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  1. The Etymology of English words.

Historical Outline

The vast Indo-European family of languages, to which most of the languages spoken in Europe belong, consists of several branches, of which the Germanic languages are one.

Nowadays Germanic languages are spoken in many countries: German (in Germany, Austria, and partly in Switzerland), Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic, English (spoken, besides England, in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and partly elsewhere). In India English is considered as a second official language.

In ancient times the territory of Germanic languages was much more limited. Thus, in the 1st century A.D. Germanic languages were only spoken in Germany and in territories adjacent to it, and also in Scandinavia.

Germanic languages are classified into three groups: East Germanic, North Germanic, West Germanic.

East Germanic languages have been dead for many centuries. Of the old East Germanic languages only one is well known, viz. Gothic: a vast written document has come down to us in this language, namely, a translation of the Bible made in the 4th century A.D. by the Gothic bishop Ulfilas from the Greek.

All North Germanic and West Germanic languages have survived until our own times.

Germanic languages are stated to be a separate branch within the Indo-European family on the ground of several characteristic features distinguishing them from other Indo-European languages.

English as well as German belongs to West Germanic group of Germanic languages.

The name "Britain" derives from Greek and Latin names probably stemming from a Celtic original. Although in the prehistoric period the Celts were relatively late arrivals in the British Isles, only with them does Britain emerge into recorded history. The term "Celtic" is often used rather generally to distinguish the early inhabitants of the British Isles from the later Anglo-Saxon invaders.

After two expeditions by Julius Caesar in 55 and 54 BC, contact between Britain and the Roman world grew, culminating in the Roman invasion of AD 43. Roman rule was gradually extended from south-east England to include Wales and, for a time, the low-lands of Scotland. The final Roman withdrawal in 409 followed a period of increasing disorder during which the island began to be raided by Angles, Saxons and Jutes from Northern Europe. It is from the Angles that the name "England" derives. The raids turned into settlement and a number of small English kingdoms were established. The Britons maintained an independent existence in the areas now known as Wales and Cornwall. Among these Kingdoms more powerful ones emerged, claiming overlordship over the whole country, first in the north (Northumbria), then in the midlands (Mercia) and finally in the south (Wessex). However, further raids and settlement by the Vikings from Scandinavia occurred, although in the 10th century the Wessex dynasty defeated the invading Danes and established a wide-ranging authority in England.

In 1066 the last successful invasion of England took place. Duke William of Normandy defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings. The Normans and others from France came to settle. French became the language of the nobility from the next three centuries, and the legal and social structures were influenced by those or prevailing.

Native words in English, their role and classification

From the point view of their etymology all the words of the English language are subdivided into native words (исконно английские) and loan words or borrowed (заимствованные).

Among native we can distinguish those of the Common Indo-European stock and those of the Common Germanic origin. Words having cognates in various Indo-European languages present the oldest layer. They were inherited from the Indo-European parent languages (праязык).

Father (OE fæder, Gothic fadar, Icel. faDir, Swedish fader, Dutch wader, German Vater, Greek patér, Latin páter, Persian pedær, Sanscrit pitr).

Son (OE sunu, Gothic sūnus, Russian сын, Ice. Sunr, Danish søn, Swedish son, German Sohn, Lithuanian sūnus, Sanscript sunu).

Indo-European words fall into several semantic groups:

- Terms of kinship:

Father, mother, daughter, sister, son.

- Names of natural phenomena:

Fire, moon, hill, night, day, star, snow, sun, summer, stone, water, tree, wind, wood.

- Names of animals and birds:

Bull, crow, cat, fish, cow, mouse, goose, wolf.

- Basic verbs:

Come, know, eat, sleep, sit, stand, bear.

- Basic physical properties and colours:

Red, hard, light, quick, thin, white, slow, cold.

- Parts of human body:

Heart, eye, foot, nose, mouth, ear, arm, knee, tongue.

- Numerals:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, ten, hundred.

Words belonging to Germanic word-stock are more numerous. We can find among them:

- Nouns:

Bone, chicken, cheek, cloth, hand, hope, life, meal, ship, sea, storm, winter, house, room, rain;

- Verbs:

Drink, forget, hear, follow, live, make, send, sing, shake, burn, bake, keep, learn, meet, rise, see;

- Adjectives:

Dead, dear, deep, heavy, sharp, soft, broad, deaf;

- Pronouns:

All, each, he.

