In MEthe main donors of borrowings to English were French and Scandinavian Languages:
Basis for Comparison
since the 11th c. (Norman Conquest)
since the 9th c. (Scandinavian Invasion)
French borrowings started to penetrate from the South and spread northwards.
Scandinavian borrowings came to English from Northern and North-Eastern Dialects
Ways of Borrowing
French borrowings penetrated through oral and written speech and at first were adopted only by the high strata of the society (French was the language of the administration, king’s court, law courts, church (as well as Latin) and army).
Scandinavian borrowings penetrated only through oral speech as far as the Scandinavians had never been too eager to come to the power wherever they went. They were just raiders.
Assimilation of Borrowings
French borrowings were more difficult to assimilate as far as French was a Romance language while English was a Germanic one (they belonged to different language groups). So they two languages differed in some essential features (stress/accent, vocalic system, etc.) and the assimilation was hard.
Scandinavian borrowings were easier to assimilate as far as the Scandinavian Dialects as well as Old English Dialects were Germanic dialects (they all belonged to one and the same language group). So the languages were very similar and the assimilation was easy.
government and administration(assembly, authority, council, to govern, office, nation, etc.);
feudal system(baron, countess, duke, feudal, noble, etc.);
military (aid, arms, army, battle, defeat, force, etc.);
law (crime, court, jury, justice, false, defendant, etc.);
church (abbey, Bible, chapel, clergy, grace, etc.);
art, architecture(chimney, palace, colour, figure, design, etc.);
entertainment(pleasure, leasure, sport, dance, cards, etc.);
address(madam, sir, mister, etc.).
everyday life(cake, raft, skirt, birth, dirt, fellow, root, window, to die, etc.);
military(knife, fleet, etc.);
legal matters (law, husband, etc.);
some pronouns and conjunctions(they, their, them, both, though, etc.);
essential notion(N scar, anger; V to call, to take, to want to kill, to cast, to scare; Adj happy, ill, weak, wrong; Pron same, both; Prep till, fro, etc.).
Recognition in ModE
French borrowings are often recognisable due to some phonetic, word-building and spelling peculiarities:
oi, oy(point, joy, toy, etc.);
initial v(very, voice, etc.);
-age (village, carriage, etc.);
c as [s](pierce, city, etc.).
Scandinavian borrowings are hard to distinguish from the native words as far as Scandinavian Dialects belonged to the same language group (Germanic). The only distinctive Scandinavian feature in English:
Scandinavian cluster [sk](sky, skill, skin, skirt, etc.);
French borrowingsenlarged the English vocabulary(a lot of new words);
Some French borrowingsreplacedthe native words(very, river, easy,etc.);
French borrowingsenlargedthe number of synonyms in English:
native to hide – Fr. borr. to conceal,
native wish – Fr. borr. desire,
native smell – Fr. borr. odour, etc.
Some French affixes were borrowed into English (
com-, sub-, dis-, (prefixes)
-ment, -ish, -able, (suffixes)etc.).
A lot of Scandinavian borrowingsdisappeared, some were left only in dialects;
Some Scandinavian borrowingsreplacedthe native words(they, take, call, etc.);
Scandinavian borrowingsenlargedthe number of synonyms in English:
native to blossom – Scan. borr. to bloom,
native wish – Scan. borr. want,
native heaven – Scan. borr. sky, etc.
The surge of interest in the classics during the Age of the Renaissance led to a new wave of borrowings from Latin and Greek (through Latin mainly).
abstract concepts(anticipate, exact, exaggerate, explain, fact, dislocate, accommodation, etc. )
theatre(drama, episode, scene, theatre, etc.)
literature(anapest, climax, epilogue, rhythm, etc. )