Language Change - Old English

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  • Created by: mvolpe
  • Created on: 20-02-16 20:53


-Proto-Indo European (PIE) was the first language spoken on the British Isles, and was the parent to nearly all modern European languages
-Evidence of PIE speakers inhabiting GB is present, but very little is known about them


- initially Celts inhabited the British Isles, unsurprisingly speaking Celtic
- Very little Celtic influence left over, words in reference to geographic landmarks such as 'crag' and 'combe'
- this is largely because the Celts were prosecuted at almost every early stage of England's linguistic development (see: Native Americans), and their remaining footprints erased from English by different invaders
- Gaelic, Welsh, and Cornish are all heavily influenced by Celtic


- First Roman raid on England under Julius Ceasar began here, but permanent occupation wasnt managed until 43AD
- The Romans seized most of England, but struggled to penetrate the more mountainous areas of Wales and Scotland, which is where the native Celts fled (hence birthing the fledging languages of Gaelic and Welsh)
- Again, surprisingly few words remain from the Romans, which were coined largely by merchants and soilders (vin (wine), butere (butter), caese (cheese), piper (pepper), candel (candle), cetel (kettle), disc (dish), cycene (kitchen), ancor (anchor), belt (belt), sacc (sack), catte (cat))
- This was the first instance of Latin having an effect on English
- The Romans withdrew from GB between 410-436AD during the collapse of the Roman Empire


- The first Germanic tribes began to make their way to the lush green shores of GB, the first being the Angles, Jutes, and Frisians (their influence on English all kinda bundles together, so you dont really need to know each individual tribe's effect, but it is worth noting that Frisian still exists today, and is probably the closest living relative of Old English)
- The warlike Saxons also followed, and helped in slowly supplanting the native Celts
- They all spoke similar West Germanic language
- Persecuted the Celts (surprise surprise), referring to them as 'wealas' meaning slave or foreigner. This then became Wales/Welsh
- These tribes had probably the largest contribution to Old English, leaving behind nearly all of our prepositions (at, on, up, down, by), some pronouns (I, you, he, she, this, that, those, we), conjunctions (and, as, but, so, then), some adverbs (while, when, where), and common household/everyday nouns (husband, wife, house, woman, dirt, hearth). We even named four of our days of the week after Anglo-saxon gods (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)
- Some place name suffixes survived, such as '-ing' meaning people of (Reading), '-ton' meaning enclosure or village (Luton), and '-ham' meaning farm (Nottingham, Birmingham)
- Over time, four main dialects emerged from different sub-kingdoms: Northumbrian, Mercian, West Saxon, and Kentish
- These Germanic tribes were often at war with one another
- Their system of writing was based…


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