translation of the Psalter and old charters
-Caedmon’s Hymn
Bede’s Dying Song
Poems: Beowulf , Genesis, Exodus, Judith, etc. (Anglian + West Saxon)
The Old English Alphabet
a
æ
b
c [k], [k’]
d
e f [f], [v]
9 [g], [g’], [j]
h [h], [х ], [ x’]
i
l
m n [n], [ŋ]
o
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2 The Middle English Period
The Norman Conquest and its Influence on the Linguistic Situation in England.
A. The Norman Conquest
The Norman conquest of England began in 1066. It proved to be a turning point in English history and had a considerable influence on the English language. The Normans were by origin a Scandinavian tribe (Norman < Norþman). In the 9th century they began inroads on the northern part of France and occupied the territory on both shores of the Seine estuary. Under the treaty concluded in 912 with the Norman chief Rollo, the French king Charles the Simple ceded to the Normans this stretch of coast, which since then came to be called Normandy. During the century and a half between the Normans’ settlement in France and their invasion of England they had undergone a powerful influence of French culture. Mixing with the local population, they adopted the French language and in the mid-eleventh century, in spite of their Scandinavian origin, they were bearers of French feudal culture and of the French language.
Soon after Canute’s death (1042) and the collapse of his empire, the old Anglo-Saxon line was restored but their reign was short-lived. The new English king, Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), who had been reared in France, brought over many Norman advisors and favourites; he distributed among them English lands and wealth to the considerable resentment of the Anglo-Saxon nobility and appointed them to important positions in the government and church hierarchy. He not only spoke French himself, but insisted on it being spoken by the nobles at his court. William, Duke of Normandy, visited his court and it was rumoured that Edward appointed him his successor. In many respects Edward paved the way for Norman infiltration long before the Norman conquest. However, the government was still in the hands of Anglo-Saxon lords, headed by the powerful Earl Godwin of Wessex.
In 1066, upon Edward’s death, the Elders of England (OE Witan) proclaimed Harold Godwin king of England. As soon as the new reached William of Normandy, he mustered a big army by promise of land and plunder (one third of his soldiers were Norman, others mercenaries from all over Europe), and with the support of the Pope, landed in Britain.
In the battle of Hasting, fought on October 14, 1066, Harold was killed and the English were defeated. This date is commonly known as the date of the Norman conquest, though the military occupation of the country was not completed until a few years later. After the victory at Hastings, William by-passed London cutting it off from the North and made the Witan of London and the bishops at Westminster Abbey crown him king. In the course of a few years, putting down revolts in various parts of the country, burning down villages and estates, the Normans became masters of England. Mercia and Northumbria, which tried to rise against the conquerors, were relentlessly crushed and almost depopulated. Old fortifications were replaced by huge stone Norman castles while most of the lands of the Anglo-Saxon lords passed into the hands of the Norman barons. William’s own possessions comprised about one third of the country. The Normans occupied all the major post in the church, government and in the army.
Following the conquest hundreds of people from France crossed the Channel to make their home in Britain. Immigration was easy, since the Norman kings of Britain were also dukes of Normandy and, about a hundred years later, took possession of the whole western part of France, thus bringing England into still closer contact with the continent. French monks, tradesmen and craftsmen flooded the south-western towns, so that not only the higher nobility but also much of the middle class was French. Generally speaking, during the reign of William the Conqueror (1066-1087) about 200 000 Frenchmen settled in England.
B. Its Effect on the Linguistic Situation
After the Norman conquest of 1066 the linguistic situation in England was the following: the royal family and the court, the government and the feudal upper classes spoke Norman (French). It was also the everyday language of many nobles, of the higher clergy and of many townspeople in the South. The intellectual life, literature and education were in the hands of French-speaking people; French, along with Latin, was the language of writing. Teaching was largely conducted in French and boys at school were taught to translate their Latin into French instead of English.
However, the main bulk of the population – the peasantry and the townspeople, and people in the countryside, those who lived in the Midlands and up north - spoke Anglo-Saxon (English) and looked upon French as foreign and hostile. Since most of the people were illiterate, the English language was almost exclusively used for spoken communication.
Alongside these two languages a third language existed, Latin, as the international language of the church and medieval church science (within the boundaries of Western Europe).
At first French and English existed side by side without mingling. Then slowly and quietly they began to permeate each other. The Norman barons and the French town-dwellers had to pick up English words to make themselves understood, while the English began to use French words in everyday speech. A good knowledge of French would mark a person of higher standing giving him a certain social prestige. With time probably many people became bilingual and had a fair command of both languages.
These peculiar linguistic conditions could not remain static. The struggle between French and English was bound to end in the complete victory of English, for it was the living language of the entire people, while French was restricted to certain social spheres and to writing. Yet the final victory was still a long way off. In the 13th century only a few steps were made in this direction. The earliest sign of the official recognition of English by the Norman kings was the famous Proclamation issued by Henry III in 1258 to the councilors in Parliament. It was written in 3 languages: French, Latin and English. King Henry IV (1399-1413) was the first English king whose mother tongue was English. In 1399 when accepting the throne he made his first official speech in English., he In mid-14th century the influence of English rose. In 1362 (under king Edward III) Parliament, acting on a petition of the City of London, ruled that courts of law should conduct their business in English, as ‘French was too little known’. In the same year English was first used in Parliament itself. About this time French was replaced by English as the language of teaching in schools. Thus, by the end of the 14th century supremacy of Anglo-Norman came to an end, though some scattered remains of it stayed on till a much later time, and isolated French formulas have survived until the present, such as the motto on the British coat-of-arms: ‘Dieu et mon droit’ (God and my right). The victory of English was due to the rise of social layers that spoke it – the gentry and the town bourgeoisie, which took the upper hand in the struggle against the feudal top layer of society.
ME Dialects
A. Growth of Dialectal Differences
In Early Middle English the differences between the regional dialects grew. Never in history, before or after, was the historical background more favourable for dialectal differentiation. The main dialectal division in England, which survived in later ages with some light modification of boundaries and considerable dialect mixture, goes back to the feudal stage of British history.
In the age of poor communication dialect boundaries often coincided with geographical barriers such as rivers, marshes, forests and mountains, as these barriers would hinder the diffusion of linguistic features.
In addition to economic, geographical and social conditions, dialectal differences in early ME were accentuated by some historical events, namely the Scandinavian invasions and the Norman conquest.
In the 14th century there were three main groups of dialects in English: Northern, Midland and Southern which had developed from respective OE dialects. The boundary line between North and Midland was the river Humber, that between Midland and South ran approximately along the Thames. (The precise division is impossible as available sources are scarce and unreliable).
The Southern group included the Kentish and the South-Western dialects. Kentish was a direct descendant of the same OE dialect. As for the South-Western group, it was a continuation of the OE Saxon dialects (both West Saxon and East Saxon). The East Saxon was not prominent in OE , but became more important in Early ME, since it made the basis of the dialect of London in the 12th and 13th centuries. (The London dialect also belongs to this group).
The Midland (central) dialects which corresponded to the OE Mercian dialect, were divided into West Midland and East Midland as two main areas, with further subdivisions within: South-East Midland and North-east Midland, South-West Midland and North-West Midland. In ME the Midland area became more diversified linguistically than the OE Mercian kingdom occupying approximately the same territory.
The Northern dialects had developed from OE Northumbrian. In early ME the Northern dialects included several provincial dialects, e.g. Yorkshire and the Lancashire dialects and also what later became known as Scottish.
The dialects differed from each other by essential phonetic and morphological features. These differences corresponded to the geographical distribution of the dialects: discrepancies between the extreme dialects were greater than those between each of the extremes and the Midland.
