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History of the English Language 1

History of the English Language 1

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Part I Written by Prof.

Dora Maček

10. 4. 2007.

A SHORT HISTORY OF GLOBAL ENGLISH The Spread and Variety of Englishes There is no other language, except Chinese, with a larger number of native speakers than English. It is the mother tongue of over 400 million speakers (Chinese of some 1000 million), but there are as many speakers who use it for intranational or international communication all over the world. The spread of English has been described as three circles: a) the inner circle of native speakers, those whose mother tongue, or first language is English, as for most speakers in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, b) the outer circle, where English is the official or public or second language in many countries in Asia and Africa and c) the expanding circle, which includes all countries and speakers who use English to communicate with people with whom they do not share another common language.

Inner circle

Outer circle Expanding circle

English has also been one of the building elements of several of Pidgin and Creole languages, i.e. mixed languages. Such languages are combinations of at least one European and one language from other continents, e.g. Neomelanesian (Tok Pisin), Cameroon Pidgin. It is clear that all these Englishes are not uniform, that there are many different forms of English around the world. Even in the inner circle, native speakers of English do not all and always use the same form of the language. English when spoken is differently pronounced, different words are used for some concepts and grammar can differ from one variety to another. Standard, colloquial: I haven't got a bloody clue Non-standard: I ain't no idea. In everyday usage we usually think of the form of English that is in linguistics called Standard


English. This variety of English (as such varieties of other standardised languages) is a form developed through several centuries to be used in all public communication throughout the English speaking world, the form taught and used as a means of instruction in schools, the forms taught as a foreign language. There are dictionaries, grammars, pronouncing dictionaries and spelling handbooks of Standard English that describe the linguistic norm to be used in public communication, and particularly in writing. But there are other forms or English which as a rule do not have such handbooks, and which are mostly spoken. These are various regional and social dialects. In the villages and towns of all the countries where English is spoken these regional dialects, rural and urban respectively, are part of the regional identity of the speakers. By the variety of English they speak they can be identified as for example, coming from the north or west of England, from the American South etc. On the other hand, social dialects occur mostly in large industrial cities, where they are a sign of the occupation and education of the speakers. By the way they speak middle class people (doctors, lawyers, teachers, office clerks, etc.) for example, can be distinguished from working class people (workers, postmen, bus drivers, cleaners etc). The dialectal differences are most obvious in pronunciation, but also in vocabulary and grammar. A regional or social accent, that is pronunciation, is more or less accepted nowadays, and so are words, but non standard grammar is not - it is stigmatised. Even with a formal vocabulary, non-standard grammar, i.e. usage that does not conform to the standard norm (see box) will create prejudices about the education, manners and even character of the speaker. The social attitude opposite of stigmatisation is prestige. The standard variety is prestigious, since it is the form of language used by the better-educated, more prosperous members of society, those who wield greater authority too. But even Standard English is not uniform. The two major standard varieties of English, British English (nearly 60 million speakers) and American English (over 200 million speakers) have been recognised for a long time. In the second half of the 20 th century some other standard varieties have been recognised, i.e. Canadian English (about 20 million), Australian English (about 15 million) New Zealand English (over 3 million), South African English (over 3,5 million speakers). And although Canadian English resembles American English in many respects, and the other three belong to the British English type, each of these standards has some peculiarities that derive from their respective vernacular varieties that are used by the population at large. It is also important to note that neither standard is entirely uniform. Typical of any standard language is that it has a range of styles from the most formal to the most colloquial. In a formal style the passengers of a bus that has caught fire would be warned by a sign saying PASSENGERS ARE REQUESTED TO IMMEDIATELY ABANDON THE VEHICLE! while a frightened driver or passenger may simply shout GET OUT ALL, QUICK! Styles differ in vocabulary and grammar, and if spoken in pronunciation, too. Typical of less formal pronunciation is elision and contraction, when single sounds or syllables are not pronounced e.g. that's instead of that is. But there is variation in the same style as well, and speakers often develop their own individual ways of speaking, their idiolects. The Making of English


whose names are still seen in the names of the Celtic languages spoken in Britain . and mountains. O'Connor. Saxons and Jutes as follows: In the year of our Lord 449. because they were needed to defend Rome from the onslaughts of the barbarian Germanic hordes. thus Cardiff (fort on the river). and many others. The first part of all these names is Celtic. Gwendolyn. such as Lloyd. They were the tribes of the Cimbri and Galli. but it was completely conquered up to Moray Firth in Scotland only in AD 84. Ian. He describes the settlement of the Angles. The Venerable Bede (673-75). They used the word for Roman towns in Britain. the forty-sixth in succession from Augustus. The element -coln (Lincoln) derives from the Latin word colonia (= settlement). Limerick (barren spot) etc. the Pennines ('pen' meaning head. Llanddeilo (St Teilo). Aberdeen (river mouth). Many family names in Britain are Celtic. had by the 2nd century BC invaded the off-shore islands west of La Manche. which the Anglo-Saxons adapted to ceaster. roads (Wattling Street). Brian. and towns (Manchester. To this day in Britain there are numerous geographical names of Celtic origin. These languages of the Celtic population of Scotland and Ireland. The Roman legions departed from Britain in 410. have lost a great many speakers. The south-east of Britain was easily overrun. The British Isles were first inhabited over 4000 years ago. Eileen. It was therefore translated into English several times. and are still threatened with extinction. and Scottish and Irish Gaelic.Anglo-Saxon England. as the Welsh call their language. who historians say are the first great nation north of the Alps whose name is known. The famous temple of Stonehenge in Southern England was built by the first inhabitants. In his time the Angles or Saxons came to Britain at the invitation of King Vortigern in three long-ships. Julius Caesar was the first Roman emperor who tried to conquer Britain. such as the Roman Wall in northern England. and so are the first names. and were granted lands in the eastern part of the island on condition that they protected the country: nevertheless their real intention was to subdue 3 . Aberysthwith (mouth of the river Ysthwith). Martian became emperor with Valentinian. and when they left. ruling for seven years. Lincoln). mountain). after many other parts of the Continent. but the enterprise that brought Celtic Britain under Roman domination was carried out by Claudius in AD 43. Tyrone (land of Owen). The ending -chester. Therefore they now belong to the group of lesser spoken languages of the world. The most ancient among them are names of rivers Avon (meaning river). In the more than three centuries of rule the Romans left fortifications. Dee (water). while they were still on the continent. The Celts. Leicester. Doncaster. Belfast (ford at the sandbanka). They had struggled to defend the "Saxon Shore" against Germanic sea-raiders for a century. which was a very important book of that age. as we can learn from Bede's account. was a learned monk or the monastery of Jarrow in the north of England. Usk. Kennedy. Scotland and Ireland most names have at least one Celtic element. McMillan. Cornwall derives from a Celtic tribal name. and so do Kent and Devon. Kenneth. Owen. -caster. after many more military campaigns. in spite of some favourable political developments in this century. McIntosh. because of the push of English throughout the history. Inverness (mouth of the Ness).Cymru. the Romano-Britons had to use their own means. who also came as mercenaries and colonists. Derwent (clear water). In Wales. He wrote a History of the English Church and People in Latin. -cester was the Latin word castrum (= military camp). Fiona. Glasgow (green hollow). The Britons had finally to surrender to the raiders.

