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HISTORY OF THE

ENGLISH
LANGUAGE I

1.1. THE LINGUISTIC PROVENANCE OF


ENGLISH. INDO-EUROPEAN AND GERMANIC
LANGUAGES
THE INDO-EUROPEAN FAMILY OF LANGUAGES
WHERE DO MOST LANGUAGES COME FROM?
It is easy to perceive a close relationship between many languages:
father (English) vader (Dutch) fadar (Gothic) vater (German) pater
(Greek) pater (Latin) padre (Spanish).
This leads us to the conclusion that the languages of a large part of Europe
and part of Asia were at one time identical.
This hypothesis is corroborated by the discovery of Sanskrit, a language of
ancient India. It preserves features of the common language much older than
most of those of Greek and Latin.

INDO-EUROPEAN
Nomenclature: Aryan (19th century) Indo-Germanic (20th century, but
undue emphasis to Germanic languages) Indo-European (more
widespread).
There is no written record of the Indo-European language. It is possible to
reconstruct it by the comparison of its descendants.
Chronology: it must have extended over a considerable stretch of time,
commonly placed between 3500 and 2500 B.C.
Location:
a) It was considered to have been originated in Asia (19th century) confirmed
on the basis of the discovery of Sanskrit.
b) The larger part of these languages have been in Europe, supporting the
hypothesis of an European origin (send half 19th century).
Comparative reconstruction: the IE languages have a common word for
winter and for snow. It is likely that the original home was found in a cold
climate. Words designating fauna and flora corroborate this hypothesis (i.e.
beech).

PECULARIETIES OF GERMANIC LANGUAGES:


GRIMMS LAW/ First consonant shift
VERNERS LAW:
It explains some exceptions to Grimms Law (L centum vs
Eng hundred).
Formulated by Karl Verner in 1875.
When the Indo-European accent was not on the vowel immediately preceding,
the voiceless fricatives became voiced in Germanic.
E.g. *pater 1)Grimms law-fa0r (vater and fader)
2)Verners law-fadr
3)Accent shift (after the Verners law we change the accent)- fader
IE centm
Grimm: hun0rd
Verner: hundrd
Accent shift: hndred
FREE ACCENT > ACCENT SHIFT:
Arround the year 400 BC Germanic separated from IE, generating a new
feature, putting the stress in the first position.
Mechanical process > root syllable is the stress one
Family familiar - familiarity
Love lover loving lovingly lovely loveliness loveless
lovelessness

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King kingdom kingship kingly kingless
Exceptions: words coming from French or other borrowings. Prefixes are
never stressed: beget forget overthrow abide.

UNIT 1.2. EXTERNAL HISTORY OF ENGLISH


A history of 15 centuries
-Intrinsic feature: insularity (Churchill) UK is important because it has many
groups of people through all time.
Celtic isle
Roman invasion
Germanic settlement (origin of English language)
Christian monks
Viking conquest
French/Norman influence
-Anglo-English + Norman French Present-day English
THE BRITONS
They came from the continent.Britons / Celts
A tribe from the the continent. Arrived in Britain in 1000 B.C.
Widespread throughout the continent: west (Hispania, Galia) and east
(Poland, Romania, Asia, etc.).
They founded the kingdon of Galatia in the 2nd century
B.C. Galatasarai. (Turkey)
Iron Age (progress in everyday life: agriculture, cattle
raising, war materials).
More powerful than the Romans at the beginning.
Linguistic influence:
Slight influence on the English language:
Place names: Kent (Canti/Cantion), Devonshire
(Dummonii), Cornwall (Cornubian Welsh), Cumberland
(land of the Cymry), Exeter.
Rivers: Thames, Avon, Usk, Esk, Exe, Wye.
Loanwords
Colloquial words (oral transmission): binn (basket), bratt
(cloak), luh (lake, loch), dum (dark coloured).
Religious words introduced by Irish monks: ancor (hermit),
cross, dry (magician), clugge (bell), etc.
Some Celtic words soon died out and others acquired only local
currency.

