HISTORY of the ENGLISH LANGUAGE
The Basic Features of Germanic Languages.
Periods in the History of the English Language.
The Old English period.
The Middle English period.
The Modern English period.
The Basic Features of Germanic Languages.
ENG belongs to a group of related languages, which have descended from common Germanic, or Proto-Germanic as a distinct brunch of Indo-European family of languages.
Ethnic and linguistic disintegration resulted in division into 3 subgroups of GLs
East Germanic: Gothic, Vandalic [van-`da-lik]. All are dead.
North Germanic: Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish
West Germanic: ENG, German.
Inspite this subdivision GLs make a distinct group with the IE linguistic family due to their common features in: 1) phonetics; 2) grammar; 3) vocabulary.
These features were either inherited from the Proto-Germanic parent language or developed parallely in separate GLs later due to their mutual source.
Specific features of GLs in Phonetics
An essential feature of GLs separating them from other IE languages is their consonantal system, which developed from the original IE system. These regular correspondences between the consonants of GLs and IELs were discovered and systemized by Jacob Grimm Расмус Раск and Jacob Grimm. Called Grimm’s Law, or the 1st consonant shift.
/ p /
/ f /
Lat pater – Eng father
/ t /
/ þ /
Gr tres – Eng three
/ k /
/ h /
Lat octo – Goth ahtau
/ b /
/ p /
RU болото – Eng pool
/ d /
/ t /
Lat duo – Goth twan
/ g /
/ k /
RU иго – Eng yoke
/ bh /
/ b /
sanser bhratar – Eng brother
/ dh /
/ d /
sanser madhu – OE medu
/ gh /
/ g /
Lat hostiss - RU гость – DE gast
Instead of an expected voiceless stop in some word would appear a voiced stop. These was explained by Karl Verner.
In Proto-Germanic the stress was musical as in other ancient IELs. It was free and could fall at any syllable. In each word it was of course fixed.
After the 1st consonant shift it became tonic and was fixed on the root-syllable. Verner’s Law however shows that the root vowel in GLs might be unstressed and this lead to the conclusion that originally GLs has a free stress system.
In GLs the quality of a stressed vowel in some cases depended on the type of the sound that followed. This dependence is reflected in the notion of fracture. The fracture concerns two pairs of vowels: /e/ & /i/, /u/ & /o/.In the root syllable IE /e/ = G /i/
if followed by
1) /i/ 2) /j/ 3) nasal+consonant
else IE /e/ = G /e/
Lat medius – OE middle (средина)
Lat ventus – OE wind (ветер)
But Lat edere – OE etan (есть)
IE /u/ = G /u/
if followed by
1) /u/ 2) nasal+consonant
else IE /u/ = G /o/
Lat sunus – OE sunu (сын)
Vowel gradations was inherited by GLs from ancient IE family of languages. There are distinguished 2 kinds of gradation: qualitative & quantative
Different vowels appear alternatively in various forms of one and the same word.
In IE /e/ and /o/
In GL /i/ and /a/
// везу – воз, беру – сбор
// Goth hilpan – halp (preterit sg)
// OE bindan – bånd (preterit sg)
is represented by the alternation of a short vowel with the corresponding long one and also alternation of a short vowel with the zero of the vowel
// беру – брать
// OE findan P2 fnden fundan
Originally in GLs as in other IELs there were 3 essential structural parts of the substantive: root, stem suffix, case inflection.
In GLs adj declension is represented by
strong declension which is a combination of substentival and pronominal endings
weak declenstion which reflected the declension of n-stem substantives
Adj declension in all GLs have no parallel with other IE languages
The system of verbs of all GLs consisted of 3 types
strong verbs (the main mass)
united preterit-present verbs
2. Periods in the History of the English Language.
Taking in consideration the state of grammar H. Sweet subdivided the history of the EL into 3 periods:
the period of full endings
the period of leveled endings
the period of lost endings
Russian scholars take into consideration both extralinguistic and intralinguistic aspects:
OE period (5 – 11 cent.)