-burgh. sailed into the river Humber. the Mercians. when joined to the original forces. the country now known as the land of Old Saxons . "Frontier"). those peoples living north of the river Humber) and the other English peoples. among which are also the following: -ley –lee. The Britons struggled to stop the Anglo-Saxon surge. For the next three centuries eastern Britain underwent first a process of conquest and settlement. These Germanic tribes set their mark on the English countryside. all the Northumbrian stock (that is. 4 . constituted an invincible army. -bourne. The Scottish Gaels were also pushed into the Highlands of Scotland. And from the Angles .it. 500. and founded the kingdom of Mercia (meaning the Marche. divided from the Anglo-Saxons by a barrier. Bradley (broad pasture). adding that the country was fertile and the Britons cowardly. and took the eastern coast of Britain. The Angles came from the province Angeln in Schleswig. i.are descended the East and Middle Angles. They were thus preserved in the west of the island. -leigh (pasture) -burn. Frogwell Canterbury. Berkley (birch pasture) Blackburn. Norton (northern farm) Milton (farm with a mill). These newcomers were from the three most formidable races of Germany. giving descriptive names to places they inhabited. known as Offa's Dike. which.that is.that is. and then annexation and merger of the numerous small states into larger kingdoms. which lies between the provinces of the Jutes and Saxons and is said to remain unpopulated to this day . They engaged the enemy advancing from the north. translated by Leo SherleyPrice. and succeeded to stop them in the battle at Baddon Hill c. Brighton (shortened from 1 Bede . Whereupon a larger fleet quickly came over with a great body of warriors.e. Their first chieftains are said to have been the brothers Hengist and Horsa. From the Saxons . while the Angles inhabited the Lowlands. 1955 (Chapter 15).came the East. There are some elements that occur frequently in geographical and place-names. now part of the Netherlands) and some Frisians came with them. South and West Saxons. now Devon). south west (Wessex. Woodborough Tonbridge (bridge on a farm). Edinburgh. and up the valley of the Thames (Essex). -borough (stronghold) -ton (farm) Leigh.1 Hengist and his Jutes came from the Jutland (Jylland) in Denmark via Frisia (islands. The leader of the Britons was the legendary King Arthur. -brook (brook) -well -bury. the country known as Angulus. These also received from the Britons grants of land where they could settle among them on condition that they maintained the peace and security of the island against all enemies in return for regular pay. Angles. sent back news of their success to their homeland. The Saxons under king Aelle came from northern Germany and settled in the south (Sussex). the Saxons.A History of the English Church and People. From the Jutes descended the people of Kent and the Isle of Wight and those in the province of the West Saxons opposite the Isle of Wight who are called Jutes to this day. Claybrooke Caldwell (cold well). and having defeated them. in Middlesex. and Jutes.

with a sanctuary) -stead (farm. one of his missionaries to convert the English. Pope Gregory the Great once saw fair-headed boys sold in the Roman slave-market. which correspond to Roman gods Jupiter. the god of thunder < Frige-dæg = the day of the fertility goddess Frig. Woden's wife. 5 . because the English now took part in the customs and cultural heritage of Rome. e. German Dienstag. Tisdag. the chief god of war. Martedi. but as early as the 2nd century AD. Mardi. house) -ing(s) (tribal.Måndag.g. and Venus. Mercury. he said Non Angli sed angeli (not Angles but angels). Within a hundred years all England was successfully converted. Along with the Latin language in liturgy. who was baptised. after whom are named the days in Romance languages. Soon.Jeudi. Augustine. probably because of a period of compromise when heathen customs were practised. in a script of uncertain origin. The monasteries founded throughout England were centres of culture and education. It is called futhork after the first letters F 2 feoh (cattle) The same system is found in most other Germanic languages. he sent St. Cheltenham. in 586-7. Vendredi. Due to the benevolent attitudes of the missionaries the names of the days of the week dedicated to heathen gods could survive: Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday < Tiwes-dæg = the day of god Tiw. though in disguise. bone or bark. Hampton (farm where hemp is grown) Oxford (a ford for the oxes) Cambridge (bridge on the Cam) Fairfield (fine stretch of open country) Cheapstow (a market-place) Hampstead (a place where hemp is grown) Hastings (the men of Haesta) Nottingham (home of the men of Snotta). Donnerstag.-ford (shallow area in a river that can be crossed by animals) -bridge -field -stow (place.Giovedi. Freitag. Onsdag.2 The introduction of Christianity had a civilisational and cultural importance. Birmingham Bede also tells an anecdote about the conversion of the heathen Angles. Swedish . and the first bishopric was founded in Canterbury. family suffix) -ham (home. Mars. French . poetry and witchcraft < Thunres-dæg = the day of god Thunor. e. Mercredi. Mercoledi. Italian .Runes. The Germanic peoples used to chisel inscriptions onto hard surfaces such as stone. dwelling place) Brighthelmston – Berohthelm = a name).g. Fredag. He was received by King Ethelbert of Kent. an old god of war < Wodens-dæg = the day of god Woden. He asked who they were. Venerdi. Torsdag. and when he was told that they were Angli. the ancient Germanic script. the Latin script was introduced instead of the runic futhork.