A ME translator called John Trevisa wrote: ‘ Men of the East with men of the West, as it were under the same part of heaven, agree more in pronunciation of speech, than men of the North with men of the South. Therefore the Mercians, who are part of Midland England, as it were partners with the ends, understand the side languages, Northern and Southern, better than Northerners and Southerners understand one another’.
In the course of early ME the area of the English language in the British Isles grew. Following the Norman Conquest the former Celtic kingdoms fell under Norman rule. Wales was subjugated in the late 13th century, its eastern half became part of England, while the North and West of Wales was a principality governed separately. In the late 12th century the English made their first attempts to conquer Ireland. The invaders settled among the Irish and were soon assimilated, a large proportion of the invaders being Welshmen. Though part of Ireland was ruled from England, the country remained divided and had little contact with England. The English language was used there alongside Celtic languages – Irish and Welsh – and was influenced by Celtic.
The Early ME dialectal division was preserved in the succeeding centuries, though even in Late ME the linguistic situation changed. In Early ME, while the state language and the main language of literature was French, the local dialects were relatively equal. In Late ME, when English had been reestablished as the main language of administration and writing, one of the regional dialects, the London dialect, prevailed over the others.
The Rise of the London Dialect
In the 14th and 15th centuries the dialectal division was the same but the relations among the dialects were changing. The extension of trade beyond the confines of local boundaries, the growth of towns with a mixed population favoured the intermixture and amalgamation of the regional dialects. More intensive inter-influence of the dialects, among other facts, is attested by the penetration of Scandinavian loan-words into the West-Midland and Southern dialects from the North and by the spread of French borrowings in the reverse direction. The most important event in the changing linguistic situation was the rise of the London dialect as the prevalent written form of language.
As is known, the history of London goes back to the Roman period. Even in OE times London was by far the biggest town in Britain, although the capital of Wessex - the main English kingdom – was Winchester. The capital was transferred to London a few years before the Norman Conquest.
3 The New English Period
The XVI century – the Period of the Development of the National Literary Language

The formation of the national literary English language covers the Early NE period (1475—1660). Henceforth we can speak of the evolution of a single literary language instead of the similar or different development of the dialects. (Note 1)
There were at least two major external factors which favoured the rise of the national language and the literary standards: the unification of the country and the progress of culture. Other historical events, such as increased foreign contacts, affected the language in a less general way: they influenced the growth of the vocabulary.
A. Economic and Political Unification. Conditions for Linguistic Unity
As early as the 13th century, within the feudal system, new economic relations began to take shape. The villain (виллан, крепостной) was gradually superseded by the rent-paying tenant (арендатор, съёмщик;). With the growing interest in commercial profits, feudal oppression grew and the conditions of the peasants deteriorated. Social discontent showed itself in the famous peasants' rebellions of the 14th and 15th c.
The village artisans (кустарь, мастеровой, ремесленник) and craftsmen (мастер, ремесленник) travelled about the country looking for a greater market for their produce. They settled in the old towns and founded new ones near big monasteries, on the rivers and at the cross roads. The crafts became separated from agriculture, and new social groups came into being: poor town artisans, the town middle class, rich merchants, owners of workshops and money-lenders.
The 15th and 16th centuries saw other striking changes in the life of the country: while feudal relations were decaying, bourgeois relations and the capitalist mode of production were developing rapidly. Trade had. extended beyond the local boundaries and in addition to farming and cattle-breeding, an important wool industry was carried on in the countryside. Britain began to export woolen cloth produced by the first big enterprises, the "manufactures". The landowners evicted (выселять; удалять; изгонять, высылать ( from )) the peasants and enclosed their land with ditches and fences, turning it into vast pastures.
The new nobility, who traded in wool, fused with the rich townspeople to form a new class, the bourgeoisie, while the evicted farmers, the poor artisans and monastic servants turned into farm labourers, wage workers and paupers.
The changes in the economic and social conditions led to the inter mixture of people coming from different regions and to the strengthening of social ties between the various parts of the country.
Economic and social changes were accompanied by political unification. In the last quarter of the 15th c. England became a centralized state.
At the end of the Hundred Years' War, when the feudal lords and their hired armies came home from France, life in Britain became more turbulent than ever. The warlike nobles, disappointed with their defeat is France, fought for power at the King's Court; continued anarchy and violence broke out into a civil war known as the Wars of the Roses 1455—1485). The thirty-year contest for the possession of the crown ended in the establishment of a strong royal power under Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor dynasty.
The absolute monarchy of the Tudors was based on a new relation of class forces: the crown had the support of the middle class. Henry VII reduced the power of the old nobles and created a new aristocracy out of the rural and town bourgeoisie. The next step in the creation of absolute monarchy was to break the monopoly of the medieval Papacy. This was achieved by his successor, Henry VIII (1509—1547), who quarreled with the Pope, declared himself head of the English Church and dissolved the monasteries (the English Reformation, 1529—1536); now the victory of the Crown was complete. The economic and political unification played a decisive role in the development of the English language.
All over the world the victory of capitalism over feudalism was linked up with the consolidation of people into nations, the formation of national languages and the growth of superdialect forms of language to be used as a national Standard. The rise of capitalism helped to knit together the people and to unify their language.
Progress of Culture. Introduction of Printing
The 15th and 16th c. in Western Europe are marked by renewed interest in classical art and literature and by a general efflorescence of culture. The rise of new vigorous social class – the bourgeoisie – proved an enormous stimulus to the progress of learning, science, literature and art.
The universities at Oxford and Cambridge (founded in the 12th century) became the centres of new humanistic learning. Henry VIII assembled at his court a group of brilliant scholars and artists. Education had ceased to be the privilege of the clergy; it spread to laymen (мирянин) and people of lower social ranks. After the Reformation teachers and tutors could be laymen as well as clergymen.
As before, the main subject in schools was Latin; the English language was labelled as "a rude and barren tongue", fit only to serve as an instrument in teaching Latin. Scientific and philosophical treatises were written in Latin, which was not only the language of the church but also the language of philosophy and science. The influence of classical languages on English grew and was reflected in the enrichment of the vocabulary.
Of all the outstanding achievements of this great age the invention of printing had the most immediate effect on the development of the language, its written form in particular. "Artificial writing" as printing was then called, was invented in Germany in 1438 (by Johann Gutenberg); the first printer of English books was William Caxton.
William Caxton (1422-1491) was born in Kent. In 1441 he moved to Flanders, where he spent over three decades of his life. During a visit to Cologne he learned the method of printing and in 1473 opened up his own printing press in Bruges. The first English book, printed in Bruges in 1475, was Caxton’s translation of the story of Troy RECUYELL OF THE HISTORYES OF TROYE. A few years later he brought his press over to England and set it up in Westminster, not far outside the city of London. All in all about one hundred books were issued by his press and about a score of them were either translated or edited by Caxton himself.
Among the earliest publications were the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer, still the most popular poet in England, the poems of John Gower, the compositions of John Lydgate, the most voluminous (плодовитый) poet of the age, Trevisa’s translation of the POLYCHRONICON, and others. Both Caxton and his associates took a greater interest in the works of medieval literature than in the works of ancient authors or theological and scientific treatises (трактат) published by the printers on the continent. About one quarter of his publications were translations from French, e. g.: RECUYELL OF THE HISTORYES OF TROYE mentioned above, GAME AND PLAYE OF THE CHESSE, the famous romance of knightly adventure MORTE D'ARTHUR ("Death of Arthur") by Thomas Malory, one of the last works in this genre.