(germ. settlement of A, S, J. – 4 AD. or with the beginning of writing in the 7th century. Ends with the Norman conquest 1066) – у студентов нет / усн
(Norman conquest – end of the was of Roses in the end of the 14th century. 15th century introduction of a printed book) - усн
2.a EMidE 12-13 сent.
2.b.LMidE 14-15 cent.
ModE 15 – nowardays
LModE since 1700
(some modern linguists distinguish Present day E., influenced by AE
The EModE was a time of great historical importance)
3. The old English period.
At its earliest stage ENG was represented by a number of disunited dialects.
With the growth of the feudal system tribal dialects became local, regional dialects.
During the OE period there were 4 main dialects:
Nothambrian – spoken by Angles living north of Humba
Marcian – spoken by Angles between the Humba and the Themes
West-Saxon – Saxons south of the Themes
Kentish – Jutes in the South-East of the Br. Isles
(Each of the dialects represented by a number of written records
runic texts of the “Ruthwell Cross”, “Frank’s Cuscet”, translations of the gospels, “Bede’s dying song”
translation of the Psalter (9th century), religious hymns
King Alfred’s words (original & translations), A-S Chronicle, Work of Abbat Alfred (10 c.), Sermons of Wolfsten (early 11 c.)
Translation of Psalm (L-XX) and old Charters (хартии)
As to the dialect of the OE poems “Beowolf”, “Genesis”, “Exodus”, “Judith” and poems by the monk Synowolf it is difficult to define their locality (anglian and saxon forms). Ильиш thinks these were written in the anglian dialect in the period of saxon supremacy.
West-Saxon dialect in the 9th c. became the dominating literary language.) - усн
OE vowels made a symmetrical system where short monophthongs were opposed to long ones, and short diphthong were opposed to long diphthongsmonophthongs
a æ e I o u y
ea eo ia io
a: æ: e: I: o: u: y:
ea: eo: ia: io:
Verner’s Law: all the Common Germanic fricative consonants became voiced between vowel in interlocal position if the preceding vowel was unstressed. In the absence of these conditions they remained voiceless (f >b, þ>d, h>g)
One of the earliest consonant changes effected the voiceless fricatives /f/, /θ/, /s/, /Ɣ/. Their development is summarized in Verner’s Law.
unstressed vowel+voiceless stop voiceless fricative voiced fricative voiced stop
/t/ /þ/ /ð/ /d/
//in the Gr word patěr the voiceless stop /t/ was preceded by an unstressed root vowel. Under these conditions the voiceless fricative /þ/ which had developed from it in accordance with the 1st consonant shift became a voiced fricative /ð/ and finally it developed into the voiced stop /d/, i.e. Lat patěr OE fæder
/k/ /h/ /ɣ/ /g/
Besides under Verner’s Low – the rotacism. In West- and North-Germanic Languages /s/ /z/ /r/
Goth hausjan – OE hӯran – Germ hören
In the word-changing paradigm of notional PofS certain forms might bear the results of Verner’s Law, while others had none.
// wesan (быть) wæs (был) wæron (были)
// weorþan (становиться) wearþ (стал) wurdon (стали) worden (превращенный)
The consonant pairs involved in grammatical alternation were f/b, þ/d, h/g, hw/w, s/r.
У студентов закон Вернера дан в сжатом виде
4. The Middle English period.
During the MidE period the whole system of OE vowel suffered considerable changes, either quantitative or qualitative. Quite often these changes had dialectal peculiarities and to reflect them it is necessary to describe the subdivision of the MidE dialects.
In MidE OE dialects regrouped in accordance with the geographical principle. There were the following essential groups
It had developed from the OE Northumbrian dialects; in MidE they also comprised the dialects of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
It had developed from the OE Mercian dialect; in MidE this group was represented by two main areas – West Midland and East Midland
They comprised the OE Kentish, WS and East Saxon dialects. The latter was not significant in OE but became more important in EMidE since it made part of the London dialect, which during MidE gradually established its priority over other dialects.
