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Scandinavian Borrowings in English

Unless you are a specialist, it is very difficult to pick out Scandinavian loan-words in English. This is because they seem to have the same quality and texture as Anglo-Saxon words. They are ordinary, everyday words, and quite often monosyllabic and include grammatical words (like the verb are (to be), or the pronouns their, them and they and some of the commonest words in English today like bag, dirt, fog, knife, flat, low, odd, ugly, want, trust, get, give, take, raise, smile and though. A good number of sc- or sk- words today are of Scandinavian origin (scathe, scorch, score, scowl, scrape, scrub, skill, skin, skirt, sky). Scandinavian loan-words are therefore more usefully considered as core items. Why is this so?
• The English and Scandinavian belong to the same Germanic racial, cultural and linguistic stock originally and their language, therefore, shared common grammatical features and words. But changes had occurred in the languages during the couple of centuries of separation of the two sets of people.
• The Scandinavians came to settle, rather than conquer or pillage. They lived alongside the Anglo-Saxons on more or less equal terms.
• Under the Norman French, particularly, the two different groups fashioned a common life together as subjects.

Under these conditions,
(a) the English word sometimes displaced the cognate Scandinavian word: fish instead of fisk; goat instead of gayte;
(b) the Scandinavian word sometimes displaces the cognate English word: egg instead of ey, sister instead of sweoster;
(c) both might remain, but with somewhat different meanings: dike-ditch, hale-whole, raise-rise, sick-ill, skill-craft, skirt-shirt;
(d) the English word might remain, but takes on the Scandinavian meaning dream (originally ‘joy’, ‘mirth’, ‘music’, ‘revelry’); and
(e) the English words that were becoming obsolete might be given a new lease of life, eg dale and barn.

 

24) The English language that is spoken today is the direct result of 1066 and the Norman Conquest. Modern English is vastly different from that spoken by the English prior to the Conquest, both in its word-hoard and its grammar. In order to understand what happened, and why, it is necessary to look at both English and Norman French before 1066, and then the Middle English that resulted from their interaction.

Old English

Old English was a highly inflected member of the West Germanic language family. It had two numbers, three genders, four cases, remnants of dual number and instrumental case, which could give up to 30 inflectional forms for every adjective or pronoun. Its syntax was only partially dependent on word order and has a simple two tense, three mood, four person (three singular, one plural) verb system. The spelling of Old English is strictly phonetic.

As a result of the Viking wars and the subsequent settlement of many speakers of Old Norse, a North Germanic language, the introduction of new words and a simplification of the grammar had already started to take place. This was more marked in those areas in the North, Midlands and East Anglia where the Danes and Norwegians settled in large numbers. Although the two languages were mutually understandable, a modern day comparison would be a Geordie talking to a Cockney with neither making any concession to the other.



The language had four major dialects: Northumbrian, Mercian, West Saxon, and Kentish. As the kings of Wessex (West Saxons) gradually emerged as kings of all England, West Saxon dominated the written form of the language. As such, it gradually became less reflective of the spoken language, especially in the Danelaw.

Norman French

A legacy of the Roman Empire was the fact that the area west of the Rhine spoke Latin. The Latin they spoke, however, was not the highly inflected Classical Latin, used by the church and scholars, but the common, or Vulgar Latin of the soldiers and the market place. This Vulgar Latin, as it had no one controlling or regulating its use, brought in words from the languages of the local populace. For this reason people who speak Spanish , Italian, Catalan, Occitan, Romanian, Portuguese and French, though similar, even by 1066 were not able to understand one another.

French had brought in many words from the Gauls who originally occupied the land. In addition they had suffered conquest and settlement from various Germanic Tribes such as the Goths and Vandals, and finally the Franks, who gave the country its new name. From these peoples came additional words.

There were two major divisions in French: langue d'oil in the north; langue d'oc in the south (oil and oc being variations of 'yes'). Langue d'oc was nearer to Catalan than it was to Langue d'oil.

Langue d'oil had three major dialects , namely those of Picardy, Ile de Paris and Norman. The Northmen (Danes and some Norwegians) who had taken the land and settled there influenced Norman French. Its proximity to England had also allowed some English words to slip in, noticeably nautical terms. The English language that is spoken today is the direct result of 1066 and the Norman Conquest. Modern English is vastly different from that spoken by the English prior to the Conquest, both in its word-hoard and its grammar. In order to understand what happened, and why, it is necessary to look at both English and Norman French before 1066, and then the Middle English that resulted from their interaction.


 

25) The Normans in England belonged to the Capetian dynasty spoke Norman French; this became non-prestigious in France as the variety spoken by the Angevian dynasty in France, Parisian French, became the prestige variety; because Norman French was seen as socially inferior, it was less difficult to abandon it in favour of English;
subsequently, England became at war with France in the Hundred Years War (1337-1453).
Even as English was on its way in, the gaps in English vocabulary had to be filled by loanwords from French. These include items pertaining to new experiences and ways of doing things introduced by the Normans.
domains that became enriched with French loanwords include: Government: parliament, government; Finance: treasure, poverty; Law: jury, verdict; War: battle, castle; Religion: charity, saint; Art, fashion, etc.: beauty, colour; Cuisine: bacon, mutton; Household Relationships: uncle, aunt.

 

26)French borrowings
The influence of French on the English spelling.

The largest group of borrowings are French borrowings. Most of them came into English during the Norman Conquest. French influenced not only the vocabulary of English but also it’s spelling, because French scribes wrote documents as the local population was mainly illiterate, and the ruling class was French. Runic letters remaining in English after the Latin alphabet was borrowed were substituted by Latin letters and combinations of letters, e.g. «v» was introduced for the voiced consonant /v/ instead of «f» in the intervocal position /lufian - love/, the digraph «ch» was introduced to denote the sound /ch/ instead of the letter «c» / chest/ before front vowels where it had been palatalized, the digraph «sh» was introduced instead of the combination «sc» to denote the sound /sh/ /ship/, the digraph «th» was introduced instead of the Runic letters «0» and « » /this, thing/, the letter «y» was introduced instead of the Runic letter «3» to denote the sound /j/ /yet/, the digraph «qu» substituted the combination «cw» to denote the combination of sounds /kw/ /queen/, the digraph «ou» was introduced to denote the sound /u:/ /house/ (The sound /u:/ was later on diphthongized and is pronounced /au/ in native words and fully assimilated borrowings). As it was difficult for French scribes to copy English texts they substituted the letter «u» before «v», «m», «n» and the digraph «th» by the letter «o» to escape the combination of many vertical lines /«sunu» - «son», luvu» - «love»/.

Borrowing of French words.

There are the following semantic groups of French borrowings:

a) words relating to government : administer, empire, state, government;

b) words relating to military affairs: army, war, banner, soldier, battle;

c) words relating to jury: advocate, petition, inquest, sentence, barrister;

d) words relating to fashion: luxury, coat, collar, lace, pleat, embroidery;

e) words relating to jewelry: topaz, emerald, ruby, pearl ;

f) words relating to food and cooking: lunch, dinner, appetite, to roast, to stew.

Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650, mainly through French literature, but they were not as numerous and many of them are not completely assimilated. There are the following semantic groups of these borrowings:

a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie, brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

b) words relating to military affairs: corps, echelon, fuselage, manouvre;

c) words relating to buildings and furniture: entresol, chateau, bureau;

d) words relating to food and cooking: ragout, cuisine.

 

 

27)

 

 


Date: 2015-01-29; view: 2668


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