Лекции по истории английского языка - файл n1.doc

Лекции по истории английского языка
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  1. The object of the History of English. History of English as a science. Periods of the English language history. Synchrony and diachrony. (1st lecture)

  2. English phonetics diachronic approach. Word-stress. Vowels. Consonants. (2d, 3d lectures)

  3. English morphology diachronic approach. Noun. Verb. Pronoun. Adjective. Numerals. Adverb. (4th, 5th , 6th lectures)

  4. Syntax diachronic approach. Structure of the sentence. Simple sentence. Complex/compound sentence. (7th lecture)

  5. The English language vocabulary. Dialects. Borrowings. Changes through periods. (8th lecture)


The object of the History of English. History of English as a science. Periods of the English language history. Synchrony and diachrony. (1st lecture)
History of the English language is one of the fundamental courses forming the linguistic background of the specialist in philology. It helps to understand the changes and peculiarities of the modern language which seem unintelligible. These peculiarities are found both in vocabulary and in phonetic and grammatical structure.

The first question which is baffling the students is how the English language started. Practically all languages spoken on earth today can be traced by scholars back to some common source, that is, an ancestor language which has many descendants. Now there is a linguistic program working all over the world and scientists try to prove this fact. They select the units of the languages which are common or have something in common taking into account the changes in the languages. Though the ancestor language—together with all the languages which have developed from it—is called a “family” of languages. English is considered a member of the Indo-European family of languages. Other languages belonging to the same family are French, Italian, German, Norwegian, and Greek. In this Indo-European family of languages there are various branches and English is a member of the “West Teutonic” branch. Actually, English dates from about the middle of the fifth century, when invaders from across the North Sea conquered the native Celts and settled on the island now known as Great Britain. An Anglo-Saxon inscription dated between 450 and 480AD is the oldest sample of the English language.
During the 7th and 8th Centuries, Northumbria's culture and language dominated Britain. The Viking invasions of the 9th Century brought this domination to an end (along with the destruction of Mercia). Only Wessex remained as an independent kingdom. By the 10th Century, the West Saxon dialect became the official language of Britain. Written Old English is mainly known from this period. It was written in an alphabet called Runic, derived from the Scandinavian languages. The Latin Alphabet was brought over from Ireland by Christian missionaries. This has remained the writing system of English. So the original language spoken in English was Celtic. But the Anglo Saxons (the Angles, the Jutes, and the Saxons) conquered the island so thoroughly that very few Celtic words were kept in the new language. The Anglo-Saxons themselves spoke several dialects. Later on, the Norsemen invaded England and they introduced a Scandinavian element into the language. This influence, which was a Germanic language, became a part of the language. In 1066, William the Conqueror brought over still another influence to the language. He made Norman French the language of his Court. At first, this “Norman” language was spoken only by the upper classes. But gradually its influence spread and a language quite different from the Anglo-Saxon developed. This language became the chief source of modern English.

The second question arising in the course of studying of this subject is periodization.

For the sake of convenience, the history of the English language is divided into three great periods: the old English (or Anglo-Saxon), from about 400 to 1100; Middle English, from 1100 to 1500; and Modern English, from 1500 to the present day.

There are also three periods mentioned by some scientists and they are Early Old English, Early ME and Early NE. EOE lasts from the west Germanic invasion of Britain till the beginning of writing, that is from the 5th to the close of the 7th c. It was the stage of tribal dialects. Which were used for oral communication, there being no written form of English. The EME starts after the year of the Norman Conquest and covers 12th, 13th and a half of 14th c. The local dialects were used mainly for oral communications and were but little employed in writing. This period is also known as Anglo-Norman or Anglo-French period. The ENE lasted from the introduction of printing to the age of Shakespear.

All events outlining the EL History are invaders’ history. They are:
  1. The Anglo-Saxon Settlement. Little is known of this period with any certainty, but we do know that Germanic invaders came and settled in Britain from the north-western coastline of continental Europe in the fifth and sixth centuries. The invaders all spoke a language that was Germanic (related to what emerged as Dutch, Frisian, German and the Scandinavian languages, and to Gothic), but we'll probably never know how different their speech was from that of their continental neighbours. However it is fairly certain that many of the settlers would have spoken in exactly the same way as some of their north European neighbours, and that not all of the settlers would have spoken in the same way.


The reason that we know so little about the linguistic situation in this period is because we do not have much in the way of written records from any of the Germanic languages of north-western Europe until several centuries later. When Old English writings begin to appear in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries there is a good deal of regional variation, but not substantially more than that found in later periods. This was the language that Alfred the Great referred to as ‘English’ in the ninth century.

The Celts were already resident in Britain when the Anglo-Saxons arrived, but there are few obvious traces of their language in English today. Some scholars have suggested that the Celtic tongue might have had an underlying influence on the grammatical development of English, particularly in some parts of the country, but this is highly speculative. The number of loanwords known for certain to have entered Old English from this source is very small. Those that survive in modern English include brock(badger), and coomb a type of valley, alongside many place names.
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