Билеты по истории английского языка (The history of the English language)
Билеты по истории английского языка (The history of the English language)
1. Periods in the history of English.
history of English covers roughly 1200 years.
The commonly accepted, traditional
periodisation divides English history into three periods:
The Old English period (OE)
begins about 700 a. d. (it’s the time to which the earliest writings in English
belong), and lasts till about 12th
The Middle English period (ME) lasts from about the beginning of the 12th
century till 15th century.
The Modern English period (MnE)
begins at about 15th century and lasts to the present day.
Within the Modern English period it’s
customary to distinguish between Early Modern English - 1500 - 1660, and
Late Modern English - 1660 - …
Synchronic and Diachronic Aspects.
Before embarking on a study of the historical
development of the English language we will briefly consider the two aspects of
such study, now commonly called the synchronic
and the diachronic.
We would get a descriptive grammar of the
language of the period. Thus, a study of the language of Chaucer and his
contemporaries would yield a system of Middle English grammar. A study of the
language of King Alfred’s works and translations, of Old English poems, and
other texts of the period would be synchronic
as a study of 20th- century language.
A different kind of study is that which seeks
to establish the changes which occurred in this or that sphere of the language;
this would yield a diachronic result.
Let us illustrate this statement by one
The study of the system of substantives in the
9th c. leads to the conclusion that in Old English the substantives
had four cases: the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. In a similar
way, the study of the system of substantives in the 14th c. leads to
the conclusion that in Middle English the substantive had two cases: the common
and the genitive. Both these conclusions are strictly synchronic. But when we
compare the results obtained by the study of the 9th and of the 14th
c., and draw the conclusion that during the intervening centuries the number of
cases of substantives was reduced from four to two, this is a diachronic
statement. Such reasoning of course applies to many other phenomena.
of the English Language. Languages in England before English.
The English Language originated from Anglo-
Frisian dialects, which made part of the West Germanic language group. The
Germanic tribes which conquered Britain in the 5th c. belonged, as
ancient historians say, to three tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes.
These tribes occupied the following territories on the continent: the Angles
lived north of the Schlei river; the Saxons lived in modern Holstein; the Jutes
lived in Northern Sleswick, which is now part of Denmark. About the 4th
century A. D. (Anno Domini) these tribes spread westwards.
The earliest mention of the British Isles is
in the 4th c. B. C. (Before Christ). At this time Britain was inhabited by Celtic tribes (Britons and Gaels), who spoke various Celtic
Celtic languages are divided into two main
groups: the Gallo- Breton and the Gaelic. The Gallo- Breton group comprises (1)
Gallic, which was spoken in Gaul (modern France), and (2) British, represented
by Welsh (or Cymry) in Wales, Cornish in Cornwall (became extinct in the 18th
c.), and Breton in Brittany. The Gaelic group comprises (1) Irish, (2) Scots,
so- called Erse, (3) Manx, on the isle of Man, between Scotland and Ireland.
Writings in OE. OE poetry. “Beowulf”. Наиболее яркие произведения OE.
Among the earliest insertions in Latin texts
are pieces of OE poetry. Bede’s HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA GENTIS ANGLORUM
(written in Latin in the 8th c.) contains an English fragment of
five lines known as “Bede’s Death Song” and a religious poem of nine lines,
All in all we have about 30, 000 lines of OE
verse from many poets of some three centuries. The names of the poets are
unknown except Cadmon and Cynewulf, two early Northumbrian authors.
The greatest poem of the time was BEOWULF, an
epic of the 7th or 8th c. It was originally composed in
the Mercian or Northumbrian dialect, but has come down to us in a 10th
c. It is based on old legends about the tribal life of the ancient Teutons. The
author is unknown.
In the 10th c. some new war poems
were composed and inserted in the prose historical chronicles: THE BATTLE OF
BRUNANBURH, THE BATTLE OF MALDON.
Another group of poems are OE elegiac
(lyrical) poems: WIDSITH (“The Traveller’s Song”), THE WANDERER, THE
SEAFARER, and others.
Religious poems paraphrase, more or less
closely, the books of the Bible - GENESIS, EXODUS. ELENE, ANDREAS, CHRIST,
FATE OF THE APOSTLES tell the life- stories of apostles and saint or deal
with various subjects associated with the Gospels.
OE prose is a most valuable source of
information for the history of the language. The earliest samples of continuous
prose are the first pages of the ANGLO - SAXON CHRONICLES (by King Alfred,
VII - IX c.): brief annals of the year’s happenings made at various
One of the most important contributions is the
West Saxon version of Orosius’s World History. Alfred’s other translations were
a book of instruction for parish priests PASTORAL CARE (CURA PASTORARIS) by
Pope Gregory the Great; The famous philosophical treatise ON THE
CONSOLATION OF PHILOSOPHY by Boethius, a Roman philosopher and seaman.
