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Next lecture starts with question to check understanding of the previous material

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  1. Discuss with your classmates and check in the dictionary if all your translation guesses were correct.

Содержание лекционного курса по дисциплине «История английского языка».

Тема1. The story of English is the extraordinary tale of a language that came from nowhere to conquer the world.Today in some form or another it is spoken by perhaps a billion people around the world, of whom 350 mln use it as their mother tongue.

In studying the English of today we are faced with a number of peculiarities which appear unintelligible from the modern point of view.These are found both in the vocabulary and in the phonetic and grammatical structure of the language.

In the sphere of vocabulary there is considerable likeness between English and German:

Summer Sommer

Winter Winter

Foot Fuss

Long lang

Sing singen

Sit sitzen

Causes of such similarity belong to a more or less remote past and can only be discovered by going into the history of the English language.Also we observe commonness between English and French.

Autumn automne

River riviere

Modest modeste

Change changer

The subject of the history of Engl. is a systematic structure of a language development from the earliest years of it existence. It gives the opportunity to understand it as a result of complex development process. History of the English e language establishes a tie between general principles of linguistics and concrete facts of contemporary English known to a learner.

The purpose of our subject is a systematic study of the language’s development from the earliest times to the present day. The history of Engl. is an important subsidiary discipline for history of England,studying the development of the language in connection with the concrete conditions in which the English people lived in the several periods of their history and of English literature.And it is connected with other disciplines: theoretical,pracitical grammar,phonetics,lexicology.

Different schools of linguistics took quite different views of the essence of language development. According to a view which prevailed in linguistics since the early 19th century and down to the 1920s, development was seen as a series of disconnected partial changes which gradually, as if by chance,resulted in a new state of things.This was also the view of the so-calle “Young -grammarian” school in linguistics, represented by such eminent scholars as Herman Paul(1846-1921), Karl Brugmann(1849-1919) and Bertold Delbruck(1842-1922). In their view, phonetic development tended to disarrange the grammatical system of a language and analogy helped to cure part of the destruction produced by phonetical changes.Even the great Swiss scholar Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913), who first introduced the concept of a synchronic linguistics, as opposed to dychronic,didn’t bring any alternation. Some time will have to pass before a more or less complete picture of his development is produced.

In this discipline we are faced with a number of problems concerning the driving forces or causes of changes in the language. They can be of two kinds: external(language can be influenced by factors lying outside) and internal(changes occur due to extralinguistic causes,within the language itself).Most changes in the phonetic structure of a language and also in its grammatical structure are due to internal causes.

Generalities about Germanic languages.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 they are spoken in many countries:German (in Germany,Australia and partly in Switzerland),Dutch, Swedish,Norwegian,Danish and Icelandic, English(spoken besides England, in the USA,Canada Australia,New Zealand and partly elsewhere).In India English in considered as a second official language. .In ancient times the territory of Germanic languages was much more limited.Thus in the 1st A.D. Germanic languages were only spoken in Germany and in terrotiries adjacent to it and also in Scandinavia. Germanic languages are classified into three groups:
East Germanic have been dead for many centuries,only known Gothic(the Bible made in the 4th century by the Gothic bishop Ulfilas from the Greek).

North Germanic

West Germanic

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

Ancients Germanic tribes and their classification. Old Germanic tribes in the first centuries of our era were passing through the stage of development called barbarism.F.Engels quoting greek writers and following the well-known German linguist J.Grimm introduces amended classification of Germanic tribes:

Vindili, East Germanic languages, (inhabited the eastern part of Germanic territory)

Ingaevones,West Germanic languages, inhabited the northern part of Germanic territory

Istaevones ,West Germanic languages,inhabited the western part of Germanic territory,on the Rhine

Herminones,West Germanic languages,the southern part

Hilleviones,North Germanic languages, inhabited Scandinavia.

Later research taken in the twentieth century and applying the methods of linguistic geography have somewhat modified this classification.

