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Chapter 9

LINGUIST 1Z03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Anglo-Saxons, Early Modern English, Great Vowel Shift

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Karen Tucker

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1Z03 Chapter 9: A Brief History of English
Karen Tucker
Old English spoken between 700 and 1100 AD
Originated somewhere between the black sea and the caspian sea
English is a Germanic language belonging to Indo-European languages
Reconstructed vocabulary can indicate style of life in the past
Differences that exist between languages tend to be systematic
p -> f (pisc/fish,pater/father)
t -> e (tres/three,tu/thouk
k -> h (centum/hundred,cord/heart)
d -> t (dent/tooth, duo/two)
g -> k (genu/knee, genus/kin)
Grimm's Law Systematic changes of plosive consonants
By studying cognates you can guess about what words may have looked like, and reveal
systematic sound changes across languages
Such changes are a result of influence of other old European languages when travelling
Substratum effects - where one language is influenced by languages of nearby groups
English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages
East Germanic - southeastern Europe ( not spoken today, but gothic writing survived)
North Germanic - evolved into the modern Scandinavian languages
West Germanic - ancestor of modern German, Dutch, English
500 BC Britain invaded by Celtic tribes
In 43 AD, islands invaded by Emperor Claudius and Britain became part of the Roman Empire
Roman empire collapsed
Scots and Picts were taking over Celts, Celts asked for help from Southern Denmark and north-
western Germany, who conquered the Scots and pushed the Celts to the ends of the island
and took the Celt's lands for themselves
Primitive Old English Period
Oldest manuscripts written with Roman letters found in Britain were dated from this time
Before this time, the roman alphabet was adopted and there was primarily Christian literature
in English
Original Britain tribes broken into seven smaller kingdoms
These kingdoms spoke different languages based on the grammars, vocabularies and
pronunciations of the original Germanic languages of the different tribes
Old English Period (700-1100 AD)
Old English was highly synthetic meaning that inflectional endings were used to signal the
grammatical function of words, and word order was less important
Adjectives also had inflectional endings that reflected the noun they described as did
pronouns and articles
Ten different classes of verbs all with different systems of declension
The verb system was also inflectional, different endings depending on the grammatical subject
Minimal influence from Celtic, place names influences (e.g Thames, the dark river, Kent,
London, the town of the wild one
9: A Brief History of English
November 18, 2017
1:13 PM
Class Notes Page 1
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