By the 10th c. the West Saxon
dialect had firmly established itself as the written form of English. The two
important 10th c. writers are AElfric and Wulfstan.
AElfric was the most outstanding writer of the
later OE period. He produced the LIVES OF THE SAINTS, the COLLOQUIUM and
a LATIN GRAMMAR.
Wulfstan, the second prominent late West Saxon
author, was Archbishop of York in the early 11th c. He is famous for
his collections of passionate sermons known as the HOMILIES.
5. The Roman conquest.
In 55 B. C. the
Romans under Julius Caesar first landed in Britain. This first appearance of
the Romans had no further consequences (последствие): after a brief stay the Romans went back to Gaul. In the year 54 Caesar landed in Britain for a second time, he routed (разгромил) the Britons and
advanced (продвинулся) as far as the Thames. But this stay was also a short one.
Permanent conquest (постоянные завоевания)
of Britain began in 43 A. D., under the emperor Claudius. The Romans subdued (подчинили) the Britons, and colonized the country,
establishing a great number of military camps, which eventually (в конце концов) developed into English
cities. About 80 A. D., under the emperor Domitian, the Romans reached the
river Glotta (the Clyde) and the river Bodotria (the Forth). Thus, they
occupied a territory including the modern cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In this period Britain became a Roman province. This colonization had a profound (глубоки)
effect on the country. Roman civilization –
paved (вымощенный) roads,
powerful walls of military camps – completely transformed the aspect (вид) of the country. The Latin
language superseded (сменять) the Celtic dialects in township and probably also
spread over the country- side. In the 4th c., when Christianity was
introduced in the Roman Empire, it also spread among the Britons.
The Romans ruled Britain for almost four hundred years, up to the early 5th c. In 410 Roman
legions were recalled from Britain to defend Italy from the advancing Goths; so
the Britons had to rely on their own forces in the coming struggle with
6. The Anglo- Saxon conquest.
It was about mid- 5th
c. that Britain was conquered by Germanic tribes. An old saying names the year
449 as the year of the conquest, and Hengest and Horsa as the two leaders of
the invaders (захватчик).
The Britons fought
against the conquerors for about a century and a half – till about the year
600. It is also this epoch that the legendary figure of the British king Arthur
settled in Britain in the following way. The Angles occupied most of the
territory north of the Thames; the Saxons, the territory south of the Thames
and some stretches north of it; the Jutes settled in Kent and in the Isle of Wight.
Since the settlement
of the Anglo- Saxons in Britain the ties of their language with the continent
were broken, and in its further development it went its own ways. It is at this
time, the 5th c., that the history of the English language begins.
territory was England except Cornwall, Wales, and Strathclyde. These western
regions the Britons succeeded in holding, and they were conquered much later: Cornwall in the 9th, Strathclyde in the 11th, and Wales in the 13th c.
Highlands, where neither Romans nor Teutons had penetrated (проникать), were inhabited by
Picts and Scots. The Scots language, belonging to the Celtic group, has
survived in the Highlands up to our own days.
Ireland also remained Celtic: the first attempts at conquering it were made in the 12th
7. Phonetic structure. Vowels and consonants.
The system of OE vowels in the 9th and
10th c. consisted of seven short and long phonemes and of four short
and long diphthongs.
Short vowels: i, e, u, o, a, , y.
Long vowels: i, e, u, o, a, , y.
Short diphthongs: ea, eo, io, ie.
Long diphthongs: ea, eo, io, ie.
The OE consonant system consists of the
following sounds: labial – p, b, m, f, v; dental – t, d, , , n, s, r, l,
velar – c, , h. The letter x is used instead of the group cs.
The Norman conquest of England began in 1066. It proved to be a turning- point in English history and had a
considerable influence on the English language. The Normans were by origin (по происхождению) a Scandinavian tribe. In the 9th c. they
began inroads (набег) on the northern coast of France and occupied the territory on both
shores of the Seine estuary. Under a treaty (соглашение)
concluded in 912 with the Norman chief Rollo,
the French king Charles the Simple ceded (уступать)
to the Normans this stretch of the coast,
which since then came to be called Normandy. During the century and a half
between the Normans’ settlement in France and their invasion (вторжение) of England they had undergone a powerful influence of French culture. Mixing with the local
population, they adopted (принимать) the French language and in the mid- eleventh
century, in spite of their Scandinavian origin, they were bearers (носители) of French feudal
culture and of the French language.
