Chapter 2 The sources of the English Vocabulary. The English people are of a mixed blood. At the beginning of the fifth century Britain was invaded by three tribes from the Northern Europe: the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. .
of the English Vocabulary
The English people are of a mixed blood. At the beginning of the fifth century Britain was invaded by three tribes from the Northern Europe: the Angles, Saxons and Jutes.
These three tribes landed on the British coast, drove the Britons west and north and settled down on the island.
These three three tribes merged into one people: the English people and the three dialects they spoke naturally grew into a single language: the English language.
The world has nearly 3,000 languages, which can be grouped into roughly 300 language families on the basis of similarities in their basic word stock and grammar. The Indo-European is made up of most of the languages of Europe, the near East, and India.
Czech Russian Prussian Polish
Slovenian Lithuanian Bulgarian
Persian Bengali Hindi Romany
Derived from Sanskrit
Celtic Italic Germanic Hellenic
Scottish Irish Welsh Breton
Italian Portuguese Spanish
German Dutch Flemish English
Norwegian Icelandic Danish Swedish
Middle English ( 1150---1500)
Modern English (1500---Now)
Late :1700--- present
After the Romans, the Germanic tribes called angles, Saxons, and Jutes came. Soon they took permanent control of the land, which was to be called England. Their language, historically known as Anglo-Saxon, dominated and almost totally blotted out the Celtic.
Celtic made only a small contribution to the English vocabulary with such words as crag and bin and some place names like Avon, Kent, London, Themes. Now people generally refer to Anglo-Saxon as old English.
in the 6th century:Latin speaking Roman missionaries came to spread Christianity in Britain. The introduction of Christianity had a great impact on the English vocabulary. It brought many new ideas and customs and also many religious terms: abbot, candle, altar, amen, apostle.
In the 9th century: the land was invaded again by Norwegian and Danish Vikings. They came first to plunder, then to conquer. Finally they succeeded in placing a Danish king on the throne of England. With the invaders, many scandinavian words came into English.
These new words did not identify new ideas and objects. They were everyday words for which the English had terms and expressions. Many words were exactly alike, such as father, husband, house, life, man,mother, summer and winter.Other words were so much alike that they were used interchangeably.
It is estimated that at least 900 words of Scandinavian origin have survived in modern English, such as skirt, skill, window, leg, grasp, birth, they ,their, them and egg.
Old English has a vocabulary of about 50,000 to 60,000 words. It was a highly inflected language just like modern German. Therefore, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs ahs complex endings or vowel changes, or both.
Old English began to undergo much change when the Normans invaded England from France in 1066.The Norman conquest started a continual flow of French words into English.
The English were defeated, but not killed off, nor were they driven from their country. They were reduced to the status of an inferior people. Norman French became the polite speech.
By the end of the 11th century, almost all of the people who held political or social power and many of those in powerful church positions were of Norman French origin.
By the end of the 13th century, English gradually came back into the schools, the law courts, and government and regained social status thanks to Wycliff translation of the Bible and the writings of Chaucer.
Between 1250 and 1500 about 9,000 words of French origin poured into English. We can find words relating to every aspect of human society, e.g. Government, social scales, law, religion, moral matters, military affairs, food ,fashion, etc.
For example: state, power, prince, duke, judge, court, crime, angel, mercy, peace, battle, pork, bacon, fry, roast, dress, coat.
Middle English retained much fewer inflections. Endings of nouns and adjectives marking distinction of number, came and often of gender lost their distinctive forms. If we say old English was a language of full endings, Middle English was one of levelled endings.
In the early period of Modern English, Europe saw a new upsurge of learning ancient Greek and Roman classics. This is known in history as the Renaissance.
Latin and Greek were recognized as the languages of the Western world’s great literary heritage and of great scholarship, but translators were rapidly making great literary works available in English.
Translators and scholars borrowed heavily from the Latin vocabulary of their source materials during this period and many Latin words became part of English vocabulary.