THE ROMANS
Romans went to England to protect the empire, in order to prevent people to
come from outside the Empire. They only went there in order to protect the
Empire
Two invasions:
-Julius Caesar (55 B.C:):
It was not hugely successful and it took a further year and another invasion for
Caesar to establish a settlement in Britain (54 B.C.). Moderate success.
To secure the borders of the Roman Empire.
-Claudius (one hundred years later, 43 A.C): he wanted to dominate the whole
Britain.
North and West of Britain
Shortcomings:
61 A.C. Boudica (Boadicea), a widow of a native leader of the Britons,
led a revolt against the occupying forces over 70,000 Romans killed.
Picts and Scots threats Hadrians wall (122 A.C.) and Antonines Wall
(142 A.C.) Purpose: a) to keep intact the empire; b) to control
immigration, smuggling and custom; c) to reflect the power of Rome.
Not a Romanization process as in the continent: rather an
Administrative and a commercial occupation.

Influence of the Romans like other provinces of the Roman Empire.


-Major roads were built
-Towns and cities had bathhouses
-Houses with water supplies and heating
-Theatres and places of worship
-To secure the borders of the Roman Empire.
Latin (bilingualism):
Prestige value spoken by the Romans together with the upper-class Native
inhabitants of cities and towns.
It declined after the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons.
Influence on English 3 periods:
1. Continental borrowings (prior to the Roman settlement):
Agriculture: camp (battle), weall (wall) strt (street), mil (mile).
Trade: ceap (cheap), pund (pound), wine, etc.
Domestic life: L discus > disc, L cuppa > cuppe
Foods: pipor (pepper), caseus > ciese (cheese), plume (plum), minte (mint),
etc.
2. Celtic transmission (contact bewtween Romans and Celts):
Place names: L castra > ceaster > Chester, Colchester, Dorchester,
Manchester, Gloucester, Leicester.
L portus > port; L mons > munt (mountain); L vicus > wic (village)
3. The Christianizing of Britain:
Religious terms: pope, bishop, priest, monk, abbot, Easter, preach, pray, etc.

THE ANGLO-SAXONS
Why did they arrive? Background before the arrival.
-The last Roman legion left Britain in the year 410. Why?
-The Roman Empire was being seriously attacked by the Goths in the
continent.
-They left to secure the Roman borders in the continent
-After the Romans departure, the people in Britain feeling the effects of
the occupations were: the Britons, the Picts and the Scots.
-The Britons, throughout the isle.
-The Picts had arrived in Britain from Scythia and had settled in what is now
Scotland. The Picts had come to Scotland via Ireland, where the native
inhabitants, were called Scots. The scots refused to let the Picts settle in
Ireland and so they were forced to move on, ending up in Britain.
-The Scots, despite their apparent uncongenial treatment of the Picts, also
tried out Britain, and numerous groups settled in Pictish areas.
A problem:
-During the Roman occupation, the attacks of Picts and Scots in the
border regions had been easily suppressed.

-Now, the Britons were not able to defend themselves.


-The Britons appealed to Rome for help, but Rome had problems of its
own and was not able to help.
-Vortigern, a leader of the Britons, appealed to the Germanic tribes of
the North-western Germany and Denmark for help in repelling the attacks.
-The Saxons agreed to come to the aid of the Britons 449 AD. Beginning of
English Language in Britain.
Irony:
-For a start, the Anglo-Saxon newcomers were invited.
-Once arrived, they betrayed the Britons and subjugated them.
-The Anglo-Saxons were not a unified, invading army. Instead, they came
in relatively small groups and they eventually decided to settle in Britain.

