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ENG4820 Week1 Monday

ENG4820 Week1 Monday

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Published by: eng4820 on May 18, 2010
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5/18/20101
ENG 4820Histor of the Enlish Lanuae
 
Dr. Michael Getty | Spring 2010
INTRODUCTION
WHY YOU ARE HERE
You're here because you speak English and you think it'smore than just another language. Maybe you even love itlike I do.
' ',the time this course is over, then either you or I will havefailed horribly.
THERE HAS NEVER BEENA LANGUAGE LIKE ENGLISH
With every single thought we utter, our words aredrenched in thousands of years of human history.
Empires rising and falling. Massive invasions, heroic,
And traces of every major development in Westernthought and culture for the last three thousand years.
ENGLISH TODAY
English today is the native language of almost 400 millionpeople living throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, andAfrica, the shared global language of finance, aviation,medicine, the sciences, and engineering.
It is a crucial language to hundreds of millions more.
The largest volume of published literature in human historyis in modern English.
1500 YEARS AGO? NOT SO MUCH.
What we now call Europe, 5th Century CE. Population:about 30 million, not much more than the population of Missouri and Illinois.
Mostly a tribal society apart from the crumbling RomanEmpire: No organized governments, no large settlements,no borders, dozens of different languages, cultures, andreligions, limited agriculture and technology.
A CAUTIONARY TALE …
What we now call 'Britain':A backwater island populated by Celtic tribes and vulnerable Romanoutposts
Circa 450 CE, a Roman-Celtic chieftain named Vortigern is havingtrouble fighting off the Picts, a menacing group of tribes from the,we now call the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.
These people call themselves Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, and theyare related to the tribal groups the Romans are dealing with on thecontinent in an area they call 'Germania.'
 
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BE CAREFUL OFTHE BARGAINS YOU MAKE!
Vortigern's hired thugslike the country so muchthat after they fight off thePicts, they decide toinvade it themselves.Within a hundred years,place, and the Celticcultures, long abandonedby Rome, are pushedback to what we now callScotland, Ireland, andWales
.
Source: David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995: 1)
A SHORT TIME LATER…
By the early 7th century, the invaders have settled down, convertedto Christianity, and modeled themselves after a remembered Romanculture. They call themselves, more or less interchangeably, by thenames of the two dominant tribes, the Angles and the Saxons.
They call their language
Engelisc
, and here's approximately what itlooked and sounded like, ca. 750 CE.
BRACE YOURSELVES!
WHAT THE HELLIS THIS?
This language is totallyalien to our ears!
The last person whowithout college-levelcoursework died over athousand years ago.
And yet we still call itEnglish, the name it hascarried every day sincethen. This is change on ascale that is rare andtroubling in its vastness.
Source: David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (1995: 11)
ENGLISH: A LANGUAGE OF INVASIONS
While there are limits on our ability to explain everything in the past,two big events account for much of the shocking change in Englishover the past thousand years.
Scandinavian settlers, speaking a closely related but distinctGermanic language, which became Danish/Norwegian/Swedishback home. They overran the northern and eastern central areasof England from the 8th to the 10th centuries before blending intothe local population.
In the late 11th century, the French-speaking ‘Normans,’themselves descendants of Scandinavian invaders (‘North men’)who had settled in France in exchange for a promise to stopattacking the place.
DISTANT EVENTS. VERY MUCH ALIVE.
When two languages are in prolonged contact, they tend to simplifyover time to a greater degree than languages in isolation.
English lost a huge amount of grammatical complexity in the centuriesfollowing the Scandinavian and Norman invasions. A simple phrase like‘the stone’ would have had any of the following forms in the 8th century,depending on its position in a sentence:
se stan, thaes stanes, thamstane.
Each wave brought a mass importation of words from the invaders’language:
From the Scandinavians:
they, are, egg, ill, skin
From the Normans:
dine, beef, government, courtesy
DISTANT EVENTS. VERY MUCH ALIVE.
Centuries of invasion and co-habitation left English moreopen to foreign influences than its more isolatedcounterparts
More than half of modern English vocabulary consists of .Most significantly:
Latin!
French!
 
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LATIN ON OUR TONGUES
Latin was the language of the Roman Empire, whose cultural andlinguistic legacy we live with every single day as part of organized civilsociety:
documented systems of laws and procedures, offices, streets,plumbing, medicine, state-sponsored religion
, almost everything else wetake or have taken for granted at any point in our own history. 
Hint: All these words were imported from Latin.
LATIN ON OUR TONGUES
In the course of the Middle Ages, local varieties of Latin evolved into what we now call the Romance (inother words, Roman) languages: French, Spanish,Portugese, Italian.
All of these languages, and especially French in a verybig way, play roles in the story of English, alongsidetheir mother, Latin, which continues as the language of the Church.
LATIN ON OUR TONGUES
For two centuries, French was the language of the upper classes of England, and every day, we use their words to talk about the areas theydominated:as evidenced by the French loan words that now describe them:• Warfare
battle, siege, combat, army, defense, treason
 • Building
construction, masonry, castles, buttress, pillar 
• Law
 justice, justice, jury, legality, courts, testimony, attorney
• Government
mayor, officer, judge, council, rule, prince, baron
• Fashion
embroider, satin, velvet, fur, jewel, adorn
• Art
paint, color, music, letter, poetry, prose, tragedy, comedy
• Learning
treatise, logic, music, grammar, substance, manner 
THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!
The history of English is a story of diverse andpowerful influences playing out over centuries,punctuated by sudden and convulsive changes tied toevents on the ground.
It is easy to imagine these influences playing out evena little bit differently. Then we would have no English.Or it would be another Celtic or Romance language. Or something more like German or Swedish.
THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!
For something so fragile, so accidental tohave come so far, taking the spotlight atthis unique moment in human experience,
how could you not love it?! 

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