In the mid-seventeenth century, England experienced Bourgeois Revolution followed by the Industrial Revolution and rose to be a great economic power. With the growth of colonization. British tentacles began stretching out to every corner of the globe.
Since the beginning of the last century, esp, after World War II, the world has seen breathtaking advances in science and technology. Many new words have been created to express new ideas, etc. ,yet more words are created by means of word-formation.
In modern English, word endings were mostly lost with just a few exceptions. English has evolved from a synthetic language to the present analytic language.
English words may fall into the basic word stock and non-basic vocabulary by use frequency, into content words and functional words by notion and into native words and borrowed words by origin.
All national character: Words of the basic word stock denote the most common things and phenomena of the world around us, which are indispensable to all the people who speak the language.
As they denote the commonest things necessary to life, they are likely to remain unchanged. Stability, however, is only relative.
Words of the basic word stock are most root words or monosyllabic words; They can form new words with other roots and affixes
Waterline waterhead waterfall waterfront waterlocks waterman waterside waterskin waterway waterproof water-sic water-ski
watermanship watered-down watercart water-rate water-police water-fast
footfall, footed, footloose, footling,
footman, footing, footprint
cheap, dog-ear, dog-fall, dogfight,
doghole, dog-paddle, dogsleep
Words belonging to the basic word stock often possess more than one meaning because most of them have undergone semantic changes in the course of use and become polysemous.见21页
Many words of the basic word stock have strong collocability:
after one’s heart,
cry one’s heart out,
eat one’s heart out,
a heart of gold,
break one’s heart,
cross one’s heart,
have one’s heart in one’s mouth,
heart and hand,
take sth to heart,
wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve,
with all one’s heart.
1) usu. Words technical in sense:
It belongs to the sub-standard language:
cancer stick: cigarette
dish the dirt: gossip or spread rumours about others
feel no pain: be drunk
in the soup: in serious trouble
bring down: disappoint
Native words are words brought to Britain in the 5th century by the German tribes: the Angles, the saxons, and the Jutes.
Native words denote the commonest things in human society, they are used by all people, in all places on all occasions, and at all times.They are not stylistically specific.
Begin (E)--- commence (French)
brotherly(E)--- fraternal (F)
answer (E) --- replay (F)
fall (E) --- autumn (F)
It is estimated that English borrowings constitute 80 percent of the modern English vocabulary.
denizens: they are words borrowed early in the past and now are well assimilated into the English language.
pork: porc(F) 见25页
Aliens: they are words which have retained their original pronounciation and spelling. These words are immediately recognisable as foreign in origin.
Translation-loans: translation loans are words and expressions formed from the existing material in the English language but modelled on the patterns taken from another language.
long time no see(CH)
masterpiece: meisterstuck (G)
black humour:humour noir
Words of this category are not borrowed with reference to the form, but their meanings.
Semantic borrowings also refer to words which have acquired a new meaning under the influence of other languages.
“Pioneer” once signifying” explorer” only or “ person doing pioneering work” has now taken on the new meaning of “ a member of the Young Pioneer” from Russian
“Fresh” has adopted the meaning of “ impertinent, sassy, cheeky” under the influence of the German word “ frech”.
in the English vocabulary
An interesting feature of the language is a number of Danish forms existing side by side with the English forms in the English vocabulary
The Scandinavian words into English were not only nouns, adjectives, but also pronouns, prepositions, adverbs, and verbs.
1. French loan words in the middle English period
2. French loan words after the middle English period
connected with government:
government, administration, state, crown, authority, court
religion, theology, prayer, dean, lesson, clerk, devotion
Justice, judgment, crime, evidence, proof, blame, arrest,
Army, peace, enemy, arms, captain, defence, soldier, guard,
Dress,cloak, collar, button, boots, diamond, beef, pork, mutton, bacon, biscuit, cream, sugar, orange, lemon.
Art, painting, learning, beauty, colour, figure, image, tragedy, title, story, pen
The words are connected chiefly with arts, with food and drink, with fashion and with diplomacy.