ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF ENGLISH • The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. • These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany.
At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. • The Angles came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived.
Speakers of Old English called their language Englisc, themselves Angle, Angelcynn or Angelfolc and their home Angelcynn or Englaland. • Old English began to appear in writing during the early 8th century. Most texts were written in West Saxon, one of the four main dialects. The other dialects were Mercian, Northumbrian and Kentish.
MAIN DIALECTS OF OLD ENGLISH • Saxon • Northumbrian • Mercian • Kentish
The Anglo-Saxons adopted the styles of script used by Irish missionaries, such as Insular half-uncial, which was used for books in Latin. • A less formal version of minuscule was used for to write both Latin and Old English. • From the 10th century Anglo-Saxon scribes began to use Caroline Minuscule for Latin while continuing to write Old English in Insular minuscule. Thereafter Old English script was increasingly influenced by Caroline Minuscule even though it retained a number of distinctive Insular letter-forms.
OLD ENGLISH ALPHABETS • Old English / Anglo-Saxon was sometimes written with a version of the Runic alphabet, brought to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons until about the 11th century. • Runic inscriptions are mostly found on jewellery, weapons, stones and other objects. Very few examples of Runic writing on manuscripts have survived.
Venerable Bede was one of the important writers of this period. • He wrote Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum [Ecclesiastical History of the English People], completed in the year 731. • It is the most important source for the early history of England.
The land of Britain had been inhabited by Celtic peoples: the Scots and Picts in the north, and various groups in the south • Then, the Roman invaded them and they were ruled by King Claudius until 43 A.D • In 410 A.D, they were invaded by Germanic tribes • The Celts called the invaders Anglo-Saxon
The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms converted to Christianity in the late sixth and seventh centuries • By the late seventh and early eighth centuries had already produced two major authors: • Aldhelm, who composed his most important work, De Virginitate (On Virginity) • Venerable Bede, whose vast output includes biblical commentaries, homilies, textbooks on orthography, meter, rhetoric, nature and time, and of course the Historia Ecclesiastica,
The seventh and eighth century saw the production vast vernacular literature works written in Latin • Some of the famous literary works include: Beowulf The Seafarer The Dream of the The Battle of Road Maldon The Wanderer
King Alfred (871-899) who was noted for his strength and far-sightedness encouraged education • He documented many literary works and translation works from OE • Two reputable scholars during his time were Ælfric and Wulfstan • Many biblical translations and adaptations, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other historical writings, law codes, handbooks of medicine and magic, and much more were preserved
Most of the manuscripts that preserve vernacular works date from the late ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, • The Anglo-Saxons were producing written work in their own language by the early seventh century, and many scholars believe that Beowulf and several other important poems date from the eighth century. • Thus, we are in possession of five centuries of Anglo-Saxon vernacular literature.
WHERE DID THEIR LANGUAGE COME FROM? • Bede tells us that the Anglo-Saxons came from Germania • Germania is one of the IE languages that originate from one source language (proto language) • From this ancient language come most of the language groups of present-day Europe and some important languages of South Asia:
The Celtic languages (such as Irish, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic), the Italic languages (such as French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian, descended from dialects of Latin), the Germanic languages, the Slavic languages (such as Russian and Polish) • The Baltic languages (Lithuanian and Latvian), the Indo-Iranian languages (such as Persian and Hindi), and individual languages that do not belong to these groups: Albanian, Greek, and Armenian
3. The biblical Hittites spoke an Indo-European language, or a language closely related to the Indo-European family 4. A number of other extinct languages (some of them poorly attested) were probably or certainly Indo-European: Phrygian, Lycian, Thracian, Illyrian, Macedonian, Tocharian and others.
The Germanic branch of the Indo-European family is usually divided into three groups: North Germanic, that is, the Scandinavian languages, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese;
East Germanic, that is, Gothic, now extinct but preserved in a fragmentary biblical translation from the fourth century; West Germanic, which includes High German, English, Dutch, Flemish and Frisian.