In preparing the manuscripts for publication William Caxton and his successors edited them so as to bring them into conformity with the London form of English used by their contemporaries. In doing this they sometimes distorted the manuscripts considerably. Their corrections enable us to see some of the linguistic changes that had occurred since the time when the texts were first written. Here are some substitutions made by Caxton in Trevisa's POLYCHRONICON, written a hundred years before:
Trevisa: i-cleped, ich, steihe, as me troweth, chapinge;
Caxton: called, I, ascended, as men supposed, market.
It is difficult to overestimate the influence of the first printers in fixing and spreading the written form of English. The language they used was the London literary English established since the age of Chaucer and slightly modified in accordance with the linguistic changes that had taken place during the intervening hundred years. With cheap printed hooks becoming available to a greater number of readers, the London form of speech was carried to other regions and was imitated in the written works produced all over England.
The greatest influence exerted by the printers was that on the written form of the word. Caxton's spelling, for all its irregularities and inconsistencies, was more normalised than the chaotic spelling of the manuscripts. The written forms of many words perpetuated by Caxton were accepted as standard and have often remained unchanged in spite of the drastic changes in pronunciation. It should be noted that Caxton's spelling faithfully reproduced the spelling of the preceding century and was conservative even in his day.
In conclusion we may recall that so great was the effect of printing on the development of the language that the year 1475 — the date of the publication of the first English book — is regarded as a turning point in English linguistic history and the start of a new period — NE.
Foreign Contacts in the Early New English Period
The Tudors encouraged the development of trade inside and outside the country. The great geographical discoveries (beginning with the discovery of the New World in 1492) gave a new impetus to the progress of foreign trade: English traders set forth on daring journeys in search of gold and treasures. Under the later Tudors England became one of the biggest trade and sea powers.
The main events of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) were connected with the rise of merchant capital. Ousting her rivals from many markets England became involved in the political struggle of the European countries for supremacy. Most complicated were her relations with France, Spain and Portugal: in 1588 England defeated the Spanish fleet, the Invincible Armada., thus dealing a final blow to Spain, her main rival in overseas trade and in colonial expansion. In the late 16th c. England founded her first colonies abroad.
The contacts of England with foreign nations, although not necessarily friendly, became closer, which had an inevitable influence on the growth of the vocabulary.
Expansion of English over the British Isles As Britain consolidated into a single powerful state, it extended its borders to include Wales, Scotland and part of Ireland.
As mentioned before, the partial subjugation of Wales was the last stage of the Norman Conquest. It was not until the 16th c., however, that the annexation was completed. Both during the wars and after the final occupation, the English language penetrated into Wales and partly replaced the native Celtic dialect; a large proportion of the aboriginal population, however, did not give up their mother tongue and continued to speak Welsh. (It is noteworthy that to this day Wales has preserved a large number of old Celtic place-names and the Welsh dialect.)
The attempts to conquer Ireland in the 13th and 14th c. ended in failure. In Ireland, only the area around Dublin was ruled direct from England, the rest of the country being Irish or Anglo-Irish. Ireland remained divided among innumerable chiefs and turned into one of the poorest and most backward countries. Despite the weak ties with England and the assimilation of English and Welsh invaders by the Irish, in- penetration continued
The repeated claims of the English kings to be overlords of Scotland were met with protest and revolt. In the early 14th c. Scotland’s independence was secured by the victories of Robert Bruce. Feudal Scotland remained a sovereign kingdom until the later Tudors, but the influence of the English language was greater than elsewhere.
Scotland began to fall under English linguistic influence from the 11 century, when England made her first attempts to conquer the territory. The mixed population of Scotland — the native Scots and Picts, the Britons (who had fled from the Germanic invasion), the Scandinavians (who had stayed on after the Scandinavian settlement), and the English who had gradually moved to the north) from the neighboring regions) was not homogeneous in language. The Scotch-Gaelic dialect of the Scots was driven to the Highlands, while in Lowland Scotland the Northern English dialect gave rise to a new dialect, Scottish, which had a chance to develop into an independent language, an offshoot of English. The Scottish tongue flourished as a literary language and produced a distinct literature as long as Scotland retained its sovereignty . After the unification with England under the Stuarts (1603), and the loss of what remained of Scotland's self-government, Scottish was once again reduced to dialectal status. In the subsequent centuries English became both the official and the literary language in Scotland.
Thus by the end of the Early NE period, the area of English had expanded, to embrace the whole of the British Isles with the exception of some mountainous parts of Wales and Scotland, the Isle of Man, Cornwall and some parts of Ireland,.— though even in most of these regions people were becoming bilingual.
Flourishing of Literature in Early New English (Literary Renaissance)
The growth of the national literary language and especially the fixation of its Written Standard is inseparable from the flourishing literature known as the English Literary Renaissance.
The beginnings of the literary efflorescence go back to the 16th c.. After a fallow period of dependence on Chaucer, literary activity gained momentum in the course of the 16th century and by the end of it attained such an importance as it had never known before. This age of literary flourishing: is known as the "age of Shakespeare" or the age of Literary Renaissance (also the "Elizabethan age" for it coincided roughly with the reign of Elizabeth). The most notable forerunners of the literary Renaissance in the first half of the 16th c. were the great English humanist Thomas More (1478-1535) and William Tyndale, the translator of the Bible. The chief work of Thomas More, UTOPIA was finished in 1516; it was written in Latin and was first translated into English in 1551. In Utopia Th. More expressed his opposition to the way of life in contemporary England, which he defined as "a conspiracy of the rich against the poor" and drew a picture of an ideal imaginary society in which equality, freedom and well-being were enjoyed by all. More's other works were written in English; most interesting are his pamphlets during a controversy with W. Tyndale over the translation of the Bible.
William Tyndale was a student at Oxford and Cambridge and a priest in the church. In 1526 he completed a new English translation of the Bible. Both in his translations and original works Tyndale showed himself one of the first masters of English prose. He exerted a great influence not only on the language of the Church but also on literary prose and on the spoken language. The later versions of the Bible, and first of all the Authorised Version— KING JAMES' BIBLE (produced by a body of translators and officially approved in 1611) was in no small measure based on Tyndale's translation.
As elsewhere, the Renaissance in England was a period of rapid progress of culture and a time of great men. The literature of Shakespeare's generation proved exceptionally wealthy in writers of the first order. (Note 2)
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was the chief of the Elizabethan dramatists as well as a genius whose writings have influenced every age and every country. Shakespeare's plays were greatly admired in the theatres but less than half of them were printed in his lifetime. The first collected edition of his plays was the Folio of 1623.
It is universally recognized that Shakespeare outclassed all his contemporaries in all genres of drama and poetry (comedies, historical plays, tragedies and sonnets) and surpassed them all in his mastery of the English tongue. His works give an ideal representation of the literary language of his day. His vast vocabulary (amounting to over 20,000 words), freedom in creating new words and new meanings, versatility of grammatical construction reflect the fundamental properties of the language of the period.
New Sources of Information about the Language. Private Papers. Didactic Compositions
The amount of written matter which has come down to us from the Early NE period is far greater than that of the OE and ME periods, for the simple reason that many more texts were produced and had a better chance to survive during the relatively short span of time which has elapsed since. In addition to the writings of a literary, philosophical, theological, scientific or official character, produced, copied or printed by professionals, there appeared new kinds of written evidence pertaining to the history of the language: private papers. With the spread of education more people could read and write; they began to correspond and to write diaries. Extant family archives contain papers written both by educated and by uncultivated persons. The significance of their evidence for the history of the language is obvious: the writers were not guided by written tradition and could not set themselves any literary aims; they recorded the words, forms and pronunciations in current use, putting their own English on paper and reflecting all kinds of dialectal and colloquial variants. The earliest collections of letters preserved in family archives are the PASTON LETTERS written between 1430 and 1470 by members of the Paston family in Norfolk (i.e. in the East Midland dialect of late ME) and the CELY PAPERS written in the same dialect a short time later.
