English language

  • 03 апр. 2011 г.
  • 3883 Слова
на тему «Old English»

English Language, chief medium of communication of people in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and numerous other countries. It is the official language of many nations in the Commonwealth of Nations and is widely understood and used in all of them. It is spoken in more parts of theworld than any other language and by more people than any other tongue except Chinese.
English belongs to the Anglo-Frisian group within the western branch of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages. It is related most closely to the Frisian language, to a lesser extent to Netherlandic (Dutch-Flemish) and the Low German (Plattdeutsch) dialects, and more distantly toModern High German. Its parent, Proto-Indo-European, was spoken around 5,000 years ago by nomads who are thought to have roamed the south-east European plains.

I. Vocabulary
The English vocabulary has increased greatly in more than 1,500 years of development. The most nearly complete dictionary of the language, the Oxford English Dictionary (13 vols., 1933), a revised edition of A New EnglishDictionary on Historical Principles (10 vols., 1884-1933; supplements), contains 500,000 words. It has been estimated, however, that the present English vocabulary consists of more than 1 million words, including slang and dialect expressions and scientific and technical terms, many of which only came into use after the middle of the 20th century. The English vocabulary is more extensive than that ofany other language in the world, although some other languages—Chinese, for example—have a word-building capacity equal to that of English. It is, approximately half Germanic (Old English and Scandinavian) and half Italic or Romance (French and Latin) and extensive, constant borrowing from every major language, especially from Latin, Greek, French, and the Scandinavian languages, and from numerousminor languages, accounts for the great number of words in the English vocabulary. From Old English have come cardinal and ordinal numbers, personal pronouns, and numerous nouns and adjectives: from French have come intellectual and abstract terms, as well as terms of rank and status, such as duke, marquis, and baron. In addition, certain processes have led to the creation of many new words aswell as to the establishment of patterns for further expansion. Among these processes are onomatopoeia, or the imitation of natural sounds, which has created such words as burp and clink; affixation, or the addition of prefixes and suffixes, either native, such as mis- and -ness, or borrowed, such as ex- and -ist; the combination of parts of words, such as in brunch, composed of parts of breakfastand lunch; the free formation of compounds, such as bonehead and downpour; back formation, or the formation of words from previously existing words, the forms of which suggest that the later words were derived from the earlier ones—for example, to jell, formed from jelly; and functional change, or the use of one part of speech as if it were another, for example, the noun shower used as a verb, toshower. The processes that have probably added the largest number of words are affixation and especially functional change, which is facilitated by the peculiarities of English syntactical structure.

II. Development of the Language
Three main stages are usually recognized in the history of the development of the English language. Old English, known formerly as Anglo-Saxon, dates from AD 449 to1066 or 1100. Middle English dates from 1066 or 1100 to 1450 or 1500. Modern English dates from about 1450 or 1500 and is subdivided into Early Modern English, from about 1500 to 1660, and Late Modern English, from about 1660 to the present time.
A. Old English Period
Old English, a variant of West Germanic, was spoken by certain Germanic peoples (Angles, Saxons, and Jutes) of the regions...
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