WHO WERE THEY?:


Much of what is known comes from the Venerable Bedes Ecclesiastical
History of the English People (731), a rich source of information about
the Old English period.
-The Angles: they came from Danish mainland and islands. They settled in
the middle north of Britain.
-The Jutes: they came from northern Denmark. The settled in Kent,
Hampshire and the isle of Wight.
-The Saxons: they came from north-west Germany. They settled along river
Thames, including Middlesex and Essex (south of Britain).
In some areas the Britons and the Anglo-Saxons might have lived
together peaceably.
In some other areas, i.e. West Saxon area, there was considerable fighting
the Britons were then forced into Cornwall and Wales. Wales < OE wealas
foreigner (you weales go away). Celt is still spoken in Scotland, Wales and
Cornwall.
Where does England/English come from:

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-There were originally three separate communities: the Angles, the Jutes
and the Saxons.
-Bede, however, uses the Latin terms Anglii and Saxones interchangeably
-Anglii / Engle / Englalande: referred to any inhabitant of the country.
-Angli Saxones: to differentiate it from the Old Saxons living in the
continent.
-11th-onwards: Britain was elsewhere referred to as England and
English.
The Anglo-Saxon heptarchy:
-By the 7th century, a number of significant settlements had become
established, politically organized into 7 main kingdoms.
-Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex.
-The boundaries between these kingdoms were by no means stable and
over the next 200 or so years, the balance of power fluctuated between them.

-In the 7th century, Northumbria experienced a blossoning of scholarship and


monastic culture.
Monasteries of Jarrow and Lindisfarne. Its political and cultural power declines
in the 8th century because of the Viking raids.
-Mercia had some influence in the 8th century
-From the late 8th century, the kingdom of Wessex was the most important for
several reasons: The supremacy of King Alfred; Alfreds school of translation
(he ordered to translate all texts of that period from Latin to Old English).

THE OLD ENGLISH DIALECTS:


Within the years, the language started to divide into dialects, rivers had a
great influence into the boundaries of the dialects. The four main dialects of
Old English are the following: Northumbrian, Mercian, Kentish and West
Saxon.
-Northumbrian: the dialect of the Angles and spoken by the people
living north of the Humber.
-Mercian: the dialect of the Angles spoken in a large area between the
River Thames and the River Humber (excluding Wales).

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-Kentish: the dialect of the Jutes who has settled around Kent.
-West Saxon: the dialect of the Saxons and spoken south of the River
Thames.
-There was not a clear dividing line between them.
Mutually understandable.
Cases of Michsprache.
Why West Saxon viewed as prestigious?
- The language variety used by the group that has a considerable degree of
political and economic power.
-King Alfred: political and cultural supremacy.

Chronology:
-For all these reasons, the terms Anglo-Saxon / West Saxon / Old English are
used to refer to the same language (spoken from the 5[Anglo-Saxon
conquest]th to the 11th century).
-For convenience, it is usually divided into two sub-periods.
-Early Old English (Alfredian Old English): 7th-9th centuries
-Late Old English (classical Old English): 10th-11 centuries (Normand
invasion.
There is no many Old English texts between the 5 and the 7 th century.

THE VIKINGS / NORSEMEN


WHO WERE THEY?
They were the old brothers of the Anglo-Saxons They came from
Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
The Anglo-Saxons were not immune to attack. The Vikings settled in
England and exerted their own influence on English.
WHEN DID THEY COME? 3 STAGES
-1st stage (787-850): in small groups, particularly in the North. The
Monasteries of Lindisfarne and Jarrow were spoilt.
-2nd stage (850-878):
-The raids increased in scale + 350 ships
-First settlements
-Conquered Canterbury (850), East Anglia (865), York (867).
-First attack on King Ethelreds Wessex (870). He was defeated but his
brother Alfred paid off the Danish attackers.

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-3rd stage:
-New attack on Wessex (875). The Danes were pushed back and Guthrum
accepted Christianity.
-Danelaw (886). They went back without disturbing the Anglo-Saxons. A
treaty through which the Vikings agreed to settle in a territory to the east of a
line from the Thames to Chester Danish law applied there.
-The Battle of Maldon (991): Old English poem narrating how Byrhnoth, an
East Saxon leader, was defeated by a Viking army led by Olaf Tryggvason.
-Tryggvason (king of Norway) and Svein Forkbeard (king of Denmark)
(994) continued the attacks and managed to control London.
-Svein Forkbeard and his son Cnut manage to defeat the second king
Ethelred and was eventually crowned the king of England.
-Knut becomes the King of England (1016), Denmark (1019) and Norway
(1018). From the very first time we have a king controlling England and
Scandinavia.

