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Germanic Influences On The Old English Language (And Modern English Influences On Dutch)

1009 words - 5 pages

After the Romans had left England and the country was at risk of being overthrown by small native tribes, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes came from Europe’s mainland to restore peace and to gain land for themselves (Jansen). By travelling across the sea towards the British isles, they brought their culture and their language along with them, which they forcefully imposed on the native inhabitants of England (Freeborn 12). The Germanic influence of these European tribes strongly showed through in the Old-English language and caused a linguistic revolution as a first step into turning English into the partially Germanic language it is nowadays.
One of the Germanic features seen in Old-English is ...view middle of the document...

The prefix “be-“, at the same time, inflects (or rather, does not) like Germanic languages. In Dutch, the word “beginnen” would become “begonnen” in present and past perfect, although generally the prefix “ge-“ would be included in present or past perfect. In Old-English, this phenomenon can be observed in the word “beboden” or “entrusted” in Modern English.
A third point of Germanic influence detected in Old-English is, of course, the inclusion of straight-up Germanic words, instead of the older Latin and Celtic diction. These words might look familiar to speakers of Modern English; however, their meaning often likens to a Germanic word with the same appearance (Freeborn 8). A Dutch person could immediately recognize the Old-English “faest” as “vast”, meaning “stuck” or “fixed”, while to a speaker of Modern English it would mean “quickly” or “rapidly” (“fast”). Words like these are called “false friends”, because while they tend to appear as words used in Modern English, they are not alike and should not be confused (Crystal 22).
Fourthly, compound words (of which “compound word” is a great example) are not nearly as popular in Modern English as they were in Old-English, because they were and are one of the main features of Germanic languages. In Modern English, these words are typically written with space in between them, as to distinguish the parts from one another. On the other hand, Germanic languages are infamous in the British isles for their highly frequent use of long compound words in which many parts are mould together without any space in between them. For instance, a “gangewifre”, a spider, is created by combining the words for “go” and “weaver” (Crystal 22). Therefore, a spider is a “going weaver”. Compound words allowed one to describe something in one word only, as to clarify it was actually one specific thing. This is not always as clear in Modern English, where this practise is avoided.
Lastly, regarding the influence of Modern English...

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