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TESL 2200 Word Usage and Vocabulary in Context Lecture 2 The history of English: with relevance to the origin and development of English vocabulary


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Title: TESL 2200 Word Usage and Vocabulary in Context Lecture 2 The history of English: with relevance to the origin and development of English vocabulary

TESL 2200Word Usage and Vocabulary in Context
Lecture 2 The history of English with
relevance to the origin and development of
English vocabulary
2009-2010 Semester 2
Why the history of English
  • The history of English is a fascinating field of
    study in its own right.
  • The historical account can inform the present-day
    English language use.
  • It satisfies the deep-rooted sense of curiosity
    we have about linguistic heritage.
  • (Crystal D 19955)

The story of English
  • In the simplest terms, the language was brought
    to Britain by Germanic tribes, the Angles,
    Saxons, and Jutes, influenced by Latin and Greek
    when St Augustine and his followers converted
    England to Christianity, subtlely enriched by the
    Danes, finally transformed by the French
    speaking Normans.
  • (McCrum,R.198646)

  • The making of English is the story of three
    invasions and a cultural revolution.

How it began
  • The history of English begins with the conquest
    and settlement of what is now England by the
    Angles, Saxons and the Jutes from about 450 AD.

  • To Aetius, thrice consul, the groans of the
    Britons..the barbarians drive us to the sea. The
    sea drives us back to the barbarians. Between the
    two we are exposed to two sorts of death we are
    either slain or drowned. Venerable Bede, c. AD

Old English(450-1100 AD)
  • 450600 AD. The invasion of Britain by The
    Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Almost all of these
    invaders spoke dialects of a language they called
    Englisc (pronounced/ingli?/)
  • In 597, St Augustine and a group of monks from
    Rome arrived in England and taught the
    Anglo-Saxons about Christianity.

  • During the Old English period, English language
    borrowed a considerable number of Latin words,
    e.g. bargain, cheap, inch, pound cup, dish,
    wall, wine abbot, altar, candle, disciple, hymn,
    martyr, nun, priest, pope, shrine, temple and a
    great many others.

  • Although about 85 of the Old English vocabulary
    has been replaced in Modern English with words
    from Latin or Greek, the hundred most common
    words in Modern English all come from the
    language used at this time.

  • These Old English words are for very basic things
    and ideas mann(person),wif(wife),cild(child),
    hus(house), mete(food), drincan(drink),
    etan(eat),slæpan(sleep),æfter(after), and, we on,
    is, and many more.

  • 787-878. Vikings (Danes) invasion. Throughout the
    ninth and tenth centuries and into the eleventh,
    Norwegian and Danish Vikings invaded large parts
    of England. As a consequence, English borrowed
    words from the North Germanic tongue of the
    invaders, Viking Norse.

  • Many words from Old Norse(ON) entered and
    enriched Old English(OE).
  • Some of them replaced the Old English words. For
    example, syster(ON) replaced sweostor(OE).
  • In some cases, both the Old Norse and Old English
    words for the same idea was used. For example,
    there was wish (OE) and want (ON), and sick (OE)
    and ill (ON).

  • Some old Norse word survived in a dialect. For
    example today some Scots say kirk (ON) where
    English say church.
  • About 900 Old Norse words became part of Old
    English, and they include many modern words
    beginning with sk-skin, skirt, and sky, for

  • Others are bag, cake, die, egg, get,

  • By the 8th century England was a centre of
    learning in western Europe. The greatest piece of
    literature in Old English is a long poem called

(No Transcript)
  • Early History of the Danes
  • ListenYou have heard of the Danish Kings in the
    old days and how they were great warriors.
    Shield, the son of Sheaf,took many an enemy's
    chair, terrified many a warrior,after he was
    found an orphan. He prospered under the sky until
    people everywhere listened when he spoke.He was
    a good king!

Middle English (1100-1500)
  • The Norman Conquest (1066). At the Battle of
    Hastings in Sussex, the last Saxon king Harold
    was killed. On Christmas Day of the same year,
    William of Normandy was made the King of England.
  • French and Latin were used in government, the
    Church, the law and literature. English people
    who wanted to become important in society learnt

  • French words came into every part of life For
    example, chair, city, crime, fashion, fruit,
    gentle, government, literature, medicine, music,
    palace, river, table, travel.
  • Sometimes the French words replaced Old English
    (OE) words for example, ask,(OE) and
    demand(F),wedding(OE) and marriage(F), king(OE)
    and sovereign(F).

  • Sometimes French words were used for life in the
    upper classes, and Old English ones for life in
    the lower classes.
  • For example, the words for the animals in the
    fields were Old English (cow, sheep and pigs) but
    the words for the meat on the table were French
    (beef, mutton, and pork).

  • At the same time several thousand words also
    entered English from Latin. They came from books
    about law, medicine, science, literature or
  • Some words which came from Latin at this time
    were admit, history, impossible, necessary and

  • However, English did not die out and it was
    gradually widely used because
  • -the increased marriage between Normans and
    English people
  • -The loss of Normandy to France
  • -the loss of Frenchs social importance in

  • From 13th century, English was used more and more
    in official papers, and also in literature.
  • Geoffery Chaucer (1343/4-1400), who was born in
    London, wrote in the East Midland dialect (spoken
    by people living in the Oxford, London, Cambridge
    triangle), authored The Canterbury Tales.