In 1066 king Edward the Confessor died.
William, Duke of Normandy, landed in England, and routed the English troops
under King Harold near Hasting on October 14, 1066. The Normans became masters
of England. The ruling class of Anglo- Saxon nobility (дворянство)
vanished almost completely. The nobility was
replaced by Norman barons, who spoke French, namely, its Norman dialect. Thus,
as a result of the conquest England came to be ruled by a foreign ruling class.
William confiscated the estates of the Anglo-
Saxon nobility and distributed them among the Norman barons. Frenchmen arrived
in England in great numbers. Among them were merchants, soldiers, teachers,
seeking for a new field of activity. During the reign of William the Conqueror
(1066 – 1087) about 200 000 Frenchmen settled in England. This influx (наплыв) lasted
about two centuries.
During several centuries the ruling language
in England was French. It was the language of the court (двор), the government, the courts of law (суд), and the church; the
English language was reduced to a lower social sphere: the main mass of
peasantry (крестьянство) and townspeople. French was the language of the ruling class.
rise of London dialect and the formation of the National Language.
In the course of the 15th century the London literary language gradually spread all over the country, superseding local
dialects. Spoken English in various parts of Britain gradually approaches the
literary norm, and differences between the norm and popular speech tend to become
of the former half of the 15th century are poems by Thomas Occleve (Hoccleve),
official London papers, and also official documents from other towns. The
literary language is also found in letters written by kings, queens, ministers,
and other officials.
The formation of a national language was
greatly forsed by two events of the late 15th century.
The most significant event of the period was
the War of Roses (1455 - 1485), which marked the decay of feudalism and the
birth of a new social order - an absolute monarchy.
Another great event was the introduction of
printing. Printing was invented in Mayence (Germany) by Johann Gutenberg in
1438. From Mayence printing spread to Strasburg, then to Italy and to the Netherlands. The englishman William Caxton (1422 - 1491) published the First
English printed book, The Recuyeil of the Histories of Troy. Then he
founded the first English printing office in London in 1476, and in 1477
appeared the first book to be printed in England, namely, The Dictes and
Sayings of the Philosophers. The spread of printed books was bound to
foster the normalization of spelling and also of grammatical forms.
Printed books was a first- rate factor in
fixing spellings and grammar.
Social changes of the 16th century created the
conditions for a great cultural progress and the growth of a national
literature. The 16th century was a time of great literary achievement. The
early poetical works of Wyatt and Surrey were followed by the The Faerie Queene by Edmund
Spenser (1552 - 1599), and the 80s and 90s witness the rise of a great number
of dramatists. The greatest of these was William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616). His
contemporaries were Christopher Marlowe (1564 - 1593), Benjamin (Ben) Jonson
(1573 - 1637), Philip Massinger (1583 - 1640), Frances Beaumont (1584 - 1616),
John Fletcher (1579 - 1625), and many others. This epoch, which historians
usually call Elizabethan after queen Elizabeth I, who reigned 1558 - 1603,
belongs to the period of Early Modern English.
11. The verbs in OE.
The conjugation (спряжение) of verbs shows the
means of form- building used in the OE verb system. Most forms were
distinguished with the help of inflectional endings or grammatical suffixes;
one form- Partic. II – was sometimes marked by a prefix; many verbs made use of
vowel interchanges in the root; some verbs used consonant interchanges and a
few had suppletive forms. The OE verb is remarkable for its complicated
morphological classification which determined the application (применение) of form- building
means in various groups of verbs. The majority of OE verbs fell into 2 great
divisions: the strong and the weak verbs. Besides these two main groups there
were a few verbs which could not be put together as “minor” groups.
The main difference
between the strong and the weak verbs lay in the means of forming the principal
parts, of the “stems” of the verb. There were also a few other differences in
All the forms of the
verbs, finite (личный) as well as non- finite, were derived (произошли)
from a set of “stems” or principal parts of
the verb: the Present tense stem was used in all the Present tense forms,
Indicative, Imperative and Substantive, and also in the Present Participle and
the Infinitive; it is usually shown as the form of the Infinitive; all the
forms of the Past tense were derived from the Past tense stems; the Past
Participle had a separate stem.
The strong verbs
formed their stems by means of vowel gradation and by adding certain suffixes;
in some verbs gradation was accompanied by consonant interchanges. The strong
verbs had four stems, as they distinguished two stems in the Past Tense – one
for the 1st and 3rd p. sg. Ind. Mood, the other- for the
other Past tense forms, Ind. and Subj.