From the middle of the 9th century the Danes settled from Northumbria to East Anglia. Thus equipped the scribes were able to copy all the books of importance in that age. The vast area subject to Danish rule stretched north-east of the line from London to Cheshire.U Þ O R C ur(shower) thorn os (mouth) rad (road) cen (torch) The form of the Latin script called the minuscule was suited for writing continuous text on a soft writing surface such as parchment (processed hides) with such tools as the quill (feather). Lindisfarne and Iona. After protracted struggles with the English. the Vikings were experienced as particularly contemptible. In the 9th century the Danes were first given land also by the French king Charles the Bold and in 911 they permanently settled in the province that was named Normandy after them. the Hebrides and eastern Ireland in the ninth. and between 1017 . could carry on the trade across the continent and across the northern sea routes. even the Labrador Peninsula in North America. The original raid. In the 6 . Already from about 700 groups of Vikings or "Northmen" raided the British Isles. Norway and England. In the tenth century the south of England also fell under Norse rule. King Alfred of Wessex (r. Although brutal warfare was practised even by the most Christian of the kings. so the Vikings. the Danish king Knut the Great ruled over a large North Sea empire of Denmark. Together with the Danes they sailed southwards along the western European coastline as far as Sicily and crossed the Channel to pillage England. where they founded Dublin in 988. The Norwegian Vikings occupied the Orkney and Shetland Islands in the eight century. retreat and trade tactics was soon replaced by settlement and colonisation. the Faeroes. The chronicles of monasteries left record of their ravaging.849-99) and the Danish leader Guthrum signed a treaty at Wedmore c. The Vikings were a combination of warrior and merchant. They came from Scandinavia at a time when the Mediterranean sea-routes to Asia were blocked by the Moors. Peace and prosperity did not last long in the British Isles. The Norwegian Vikings travelled westwards across the Atlantic where they discovered new land Iceland and Greenland. who were able with their superior long ships to travel both on sea and along the rivers deep into land. 890 and defined the boundary of the Danelaw. from where they discovered and settled Greenland at the end of the tenth century.35. Their foremost target were rich monasteries. The Swedish Varangians operated in the Baltic and took the eastern route down the great Russian rivers founding trading centres like Novgorod and Kiev on their way to Constantinople. They also colonised Iceland between 874 and 930. but also Frisia and France. where there was valuable booty to be found. because they were heathen.

The languages were named IndoEuropean. These languages can all be traced to the same distant ancestor. We speak of language contact. Lincolnshire. Norse personal names occur in place names such as Thurston. Bishopthorpe. Jutes. and on the islands off Scotland. and classical Greek and Latin. dominant language. with whom the Angles. when only one language borrows words or other linguistic forms from the other. Tinewall and Dingwall all have the element thing meaning "assembly".year 1000 a party of Greenlanders discovered Vinland. spoken somewhere in Eurasia some 5. Derby (deer village) -thorp (village) Newthorp. when both languages in contact are influenced. and East Anglia. Grimsby (Grim) and Kedleston (Ketil). The main branches are shown below *Proto-Indo-European 7 . Crosby (village with a cross). Tingwall. Their different linguistic habits influence one another or interfere with one another. The evidence of their presence is seen in the many place names in north-eastern England. Yockenthwaite Holderness. The people. the East Midlands. to determine what speakers of these languages had in common apart from the language. Kirkby (village with a church). It is difficult. and that may be the case with the Indo-Europeans as well. In England and Scotland the Scandinavian settlements have left a mark on the culture and on language. The interference can be unidirectional. But it can also be bi-directional. were obvious. But language has often functioned as a unifying factor. Since then the group has spread into Asia as far as Ceylon and throughout Europe. Inverness The origin of English. Easthorpe. and later scholars found that other European languages could be compared as well.000 years ago. a protoIndo-European language. a British judge in Calcutta discovered that the main languages of Europe are related to the main languages of India. places such as Thingwall. Several endings are characteristic: -by (village) Newby. Applethwaite. Turton (Thor. The similarities between Sanskrit. and Frisians came into contact during migrations. Cheshire. the Lake District. The Indo-Europeans. the coast of Labrador. Tor). where they found wild wheat and grapes. Frisby (village of the Frisians). however. The languages with which the Anglo-Saxons came into contact in the early period of their history were all distant relations. all contributed to the appearance and function of English through their languages. Through colonisation in more recent centuries they spread all over the world. For instance. Thorpe -thwaite -ness (promontory) (clearing) Langthwaite (long clearing). the ancient Indian language. after which they gave the name to the land. which occurs when speakers of different languages come in contact with one another. It became customary to speak of the Indo-European language family and to represent the family members as branches of a family tree. and conflicts. In 1786 Sir William Jones. Saxons. particularly Yorkshire.

