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SHAKESPEAREAN ENGLISH (1500 - UP TO THE PRESENT)

literature

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SHAKESPEAREAN ENGLISH (1500 - UP TO THE PRESENT)

God helps them that help themselves”



                                                                                                          (Benjamin Franklin)

This final study session is intended to complete your knowledge about the evolution of the English language along the last half a millennium. This is the longest stage in the economics of the language history and it has witnessed inventions and innovations, historical, political, military and cultural events of paramount importance in the progress of humankind which inevitably have left their imprint on the English language.

By the end of this study you will be conversant with:

  • The factors which further influenced the progress of the English language;
  • Attitudes towards language which stood for a matter of national interest;
  • Changes in the vocabulary and grammar of English before and after the 19th century;
  • The cosmopolitan character of the 20th century English vocabulary.

22. Socio-historical Background.

The beginning of the Shakespearean English is conveniently placed at the beginning of the 16th century.

A chronology of the Shakespearean English major historical events

1475 - 1650

Renaissance loan words into English

1510 - 1514

Erasmus of Rotterdam teaches Greek at Cambridge

1516

Thomas More – Utopia – written in Latin

1535

English church abjures papal authority

1549

England declares war on France

1549

Book of Common Prayer written

1584

Roanoke settlement in America

1590 -1616

Shakespeare’s main works written

1604

Publication of Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabeticall

1611

Authorized Version of the Bible

1712

Jonathan’s Swift’s proposal for an English Academy

1721

Publication of Nathaniel’s Bailey’s Universal Etymological English Dictionary

1755

Publication of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language

1762

Publication of Robert Lowth’s Short Introduction to English Language

1794

Publication of Lindley Murray’s English Grammar

1828

Publication of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language

1884 - 1928

Publication of the Oxford English Dictionary

New factors, peculiar to this epoch influenced the development of the English language along lines which are different from those that had characterized its previous history. Among the new factors historian linguists usually include:

       -  the invention, adoption and the more and more extensive use of the printing press;

       - the rapid spread of popular education;

       - the increased communication and means of communication;

       - the birth and growth of social consciousness.

Not all of the factors mentioned in the foregoing exercised the same degree of influence on the evolution of the English language.

The invention of the printing press and its having been introduced into the British culture had a first impact on manuscripts: they were more and more seldom seen and almost never sold. Instead, books were brought to the reach of all the people, ceasing, thus, to constitute the expensive luxury of very few people (as they were in Chaucer’s time). The possibility to reproduce a book in one thousand or one hundred thousand copies had an overwhelming consequence upon the life of the British society: it contributed to the rapid spread of popular education. The Paston Letters say that in the later Middle Ages a large number of the middle-class population could read and write. In Shakespeare’s London almost a third or probably half of the people could at least read.

Linguistically, the importance of the printing press lay in its having constituted a means to promote a standard or uniform language thought the territory in which it was understood.

The introduction in the printing press closely intermingled with the rapid development of education. In the 17th and 18th centuries a prosperous class of the tradesmen appeared and they not only had the means to obtain an education but also had the leisure to enjoy it. The concern for education was attested by (1) the great increase in the number of schools, (2) the tremendous journalistic output of an author like Defoe and by (3) the rapid rise of the novel stand as proof for the social interest in education. As a result of popular education the printing press was able to exert its influence upon language as upon thought.

Another factor of great importance to the language development was the way in which the different parts of the world were brought together through new types of human relationships – commerce and transportation.

The various means of transport – steamship, railroad, automobile, airplane – have continually brought people into contact with one another and joined communities which had once been isolated.

The diverse means of communication, or even media – the post office, telegraph, telephone, radio, movies, television and the latest cry in fashion – the internet – paid their tribute to the language evolution: they contributed to the intermingling of languages and to the lessening of the more easily altered local idiosyncrasies. The interlingual change of concepts and ideas acquired new dimension in the field of the vocabulary.

It is in this stage of language evolution when the social consciousness becomes relevant. As long as the lines between social classes were fairly tightly drawn, a man certainly spoke the language of his class, without giving to much thought to the consequences of his manner of speaking. Under the currently prevailing democratic conditions, when people can get access to a different economic, intellectual or social level, they are likely to make an effort not only to adopt but to make use of the standards of grammar and pronunciation of the people with whom he might be identified. He has, therefore, to be as careful of his language as of his manner, for the standards of language constitute a part of his social consciousness.