WHAT WAS OLD ENGLISH LIKE? • The following point shows what makes Old English an Indo-European language, a Germanic language, a West Germanic and a Low German language; and also how Old and Modern English are related
Old English is an Indo-European language Proof One • All of the Indo-European languages handle the job of signalling the functions of words in similar ways. For example, all add endings to words. Example: Greek Sanskrit Latin pl.form of foot pódes pádas pedēs
Proof Two • OE is a Germanic language, for example Latin OE Mod.E paterfæder father
Proof Three • OE has similar consonants as Latin Unvoiced stops ([p], [t], [k]) became unvoiced spirants ([f], [θ], [x]), so that Old English fæder corresponds to Latin pater “father” Old English þrēo correspond to Latin tres “three” Old English habban “have” correspond to Latin capere 'take'.
Voiced stops ([b], [d], [g]) became unvoiced stops ([p], [t], [k]), so Old English dēop 'deep' corresponds to Lithuanian dubùs, twā 'two' corresponds to Latin duo Old English æcer 'field' to Latin ager.
The Germanic Family of Languages The family of languages that shows genetic link between OE and other languages in the Indo-European tree
During Old English Period, Britain was invaded by: • Romans • Germanic • Scandinavian
It is a period that lasted for 700 years. • Every invasion brought socio-cultural and linguistic change
ANGLO-SAXON INFLUENCE • A large percentage of the educated and literate population of the time were competent in Latin • Latin became the lingua franca of Europe at the time. • As a result, there was influx of Latin words in OE.
There were at least three notable periods of Latin influence. • The first occurred before the ancestral Saxons left continental Europe for Britain. • The second began when the Anglo-Saxons were converted to Christianity • Latin speaking priests became widespread.
The orthograpy changed from runic alphabet (also known as futhorc or fuþorc) to the Latin alphabet • This became a significant factor in the developmental of Latin during OE period. Old English words were spelt as they were pronounced. The "silent" letters in many Modern English words were pronounced in Old English: for example, the c in cniht, the Old English ancestor of the modern knight, was pronounced.
Another side-effect of spelling words phonetically was that spelling was extremely variable. • A word's spelling reflected differences in phonetics of the writer's regional dialect. • Words also endured idiosyncratic spelling choices of individual authors, some of whom varied spellings between works. Thus, for example, the word and could be spelt either and or ond.
SCANDINAVIAN INFLUENCE • The Scandinavian (the Vikings) invaded Britain in 787 CE • They spoke Old Norse. Along, they spread their influence on the English people
The second major source of loanwords to Old English was the Scandinavian words • In addition to a great many place names, these consist mainly of items of basic vocabulary, and words concerned with particular administrative aspects of the Danelaw (that is, the area of land under Viking control, which included extensive holdings all along the eastern coast of England and Scotland).
Many places in England has its names originated from Scandinavia • The influence of Old Norse on the English language has been profound: responsible for such basic vocabulary items as sky, leg, the pronoun they, the verb form are, and hundreds of other words
CELTIC INFLUENCE • The influence of Celtic on English has been small, citing the small number of Celtic loanwords taken into the language. The number of Celtic loanwords is of a lower order than either Latin or Scandinavian. • Celtic traits were more significant on English syntax during post-Old English period
Old English should not be regarded as a single monolithic entity similar to Mod.E • It consists of wide variation of languages • However, the bulk of it was written in dialect of Wessex, Alfred's kingdom. • Possibly, because he was in power and he was the one who made the compilation effort • He brought many scribes to his region from Mercia to record previously unwritten texts.
The Church was affected likewise, especially since Alfred initiated an ambitious programme to translate religious materials into English. • To retain his patronage and ensure the widest circulation of the translated materials, the monks and priests engaged in the programme worked in his dialect. • Alfred himself seems to have translated books out of Latin and into English, notably Pope Gregory I's treatise on administration, Pastoral Care.
DICTIONARY OF OLD ENGLISH (DOE) • The Dictionary of Old English (DOE) is a dictionary published by the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto under the direction of Angus Cameron (1941-1983), Ashley Crandell Amos (1951-1989), and Antonette diPaolo Healey.
It "defines the vocabulary of the first six centuries (600-1150 A.D.) of the English language, using today's most advanced technology. • The DOE complements the Middle English Dictionary (which covers the period 1100-1500 A.D.) and the Oxford English Dictionary, the three together providing a full description of the vocabulary of English."
SYNTAX WORD ORDER • The word order of Old English is widely believed to be subject-verb-object (SVO) as in modern English and most Germanic languages. • The word order of Old English, however, was not overly important because of the aforementioned morphology of the language. • As long as declension was correct, it did not matter whether you said, "My name is..." as "Mīnnama is..." or "Namamīn is..."