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Discovering the Foundations of Language: An Historical Linguistic Exploration of the English Language

Jeanelle Driver LNG 353
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Jeanelle Driver

on 10 January 2013

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Transcript of Discovering the Foundations of Language: An Historical Linguistic Exploration of the English Language

Discovering the Foundations of Language: An Historical Linguistic Exploration of the English Language

Jeanelle Driver
LNG 353
Amy Casey
January 14, 2012
Ashford University English is Unique English is fast becoming a common language on the world stage. Native speakers should be grateful for having the ability to naively speak such a tongue, because the history of the English Language is rich and detailed. With such a rich history, English has come to be different from the other languages in its family, and has the privilege of being thought of as unique and universal in many ways. Beginning with influences from Latin, Germanic, and Scandinavian languages, the Old English period brought new words and spelling to English to further shape it as a language. Middle English brought a heavy influence of French along with the invasion of Normans, and localized influence from Celtic, Scandinavian, and Latin. Several structural changes occurred to English during this period as well; bringing English ever closer to the modern equivalent that is used today. Indo-European Language families: Shared Relationships There are approximately 352 separate languages in the Indo-European Language family. The name of this language family helps to pinpoint the origin of the languages. There is a commonality among word usage in these languages as well. This indicates strongly to a common, unknown ancestor because, "it shows the shifting of certain consonants...It possesses a 'weak' as well as 'strong' declension of the adjective and a distinctive type of conjugation of the verb." (Baugh and Cable,2002 p. 51 & Lewis, 2009). The Unique Qualities of English English is a Global Language International business is frequently conducted in English.
International politics are conducted in English as well.
English is the most common second language in the world.
English dialects vary, but written conventions remain consistent all over. The Alphabet There are twenty-six letters derived from the Greek Alphabet.
There are no diacritics in standard written English.
Diacritics come from adopted words, but it is becoming common to omit them even in formal written English. The Unique Qualities of English The Unique Qualities of English Phonology Naturally unpredictable language.
Twelve pure vowels.
Eight diphthongs.
Twenty-four consonant sounds.
Stress-timed vs. Syllable-timed construction. The Unique Qualities of English Grammar
There are only four forms to standard verbs. Verb tenses vary, and are not always clearly conveyed.
The Past Simple tense can be used as a continuous form, and that is not the case with most other languages in the Indo-European Language family. The Unique Qualities of English Grammar Cont. Articles and determiners almost never change their form.
Word order displays the meaning of words
Sentences in English are ordered with Subject-Verb-Object syntax. English is not a phonetically based language.
Word sound does not indicate spelling.
English has a large number of adopted words and cognates.
Phrasal verbs are common in everyday speech. English vs. Japanese English is written from top to bottom and left to right.
Has twelve pure vowel sounds and twenty-four consonant sounds.
Subject-Verb-Object syntax. English Japanese Same The Unique Qualities of English Vocabulary English uses Latin Script.
Books are printed top to bottom and left to right.
Use changes in verb form for representation of tense.
Culture is very different. Japanese is traditionally written in two different forms: Kanji and Katakana.
Traditional Japanese is written from top to bottom and right to left.
Romaji is a Latin Script representation of the Japanese language.
Has five pure vowels and fifteen consonant sounds.
Verbs do not change for person or number.