g.West Celtic: e. Scots. Latin. Their most evident property is the vocabulary they share. as well as those referring to social organisation and grammatical words. Spanish. Afrikaans Hellenic: Greek Romance: e. Lithuanian. Norwegian. cride nocht snechte Brit. volk BCS med šiti brat accus. heart foot night snow sun wind beech corn wolf mead sew brother mother widow name murder eat full two 3 Romance Lat. This point can be illustrated on cognate words from different branches of the Indo-European language family. or forms of words that have not been recorded. 4 Bosnian. This vocabulary contains words for the essential concepts of any human society.D. words. solnce BCS vjetar bukva zrno Russ. the Uralian-Finnic. mater udova ime mrtav jesti<jedti Rus. though later there were also other ethnic groups intermingling with them e. Pidgin) Scandinavian: Icelandic. Gaelic. Croatian Russian Armenian Albanian Indo-Iranian *Proto Indo-European languages3 were spoken by peoples who predominated in Europe in the first half of the first millennium A. Latvian Slavic: e. Dutch."worn out" madhu "liquor" sivbhratarmatarvidhavanamanmartaš purnaIndic do * (an asterisk) marks languages. Polish.g. but also words peculiar for the geographic area they must have come from. Romanian East Balto-Slavic: Baltic: e. English. serdtse BCS4 pod noć snijeg Rus. Breton Germanic: Anglo-Frisian: Frisian."sticky" surya vatas jirna. Faroese.g.g. Yiddish Low German: Low German. Cordis pedis Noctis Nevis Sol Ventus Fagus granum "a grain" lupus Suere Frater Mater Vidua Nomen Mortuus edere Plenus Duo Slavic Rus. polnyi BCS dva Celtic Ir. Danish. heol gwent gran mid brathir mathir ainm marb dó Sanskrit hrdpad naktam snih. Flemish. Germanic Engl. Croatian. Serbian 8 .g. Welsh. Swedish German: High German: Standard German. but only reconstructed.

on Thor (Thunor). about a somewhat different classification of English and German). Their clans were united by kinship. god of fertility. They had traded with the people around the Mediterranean sea since Bronze Age times (began c.six Sex šest sé chha The Indo-European languages were inflected. and Frey. In 90 BC they were called Germanii in Roman sources. They were settling in the parts of Europe that still bear their name. with matching word classes and inflectional categories. 9 . The Germanic peoples and the languages they speak are traditionally classified in three groupings: the northern. Their religion centred on the Woden (Odin). the master of magic and poetry. protector of farmers. The Germanic peoples were first identified by the Romans in southern Scandinavia. and god of war. and ruled by a democratic assembly of warriors. 3000 BC). western and eastern groups (but see above.. with a vocabulary that sheds light on their way of life which contains also a number of loanwords from 5 Died out in c. the Thing. Inflectional endings were added to a base as shown below in the inflection of the verb bear. The Germanic peoples spoke a series of related dialects. social structure and religion. *Proto-Germanic West: English Scots Dutch Flemish Afrikaans German Yiddish North: Danish Swedish Norwegian Icelandic Faroese East: Gothic5 The Germanic tribes were described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his work Germania. He writes in detail about their customs. in the Indo-European division. In the west they were mingling with the Celts. the god of thunder and rain. in the east with the Slavs. and were adopting Roman farming methods. IE *bher/o *bher/esi *bher/eti *bher/omes *bher/ete *bher/onti Sanskrit bhar/ami bhar/asi bhar/ati bhar/amar bhar/ata bhar/anti Latin fer/o fer/es fer/it fer/imus fer/it is fer/unt Old Slavonic ber/⌠ ber/e{i beret/u ber/emu ber/ete ber/⌠ tu Early Old English ber/u bir/is bir/iþ ber/aþ ber/aþ ber/aþ The Germanic peoples. 18th.

bada .badad and binda .badade . along with the older type with vowel change (Vowel Gradation) in the stem (bathe . Sw. for example. the development of a dental suffix (-de. a fixed (dynamic) stress on the root syllable ('water .'Wasser . Ger.bathed bathed and bind .band . so called Grimm's Law. baden .badete . The table below shows the vocabulary of some major Germanic languages: English head < OE heafod star bear hound cow horse fish sword home stool man king come go eat have young long light mil pound tile cheap cook wine pepper German Haupt Stern Bär Hund Kuh Ross Fisch Schwert Heim Stuhl Mann König kommen gehen essen haben jung lang leicht Latin Loans Meile Pfund Ziegel kaufen kochen Wein Pfeffer Swedish huvud stjärna björn hund ko fisk sverd hem stol man konung. a regular shifting of consonants.bound. -te) to mark past tense.bound .'vatten).Latin.gebadet and binden band .bunden). 3.gebunden. kung komma gå äta hava. 2. These dialects also share the grammatical and phonological systems. ha ung lång lätt mil pund tegel köpa koka vin peppar Some other common features of the Germanic languages are: 1. voiced aspirated stops IE Gmc bh gh dh voiced stops bdg b g d voiceless stops ptk pt k voiceless fricatives fθ h Skt bhrathar > L dens > L cornu > 10 .

