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Foreign Influences on Old English

Foreign Influences on Old English

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Published by Joury Esmail

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Published by: Joury Esmail on Dec 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By :Hajer Mohammed Ali.
The languages have been brought to England by the Jutes,Saxons, and Angles. These formed its basis, the sole basis of itsgrammar and the source of by far the largest part of its vocabulary.But there were other elements in the first seven hundred years,another three languages appeared: the language of Celts, theRomans, and the Scandinavians.The mixed people in Britain mixed there languages, the Celticlanguage stayed for a long time because many Celts were held asslaves by the conquerors and that many of the Anglo-Saxons marriedCeltic women. In parts at least of the island, contact between thetwo people must have been constant and in some districts intimatefor several generation.When we seek for evidence for influences in the Englishlanguage, investigation usually consider the places names. A numberof important centers in the Roman period have names in which Celticelements are embodied. The name of London itself, most likely goesback to Celtic designation, and other names of cities are traceable toCeltic source. But it is in the names of rivers and hills and places inproximity to these natural features that the greatest number of theCeltic names survives. It is natural that Celtic place-names should becommoner in the west than in the east and southeast, but theevidence of these names shows that the Celts impressed themselvesupon the Germanic consciousness at least to the extent of causingthe newcomers to adopt many of the local names current in Celticspeech and to make them a permanent part of their vocabulary.
The second great influence exerted English is Latin. Latin wasnot the language of a conquered people. It was the language of ahigher civilization, a civilization from which the Anglo-Saxons hadmuch to learn. It began long before the Anglo-Saxon came toEngland and continued throughout the Old English period. Forseveral hundred years, while the Germanic tribes later became theEnglish were still occupying their continental homes, they hadvarious relations with the Romans through they acquired aconsiderable number of Latin words. This new cultural influenceresulted in a really extensive adoption of Latin elements into thelanguage.From the introduction of Christianity in 597 to close of the OldEnglish a stretch of over five hundred years. The Latin words musthave been making their way gradually into the English language. It islikely that the first wave of religion feeling which resulted from themissionary zeal of the seventh century, which is reflected in intenseactivity in church building and the establishing of monasteries duringthis century. But it would be a mistake to think that the enrichmentof the vocabulary which now took place occurred overnight. Somewords came in almost immediately, other only at the end of thisperiod. It is easy to divide the Latin borrowings of the second periodinto two groups different in character. The one group representswords whose phonetic from shows that they were borrowed earlyand whose early adoption, and they had found their way intoliterature. The other contains words of a more learned character firstrecorded in the tenth and eleventh centuries and owing theirintroduction clearly to the religious.
Words are generally taken over by one language to another inanswer to definite need. They are adopted because they expressideas that are so intimately associated with an object or a conceptthat acceptance of the thing involves acceptance also of the word.However, the church also exercised a profound influence on thedomestic life of the people. This is seen in the adoption of manywords, such as the names of articles of clothing and household. Acertain number of words having to do with education and learning
reflect another aspect of the church’s influ
ence. Old Englishborrowed also a number of verbs and adjectives and this indicate theextent and variety of the borrowing from Latin in the early days of Christianity in England and to show how quickly the languagereflected the broadened horizon which the English people owed tothe church.The influence of Latin upon the English rose and fell withfortunes of the church and the state of learning so intimatelyconnected with it. But even though the earlier Christian borrowings aconsiderable number of words have to do with religion matters, wemiss the group of words relating to everyday life characteristic of thisthe earlier period. A great number of plant names are recorded inthis period, a few names of tree, some medical terms, and alsowords relating to the animal kingdom, all belong apparently to thesame category of learned and literary borrowings. In general thelater borrowing of the Christian period comes through books. Anoccasional word assigned to this later period may have been in useearlier, but there is nothing in the form to indicate it, and in theabsence of any instance of its use in the literature before Alfred, it issafer to put such borrowings in the latter part of the Old Englishperiod.

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