Verbs do not change for person or number. Wandering English: How it Became Part of the Family English as a language has its roots in the Indo-European language family with basis in the Germanic subfamily. "The languages descended from it fall into groups: East Germanic, North Germanic, and West Germanic." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 32). West Germanic is subdivided as well. The Saxon peoples are responsible for the conquest of Britain in 477 A.D., "Ælle a Saxon warlord lands in Cymens Shore near Chchester in Sussex England and after a bloody war lasting some months, he kills most of the local Britons." (EnglandandEnglishHistory.com, 2012). This allowed for evolution of language to occur in this new land, and the Indo-European language family again began to expand as new influences were gathered into the all ready existing lexicon of language, and a new relation to English began to emerge and take its own place in the Indo-European Language family. www.Google Images.com www.Danshort.com www.googleimages.com www.microsoftoffice.com www.microsoftoffice.com Introduction England is known in modern times as the origin and hub for native English speaking, but the British peoples' habitation of the island is in it's infancy when compared to the fact that, "This part of the world had been inhabited by humans for thousands of years." (Baugh and Cable, 2002 p. 43). Little if any thing remains of these early tribes, so one turns to the events starting approximately 1500 years ago to examine how the English we know today was shaped. Three major influences that occurred during the Old English period are: Roman conquest (Latin), the Germanic invasion, and the pillaging of the Vikings. Each of these events in turn left an indelible mark upon the English Language, and these changes are still able to be seen in English today. Acquiring a Voice: The Old English Period Try, Try, Again to Bring Latin to the Island Beginning in 55 B.C. Julius Caesar attempted to conquer Britain, but due to unforeseen circumstances, and a more engaged uprising, his attempt was not successful. It was not until 43 A.D. that Emperor Claudius was able to succeed in some form of conquest to the island. He was more successful because he knew not to repeat the mistakes Caesar had made during his attempt. Romanization did occur as far as culture, dress, and architecture was concerned but, "Latin did not replace the Celtic Language in Britain as it did in Gaul." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 47). It was not until 597 A.D. when Britain was converted to Christianity. Latin now had a foothold in Britain, and words that were adopted by the general public were mostly religious and domestic in nature. www.googleimages.com www.googleimages.com Acquiring a Voice: The Old English Period Acquiring a Voice: The Old English Period Saxon Sacking Leads to England The Germanic conquests in Britain occurred in Britain shortly after the Romans left Britain. From about 449 A.D. the Germanic tribes, "that conquered England were the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 47). The land became the land of the Anglo-Saxons and the name Anglia began to morph into the vernacular term "Englisc". This sets English to the Low West Germanic branch of the Indo-European Language family, so the roots of the English Language are solidly Germanic. www.googleimages.com Acquiring a Voice: The Old English Period Last But Not Least, Viking Raids Color English The Scandinavian Peoples known as the Vikings or Danes did not have a major impact upon Old English until close to to the end of the period, but it was a prominent one even so late in coming. Viking raids were common along the coast, and the Danes established a permanent presence in England when Cnut became an English King and the Treaty of Wedmore was signed. English and Danish cohabited in England, and it is interesting to note that, "The similarity between Old English and the language of the Scandinavian invaders makes it at times very difficult to decide whether a given word in Modern English is a native or borrowed word." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 97). Tests have been devised to better tell the difference. Was the evolution of English a random occurrence, or did the Vikings have a much greater impact on English than was first thought? www.googleimages.com Anything but Stagnant: The Rise of Middle English. Changes in Composition: The Old English Period Changes in Composition: The Old English Period Introduction At first examination, Old English looks nothing like English from a modern standpoint. This is because, "The vocabulary of Old English is almost purely Germanic. A large part of this vocabulary, moreover, has disappeared from the Language." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 55). Early in its inception, Old English was largely isolated in the beginning, so as a language it underwent many structural and spelling changes due to contact with new languages and the adoption of borrowed words into the lexicon of Old English. Acquisition of Borrowed Words Hear the Difference Germanic words had sound develop differently than borrowed words. The sc combination became sh ex: Englisc became English. Scandinavian words contained sk which was not native because, "the Anglo-Saxons did not use the following letters: <j, v>, and the following were very rare: <k, q, x, z>." (Hogg, 2002 p.4). An interesting example of this from the text, scyrte, Old English is shirt and skyrta from Scandinavian is skirt. (Baugh & Cable, 2002). The spelling patterns that were adopted during the Old English Period are clearly evident. www.googleimages.com www.googleimages.com (Shoebottom, 2011a). (Shoebottom, 2011a). Shoebottom, 2011a). (Shoebottom, 2011b). (Shoebottom, 2011b). (Shoebottom, 2011b.) (Shoebottom, 2011b). (Shoebottom, 2011b). (Shoebottom, 2011b). Several changes occurred to the English Language during the Middle English period. The time frame of this period extends from the Norman invasion in 1066 to the occurrence of The Great Vowel Shift in the 15th century. The French and Scandinavian languages heavily influenced English during this period, and several spelling, pronunciation changes began as well. It grew even closer to the language that is used today. (Baugh & Cable, 2002). www.googleimages.com Anything but Stagnant: The Rise of Middle English. Upper Class Setback-The Norman Invasion The year 1066 is marked as a turning point in history, because it served as the beginning of the Norman Invasion in England. English remained the language of the common man but, "kings of England spoke French, took French wives and lived mostly in France, French-speaking court." (Middle English, n.d). Due to the increased prevalence of the French Language in England, English was heavily influenced by French. An example of words borrowed from French during this period are: trouble, duty, boil, and dine. Later durning this period intermarriage began in some areas, and children were raised to speak both English and French. Anything but Stagnant: The Rise of Middle English. Scandinavian Still a Continual influence Due to the effective tactics of the the Normans the Viking Age saw an end of raiding by 1100, but that did not mean an end to the Influence of Scandinavian on English. In fact, "Today, a higher number of Scandinavian words are found in the dialects of Yorkshire and Scotland,than in the rest of Britain." (Thornemo, 2004 p. 12). Since the influence of the Danes remained into the Middle English period some words that were incorporated into English were: ski, child, and keel. Since the Vikings were common on the sea a good portion of borrowed words were maritime in nature of use. www.googleimages.com Latin and Celtic a Strong but Smaller Sphere of Influence French remained the primary language of England well into the  Middle English period, but Latin was still the written language of the church and other documents. The Celtic Language was still the primary contributor in the regions of Wales and Scotland. (Middle English, n.d.). Simplicity is Golden: Middle English Brings Structural Change Introduction English became more streamlined during the Middle English period. Loan words influenced the structure of language, prosody, and spelling. Complex spellings of the Old English period were abandoned. Simplicity is Golden: Middle English Brings Structural Change Notable Changes- . The Old English use of y is replaced with i. . English is no longer an inflected language. . The root of the word is now more commonly stressed than the following syllables. . The thorn begins to be replaced by the "th", because of common confusion with the written y.

(Baugh and Cable, 2002 & Middle English, n.d.). Changes in Composition: The Old English Period The three primary languages that words were borrowed from during the Old English period are: Celtic, Latin, and Scandinavian. This is clearly illustrated because, "about a third of English vocabulary is nonnative." (Hogg, 2002 p. 13). Place names were commonly Celtic in Old English. It is thought that the Themes and London both have Celtic origins. Latin's influence was far more prevalent. Once Christianity was adopted a spate of household, religious, and domestic names such as: purple, chest, and mat entered into everyday usage. The Danes and their influence is not as clear because some words were nearly identical to Old English, but skin, skill, and whisk are examples of borrowed words; Old English did not contain such consonant blends. The period of the Danes slowed the progress of Latin incorporation into Old English. Anything but Stagnant: The Rise of Middle English. Introduction www.googleimages.com www.googleimages.com References Baugh A.C. and Cable T. (2002). A History of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. English and English History. (2012) The Kingdom of Sussex (South Saxons). Retrieved from http://www.englandandenglishhistory.com/anglo-saxon-history/early-english-timeline-410-1066-ad Google Images (n.d.) Retrieved