THE VIKING INFLUENCE ON ENGLISH:


-Phonological changes:
-Velarization: OE <sh> / Scand <sk>: sky, skin, skill, whisk.
-Shirt (OE scyrta; Anglo-Saxon) vs. skirt (ON skyrta; scandinavian) same
origin, but different devp
-Preservation of /k/ and /g/: kit, dike, get, give, egg.
OE giefan ME yive PDE give (because of the Vinking influence).
OE aeg ME ay, ey PDE egg
OE
PDE dike (Scandinavian influence)
Ditch is the Anglo-Saxon word, which co-extists nowadays with the
Scandinavian word dike.
-Morphological borrowings:
-3rd person pronouns: they, their, them.
OE He, heo, hit, hie
ME he he
he/hi
He she
they
-s inflection on third-person present simple singular forms of the verb.
Original inflection in Anglo-Saxon was th (example: Shakespeare)
-Present plural are.
-Lexical borrowings:
-Place-names: -by (a farm, town): Grimsby, Whitby, Derby; -thorp (village):

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Althorp; -toft (piece of ground): Brintoft, Eastoft; -thwaite (isolated piece of
land): Applethwaite.
-Family names: -son i.e. Williamson, Johnson, etc.
-Lexical words: take, die, wrong, call, law.
-Structural words: though, till, both, same.

THE NORMAN CONQUEST


WHY?
Succession:
-After Cnuts death his son Harthacnut (1040-1042)
-Edward the Confessor (Hatharcnuts half-brother) a restoration of the
Saxon line after many years of Danish kings.
-Enma of Normandy (married to Cnut and Ethelred the Unready).
-Brought up in Normady, he filled the court with French advisors the
French and the English language came into contact to a considerable degree
WHEN?
-After Eadwards the Confessor death in 1066 he died childless. Problem of
kingship, there were two possible succesors: Harold Godwinson and William
of Normandy.
-Harold Godwinson was proclaimed king (Earl of Wessex) he claimed
that Edward had promiseed him that he would be his successor to the throne
-William of Normandy (second cousin of Edward) he claimed that
Edward had promised him the throne during a visit that William made to
England in 1052.
-Battle of Hastings (1066): William landed at Hastings with a formidable
army while Harolds forces were in the north trying to repel an invasion by
the King of Norway.
-Harold was eventually killed and William of Normandy (the Conqueror)
was crowned King of English in Westminster on Christmas day, 1066.

EFFECTS:
England became trilingual:
-French the vernacular language of the Royal Court
-Latin the language of administration and of religion
-English the status of English downgraded, spoken by the Saxons
-French was coming into contact with English
-French attained the prestige that English had formerly enjoyed, as it was the
language of the ruling class.
-English developed from being the language of officialdom to being primarily
a spoken language. It was the language spoken by the majority of people in
the country.

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Linguistic consequences:
-Inflectional simplification
-Casual simplification
-Grammatical gender vs. natural gender: introduction of the (just, masculine or
feminine naturally and neutral things).
-Stricter word order (dependence on prepositions)
-Vocabulary the source of a lot of new vocabulary in English (Anglo-Saxon +
Scandinavian + French)
-Spelling
MIDDLE ENGLISH:
-Term used to refer to English from around 1100 to 1500
-Not dated from the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066 because
linguistic change is not overnight, and takes several years to start having an
influence on English
-Early Middle English: from 1100 to 1300
-Late Middle English: from 1300 to 1500
-The status of English was to rise again after a gradual decline in the use
of French.
THE REVIVAL OF ENGLISH:
English people begin to reject things related to French people, because of the
Hundred years War
-The use of English increased throughout the 14th century
-The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France: using
English emphasized the division between the English and the French and
worked to create a greater sense of national identity.
-The Black Death (bubonic plague) arrived in England in 1348: a third of
the population killed it reduced the countrys workforce and inevitably
pushed up workers wages.
-The working classes were able to climb the social ladder attaining a level of
prosperity the language spoken by that group is considered to be as
prestigious.
OLD ENGLISH (5th- 11th; 449-1066)
MIDDLE ENGLISH (11th-15th; 1066-printing Press)
MIDDLE ENGLISH DIALECTS:
No standard form of English, either written or spoken
Northern (Old Northumbrian)
West Midland (Old Mercian)
East Midland (Old Mercian)
SouthWest (West Saxon)
South East (Kentish)
The East Midland dialect becomes now the more prominent variety the
origin of Present-day English the triangle London Cambridge Oxford
and Chancery English.