4.3. Shakespearean English

4.3.1. Early Shakespearean English.

The above mentioned factors exercised a radical influence on vocabulary and a conservative one on grammar. This radical influence implied a change in the language and it operated either singly or in combination. In modern times the changes in grammar were relatively slight but those in the vocabulary were extensive.

The 16th century left the modern languages cope with three great difficulties:

- the recognition in the fields where Latin had played the supreme part for centuries;

- the establishment of a more uniform orthography;

- the enrichment of the vocabulary so as to meet the requirements of its wider use.

Therefore, Latin’s role in the communication process of the period was tremendous:

- it was the “key” to the world’s knowledge (poetry, oratory, philosophy);

- it had universal currency;

- it was widely used in all the fields of knowledge;

- next to Greek, it was further consolidated by the “revival of learning”.

Out of this classical picture consisting of Latin and Greek there came out scholars who tried to impose the modern languages as being as suitable as Latin and Greek to be used in written communication. Animated by nationalistic ideas, T.S.Elyot, Ascham Wilson, Puttenham and even Richard Mulchaster thought that the English language was “depe in conceit, and frank in deliverie”. These ideas supporting the importance of the English language had a value of their own as they voiced a widespread feeling namely that the need to use this tongue was, above all, a popular demand.

As a first consequence, the translations literally poured from the press in the 16th century, and historians as Thucydides and Xenophon had been translated into English before Shakespeare went to school, while Herodotus appeared before the dramatist had begun his career.

Works belonging to Aristotle, Cicero and Seneca and dealing with politics and morals were equally popular, alongside with poems signed by Virgil, Ovid and Horace, and even some partial translations of Homer (which began to appear in 1598).

A further contribution to the consolidation of the English language was the Protestant Reformation. which opened a market for English books which was much greater than that for Latin ones.

The defenders of the English language turned their ideas into facts, i.e. they began to make use of their native tongue in their writings. In spite of the fashion of the preceding centuries, and contrary to their own beliefs in their native language, the defenders of the English language had a paradoxical attitude because, at first, they tried to apologize for their writing in English. Later on, they concluded that their language was equal to any other tongue in the world and, stated that they wrote for the whole nation and their main purpose was to be best understood by their readers.

ASSIGNMENT 1.

Find the right answers to the items below:

1. Name one difficulty English had to cope with as early as the 16th century.

A. the establishment of a more uniform orthography

B. the influx of Greek terms

C. the leveling of inflexions

2. Account for the position of Latin as early as the 16th century.

A. the language of the English Parliament

B. the ‘key’ to the world’s knowledge

C. the language of the media

3. Give three names of famous thinkers of the Antiquity who became popular due to the increasing number of translations intended for the people at large.

A. Herodotus, Cicero and Seneca

B. Aristotle, Cicero and Seneca

C. Aristotle, Herodotus and Cicero

4. Name three historians whose works were translated along the 16th century.

A. Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon

B. Cicero, Herodotus and Thucydides

C. Thucydides, Aristotle and Virgil

5. Exemplify at least two names of translated poets of the Antiquity whose poems were translated into English.

A. Virgil, Ovid and Horace

B. Herodotus, Homer and Ovid

C. Horace, Homer and Seneca

While the 15th century recorded just sporadic attempts of some individual writers who tried to embellish their style, the 16th century was much richer in literary productions. A remarkable amount of literature – books, pamphlets, prefaces and incidental observations defended the language and patriotically recognized the status of English as the national language.

The 16th century writers considered the English language as:

- worthy of cultivation;

- a subject to be looked after in the education of the younger generations;

- an object of pride.

These considerations intermingled with the writers’ desire to regulate the spelling of the English language and to enlarge its vocabulary.

The interest taken in the enrichment of the vocabulary and the regulation of spelling paves the way to the standardization of the English language.

The influence of the printing press and the efforts of the spelling reformers lead to a form of written English which is quite similar with the modern language. The vocabulary remained open to a permanent process of enrichment and on the whole almost all the words existing in the 16th century have survived up to now. Shakespeare’s and Spenser’s writings prove the existence of a standard literary language which did not include the variations of local dialects.

Early Shakespearean English, as it may be seen in books, was much more plastic than now. The speaker was entitled to mould it according to his needs or wills. As words were not classed into rigid grammatical categories, adjectives were used as adverbs, or nouns, or verbs, nouns appeared as verbs, and in brief, any part of speech appeared as almost any other part.