from www.googleimages.com Hogg, R. (2002) An Introduction to Old English. Edinburgh Scotland: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from http://classcomtois.pbworks.com/f/An-Introduction-to-Old-English.pdf Lewis, M. P. (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex. SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/. Microsoft. (n.d.).Images. Retrieved from: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/ Middle English (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/fajardo/teaching/upperdiv/mideng.htm Shoebottom P. (2011a). The Differences Between English and Japanese. Retrieved from: http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/japanese.htm Shoebottom P. (2011b). The English Language. Retrieved from: http://esl.fis.edu/grammar langdiff/english.htm Thornemo T. (2004) Scandinavian Influences on the English Language. Department of Humanities: Mid-Sweden University. Retrieved from: http://dooku.miun.se/engelska/englishC/C-essay/HT03/Final/Therese%20Th%F6rnemo.pdf Mabillard A. (2011a). Shakespeare’s Birth. Retrieved from http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/shakespearebirth.html Mabillard A. (2011b). The Globe. Retrieved from http://www.shakespeare-online.com/theatre/globe.html Maggie -AloveofWords.com (2009). Shakespeare’s Contributions to English (part 1). Retrieved from: http://www.aloveofwords.com/2009/08/27/shakespeares-contributions-to-english-part-1/ The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon Introduction A Legend is Born Opportunist or Literary Genius Sphere of Influence The name William Shakespeare is almost synonymous with English literature during the Elizabethan period in England. His plays and sonnets are renowned worldwide for their themes and universal appeal, but the impact of Shakespeare extends even deeper that into the fabric, language, and culture of modern society. He probably had the largest personal impact upon the development of the English language as a whole. English would not be the language that is spoken today without the substantial influence of William Shakespeare upon it. ( Maggie, AloveofWords.com, 2009). In 1564 the world welcomed the future playwright that was William Shakespeare. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but Christening papers are marked with the date of April, 26 1564. He was lucky to survive the Black Plague and reach adulthood. (Mallibard, 2011). www.googleimages.com William Shakespeare's contribution to the English Language was quite significant. Around 2,000 words were supplied by Shakespeare because, "he didn't have a word that would fit exactly what he wanted to say, and he had a word, but it didn't fit in iambic pentameter." (Maggie-Aloveofwords, 2009). Some example of Shakespearean words are: accuse, swagger, and baseless. Shakespeare probably had such a prolific impact upon English, because of the popularity of his Dramatic works and Sonnets. The most well known theater associated with Shakespeare is Globe Theater that was constructed in 1599 and was the primary home for his acting troupe. (Mabillard, 2011b). www.googleimages.com Mabillard A. (2011c). Why Study Shakespeare. Retrieved from http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/whystudyshakespeare.html The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon Grammarian Turner of a Phrase For his purposes as a playwright, Shakespeare molded the English Language to suit the constructs of iambic pentameter. "He pronounced [e] for [i] in some words just as the pope still say tay for tea." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 234). Rhymes that are common in the English Language today did not exist before Shakespeare's usage brought it into greater focus, "Consequently sea...does not normally rhyme with see..." (Baugh and Cable, 2002 p. 234). This is also true for words with similar patterns and the differentiation when a word contained an [oo]. The breadth and scope that Shakespeare was able to accomplish was utterly astounding. It should be no surprise that he had, "the largest vocabulary of any English writer." (Baugh & Cable, 2002 p. 233). Shakespeare not only contributed a large amount of words to the English Lexicon, whole phrases came into usage because of popular exposure from plays. His contributions are everywhere even in modern speech, "Many of the common expressions now thought to be clichés were Shakespeare's creations." (Mabillard, 2011c). Some examples of Shakespearean turns of phrase are: It's all Greek to me, I'm in a pickle, and the devil incarnate. These phrases have become so common that most people don't realize that they are quoting Shakespeare when they use them. It's a clear illustration of Shakespeare's pervasiveness. Googleimages.com English is Unique: Continued With an estimated addition of 2,000 words to the English language; William Shakespeare was as prolific as he was entertaining. His unconventional use of words, structure, and language left an indelible mark upon the English