which they. priest. e. Dover. altar. master. bishop. cancer.in the south from Devon in the west to Kent in the east (Saxon) Kentish . clerk. London. It was regionally divided into dialects. In literature it is often called Anglo-Saxon or Old English. monk. Most prose was written in West Saxon from the time of Alfred the Great (871-901). euangelion (Greek "good news") -> god spell > Gospell discipulus (L "disciple") -> lareow ("learner") baptisma (Gr "a dipping") -> fulluht (dipping) spiritus sanctus (L) -> halig gast (Holy Ghost) An influence of a different kind was the influence of Scandinavian (Old Norse). church. Apart from the many place names (see also p. 4) such as Aberdeen. kitchen. The common enterprise of the Angles. With Christianity many particular words were introduced such as: abbot. who definitely belonged to a different race and linguistic group. and the Anglian poetry was copied by West Saxon scribes. West Saxon was between the 9th and 11th centuries the dialect that was used for public communication among all parts of England. The language was not the same in the entire territory settled by the Anglo-Saxons. down (hill). Traces of these dialects can be found in English dialects today. It has been estimated that there were about four hundred Latin words borrowed before the 11th century.between the lines connecting the river Mersey and the Wash in the north and a line between the rivers Severn and Thames in the south (Anglian) West Saxon . A number of such words were translated into English.brother tooth horn The making of Old English 449-1100. King Alfred's dialect is termed Early West Saxon. such as betony (a plant). The obvious linguistic and cultural kinship of the AngloSaxons brought about a common language. cup. monastery. school. mass.north of the river Humber (Anglian) Mercian . minster.in Kent (Jutish) The first significant literature in English was written in Northumbrian in the 7th and early 8th centuries. while the dialect of the great prose writer Ælfric (995-1025) is known as Late West Saxon. Avon. Others were learned words and do not occur frequently.g. fever phoenix. Many of the everyday words such as cheese. Examples are binn (basket. VOCABULARY It is interesting that Celtic languages had very little influence on Old English. Saxons and Jutes in the British Isles. Thames. But most of the Old English texts that have been preserved were written in West Saxon. crib) and cumb (valley). which derived from the original tribal Germanic dialects: Northumbrian . This language was closely related to Old English and it was spoken by people 11 . separated them from the continental Germanic peoples and confronted with the British people. very few words were adopted. Kent. candle. street were known to the English from their homeland on the continent (see also place names). mostly invariably called englisc or saxonlic. it was the English koiné (a Greek word used to mean a common language or dialect). whose transcriptions have survived. kettle.

especially noun+noun compounds. So many words with a sk are Old Norse. In compounds the first element modifies.ill.call. which is described in grammars under the heading WORD FORMATION This term usually refers to the making of new words from already existing stems and word-formational morphemes called affixes.when two roots are combined into one word. There are several ways of combining these elements into new words of which the most productive. do) = messenger. when the need for new words arises. 8). i. egg.e. i. knife. a) Derivation is called the combination of a stem and an affix. angel 12 . odd. There are other ways how the vocabulary of a language can be enlarged. window . Suffixes be-gin fish-er Engl-ish un-known spin-ster glad-ly for-ward earn-ing sorrow-ful a-long wis-dom sleep-less over-see friend-ship hol-y child-hood iii. Sound interchange sit (v) seat (n) feed (v) food (n) fill (v) full (a) iv. Other examples are: sky. Some of them were pronounced differently. They were also very much used in poetry as a specific metaphor (the kenning): mere-hengest (horse of the sea) = ship woruld-candel (candle of the world) = sun hron-rad (riding place of the whale) = sea See also loan translations for Christian terminology: ærend-wreca (errand. bask . i. like skirt (ON skyrta) and those with a sh like shirt (OE sceorte) are English. Every language has a system for the formation of new words. p. scrub. Old Norse for example did not have a palatalised consonant where West Saxon did. most frequently used in English are derivation (particularly suffixation) and composition. particularly in those English dialects that are spoken in the former Danelaw. cut. prefix and suffix. message. but also some changes of the stem as sound interchange and stress shift. apostle. but were nevertheless recognizable. Prefixes ii.e.give. This also goes for pairs like g and y as in gate (ON) . ugly. Stress shift off'set (v) 'offset (n) ex'tract (v) 'extract (n) b) Composition . perform. news + make. scare. get.of a similar social status as the English among whom they settled (see Danlelaw. skill. steak. lift. weak .Yates (OE). živo srebro) Particularly productive was derivation by means of suffixes and composition. since the greatest part of their vocabulary consisted of common Germanic words. leg but also such words as law. The English and the Danes and Norwegians could understand one another. die. take and many others. The second element is the basic one: stone-bridge (n+n) "a bridge built in stone" quick-silver (a+n) "a living silver" (compare: BCS živa. describes the second.

For the vowel of the stem was pronounced nearer to -i.cats. object etc. actress). The consonant "r" of this ending remains as part of the plural ending for child . So this is in fact a double ending child-r-en. in OE also some that are regular in ModE as ac æc (oak) and boc . In Proto-Germanic languages there was an inflectional ending -i. in a group of nouns amongst which those denoting "the young". feminine and neuter paradigms. cat's . Not only the frequent plurals in -as remained until today. Like ModE. particularly pointing out those forms that have remained in the present usage. teacher's . stone's stones. where this ending was not added. Such are in the first place plurals ending in -ru. OE had a singular and a plural. In comparison with Latin or BCS. child (OE calfru.e. calf. they tend not to move the tongue too much in the mouth.the Genitive Singular -es and Nominative. Moreover.mice. tigress.bec (book). 13 . lioness. i. stol m. It is interesting how very old forms persist in the language. i. The most frequently occurring paradigm was the General Masculine (% of all nouns). Inflections are called paradigms.GRAMMAR Old English was a synthetic language with all the inflections that other Germanic languages had. brethren.teachers. there were several masculine. regardless what endings they had in OE. maiden (djevojče) and child (dijete) were neuter. or lack of sex of the referent as in Modern English. because it depends on grammatical form. These two endings occur in all Modern English nouns. that is more to the front of the mouth than in the singular. OE nouns had inflectional paradigms for masculine. patterns of stem + ending. plural and nominative. children.g. and resist changes that other words go through. but shall give only single examples of complete paradigms. The ending was dropped before the OE period. and is today seen only in very few plurals of nouns such as oxen. Because of that they become anomalous and exceptions to the general rules. e. like Latin or BCS (e. staklo n). which do not have any special gender inflections (not counting the word-formational suffix -ess. and neuter gender. ægru. An inflectional paradigm that contained nouns of all three gender classes had an -an ending in most cases. lamb. Examples of such mutational plurals are mouse .g. lombru. egg. which had two endings that are still in use . actress's . cildru). The other important category in noun inflections was (and still is) number. So for instance day (dan) was masculine and night (noć) was feminine. Since speakers in quick pronunciation must economise.e. And although man and lord were masculine and woman and lady feminine. e. stol-ovi is a stem and inflectional ending (-ovi) which indicates that the noun is masculine.children.actresses.geese. goose . so that the changed vowel remained the only sign of plurality. not on the sex. Noun Unlike Modern English nouns.6 We shall briefly describe the OE inflectional forms.g. feminine. which can be used to denote beings of female gender. The ending differs from a word-formational suffix in that it indicates (in Old English and other synthetic languages) several grammatical categories. klupa f. which was a reduced version of the original Indo-European set. This fronting of the stem vowel is called front mutation. 6 This is comparable to inflections in BCS. it had fewer inflectional categories as will be seen below. but also some plurals that were anomalous (irregular) in OE.) that the noun refers to. regardless of the sex of the referent (the person. Accusative Plural -as. This type of gender is called grammatical gender.