Numerous private letters of the 16th c. give a fair picture of colloquial speech, so far as it is possible in a written document. Of greatest value is the DIARY of Henry Machyn, a London merchant with no particular education. This diary as well as other private papers, bear testimony to the existence of social differences in the regional dialects, e.g. the existence of Cockney, a lower class London dialect since tin early 16th c.
The renewed interest in living languages in the 16th and 17th c., which came to be regarded as more important for practical purposes than the classical ones, led to the appearance of one more kind of printed matter: books of instruction for pupils, didactic works and various other compositions dealing with the English language.
A large number of early works concerned with the English language deal with "correct writing", in other words with spelling and pronunciation. The current ways of indicating sounds seemed inconsistent to many scholars and schoolmasters; they attempted to improve and regulate the graphic system of the language by designing better alphabets or by proposing rules for more consistent spelling. In the early 16th c. John Cheke, a scholar of Cambridge and a pioneer among spelling reformers, proposed that all letters should be doubled to indicate length - a practice very irregularly employed before his time; his associate Thomas Smith in his DIALOGUE CONCERNING THE CORRECT AND EMENDED WRITING Of THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1568) set out a new alphabet of 34 letters to the same object. The greatest English phonetician of the 16th c., in the opinion of modern philologists, was John Hart, who produced a number of works, especially AN ORTHOGRAPHIE (1569). Being a keen observer he noticed the changing values of the letters brought about by the change in the sounds. His reforms of the English spelling, however, were as unsuccessful as those of his contemporaries. Other prominent scholars made no attempt to reform the spelling but tried to make it more consistent, or, conversely, to correct the pronunciation in accordance with the spelling.
For all their limitations and failures, the works of the early spelling reformers and phoneticians are important sources of information about the history of English sounds.
Manuals of English were also concerned with matters of grammar and vocabulary.
Like many descriptions of other European languages the earliest books dealing with English grammar were modelled on Latin grammars. Thus one of the early guides used in teaching English was a Latin grammar, written by William Lily: ETON LATIN GRAMMAR; it was supplied with English translations and equivalents of Latin forms. The title of another English grammar published in the late 16th century displays the same approach: A PERFECT SURVEY OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE TAKEN ACCORDING TO THE USE AND ANALOGIE OF THE LATIIN.
The grammars of the early 17th c. were more original. Alexander Gill’s LOGONOMIA ANGLICA published in 1619, written in Latin, contains English illustrations from contemporary authors, e. g. Ph. Sidney, Ben Johnson.
A new approach was postulated in the English grammar composed by the dramatist Ben Johnson, "for the benefit of all strangers out of his observation of the English language now spoken and in use" (1640). Although in the main he followed the traditional pattern of Latin grammars, he paid special attention to word order as an important feature of English grammatical structure, described the article as a separate part of speech; he was puzzled by the lack of order in verb forms, in moods and adverbs; he grouped the nouns into two declensions and subdivided the verbs into conjugations.
The first author to break with the Latin tradition was John Wallis, the most famous of all the 17th c. grammarians and phoneticians. His GRAMMAT1CA LINGUÆ ANGLICANÆ was first published in 1653; it was translated into English and went into many editions in the second half of the 17th century.
Other kinds of publications dealing with language were lists of words and dictionaries. The swift development of international trade created a demand for dictionaries; bilingual dictionaries of classical and contemporary languages were produced in increasing numbers in the 16th and 17th centuries.
(Dictionaries of dead languages had appeared before that time: glosses to Latin religious works, made since OE were later combined into dictionaries; in 1499 the printers published the first English-Latin Dictionary).
The earliest dictionaries of the English language were selective lists of difficult words. In those days the most common English words were difficult to write, whereas the learned ones, usually Latin borrowings abounded in the writings of the Renaissance, were not only hard to spell but also hard to understand.
To cope with this difficulty, the first English-English explanatory dictionaries were compiled. Robert Cawdrey's TABLE ALPHABETICAL CONTEYNING AND TEACHING THE TRUE WRITING, AND UNDERSTANDING OF HARD USUAL ENGLISH WORDS, BORROWED FROM THE HEBREW, GREEK, LATIN OR FRENC- ETC. issued in 1604, is one of the early publications of this kind. Cawdrey’s dictionary was quite small, containing about three thousand words. A slightly larger book was produced by John Bullokar in 1616, ENGLISH EXPOSITOR TEACHING THE INTERPRETATION OF HARDEST WORDS USED IN OUR LANGUAGE where he attempted to explain "scholastic" words. The first book entitled ENGLISH-ENGLISH DICTIONARY, a small volume compiled by Henry Cockeram, appeared in 1623: it contained explanations of common "hard" words or "vulgar" words defined with the help of their bookish equivalents, and stray bits of curious information about "Gods and Goddesses,... Boyes and Maides, ... Monsters and Serpents, ... Dogges, , Fishes and the like".
Normalising Tendencies.
Grammars and Dictionaries in the Late 17th and 18th c.
The age of the literary Renaissance, which enriched the language many ways and was marked by great linguistic freedom, was by the period of "normalisation" or period of "fixing the language”. This age set great store by correctness and simplicity of expression. The language of Shakespeare and his contemporaries struck the authors of the late 17th c. as rude and unpolished, though the neo-classicists (the term applied to the writers of this period) never reached the heights of the Renaissance writers. John Dryden (1631-1700), a versatile writer and competent stylist of the time, acknowledged "the wit of predecessors " but explicitly disapproved of their language, saying that “there was ever something ill-bred and clownish in it and which confessed the conversation of their authors" (ESSAYS ON THE DRAMATIC POETRY OF THE LAST AGE). The great poet John Milton (1608-1674) noted "the corrupt pronunciation of the lower classes". Correct usage and protection of the language from corruption and change became the subject of great concern and numerous discussions. In 1664 the Royal Society appointed a special committee "for improving the English tongue”. The fixed structures of dead languages — Greek and Latin loomed in the mind of the neo-classicists and made them regard all linguistic change as corruption that ought to be checked.
The 18th c. is remarkable for deliberate attempts to fix the language and interfere with its evolution. Among the exponents of this were the writer Jonathan Swift (1667 — 1745), the founders of the first English newspapers R. Steele and J. Addison, the authors of prescriptive English grammars and the great 18th c. lexicographers.
The new journals issued at regular intervals, the TATLER and the SPECTATOR, published essays recommending simplicity in dress, in behaviour and particularly in discourse; language matters were among the most popular subjects. It was in the TATLER (N 230, 1710) that published his first article on language followed by longer treatises: A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue"'. J. Swift, like other purists, protested against careless and deliberate contractions and elisions in formal and informal speech. Leaving out vowels and consonants corrupted pronunciation; the persistent use of set words and fashionable phrases turned conversation into a string of clichés; affected imitation of "genteel" persons in speech spoiled the language. He drew up a detailed proposal that a body well-informed persons — scholars and men of letters — should be set up in order to fix the correct rules of usage. He was concerned that contemporary writings might become incomprehensible a hundred years hence, if the changes in the language were allowed to proceed at the same speed.