Hand (OE hand, hond, Gothic handus, Swedish hand, German Hand, Icelandic hond, Danish hånd).

To have (OE habban, Gothic haban, Icelandic hafa, Dutch hebben, Swedish hava, German haben).

Together with the words of the common IE stock common Germanic words form the bulk of the most frequent elements used in every style of speech. They constitute no less than 80% of the 500 most frequent words in English.

These words are mostly simple in their structure, show great word-building power and form a number of phraseological units. They are known from the earliest available manuscripts of the OE period and have lived a very long life in the language.

The importance of native words in the English vocabulary is often overlooked because of a multitude of foreign words in Modern English.

But the examination of actual usage as opposed to the dictionary shows how important native words are. The native words stock include auxiliary and modal verbs, most verbs of the strong conjugation, pronouns and most numerals, prepositions, articles, conjunctions. Ordinary English and the vocabulary of colloquial speech contain fewer foreign words, than, for example, the language of technical literature.

Native words in the English vocabulary are very often simple in their structure, but serve as a basis for word- formation.

Hand - handy, handle, handwork, handicraft, handful, handbook, handcuff, handbag.

They enter a number of set- expressions and proverbs:

Hand in hand, hands off, at hand, in hand, with a heavy hand, with a high hand.

The peculiar feature of native words in the language is their stability. They live for centuries. But in the course of time a certain number of old English words have fallen out of the vocabulary.

The OE verb niman (брать) - German nehmen is replaced by the Scandinavian verb taka (Modern English "take").

The OE noun Beorg (гора) - German Berg is replaced by the French "mountain" (Latin "mouns").]

Borrowed Words, their assimilation

The English language is unique in its etymology: it has always welcomed borrowings, and their source, their scope and etymology depend on the specific conditions of the language's development, such as the Roman invasion, the introduction of Christianity, the Danish and Norman conquests, the British colonial expansion, technical revolution, the Ist and IInd World Wars which caused numerous changes in its vocabulary.

It is necessary to distinguish between the "source of borrowing" and "origin of borrowing", the language from which, the word is taken and the language to which it may be traced. (tabula la table a table).

Translation and semantic loans (кальки) are words and word-combinations formed from the native elements according to foreign patterns: Übermensch (superman), Heimweh (homesickness), Meisterstück (masterpiece).

We cannot deny the mixed character of the English vocabulary and the great importance of borrowed elements in the language's development but we must not ignore its power to build new words and various semantic changes.

Words immediately change their manners as soon as they leave their mother tongue. Partial and total conformation to the phonetical, graphical and morphological standards of the receiving language and its semantic system is called its assimilation. The following factors govern the degree of assimilation of loan words: 1) oral or written character of a borrowed word; 2) importance of a borrowed word for communication; 3) length of the period of its usage.

According to the degree of assimilation we distinguish: 1) completely assimilated loan words; 2) partially assimilated loan words; 3) unassimilated loan words or barbarisms.

Completely assimilated words following all the standards of English belong to the earliest Latin borrowings: wall, wine, cup, mile, pen; Scandinavian loan words: give, take, get, gift, fellow, call; French loan words: face, table, chair. Their phonetic characteristics do not reveal their borrowed elements and they build native grammatical paradigm:

Sc. Laws, eggs, gates, L. acted, corrected.

Partially assimilated words, may be not assimilated semantically, such as: Domino, minaret, shah, toreador, valenki, pelmeni.

Words not assimilated grammatically retain their original grammatical forms: bacillus - bacilli, phenomenon-phenomena, crisis-crises.

Words not completely assimilated phonetically were borrowed after the XVII century: machine, bourgeois, protégé, beige, boulevard, fiancé.

Graphically unassimilated words are mainly of the French origin: restaurant, corps, bouquet, cliché, ballet. Sometimes the spelling is not stable.

Barbarisms are not assimilated in any way and do not possess the corresponding English equivalents. Mostly they are of Romanic origin: ciao (It.), coup d'Etat (Fr.), vita brevis est (L.), Wehrmacht (German), führer (German), hors d'oevre, bons vivant, au revoir (Fr.). Unassimilated French words are called Gallicisms: in a "Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases in Current English" (1977) there are about 2239 Gallicisms. Their French peculiarities are preserved, they are singled out either graphically or through italics. Gallicisms do not form any new thematic groups, they are widely used in the language of press and fiction and everyday speech by educated Englishmen who study French at schools and universities.

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