dative of place and manner. called syncretism. neuter definite declension) mid langum scipe (with a long ship . particularly demonstrative pronoun or not. neuter . and even this inflection does not have a different form for every case. ključem etc. mice (i -------.ac Nouns were also inflected for case.g. is even more observable in some other types of nominal inflections. a feminine noun of the -an inflection: Singular N A D G nama naman naman naman Plural N A D G naman naman namum namena Adjectives Adjectives agreed with the noun they modified in number. The table below shows the inflection (inflectional paradigm) of stan (stone).The vowel diagram represents the movements of the tongue in front mutation. beneficiary possessive. a noun of the General Masculine inflection: Singular N stan Plural N stanas A stan A stanas D stane D stanum G stanes G stana The dative singular and plural forms are the same for most nouns. sing. which means there occurred a considerable simplification in its history. OE has only four. for example: mid þæm langan scipe (with the long ship . partitive All the cases can also have various adverbial functions. accusative of direction.. But adjectives also had two sets of inflections depending on whether the noun phrase was preceded by a determiner.dat. This phenomenon. The cases are nominative for the syntactic accusative dative genitive subject direct object indirect object modifier and semantic agent patient recipient.indefinite declension) 14 . danima. Whereas BCS have seven cases. sing.) y ---------------u mouse e geese---goose o æc --. like BCS ulicom. for example sunne (sun). e.dat. gender and case. genitive temporal etc.

this is a common Germanic feature. more) wyrsa (worse) yldest (oldest) gingest (youngest) lengest (longest) schyrtest (shortest)7 betst (best) selest læst (smallest. bad) yldra (older) gingra (younger) lengra (longer) scyrtra (shorter) betra (better) selra læssa (smaller. the comparison of adjectives still has the same.g.dugačak brod. skirt. least) mæst (greatest.E. slightly modified. endings as in OE.E. less) mara (greater. German das lange Schiff (the long ship)langes Schiff (a long ship). fyrmest oðer þridda feorða fifta syxta seofoða eahtoða nigoða teoða endleofta twelfta þreoteoða twentigoda an and twentigoða þritigoða hundteontigoða 7 This adjective is derived from the same root as the noun sceorte "shirt". e. fyrsta.E been regularized. Akin to Old Norse skyrta which gave the Mod. such as adjectives that had a mutated vowel (see Front Mutation in Nouns) eald (old) geong (young) lang (long) sceort (short) good (good) lytel (little) micel (great) yfel (evil. for example: heard (hard) glæd (glad) Comparative heard-ra (hard-er) glædra (glader) Superlative heard-ost (hard-est) glædost (gladest) Some adjectives have irregular comparison. 15 . but also in BCS ovaj dugački brod . which has in Mod. most wyrst (worst) Some other anomalous comparisons remain irregular in Mod. meaning that it was a short garment. Whereas this type of inflection has gone out of use in later English. Adverbs can also compare in a similar manner: oft (often) luflice (lovingly) wel (well) yfle oftor (more often) luflicor bet sel wyrs oftost (most often) luflicost betst selest wyrst The Numerals have also remained in English to the present day: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 20 21 30 100 Cardinal an twegen þry feower fif syx seofon eahta nigon tyn endleofan twelf þreotyne twetyg an and twentig þritig hundteontig hund(red) Ordinal forma.

and occur always at the top of frequency counts in all languages. b) n. heo hi hire hirew hi hi hira him Singular ic me uncer me Singular þu þe þin þe Plural we us ure us Plural ge eow eower eow It is important to note that there is a great deal of syncretism. used to refer to full nouns as a means in the economy of speech. Personal Pronouns First Person (speaker) n. that . þes þis þeos þas (this) se þone þæs þæm þy þæt þæt þæs þæm þy seo þa þære þære þære þa þa þara þæm þæm (the. their. The pronouns are very necessary in communication. d. Third Person n. min d. Someone defined them as "skeletons" of nouns in both meaning and form. a. a. the Relative Pronoun that. Demonstrative pronouns a) n. etc. i. This is the result of their antiquity. them.those.e. such as the Demonstratives this . i. Because of that they are very short words. g. In the paradigm below such modern forms as "whose" "whom" and "why" (instrumental neuter) can be recognised. g. g. Interrogative Pronuns have only masculine and neuter singular forms "who" and "what". d. frequent usage and future change. which were eventually almost completely lost. the same form for different functions. Second Person n a. masc. that) These forms had full inflections like the Personal Pronouns. and the Definite Article the. 16 . a. they are among the most frequently used words. among pronominal forms. d. he hine his him Singular neut. From the various gender and case forms various modern pronouns developed. hit hit his him Plural fem.these.200 tu hund(red) 1000 þusend (not recorded) (" ") The pronouns belong to a so called closed system where no additions are made through the history of a language. the Plural Personal Pronouns they. g.