Many new grammars of English were compiled in the age of "fixing the language". J. Wallis's GRAMMATICA LINGAE ANGLICANAE, which was first published in 1653, won European fame and ran through many editions before the end of the century. He owed much to his predecessors, but was original in the treatment of most problems. He believed that "by reducing the English too much to the Latin norm the grammarians have taught too many useless things about the cases of Nouns, and about the Tenses, Moods and Conjugations of Verbs, about government of Nouns and Verbs, etc., matters absolutely foreign to language, producing confusion and obscurity rather than serving as explanations.. Why should we introduce a fictitious and quite foolish collection of Cases, Genders, Moods and Tenses, without any need, 'and which there is no reason in the basis of the language itself?" (By that time the grammatical structure of the English language was very similar to that of present-day English.)
. The grammars of the 18th c. were influenced both by the descriptions of classical languages and by the principles of logic. They wished to present language as a strictly logical system (incidentally, it was at that time that many logical terms, such as "subject" and "predicate", entered grammatical description). The main purpose of these grammars was to formulate rules based on logical considerations to present them as fixed and obligatory; grammars were designed to restrict and direct linguistic change. This type of grammars are known as "prescriptive" or "normative" grammars.
One of the most influential prescriptive grammars was SHORT INTRODUCTION TO ENGLISH GRAMMAR produced 1762 by Robert Lowth, a theologician and professor of poetry at Oxford. In the preface to his book R. Lowth agreed with the charge that ‘our language is extremely imperfect", that it "offends against every part of grammar" and remarked that the best authors commit "many gross improprieties, which ... ought to be corrected"; he complained that in spite of great achievements in literature and style, the English language had made "no advance in Grammatical Accuracy". "The principal design of a Grammar of any Language is to teach us to express ourselves with propriety in that Language; and to enable us to judge every phrase and form of construction, whether it be right or not. The plain way doing this is to lay down rules and to illustrate them by examples.”
The role of English dictionaries in this period of normalization was equally significant.
English lexicography made outstanding progress in the 18th c. Works concerned primarily with the explanation of "hard words" continued to be brought out in great numbers. But the greatest achievement of the 18th century lexicography is connected with the name of Dr. Samuel Johnson.
(Dictionary of the English Language, 1755).
English Outside Great Britain England's colonial expansion to the New World began in the late 16th c. when her first colonies were set up in Newfoundland (1583). But the real start came later: in 1607 the first permanent settlements were founded in Jamestown and in 1620 the famous ship "Mayflower" brought a group of English settlers to what became known as New England. These Puritan fugitives from the Stuart absolutism came from the London area, from East Anglia and Yorkshire; later colonists from other regions, including Scotland and Ireland. Immigrants to Southern areas were of a higher class origin; they received vast stretches of land from the kings of England and gave rise to the Southern "aristocratic" slave-owning plantators. Many immigrants from Great Britain settled in the West Indies, which,became a part of the British Empire in the 17th c.
The colonists spoke different dialects of English. In North America those dialects gradually blended into a new type of the language, American English; contacts with other languages, especially Spanish in the South and French in Canada, have played a certain role in its development.
American English was first proclaimed to be an independent language by Noah Webster (1758—1843), a schoolmaster from Connecticut In his DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1828),the first in the world-famous series of "Websters", he showed the differences in vocabulary and pronunciation between the English of Britain and the English of the new independent state (after the War for Independence which ended in 1783); Am E, in his opinion, was a pure uncorrupt descendant of Chaucer and Shakespeare, while Br E had been spoiled by linguistic change. He admitted, though, that the two types of English were basically identical.
The expansion of English to Asia is mainly connected with the occupation of India. India was one of the main issues in the colonial struggle of European powers in the 18th c.
Australia was a place of deportation of British convicts since 18th c. A flow of immigrants were attracted to Australia, at I lie free grants of land, later — by the discovery of gold. . In the
Note 1: Celts
Celt also spelled Kelt, Latin Celta, plural Celtae a member of an early Indo-European people who from the 2nd millennium BC to the 1st century BC spread over much of Europe. Their tribes and groups eventually ranged from the British Isles and northern Spain to as far east as Transylvania, the Black Sea coasts, and Galatia in Anatolia and were in part absorbed into the Roman Empire as Britons, Gauls, Boii, Galatians, and Celtiberians. Linguistically they survive in the modern Celtic speakers of Ireland, Highland Scotland, the Isle of Man, Wales, and Brittany. The Celtic settlement of Britain and Ireland is deduced mainly from archaeological and linguistic considerations. The only direct historical source for the identification of an insular people with the Celts is Caesar's report of the migration of Belgic tribes to Britain, but the inhabitants of both islands were regarded by the Romans as closely related to the Gauls. Information on Celtic institutions is available from various classical authors and from the body of ancient Irish literature. The social system of the tribe, or “people,” was threefold: king, warrior aristocracy, and freemen farmers. The druids, who were occupied with magico-religious duties, were recruited from families of the warrior class but ranked higher. Thus Caesar's distinction between druides (man of religion and learning), eques (warrior), and plebs (commoner) is fairly apt. As in other Indo-European systems, the family was patriarchal. The basic economy of the Celts was mixed farming, and, except in times of unrest, single farmsteads were usual. Owing to the wide variations in terrain and climate, cattle raising was more important than cereal cultivation in some regions. Hill forts provided places of refuge, but warfare was generally open and consisted of single challenges and combat as much as of general fighting. La Tene art (archeological artifacts found in Switzerland) gives witness to the aesthetic qualities of the Celts, and they greatly prized music and many forms of oral literary composition.
Note 2
The supremacy of Kent lasted until the early 7the c.; it is attributed to the cultural superiority of Kent and its close contact with the mainland. The 7th and 8th centuries witnessed the temporary rise of Northumbria, followed by a period of balance of power of the three main rivals (Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex) and the dominance of Mercia, large and prosperous kingdom in the rich Midland plains. Yes already in during Mercia’s supremacy Wessex had secured the control of Sussex and Kent, and was growing more influential. The conquest of Mercia by Wessex in the early 9th c. reversed the position of two kingdoms: Wessex was brought to the fore and acquired the leadership unsurpassed till the end of the OE period 11th c.) Wessex was a kingdom with good frontiers and vast area of fertile land in the valley of the Thames; the control of London and the lower Thames valley (formerly part of Essex) as well as the growing contacts with the Franconian Empire contributed to the rise of Wessex. Apart from internal reasons the unification of England under the leadership of Wessex was speeded up by a new factor; the pressure of common enemy.
Note 3 The "national" language embraces all the varieties of the language use; the nation including dialects; the "national literary language" applies only to recognized standard forms of the language, both written and spoken; for earlier periods of history the term "literary language" may indicate the language of writing in a wider sense, including chronicles, legal documents, religious text? A mature national literary language is characterised by codified norms or rules of usage and functional stylistic differentiation.
Note 2
Many of the great classics, both ancient and modern, were translated Int. English: Plutarch and Ovid, Montaigne and Thomas More. Religious prose flourished not only in the translations of the Bible but also in collections of sermon! and other theological compositions. Secular prose grew in the philosophical workf of Francis Bacon (1561—1626), who wrote his chief work, NOVUM OROANUM i Latin, but proved his mastery of the mother tongue in essays and other compositions.
Lecture 6. Historical phonetics and phonology
Diachronic changes in the system of vowels
I. Preliminary remarks
OE is so far removed from Mod English that one may take it for an entirely different language; this is largely due to the peculiarities of its pronunciation.
The survey of OE phonetics deals with word accentuation, the system of vowels and consonants and their origins. The OE sound system developed from the PG system. It underwent multiple changes in the pre-written periods of history, especially in Early OE. The diachronic description of phonetics in those early periods will show the specifically English tendencies of development and the immediate sources of the sounds in the age of writing.