Written documents in Germanic languages. The earliest of these was the Greek traveler and astronomer Pytheas who lived in the 4th century.His work hasn’t come down to us,only a few fragments have been preserved by the Greek geographer Strabo(the author of a large work Geography )and by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (Natural History), in which he gave a classification of Germanic tribes which has been basically accepted by modern historians.

Next after Pliny comes the great Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (born ab.55,died ab.120AD) .In his short work Germania he characterized the social structure of the Old Germanic tribes around 100AD.Tacitus’ results were widely used by Friedrich Engels in his work On the history of ancient Germans.

Тема2. Peculiarities of Germanic languages.Phonetic. The first consonant shift or Grimm’s law. An essential feature of Germanic languages is their consonantal system, namely the result of the so-called first consonant shift. The phenomena were found out by comparative linguistics early in the 19th century.Two famous names are to be mentioned in this connection: the German linguist and fairy-tale collector Jacob Ludwig Grimm(1785-1863) and the Danish scholar Rasmus Christian Rask (178-1832).The law expresses regular correspondences between consonants of Germanic and those of other Indo-European languages, which can be represented by the following table.

As will be seen from this table, correspondences between Indo-European and Germanic consonants may be grouped under three categories.

1.Indo-European voiceless stops (p,t,k) correspond to Germanic voiceless fricatives (f,h,þ)

2.Indo-European voiced stops (d,b,g) correspond to Germanic voiceless stops (p,t,k)

3.Indo-European voiced aspirated stops (bh,dh,gh) correspond to Germanic stops without aspiration (b,d,g,).

The Germanic sounds are the result of a development of a original Indo-European sounds, as they existed in the Indo-European ancestor language.


p > f : L. Pes – OE fōt (NE foot)

t > θ : L. Tres – OE þrēo (NE three)

k > h : L. Cor – OE heort (NE heart)


b > p : L. Labare – OE slæpan (NE sleep)

d > t : L. Decem – OE tīen (NE ten)

g > k : L. Genu – OE cnēo (NE knee)



bh > b : O.Ind. bhrata – OE brōþon (NE brother)

dh > d : O.Ind. rudhira – OE rēad (NE red)

gh > g : L. Hostis – OE giest (guest)

Somewhat more complicated phenomena have been formulated in Verner’s law. It was noted long ago that in some words we find in Germanic languages consonants which don’t fit into Grimm’s law,as formulated above.In some cases it is voiced stops, rather than voiceless fricatives that correspond in Germanic to IE voiceless stops.


p > f > v : L. Caput – Oicel. Haufod – OE hēafod [v]

t > θ > ð, d : L. Pater – OIcel. Faðir – OE fæder

k > x > γ, g : L. Socrus – OE sweςen

s > s > z : L. Auris – OE ēare

If an IE voiceless stop was preceded by an unstressed vowel, the voiceless fricative which developed from it in accordance with Grimm’s law became voiced and later this fricative became a voiced stop.

Besides if the preceding vowel is unstressed,s in Germanic languages becomes voiced,i.e. changes into z.Eventually this z becomes r in Western Germanic and Northern Germanic languages.

Ротацизм (Rhotacism)

z > r : Gt wasjan – OE werian (NE wear)

In all extant Old Germanic texts the stress falls on the initial syllable (the root syllable) of each word.In the earliest Germanic texts we find a system of fixed stress (on the first syllable) which was the result of a change of the original free-stress system, which was superseded by a fixed-stress system.

We are to suppose that Germanic languages arose as a result of part of the tribes, who spoke Indo-European languages conquering some other tribes who presumably spoke some non IE languages.

West-Germanic lengthening of consonants.Every consonant is lengthened if is preceded by a short vowel and followed by the consonant j.

*fuljan > OE fyllan (NE fill).

но:OE werian (NE wear)

OE dēman (NE deem)

Дистрибуция древнеанглийских согласных фонем

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