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  • Later in 15th century, English completely
    replaced French in the home, in education and in
    government. It also replaced Latin as the
    language of written communication. English had
    survivedbut it had changed enormously.

  • By the end of 15 century English was starting to
    be read by thousands of people. In the next
    century it was read by many more, and used by the
    great star of English literature-William

Modern English (16th century)
  • However, the acceptance of English as a language
    of learning was not complete until the end of the
    seventeenth century.
  • During 16th and 17th centuries, writers in
    English borrowed about 30,000 words from about
    fifty languages, mainly to describe new things
    and ideas, and many of them are still used today.

  • The new words came mainly from Latin for
    example, desperate, expensive, explain, fact.
  • As the European explorations of the world
    widened, so words came into English from America,
    Africa and Asia. For example, chocolate and
    tomato came from Mexico, banana from Africa,
    coffee from Turkey, and caravan from Persia.

  • The age of Queen Elizabeth I (Queen of England
    1558-1603) was one of a great flowering of
  • Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer of

  • He created about two thousand words, and a huge
    number of expressions which are now part of
    everyday English.
  • For example, he invented its early days (it's
    too soon to know what will happen) in my minds
    eyes( in my imagination) tongue-tied (unable to
    speak because you are shy) the long and short of
    it( all that needs to be said about something)

The King James Bible(1611)
  • This version has an important influence on the
    English language.
  • They aimed to make the language sound poetic and
    musical when it was read aloud.

  • Its language became part of everyday English,
    with expressions like the apple of somebodys
    eye( a person who is loved very much by
    somebody) by the skin of your teeth( you only
    just manage to do something the salt of the
    earth ( a very honest person) the straight and
    narrow (an honest way of living).

Bringing order to English
  • The great growth in new words between 1530 and
    1660 left people uncertain.
  • What was happening to the language? If so many
    foreign and newly-formed words kept on being
    added to it, would it remain English?

  • Some people in England wanted to create an
    official organization to control the English
  • In 17th century, the appearance of the first
    English dictionary slowly brought about more
    regularity in spelling.

  • In 1755, Samuel Johnson produced A Dictionary of
    the English Language.
  • During 18th century, ways of spelling that
    differed from these dictionaries were seen to be
    incorrect and a sign of stupidity or bad

  • The grammarians at this time considered the
    grammar of much ordinary spoken language and
    regional dialects (especially Scots) to be wrong
    and believed that the grammar of English should
    be the same as that of Latin.
  • For example, they thought that a sentence should
    not end with a preposition because in Latin it
    did not. For example, it would be correct to say
    I like the town in which I live, but not I like
    the town which I live in.

Modern English(1800-now)
  • The discoveries and inventions in all areas of
    science in the last 200 years have led to new
    words for machine, materials, plants, animals,
    stars, diseases and medicines, and new
    expressions for scientific ideas.
  • About 100,000 new words have entered the language
    in the last hundred years-more than ever before.

  • Some example of these new words, with the date
    when each word first appeared in writing. Most
    new words( about two-thirds) have been made by
    combining two old words fingerprint(1859),
    airport(1919), streetwise(1965).
  • The recent development in computers introduced
    many of its type online (1950), user-friendly,

  • Some new words have been made from Latin and
    Greek for example, photograph (1839),
    helicopter(1872), aeroplane(1874), and

  • Others are old words given new meanings. For
    example, pilot(1907) was first used to refer to a
    person who directs the path of ship, and
    cassette(1960) used to mean a small box.
  • About five percent of new words have come from
    foreign languages. For example, disco(1964) has
    come from French and pizza(1935) from Italian.
    And a few words have developed from the names of
    things we buy for example, coke(1909) from
    Coca-Cola, and walkman (1981) from Sony Walkman.

  • Some words have been shortened photo (1860) for
    photographplane(1908) for aeroplane telly
    (1940) and TV (1948) for television.
  • Some words first appeared as slang before they
    joined the main language for example boss (1923)
    was an American slang word, meaning manager.

  • Some words have combined sounds from two other
    words for example,smog(1905), used to describe
    the bad air in cities, is made from smoke and
  • Only a few new words have not been created from
    other words. Two examples are nylon(1938) to
    describe a man-made material, and
    flip-flop(1970), a type of shoe that makes a
    noise as you walk.

  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which was
    completed in 1928, includes a total of 414,800
    words, all English words since 1150 ( even those
    that are no longer used).

  • OED does not include many spoken words, slang
    words or words from non-British kinds of English.
  • Some people think that there are probably a
    million different words and expressions in
    English today.

  • The spread of new words in the 20th century was
    made possible by newspapers, radio, television,
    films, pop music and the Internet.
  • English passed the 1,000,000 threshold on June
    10, 2009 at 1022 am GMT and today English has
    1,001,543.(source the global language monitor)

The future of English(es)?
  • we no longer control English in any meaningful
    way. It is no longer our ship, but the sea.
    (Andrew Marr,1998)
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