II. Word Stress.
The system of word accentuation inherited from PG underwent no changes in Early OE.
In OE a syllable was made prominent by an increase in the force of articulation; in other words, a dynamic or a force stress was employed. In disyllabic and polysyllabic words the accent fell on the root-morpheme or on the first syllable. Word stress was fixed; it remained on the same syllable in different grammatical forms of the words, and, as a rule, did not shift in word-building either. For example, the Nom. hlāford, cynin9, Dat. hlāforde, cynin9e.
Polysyllabic words, especially compounds, may have had 2 stresses, chief and secondary, the chief stress being fixed on the first root-morpheme, and the secondary stress on the second. For example, Norðmonna, here the chief stress fall on the first component, while the second component gets the secondary stress; the Gen. plural ending – a is unstressed.
In words with prefixes the position of the stress varied: verb prefixes were unaccented, while in nouns and adjectives the stress was commonly fixed on the prefix:
ā-` risan, `mis-dæd
3. Old English Vowel System
The system of OE vowels in the 9th and 10th centuries is shown in the table below
Monophthongs
Short vowles Long vowels
Front vowels
[i] fisc, scip
[y] fyllan, pytt
[e] sprecan, helpan [i:] wīn, tīd
[y:] brÿd, wÿscan
[e:] fēt, tēθ
Back vowels
[u] sunu, cumin
[o] folc, cos
[a] faran, caru
[a] – positional variants: [æ] glæd, hwæt
[o] mann,( monn)
cann (conn) [u:] hūs, tūn
[o:] fōt, bōk, 9ōd
[a:] ān, wrāte
Diphthongs
[ea]healf wearm (before 1, r + cons., and before h instead of [a] [ea:] hēah, ēare
[eo] steora, feohtan [eo:] deop, leoht
[io] siofun ( f pronounced v in intervocal pos.) [io:] stīoran
[ie] scield, nieht [[ie:] cīese, hīeran
OE vowels underwent different kinds of alterations: qualitative and quantitative, dependent and independent. In accented syllables the oppositions between vowels were clearly maintained. In unaccented positions the original contrasts between vowels was weakened or lost; the distinction of short and long vowels was neutralised so that by the age of writing the long vowels in unstressed syllables had been shortened. As for originally short vowels, they tended to be reduced to a neutral sound, losing their qualitative distinctions and were often dropped in unstressed final syllables.
Changes in the system of vowels:
Fracture/breaking (преломление) – diphthongization of short vowels ‘a’, ‘e’ before the clusters: ‘r+ con.’, ‘l + con.’, ‘ h+ con., final ‘ h’: ærm – earm, herte – heorte, selh – seolh;
Gradation /ablaut: (alternation of vowels in different grammatical forms:
E.g. in strong verbs: Infinitive (9iban), Past sing. (9af), Past Pl. (9ebum), Second Part. (9ibans);
Palatalisation: diphthongisation of vowels under the influence of the initial palatal consonants ‘g’, ‘c’ ( before front vowels) and the cluster ‘sc’ (all vowels): gefan – giefan, scacan – sceacan;
Mutation/Umlaut( перегласовка)- a change of vowel caused by partial assimilation to the following vowel:
i-mutation – caused by ‘i’, ‘j’ of the following syllable: namnian – nemnan, fullian- fyllan;
back/velar mutation – phonetic change caused by a back vowel (u,o,a) of the following syllable, which resulted in the diphthongisation of the preceding vowel: hefon – heofon;
Contraction: if after a consonant had dropped, two vowels met inside a word, they were usually contracted into one long vowel: slahan – sleahan – sle:an;
Lengthening of Vowels: before ‘nd’, ‘ld, ‘mb’: bindan – bīndan; climban - clīmban
ME: In the ME period a great change affected the entire system of vowel phonemes. OE had both short and long vowel phonemes, and each of these could occur in any phonetic environment, that is, they were absolutely independent phonemic units. As a result of important changes coming into the vowel system in the 10th-12th centuries, the ME vowel system was basically different. While in OE quantity (length/shortness) was a distinctive phonemic feature, in ME (by the 13th c.) quantity of vowels becomes dependent on their environment, exactly on what follows. In some phonetic environments only short vowels can appear, while in others only long vowels can appear. Thus quantity is no longer a phonemically relevant feature and becomes a merely phonetic peculiarity of a vowel sound. Let’s consider the changes that took place during the ME period.
Word Stress.
During the MdE period stress acquired greater positional freedom and began to play a more important role in word derivation. It was caused by phonetic assimilation of thousands of loan-words adopted during this period. New accentual patterns are found in numerous MdE loan-words from French. Probably, when they first entered the English language they retained their original stress on the ultimate or penultimate syllable. This kind of stress could not last long. Gradually, as loan-words were assimilated, the word stress was moved closer to the beginning of the word in line with the English (Germanic) system. This shift is accounted for by what is known as the ‘recessive tendency’ In disyllabic words the accent moved to the first syllable in conformity with the pattern of native words. In words of three and more syllables the shift of the stress could be caused by the recessive tendency and also by ‘ the rhythmic tendency’, which required a regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Under the rhythmic tendency, a secondary stress could arise at a distance of one syllable from the original stress: reco`mmendan – recommend. In many polysyllabic words both tendencies, the recessive and the rhythmic operated together and brought about several changes. For example, in MnE consolation we find the results of the shift from the final to the preceding syllable [lei] due to the recessive tendency and a secondary stress on the first syllable. Sometimes the shifting of the word stress should be attributed to certain morphological factors. Thus prefixes of many verbs were not stressed in accordance with the OE tradition while corresponding nouns received the stress on the first syllable: present –pre-sent. This example shows that the role of word accentuation has grown; word stress performs a phonological function as it distinguishes a verb from a noun. The position of word stress became relatively free and its phonological application has widened: it can be shifted in word derivation, though it is never moved in building grammatical forms.
Vowel Changes in MdE and Early MnE.
Unstressed vowels
Levelling of unstressed vowels: all unstressed vowels were as a rule weakened and reduced to a neutral vowel, which was denoted by the letter –e. Thus, the infinitive suffix – an was reduced to –en: tellan – tellen, in a similar way: sunu – sune, sone. This weakening of unstressed vowels is closely connected with developments in declension and conjugation. From the 13th c. onwards, some dialects showed certain vacillation in spelling unstressed vowels, which probably reflected peculiarities of pronunciation: askid, stonus.
Stressed Vowels
One of the most important sound changes of the Early MDE period of the loss of OE diphthongs and the growth of new diphthongs, with new qualitative and quantitative distinctions.
Monophthongization of OE Diphthongs: all OE diphthongs were monophthongized in ME.: eald – ald, healf-half, earm –arm (poor). But before ‘ld’ ‘ea’ yielded different results in different dialects. OE short ‘eo’ changed first into the vowel ‘ö’ spelt ‘eo’. In other dialects it changed into ‘e’ heorte – hörte-herte. (heart). OE long eo: changed into long closed e:, often spelt ‘ee’: deo:p – de:p, deep.
At the same time a new set of diphthongs developed from some sequences of vowels and consonants due to the vocalization of OE [j] and [γ], that is to their change into vowels: these sounds between after vowels changed into [i] and [u] and formed diphthongs together with the preceding vowel: OE dæ9 developed into day[dai]. These changes gave rise to two sets of diphthongs: with i-glides and u-glides {ei, ai, au, ou). In addition to the diphthongs developed from native sources, similar diphthongs – with i-and u-glides are found in some MdE loan words: boy, joy, pause, cause. The formation of new diphthongs was an important event in the history of the language. By that time the OE diphthongs had been contracted into monophthongs; the newly formed MdE diphthongs differed from the OE in structure: they had an open nucleus and a closer glide; they were arranged into a system consisting of two sets o (with i-glides and u-glides) but were not contrasted through quantity as long to short.
