Linguistic of English

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  • Created by: Lauren
  • Created on: 12-09-13 15:50


Didn't have a great impact on language as Celts were driven into the boarders of england (e.g. Cornwall, Scotland, Wales.)

Loan words: tor, crag, tombe, galore

Place names: tor (top of hill), dun (fortified hill) coombe (sheltered valley)

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Had a great influence on language.

Prefixes: ad/bi/per/semi/post/multi

Suffixes: able/acy/escent/ation/ous

Places names: chester (fortified city) camp (fortified town) via (street)

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Old English

Syntax was less important and they used fewer prepositions and auxiliary verbs. Word endings were very important.

Prefixes: fore/mis/out/over/un

Suffixes: craft/dom/er/fast/ish/less/ness (Very important to old English)

Place names: ham = home, ton = farm/village, worth = enclosure, burgh = fortified town, bourn = river

Lexis: Basic actions e.g. eat, sleep, drink.

Also body parts, numbers and family relations.

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Old Norse

North and East dialects in Britain show Norse influence.

Place names: by (village) kirk (church) thorpe (farm) beck (river)

Phonology: Brought the "k" sound.

Word formation: Had different ending on nouns and verbs e.g. verbs include get, take, give from Old Norse.

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Used both French and Norman. French influenced court, monarchy and Latin influenced legislature and church.

Lexis: Administration: sheriff, parliament, constable. Law: arson, assault, verdict, trespass. Religion: abbey, cardinal, chant. Military: captain, navy soldier. Food and Drink: beef, pork, veal, poultry, sugar, spice.

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Middle English

Had at least 5 major dialects. The most important was the prestigious East Midland dialect.

Geoffrey Chaucer chose to right in this dialect.

Standardisation of spelling thanks to William Caxton (Printing press)

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Early Modern English

William Shakespeare's new words were adapted from many sources such as Latin/Greek and were used in print for the first time. e.g. fretful, majestic, countless, hostile, positive, useless, disgrace.

He used 33,000 words and had the widest vocabulary of any writer.

Shakespeare also developed the metaphor which he used to a great extent. 

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Modern English

New words have developed very quickly. Also many words have changed their meaning e.g. cool.

Semantics and spelling: Dr Johnson's dictionary (1755) - meaning of 40,000 words, 115,000 illustrations for words. Fixed spelling and meaning. 

Grammar: Robert Lowth (1762) produced a grammar book which uses Latin model to lay down uses of grammar.

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