CHRONOLOGY: MORE SIMILAR TO PRESENT-DAY ENGLISH

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Linguistic change is not overnight, so there is no consensus among scholars
about when EModE should begin and end
-1500-1700: different historical events help us propose those dates
-The Great Vowel Shift (1400-1650): a gradual modification in the
Pronunciation of the long vowels in English the GVS may have been
motivated by the merchant classes being influenced by varieties of
English viewed as more prestigious (write in one way, but you pronounce in
another way).

-The translation of the Bible into English: John Wycliffe, an Oxford


professor, produced an unauthorized translation of the Bible into English
(1380-1380). Wycliffes Bible was distributed by the Lollards (itinerant priests)
around the country and this produced an increase in literacy among
common people.
-Chancery English: the form of English preferred by the Chancery, i.e. the
Royal bureaucracy. Increasingly, English began to be used in government and
it was necessary for civil service documents to be understood as far apart as
London and Carlisle.
-William Caxtons printing press (1476): more texts could be produced and
Caxtons printing press helped standardize English spelling.
-William Tyndales translation of the Bible (1525): thousands of pocketsized
copies were printed. People learned to read so that they could study the
Bible in English.

2. OLD ENGLISH
THE ANGLO-SAXON RUNES
-The Anglo-Saxon runes, also known as futhork or fuphork, is a runic
alphabet.
-Used probably from the 5th century onward, recording Old English and Old
Frisian.
-In Anglo-Saxon England, they were in use from 6 th-10 centuries. They
disappeared after the Normand conquest.
-These are competing theories as the origin of the Anglo-Saxon futhore:
-Originally developed in Frisia
They preserve 4 letters, 2 from the Germanic system, and 2 from the Irish
system.
OLD ENGLISH PHONOLOGY

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2. OLD ENGLISH MORPHOLOGY


Old English is a highly inflected language, present day English is not inflected
at all, it is really simple. It is so inflected because when you analyze a noun in
English you have to consider 4 different variables:
-Declensions: strong (plural with s) or weak (plural with en).
-Cases: nominative (subject), accusative (Direct object), genitive (noun
complement), dative (indirect object + complements).
-Gender: masculine (se mona, the moon), feminine (seo cwene, the
queen) and neutral (paet cild, the child); we find a problem, gender is
grammatical (same as Spanish).
-Number: singular and plural
2.1 NOUNS
OLD ENGLISH WEAK NOUNS
Having an en in the plural, called an Declension as well.
E.g. se nama
seo heorte paet eage

TEXT 2
The city is old. The city that he built is very old. The king gave the city to an
abbot. In the city, the queen died. Someone takes the body. With the body of
the queen, in the field, was the abbot.

ANOMALOUS VERBS:
This group contains four verbs in OE: bon, gn, dn, willan
They are so irregular that they cannot go with any other class of verbs,
They are so irregular. They have a set of particular features:
-bon: (to be) it has three different roots in OE
-gn: (to go) it has 2 roots, one for the present and another one for the past
tense.
-dn: (to do) it has 2 roots, one for the present and another one for the past
tense.
-willan: (to want) it has two roots as well.

OLD ENGLISH SYNTAX


Syntax considers the relationship between the different ellements of clauses
and

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sentences
.