I.The Origin of Language II.The Descent of the English Language III.The Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period IV.The Middle English Period V.The Renaissance and After VI.The Growth of Vocabulary VII.Change of Meaning VIII.The Evolution of Standard English IX.Idiom and Metaphor X.The Foreign Contribution XI.Conclusion
Additional Info
  • Publisher: Laxmi Publications
  • Language: English
  • ISBN : 978-93-5138-093-1
  • Chapter 1

    The Origin of Language Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    Before setting out to make a study of the development of the English language over the past fifteen hundred years or more, there are one or two elementary facts concerning language in general that we should get clearly into our minds. It may perhaps be felt that they are sufficiently obvious to most intelligent people to render any mention of them unnecessary; but they are, nevertheless, apt to be overlooked, and since it is impossible to appreciate fully the significance of the various forces which have been at work behind and within our language, governing, determining and directing its evolution, unless we are first of all aware of these few essential facts concerning language in general, they are set down here as briefly and as concisely as possible.
  • Chapter 2

    The Descent of the English Language Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    At some time in our youth, we must all have wondered why there were so many languages in the world and have felt that it would be much more sensible if everybody spoke the same tongue; then there would be no need for us to learn foreign languages before we could make ourselves understood to a person from another country. And since the idea that a person is a foreigner and therefore different from ourselves rests very largely upon the fact that his speech is unfamiliar, and in the ears of the uninitiated seems just a jumble of unintelligible sounds, a universal language, it has often been felt, would go far towards establishing and cementing friendship and understanding between the peoples of the earth. So from time to time there have been attempts to devise some kind of international language. The best-known, of course, is Esperanto, though it is by no means the only one. Many people, no doubt, when they speak of the desirability of a universal language envisage their own as the obvious one to attain to world-wide currency.
  • Chapter 3

    The Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Period Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    Historians of the English language distinguish three main stages in its development. The first is the Old English (or the Anglo-Saxon) period, extending from about the year a.d. 600 to 1100. This is followed by the Middle English period, from 1100 to 1500, and finally there is the period of Modern English from 1500 onwards. It must not, of course, be imagined that in any of these years there was a complete and sudden change: that, for instance, the language of 1501 was very much different from that of two or three years earlier. A person living at that time would probably be quite unaware of any difference at all over so short a period. He might even have denied that much change had taken place during the whole of his lifetime.
  • Chapter 4

    The Middle English Period Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    The conquest of England in 1066 by William of Normandy was destined to have a profound influence not only upon the history and the political system of the country, but also upon the language. Up to this time English had been more or less a pure tongue with a sprinkling of Latin, Celtic and Danish words; but henceforth it became much more definitely a hybrid language. Having said this, however, we must correct two frequent misconceptions, otherwise we shall be liable to gain a distorted view of what really took place between the years 1066 and 1500, and more particularly in that part of the period which fell between 1066 and 1350.
  • Chapter 5

    The Renaissance and After Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    In 1453 Constantinople, hitherto the seat of European learning, fell to the Turk, and the scholars who were assembled there fled to western Europe, bringing with them as much of their libraries as they could manage to rescue and transport. They settled at first mainly in Germany and Italy and so started that intellectual awakening of Europe which has come to be known as the Renaissance.
  • Chapter 6

    The Growth of Vocabulary Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    By the middle of the seventeenth century the language had more or less assumed its present form so far as grammar, spelling and pronunciation are concerned. There have, of course, been slight modifications in the succeeding three hundred years, more especially in pronunciation and spelling than in grammar; but from the Restoration onwards the chief developments have been in the direction of an enlargement of the vocabulary on the one hand, and changes in the meaning of words on the other.
  • Chapter 7

    Change of Meaning Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    One of the first things that the student of literature comes to realise, perhaps at first with a little surprise, is that many words have not always had the same meaning that they bear today. He may, for instance, set himself to study a few plays of Shakespeare, and soon he learns that a fool, to Shakespeare, meant something different from what it means to us, that a battle could be used to signify not only a fight but also a company of soldiers (equivalent to our modern word battalion), that fond implied ‘foolish’ more often than ‘loving’, and that when a character says’ I’ll be with you presently ‘he does not mean soon, or later on, but immediately.
  • Chapter 8

    The Evolution of Standard English Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    To mention the subject of Standard English is almost inevitably to invite criticism and controversy. What does one mean by that term; is there, in fact, such a thing; and is it desirable that there should be? These questions have been discussed and debated ad nauseam so it is not proposed to go into all the pros and cons once again, for no useful purpose would be served by so doing. Those who disapprove of the idea of a ‘standard’ language point out that such a language is theoretical rather than real; that each person considers his own particular brand of English to be ‘standard’ and all deviations from it to be either affectations or dialects; that though, with normally educated people, grammar, and to a large extent vocabulary also, is uniform throughout the country pronunciation varies considerably from locality to locality, and even amongst ‘good writers’ and others to whom one might reasonably turn for guidance there is often disagreement.
  • Chapter 9

    Idiom and Metaphor Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    Every language has certain phrases or constructions which, if taken literally, would be meaningless, or which by the normal rules of grammar and syntax are quite inexplicable; yet for all that they are quite good English, French, German, etc., as the case may be. No native has the least difficulty in understanding them and they are so much a part of his daily speech that in all probability he has never noticed that there is anything irregular or peculiar about them. Such phrases are called idioms. For instance, French has a construction faire le diable à quatrej A literal English translation would give to make the devil at four, which, of course, means nothing to us.
  • Chapter 10

    The Foreign Contribution Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points

    As has been pointed out at an earlier stage, English is far from being a pure tongue. Its basis is Anglo-Saxon, but there are also in it substantial elements of Scandinavian, French and Latin, while at various periods of its history it has absorbed words from most of the languages of Europe and also from some of those spoken in the other four continents. A number of these terms are still recognisably foreign, but many also have become so essential a part of our vocabulary that we never think of them as anything but English. The technical term for these words which have been adopted from foreign tongues is loan words— not a good description, since a loan implies an obligation to repay, and in the case of language no such obligation exists or is recognised, though it may be mentioned in passing that if foreign languages have given much to English, English elements are also to be found in many foreign tongues, though not to nearly so great an extent.1
  • Chapter 11

    Conclusion Price 2.99  |  2.99 Rewards Points


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