OE palatal stops /k’/, /g’g’ and /sk’/ changed their pronunciation in MidE
/k’/ /ʧ/ OE cild MidE child, tæc(e)an techen
/g’g’/ /ʤ/ OE ecʒe MidE edge, brycʒe bridʒe
/sk’/ /ʃ/ OE sceal MidE shal, scēap sheep
All the 3 consonants were new phonemes in the languange. The sound /ʃ/ enriched the group of fricatives,/ʧ/, /ʤ/ made a new consonant type – affricates.
Linguists are not unanimous in dating this change. Iljish – MidE, Ivanova&Rastorgueva – back in the very end of the OE period.
Here such pairs as /x/ - /x’/, /Ɣ/ - /Ɣ’/ were affected. After their vocalization during the MidE period the system of consonant was reduced by four sounds.
Appeared at the end of the 15th century. Developed form the OE combination of n + velar stop /g/.
// OE /bringan/ - LMidE /briŋ/, /singan/ - /siŋ/
//OE /ælc/ EMidE elch LMidE ech ‘each’
// smylc swulch such ‘such’
// OE hæfde EMidE havde LMidE had(e) > had
Midland sēn – South zēn (‘seen’)
In general consonant changes of the MidE period were of a phonemic character since they resulted either in the development of new phonemes or their disappearance.
Thus, OE v-f, ð-θ all got in MIdE the status of separate phonemes.
Besides such new phones as /ʧ/, /ʤ/, /ʃ/ and the phoneme /ŋ/ enriched the system of MidE consonants.
Vocalization of fricatives was a reverse. After two pairs x-x’ and Ɣ-Ɣ’ had disappeared.
Simplifying changes of consonants moved MidE words nearer to their modern shape.
5. The Modern English period. Consonant changes in the ModE period
In the EModE period there took place a change after which the phoneme /ʃ/ got its voiced counter part /ʒ/. This change is associated primarily with the phonetic assimilation of loaned words, mainly French. The process of their assimilation was accomplished by the shift of the stress from the fianal (or the last but one syllable) onto the root syllable, usually the initial one. The final syllable which thus became unstressed and weakened suffered phonetical changes. The vowels in it were reduced or dropped. And the consonant clusters tended to fuse into a single sound.
Such combinations as
/sj/ /ʃ/ ancient
/tj/ /ʧ/ nature, question, fortune
/zj/ /ʒ/ measure, leisure, pleasure
/dj/ /ʤ/ soldier
These changes occurred if they followed a stress vowel. If they preceded in NO fusion took slace.
// sude /sjud/, dute /djut/, mature /matjure/.
Only sure & sugar made the exception from the rule.
In a few words 2 pronunciations may be heard. issue /issju/ = /iʃju/. According to Ильиш the 2dnd variant was influenced by the spelling of these words.
Systematic change. The sounds /s/, /f/, /θ/, /ʧ/ and the cluster /ks/ were affected by it in the following way
s z MidE /was/ - EModE /woz/ was
f v /ǝf/ /ǝv/ of
θ ð /θis/ /ðis/ this
ʧ dʒ /know’leʧ/ /’noliʤ/ knowledge
ks gz /eksi’biʃn/ / ig’zibit/ exhibit
kn, gn lost their velar sounds k/g which however were retained in spelling in: know, knee, knight, gnat, gnaw
hw after the grafic metatheses could lose either of its two sounds
// when, why, what, where, which
// who, whos, whom
wr lost the initial sound //wreck, write, wrong
mn the second nasal sound was dropped .//column, autumn
mb the second sound dropped by retained in spelling //lamb, climb. After this simplification the final mute b began to be added to the words in which it had never been spelled or pronounced before
OE cruma – EModE crumb (крошка)
OE liomu – EModE limb (член, конечность)
stl, ftn the sound /t/ was dropped //castle, often, listen
lf, lk, lm, lv several bi-phonemic chlusters with l as there first sound were also simplified after the loss of l. In spelling l is preserved //calf, folk, halves
As a rule simplification of consonant cluster were not reflected in spelling which contributed difficulty to ENG spelling and pronunciation.
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