ic 2 sg. and can stand in the place of the predicate. Consonantal lufian (love) lufie lufast lufað lufiað (loves) lufie (he love) lufien Vocalic drifan (drive) drife drifst drifð drifað (drives) drife (she drive) drifen Imperative 2 sg. Verb Inflections distinguish two tense paradigms . -t).g.and one plural form. The subjunctive expressed something that was not a fact. Of all these inflections only the 3rd person singular is preserved in ModE (-s).E.g. hi Subjunctive 1-3 sg. ælc "each" ænig "any" swelc/swylc "such" man/mon "one" with/awiht "anything" nawiht "nothing". 2nd or the addressee. called vowel gradation (the ModE irregular verbs. A very small number of verbs are anomalous (one-fiftieth of all verbs). þu 3 he. 3rd or the referent . write).Indicative. to which all basic verbs in the Germanic languages (see Germanic Languages) belong. Each paradigm has three forms for the singular . hist 1-3 pl. hospitalise. Verbs Verbs are predominantly (three-quarters of all verbs) of the consonantal conjugation. can/could etc. Older than this conjugation is the vocalic conjugation (one-quarter of all verbs). n. drink. the last class occurs most frequently in the language. lufa (love) drif (drive) 17 . wished. This conjugation forms the Preterite and Past participle by vowel change. a rare subjunctive (no -s in the 3rd person singular). heard. so that almost all verbs that have been formed or borrowed since the OE period belong to this inflectional type (the ModE regular verbs). the Infinitive and two Participles (present and past).Present and Preterite . hwæt hwæt hwæs hwæm hwy Mod. verify).1st or the speaker. while the consonantal type has a large number of verbs that occur very rarely (compare ModE verbs gesticulate. There are three non-finite forms in OE as well. Subjunctive and Imperative.). hwa hwone hwæs hwæm hwæm neut. drive. Present Infinitive: Indicative 1 sg. This was and has remained the productive conjugation. the Mod.E. i. which are of several types (most ModE auxiliaries). we. which developed into > naht/noht > nat/not.and two mood paradigms . In ModE it has mostly been replaced by verb phrases with modal auxiliaries (will/would. heo. feared etc. These forms are called finite. a. the tense inflections and participles. 1-3 pl. e. ge. may/might.masc. e. d. Indefinite Pronouns also derive from OE ones. the one that forms the Preterite and Past participle forms with a dental suffix (-d. shall/shoud. but reported. which must occur together with a finite form if they are to function as a predicate. From the point of view of frequency. g. negation.

geleornod (learn) etc. gifan . breotan .gecnawen (know).sende . 1-3 pl.gebunden (bind). Examples of vocalic verbs: bitan . lecgan .(grow) etc. standan . This can 8 Observe that OE Past Participles have a prefix. Participle Preterite Indicative 1.gecumen (come). 2 sg. licgan .gebroten (break). growan . like shall (from OE sculan) have in Germanic languages a Present Tense inflection that was originally a vocalic Preterite. 2 sg.gegrowen .geholpen (help). 3 sg. bindan . Imperative 2 sg.band .gestanden (stand).gelegd (lay).seah . 18 . 1-3 pl.gecyssed (kiss).gegifen (give).gesend (send). German (geliebt. Subjunctive 1-3 sg. as in Mod.geaf. 2 pl. ge-.heold . Subjunctive 1-3 sg. cnawan cneow . 2 sg. 3 sg. drincan . leornian leornode . sendan .dranc .læg . healdan .gebiten (bite).breat .gelegen (lie). cuman . 1-3 pl.greow . Some Anomalous Verbs: Present Infinitive: Indicative 1 sg. Participle lufode (loved) lufodest lufodon lufode lufoden gelufod (loved) draf (drove) drife drifon drife drifen gedrifen (driven)8 Examples of consonantal verbs: settan .cyste .legde . 1-3 pl Participle habban (have) hæbbe hæfst hæfð habbað hæbbe hæbben hafa habbað hæbbende don (do) do dest deð doð do don do doð donde sculan (have to) sceal scealt sceal sculon scyle scylen - hæfde hæfdest hæfdon gehæfd dyde dydest dydon gedon sceolde sceoldest sceoldon - Most ModE modal verbs.feoll .bat .2 pl.gefeallen (fall). cyssan .gedruncen (drink).gesewen (see).gesett (set).stod .healp . feallan .sette .com . helpan . getrieben). seon . 1-3 pl. Participle lufiað lufiende (loving) drifað drifende (driving) Preterite Indicative 1 & 3 sg.gehealden (hold).

Syntactically it is a modifier or determiner (Mother's Day .g. Its adverbial function is related to the above functions (dæges and nihtes . as in BCS (he sette his hond him on þæt 19 . not least because most of the categories of the function shade off into others.he said). genitive of measure (fotes trym . e. show what function the words have in the sentence.be observed in the different vowels that are used in the Present forms. he 1-3 pl we. OE syntax shows many features common to inflected languages. recipient (he him hringas geaf . being . follow.was. against). is be.Beowulf of the Geats). ofer (beyond) on (into. The DATIVE and INSTRUMENTAL are also complex. and it is both the most ancient and the most irregular. The NOMINATIVE is the case of action and therefore the case for the subject. answer. The referent is thus the beneficiary.Grendel's deeds) or objective (folces weard .their ships). 1-3 pl.first day . in (into). its conjugation is made up of several verbs as indeed in ModE (am. some word order patterns are more frequent than others. Word order is therefore relatively free. Imperative 2 sg. partly because the dative has taken on the functions of the instrumental. not the order of elements.he gave him rings). The ACCUSATIVE is the passive case.the protector of the people). ge hi Subjunctive 1-3 sg. It can be subjective (Grendel's dæda . helpan (help) etc. ic 2 sg þu 3 sg. The function of the cases resembles their functions in BCS. Present Indicative 1 sg.BCS načekati koga ili čega). But since syncretism is so frequent. it indicates that something is done to the referent.a hundred ships).he killed the governor). Some of the verbs that require genitive are bidan (wait for . Intransitive verbs require the dative as object (help. were). The new Preterite is consonantal.by day and by night). the genitive of origin (Beowulf Geata .sunny day). obey. the patient (he ofslog þone aldormon .they then stayed that winter at Bridgenorth).the messenger of the Vikings). The most frequently used verb is to be. The Dative is the case of the indirect object and it is frequently concerned with sharing. some preposition require this case. possessive (hiora scipu . frequently agent (he sæde . and which words belong to the same phrase. Participles eom or beo eart bist is sind(on) beoð sy or beo syn beon wes beo wesað beoð wesende beonde gebeon Preterite wæs wære wæs wæron wære wæren Syntax. The dative can have a possessive function. For example there has to be agreement between the noun and its modifiers. It can also have an adverbial function to state extent of space or time (þa sæton hie þone winter æt Cwatbrxcge . rule) and so do impersonal verbs (seem). because the endings.the space of a foot). þurh. partitive (sum hund scipa . descriptive and defining (ar wicinga . 2 pl. and it is governed by a number of verbs and only a few prepositions. The GENITIVE is a case of very complex functions.