Quantitative vowel changes
Shortening and Lengthening of Vowels: a long vowel before two consonants is shortened: OE – ce:pan (infinitive), ME ke:pen, but Past tense – kepte; but it remains long in other environments. But long vowels remain long before ‘ the lengthening’ consonant groups: ld, nd, mb: we:nen (think), but we:nde (past simple). Long consonants also remain long before – st: lae:sta (least) – le:st. In the 13th c. short vowels were lengthened in open syllables. Lengthening affected the short vowels a, e, o.: talu (tale)- ta:le, macian – ma:ken, etc. The narrow vowels i and u remained as a rule unaffected by this change, and thus the difference between short i and long and also between short u and long retained its quality as a phonemically relevant feature.
Changes of individual vowels:
Short and long ‘a’: OE short ‘a’ usually remained unchanged in ME. OE a/o before a nasal developed differently in different dialects. In West Midland ‘o’ was preserved: mon, con; in other dialects (Northern, East Midland and Southern) there is ‘a’ man, can. OE long ‘a’ also developed in different ways in different dialects. In N. it remained unchanged, while in Midland and Southern it changed into long ‘o’: fa:- fo: (foe); ha:m - - ho:m, etc.
Short ‘ae’ and long ‘ae’. OE short ‘ae’ in most dialects developed into short ‘a’: glaed – glad, aeppel – appel. But in the West Midland and Kentish it developed into ‘e’: gled, eppal. OE West Saxon long ‘ae’ changed into long open ‘e:’: slae:pan – sle:pen (sleep); in other dialects this ‘ae:’ had changed into closed ‘e:’. This closed ‘e:’ is preserved in ME.
Short Y and long Y: OE short ‘y’ developed differently in different dialects. In N. And E. .Midland it changed into short ‘i’. In Kentish it became ‘e’ in the remaining dialects it was unchanged. Hence three dialectal variants: ‘first’, ferst’, ‘fyrst’. For example, the word ‘ bury ‘- here the pronunciation is Kentish , but the spelling is South-Western. OE long’y’ developed in the same way as the short ‘y’.
Conclusion: The ME sound system differs from the OE system: 1) OE dipthongs or ‘ea’ and ‘eo’ type disappeared 2) diphthongs of the ‘ei’ ‘ ai’ type arose 3) vowel quantity became dependent on phonetic environment 4) the affricates [ch], [dg] arose. From the phonemic point of view the following points should me stated: 1) vowel quantity lost its phonemic significance, that is two vowel phonemes can no longer be distinguished by quantity” :length versus shortness. Thus the number of vowel phonemes was reduced. 2) on the other hand, the appearance of new diphthongs [ai], [ei] [ au], [ou] marks the rise of four new vowel phonemes. In this way the reduction in the number of vowel phonemes due to changes in quantity is partly counteracted. 3) the number of consonant phonemes increased; the sounds [f, v] which had been allophones of one phoneme, became separate phonemes, no longer dependent on their environment, the same is true with [s,z].
MnE:
Vowels: 1) loss of the neutral sound of unstressed endings (in the 15th c.2) 2) loss of vowels in intermediate syllables: chapiter = chapter, medicine 3) change of [er] into [ar] with some exceptions: ferre = far, sterre – star , but occasionally this change did not take place: certain, prefect, etc. when it didn’t change into [ar] , it eventually developed into [e:], but ‘clerk, ‘Derby’.
The Great Vowel Shift: began in the 15th century: all long vowels were narrowed and the narrowest were diphthongized:
Take [ta:ka] – [teik]; beat [be:t] [ bi:t]; meet [me:t] [mi;t]; like [li:ka] [laik]; boat [bo:t] [ bout]; tool [to:l] [ tu:l]; house [hu:s] [haus]. All those changes show one general tendency: narrowing of long vowels and diphthongization of the narrowest of them. All these changes occurred gradually, without being noticed by the speakers. Reasons (?)
Influence of [r]: when a long vowel was followed by ‘r’, new phonemes came into being: (ia], [ea], [ua]: fare [fa;r] – [fea]; tire [ti:r] [taia], [power [pu;ar] [ paua].
Some words have sounds which do not correspond to the general law of the shift.
Long [u:] remained unchanged when followed by a labial consonant: droop, room; [i:] remained unchanged in words borrowed from French: machine, police, etc.; long open [e:] did not always change into [i:], it was shortened in some words head, death, etc.
Other changes:
short ‘a’ into ‘ae’: hat, cat; but when it was preceded by [w] it it developed into [o]: what, was, ec.
In the 16th c. 2 new long vowels arose [a:], [o:]
[a:] – before: bath, father, brass, cast, ask, clasp, calm
[o:] – before: cork, port, autumn, dawn
long [u:] was shortened before [k]: book, cook; also in good, foot, etc.
rise of long [e:] – fir, sir, fur, curtain, worm, word, heard, learn
short [u] changed into [^]: cut, but, love, son, rough, enough; blood, flood; remained unchanged before labial consonants: pull, full, bull, etc.
unstressed vowels were reduced either to [i] or [a]: begin, wishes, mountain, etc.
development of [x]: 1) before [t] it is lost: bright [brixt] – [bri:t} – [brait], brought [brouxt] [ bro:t]2) final [x] changes into [f]: enough, cough, laugh, etc. In a few words it was lost :though, through.
Loss of consonants: in clusters: lamb, climb, damn, hymn, castle, whistle, muscle, grandmother, landscape
Loss of consonants in initial clusters: kn, gn, pn, wh: knight, gnat, pneumonia, psyche, etc. [h] in unstressed syllables: shepherd, forehead, Nottingham, etc.
The system of OE vowels in the 9th and 10th centuries is shown in the table below
Monophthongs
Short vowles Long vowels
Front vowels
[i] fisc, scip
[y] fyllan, pytt
[e] sprecan, helpan [i:] wīn, tīd
[y:] brÿd, wÿscan
[e:] fēt, tēθ
Back vowels
[u] sunu, cumin
[o] folc, cos
[a] faran, caru
[a] – positional variants: [æ] glæd, hwæt
[o] mann,( monn)
cann (conn) [u:] hūs, tūn
[o:] fōt, bōk, 9ōd
[a:] ān, wrāte
Diphthongs
[ea]healf wearm (before 1, r + cons., and before h instead of [a] [ea:] hēah, ēare
[eo] steora, feohtan [eo:] deop, leoht
[io] siofun ( f pronounced v in intervocal pos.) [io:] stīoran
[ie] scield, nieht [[ie:] cīese, hīeran
OE
Changes in the system of vowels:
Fracture/breaking (преломление) – diphthongization of short vowels ‘a’, ‘e’ before the clusters: ‘r+ con.’, ‘l + con.’, ‘ h+ con., final ‘ h’: ærm – earm, herte – heorte, selh – seolh;
Gradation /ablaut: (alternation of vowels in different grammatical forms:
E.g. in strong verbs: Infinitive (9iban), Past sing. (9af), Past Pl. (9ebum), Second Part. (9ibans);
Palatalisation: diphthongisation of vowels under the influence of the initial palatal consonants ‘g’, ‘c’ ( before front vowels) and the cluster ‘sc’ (all vowels): gefan – giefan, scacan – sceacan;
Mutation/Umlaut( перегласовка)- a change of vowel caused by partial assimilation to the following vowel:
i-mutation – caused by ‘i’, ‘j’ of the following syllable: namnian – nemnan, fullian- fyllan;
back/velar mutation – phonetic change caused by a back vowel (u,o,a) of the following syllable, which resulted in the diphthongisation of the preceding vowel: hefon – heofon;
Contraction: if after a consonant had dropped, two vowels met inside a word, they were usually contracted into one long vowel: slahan – sleahan – sle:an;
Lengthening of Vowels: before ‘nd’, ‘ld, ‘mb’: bindan – bīndan; climban - clīmban
ME:
Vowel Changes in MdE and Early MnE.