Language, and Modern English has much to thank Shakespeare for, and that impact will continue to be felt for many years into the future. English along with the colonists made the journey for a new life in America. With this settlement came grammar, spelling, and pronunciation changes that are unique to American English and set it apart from its British counterpart. English is Unique: In Summary So, even though English is part of the Indo-European language family it developed uniquely with extensive Scandinavian, French, and Latin influences; it was shaped over three periods: Old English, Middle, Modern; with the help of Shakespeare; finally a distinction between American and British English appeared proving just how unique and adaptable the language truly is. www.googleimages.com Similar but not the Same: British and American English Introduction English originated in England, hence the use of the name, but it began its transformative journey across the Atlantic Ocean in or around 1607 with the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. (Brands, et al.,2009). Since that time English has grown and changed into distinct American and British varieties. www.googleimages.com www.googleimages.com Similar but not the Same: British and American English The Atlantic Divide Throughout history it has been shown that any distance can create change, and since the Atlantic Ocean created a measurable distance between England an America, it's no wonder American English evolved away from British English. This change has been addressed over the years because, "Often Americans were accused of corrupting the English Language by introducing new and unfamiliar words, whereas they were in fact only continuing to employ terms familiar in the seventeenth century that had become obsolete in England. (Baugh and Cable, 2002 p.390). American English British English A Rose by Any Other Colo(u)r: Syntax (Endings) or (color) er (Theater) m (program) ize (realize) l (cancel) ll (distill) og (analog) e (encyclopedia) se (defense) (Spelling Changes) f (sulfur) f or w (draft or plow) i (tire) ck (check) o (mold) g (aging) (spellzone, 2011) www.googleimages.com www.googleimages.com (Endings) our (colour) re (theatre) mme (programme) ise (realise) ll (cancell) l (distil) ogue (analogue) ae (encyclopaedia) ce (defence) (Spelling Changes) ph (sulphur) ugh (draught and Plough y (tyre) que (cheque) ou (mould) ge (ageing) (Spellzone, 2011) American English A Rose by Any Other Colo(u)r: Grammar Simple past tense- She ate too much. Verb agreement is singular with collective nouns. Take is a delexical verb. don't need will/should Prepositions- On the weekend. in (College) (This place is different) from/than. Write someone. got(ten) (Clandfield and Maxwell, 2012) British English Have/has+past participle- She's eaten too much Verb agreement is transitive with collective nouns. Do is an auxiliary verb. Have is a delexical verb. needn't shall Prepositions- At the weekend. at(University) (This place is different) to/from. Write to someone. got (Clandfield and Maxwell, 2012) www.googleimages.com Two Languages: Neither Better Nor Worse Acquisition from Common Usage The two main branches of the English language tree exist where, "England and America are two countries separated by the same language."(George Bernard Shaw, n.d.). They are share the same basic beginnings, but are not the same. Common words from Britain are: mad, sick, and rare. American words were also adopted into British English: jazz, movies, groovy, and cool. (Baugh and Cable, 2002). Language is always evolving, and it would be a disservice to its speakers if it were to always remain stagnant. Two Languages: Neither Better Nor Worse Discouraging Uniqueness: Purist Attitude The concept of language purity is nothing new and will continue to be debated as long as anyone remains with a Linguistic turn to them. British and American English were/are still engaged in such a debate, "anything that the individual purist objected to was more likely than not to be described as an Americanism." (Baugh and Cable, 2002 p. 393). Most of the time this thought process was invalid, because the words did not even originate in America. The purist attitude is elitist; there is no way to stop the expansion of language, and believing in such a thing is misguided. All languages develop unique characteristics. That should be celebrated not stifled. googleimages.com References Brands H.W. and et al. (2009). American Stories A History of the United States. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, Prentice Hall. Clandfeild L. and Maxwell K. G. (2012). Differences in American and British English grammar. Retrieved from http://www.onestopenglish.com/grammar/grammar-reference/american-english-vs-british-english/differences-in-american-and-british-english-grammar-article/152820.article George Bernard Shaw (n.d.) BrainyQuote. Retrieved from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgebern101278.html
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