When adverbs are placed at the beginning (þa. The prose of the sermons is a rhythmic prose with alliteration. one in the second half-line. with a rhythmic line with the fundamental pattern of four stresses. ne). expressing purpose or cause (to secganne . the ship sea-horse etc. charters.from the king of Britons. chronicles. his people's shield. the verb can be in the final position in dependent or coordinate clauses (S O/C V) (he sæde þæt he ealra Norþmanna norþmest bude . owe its style to the Latin original. begin with the same sound. mostly in the dative when preceded by the preposition to. the sun world-torch. se þe wið Brecan wunne? .King Alfred built a defence-work with a small force). e. to (to.in order to say). translated by Seamus Heaney A feast in Heorot upon the arrival of Beowulf the Great with his retainers in Denmark. and comitative (worthe Ælfred cyning lytle werede geweorc . of (from). medicinal recipes. compounds and kennings.g "gradio je s malo ljudi". The tendency in prose texts is the word order Subject . 20 . c) to Wesseaxna cyninge se wæs ðagit hæðen .live in a village).to the king of the West Saxons who was still heathen d) Eart þu se Beowulf. treasure-giver. Ceadwalla geciged . the preposition remained as the marker of the infinitive (to say). two in the first. with the particle þe. for). Mostly three of the stressed syllables alliterate.     ∪ The poetic figures consist of a wealth of synonyms.Are you Beowulf?). helmet.he put his hand on his head . Other functions of the dative are locative (wicum wunian . laws.Port then came to Britain). the verb follows immediately.Object or Complement (S V O/C) (þæt Estland is swyþe mycel . although in the vernacular it is more frequently used than not "gradio je s vlastitim rukama". for the king shepherd. on) etc.What do you say?). and it means "accompanied by" .for Oswald's merits.Estonia is very big). The instrumental function does not require the preposition "gradio je vlastitim rukama". Word Order. In interrogative sentences the object may come first O/C V S (Hwæt sægest þu ? . and particularly translations from Latin. Interesting is the composition of Relative Clauses which can still be seen in ModE dialects.rukama vezeno). The following are short examples of OE texts with translation Beowulf lines 490-499. ring-giver.Are you the Beowulf who competed with Breca? Style.Verb . There are prose texts written in OE and there is poetry. or also with the demonstrative se. on (in. as in German or Swedish (Þa com Port on Bretene . i. 9 In BCS this function is expressed with the prepositions(a) + instrumental.stavio mu je ruku na glavu). the demonstrative appears in both the main and the relative clause. but the vast number of other prose texts. a) fram Brytta cyninge. temporal (hwilum .heafod . e.at times) and instrumental (hondum gebroden . called Cadwalla b) for Oswoldes geearnungum þe hine æfre wurdode . The latter is typically epic or elegiac. As in Mod German. the sword battle-torch.g. govern the dative. seo þæt. various religious texts. The sentences were often correlative. who constantly worshipped Him. V S O/C is also the order of questions (Eart þu Beowulf? . When the ending were lost. They could be connected to the main clause without any link.he said that lived farther in the North than any Norwegian). The infinitive could be inflected like a noun.e.9 The prepositions mid (with).

while seals. Bede. such as mussels. gladdening that great rally of Geats and Danes. Swylce eac þeos eorþe is berende missenlicra fugela and sæwihta. in which are often found excellent pearls of several colours. duguð unlytel Dena ond Wedera. Translated into Old English (by Alfred?. and it is well known for its plentiful springs and rivers abounding in fish. pouring bright helpings of mead. 21 . An attendant stood by with a decorated pitcher. There are also many varieties of shellfish. Bede's description of Britain. Then a bench was cleared in that banquet hall so the Geat could have room to be together and the party sat. and on þam beoþ oft gemette þa betstan meregrotan ælces hiwes.. se þe on handa bær hroden ealo-wæge. Britain is rich in grain and timber. and hit is gescræpe on læswe sceapa and neata. þrydum dealle.Þa wæs Geat-mæcgum geador ætsomne on beor-sele benc gerymed. it has good pasturage for cattle and draught animal. and sometimes whales are caught. strong an stalwart. dolphins. þegn nytte beheold. scencte scir-wered. Chapter I.. There are many land and sea birds of various species. þær wæs hæleða dream. scop hwilum sang hador on Heorote. about 731) and Modern English by Leo Sherley-Price 1955) Hit is welig þis ealong on wæstmum and on treowum misenlicra cynna. There are salmon and eel fisheries. And her beoþ oft fangene seolas and hronas and mereswyn. and vines are cultivated in various localities. A History of the English Church and People. And the minstrel sang. and fiscumwyllum wæterum and wyllgespryngum. proud in their bearing. and her beoþ oft numene missenlicra cynna weolcscylle and muscule. Þær swið-ferhþe sittan eodon. and on sumum stowum wingeardas growaþ. filling Heorot with his head-clearing voice.

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