Unstressed vowels
Levelling of unstressed vowels: all unstressed vowels were as a rule weakened and reduced to a neutral vowel, which was denoted by the letter –e. Thus, the infinitive suffix – an was reduced to –en: tellan – tellen, in a similar way: sunu – sune, sone. This weakening of unstressed vowels is closely connected with developments in declension and conjugation. From the 13th c. onwards, some dialects showed certain vacillation in spelling unstressed vowels, which probably reflected peculiarities of pronunciation: askid, stonus.
Stressed Vowels
One of the most important sound changes of the Early MDE period of the loss of OE diphthongs and the growth of new diphthongs, with new qualitative and quantitative distinctions.
Monophthongization of OE Diphthongs: all OE diphthongs were monophthongized in ME.: eald – ald, healf-half, earm –arm (poor). But before ‘ld’ ‘ea’ yielded different results in different dialects. OE short ‘eo’ changed first into the vowel ‘ö’ spelt ‘eo’. In other dialects it changed into ‘e’ heorte – hörte-herte. (heart). OE long eo: changed into long closed e:, often spelt ‘ee’: deo:p – de:p, deep.
New diphthongs: with i-glides and u-glides {ei, ai, au, ou). : OE dæ9 developed into day[dai]
Quantitative vole changes
Shortening and Lengthening of Vowels: a long vowel before two consonants is shortened: OE – ce:pan (infinitive), ME ke:pen, but Past tense – kepte; but it remains long in other environments. But long vowels remain long before ‘ the lengthening’ consonant groups: ld, nd, mb: we:nen (think), but we:nde (past simple). Long consonants also remain long before – st: lae:sta (least) – le:st. In the 13th c. short vowels were lengthened in open syllables. Lengthening affected the short vowels a, e, o.: talu (tale)- ta:le, macian – ma:ken, etc. The narrow vowels i and u remained as a rule unaffected by this change, and thus the difference between short i and long and also between short u and long retained its quality as a phonemically relevant feature.
Changes of individual vowels:
Short and long ‘a’: OE short ‘a’ usually remained unchanged in ME. OE a/o before a nasal developed differently in different dialects. In West Midland ‘o’ was preserved: mon, con; in other dialects (Northern, East Midland and Southern) there is ‘a’ man, can. OE long ‘a’ also developed in different ways in different dialects. In N. it remained unchanged, while in Midland and Southern it changed into long ‘o’: fa:- fo: (foe); ha:m - - ho:m, etc.
Short ‘ae’ and long ‘ae’. OE short ‘ae’ in most dialects developed into short ‘a’: glaed – glad, aeppel – appel. But in the West Midland and Kentish it developed into ‘e’: gled, eppal. OE West Saxon long ‘ae’ changed into long open ‘e:’: slae:pan – sle:pen (sleep); in other dialects this ‘ae:’ had changed into closed ‘e:’. This closed ‘e:’ is preserved in ME.
Short Y and long Y: OE short ‘y’ developed differently in different dialects. In N. And E. .Midland it changed into short ‘i’. In Kentish it became ‘e’ in the remaining dialects it was unchanged. Hence three dialectal variants: ‘first’, ferst’, ‘fyrst’. For example, the word ‘ bury ‘- here the pronunciation is Kentish , but the spelling is South-Western. OE long’y’ developed in the same way as the short ‘y’.
Conclusion: The ME sound system differs from the OE system: 1) OE diphthongs or ‘ea’ and ‘eo’ type disappeared 2) diphthongs of the ‘ei’ ‘ ai’ type arose 3) vowel quantity became dependent on phonetic environment 4) the affricates [ch], [dg] arose. From the phonemic point of view the following points should me stated: 1) vowel quantity lost its phonemic significance, that is two vowel phonemes can no longer be distinguished by quantity” :length versus shortness. Thus the number of vowel phonemes was reduced. 2) on the other hand, the appearance of new diphthongs [ai], [ei] [ au], [ou] marks the rise of four new vowel phonemes. In this way the reduction in the number of vowel phonemes due to changes in quantity is partly counteracted. 3) the number of consonant phonemes increased; the sounds [f, v] which had been allophones of one phoneme, became separate phonemes, no longer dependent on their environment, the same is true with [s,z].
MnE:
Vowels: 1) loss of the neutral sound of unstressed endings (in the 15th c.2) 2) loss of vowels in intermediate syllables: chapiter = chapter, medicine 3) change of [er] into [ar] with some exceptions: ferre = far, sterre – star , but occasionally this change did not take place: certain, prefect, etc. when it didn’t change into [ar] , it eventually developed into [e:], but ‘clerk, ‘Derby’.
The Great Vowel Shift: began in the 15th century: all long vowels were narrowed and the narrowest were diphthongized:
Take [ta:ka] – [teik]; beat [be:t] [ bi:t]; meet [me:t] [mi;t]; like [li:ka] [laik]; boat [bo:t] [ bout]; tool [to:l] [ tu:l]; house [hu:s] [haus]. All those changes show one general tendency: narrowing of long vowels and diphthongization of the narrowest of them. All these changes occurred gradually, without being noticed by the speakers. Reasons (?)
Vocalisation of [r]]: when a long vowel was followed by ‘r’, new phonemes came into being: (ia], [ea], [ua]: fare [fa;r] – [fea]; tire [ti:r] [taia], [power [pu;ar] [ paua].
Some words have sounds which do not correspond to the general law of the shift.
Long [u:] remained unchanged when followed by a labial consonant: droop, room; [i:] remained unchanged in words borrowed from French: machine, police, etc.; long open [e:] did not always change into [i:], it was shortened in some words head, death, etc.
Other changes:
short ‘a’ into ‘ae’: hat, cat; but when it was preceded by [w] it it developed into [o]: what, was, ec.
In the 16th c. 2 new long vowels arose [a:], [o:]
[a:] – before: bath, father, brass, cast, ask, clasp, calm
[o:] – before: cork, port, autumn, dawn
long [u:] was shortened before [k]: book, cook; also in good, foot, etc.
rise of long [e:] – fir, sir, fur, curtain, worm, word, heard, learn
short [u] changed into [^]: cut, but, love, son, rough, enough; blood, flood; remained unchanged before labial consonants: pull, full, bull, etc.
unstressed vowels were reduced either to [i] or [a]: begin, wishes, mountain, etc.
development of [x]: 1) before [t] it is lost: bright [brixt] – [bri:t} – [brait], brought [brouxt] [ bro:t]2) final [x] changes into [f]: enough, cough, laugh, etc. In a few words it was lost :though, through.
Loss of consonants: in clusters: lamb, climb, damn, hymn, castle, whistle, muscle, grandmother, landscape
Loss of consonants in initial clusters: kn, gn, pn, wh: knight, gnat, pneumonia, psyche, etc. [h] in unstressed syllables: shepherd, forehead, Nottingham, etc.

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