The Influence Of British Social Changes On The Origin And Development Of English

1383 words - 6 pages

Abstract: Social changes are one of the main factors of the origin and development of a language. This author mainlyanalyzes the influence of British social changes on the origin and development of English from three periods in the histo-ry of English language.Keywords: origin of English; development of English; social changes1 IntroductionThere are about four thousand languages in the world.English is the most popular language among them. In order toresearch human languages, linguists have mainly divided all thelanguages into seven language families in which the Indo-Euro-pean family is the largest one. As a West Germanic branch ofthe Indo -European family, English was developed graduallythroughout the history. In the English history the socialchanges affected the people's life as well as their languageprofoundly.2 Discussion2.1 The Period of Old English (500-1100A.D.)2.1.1 The Origin of EnglishThe first inhabitants in England spoke Celtic language.Nowadays some names of many rivers and streams are from theCeltic language, for example "the Thames", "the Avon" and"the Exe". "London", "Leeds", "Dover", and "York" are alsoof Celtic origin. In the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. WestGermanic invaders from Jutland and southern Denmark: theAngles, Saxons, and Jutes, began to settle in the British Isles.The language they spoke was Anglo-Saxon which was knownas Old English. Four major dialects of Old English emerged:Kentish spoken by Jutes who conquered the southeast ofBritain; Mercian and Northumbrian spoken by Angles who con-quered the middle part and north of Britain; and West Saxonspoken by Saxons. West Saxons was the most important dialectamong them. (Albert, 2001:51).2.1.2 Introduction of Christianity into BritainIn 597 A.D. Pope Gregory the Great sent a Christianmission to England in order to spread Christianity. Owing tothe great effort of the leader Augustin, the local people cameto believe in Christianity. With the introduction of Christianity,Latin words had been making their way gradually into theEnglish language. A few words relating to Christianity such as"Church" and "bishop" were borrowed earlier. But the majorityof words relating to Christianity in Old English were borrowedat that time. The modern forms of these words include "abbot","alms","altar", and"angel" and so on.2.1.3 Invasion of the DanesIn 9th century, England was invaded by Scandinavians,namely Vikings, especially by Danes. Until 11th century, theking of Denmark actually controlled the England. After theDanes had begun to settle down in the island, the Scandina-vian words began to enter in numbers into English languagethrough the give -and -take of everyday life. Some Scandi-navian loanwords are "booth", "girth", "awkward", "crawl",and "scare" and so on.2.2 The Period of Middle English (1100-1500)2.2.1 Norman Conquest in 1066Toward the close of the Old English period a momentousevent occurred. This event which had a great effect on thehistory of English language was the Norman...

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