As this was the age of great personalities as Francis Drake or Walter Raleigh animated by a strong vigour, the willingness to venture and the disposition to attempt the untried, these feelings also described the language of the respective epoch. Even if certain progress toward linguistic uniformity had been observed, many features remained still unsettled. The language was characterized by a large variety of use as there existed alternative forms in grammar, experiments with new words and, last but not least, variations in pronunciation and spelling.

Assignment 2.

Answer the following questions:

1. Which was the technical invention that exercised an unprecedented effect upon the culture and civilization of the British nation in the mid-1400s?

2. Could you name at least two cultural consequences of this technical invention?

3. What was the level of literacy in Shakespeare’s London?

4. Could you name a source of information describing the later times of the Middle Ages?

24. Attitudes toward Language. The writers’ language varied from writer to writer and the use of language depended on education and temperament. Men of letters, writers and even philosophers took an interest in the state of their language and acted accordingly. Thus they began by trying to offer instruments to enable people have a norm to resort to.  An example of the kind is that of Sir John Cheke, who produced a quite personal system of spelling in which he:

- doubled the long vowels (e.g. taak was the spelling for take, maad represented the   word made or myu was the form of the possessive pronoun mine);

- discarded the final –e (e.g. giv, belev);

- always used i for y (e.g. mighti, dai).

In spite of his attempt to produce a spelling system the writer himself proved inconsistency with his own work as the borrowing was spelt in three different ways within a single paragraph. These three different spellings may also mean that the author could not have made up his mind about a fixed spelling of a given word.

This example shows that English spelling was characterized by variety, but in spite of this feature, by 1550 there was a nucleus of common practice and many of the aspects of the present-day English spelling were clearly becoming established. The 16th century records several attempts to draw up rules and to devise new systems aiming at the standardization of the national language.

One of these attempts is supported by an “ABC for Children” published before 1558. Although it consisted of only a few pages it is worthwhile for its author devoted part of the space to “percepts of good lyrynge” and managed to formulate certain general rules.

A group of writers attacked the problem of spelling in what they conceived to be its most fundamental aspect: the very imperfect way in which the spelling of words represented their sounds.

Thomas Smith is one of these writers and in his book (1568) “Dialogue concerning the Correct and Emended Writing of the English Language” he suggested a 34–letter alphabet and a method to mark the long vowels.

In the next 12 years three more books on orthography came out and they all aimed to phonetically reform the language. John Hart’s “An Orthographie” (1569) and “A Method or Comportable Beginning for All Unlearned, Whereby They May Bee Taught to Read English” (1570) as well as William Bullokar’s “Booke at Large, for the Amendment of Orthographic for English Speech” (1580) produced new letters or new characters or made liberal use of accents and apostrophes and numerous hooks placed above or below the letters.

Attempts as the foregoing continued into the 17th century and they may be exemplified by Charles Butler’s “The English Grammar or the Institution of Letter’s, Syllables and Woords in the English Tung” (1634) which represents a mere exercise in ingenuity or by Richard Mulcaster’s “Elementarie” (1582). Unlike the above mentioned sophisticated titles this last very simple “Elementarie” is, in fact, the most extensive and the most important treatise on English spelling in the 16th century. Mulcaster deployed through this book his greatest virtue moderation, showing that he:

          - understood the futility of trying to make the English spelling phonetic;

          - was willing to make a compromise between the ideal and the practical;

          - did not think that spelling could ever perfectly represent the sound; he considered that the differences between one sound and another were often too subtle and thus he thought it was unavoidable that the same letter must sometimes be used for different sounds.

Having these theoretical reasons as starting points he could not go along with the phonetic reformers. Richard Mulcaster considered custom or usage as the basis of his reform and even if usage was his point of departure he did not ignore he sounds.

As a language reformer he had among his general aims:

- to get rid of superfluous letters (as the double consonant e.g. putt, grubb, ledd);

- not to omit some letters which he considered necessary (e.g. [t] in fetch or in Scratch);

- to allow double consonants only where they belonged to separate syllables (e.g. wit-ting) and almost never at the end of a word, except in the case of –l (e.g. tall, generall);

- to add an –e to the words ending in double –s (e.g. glass glasse or confessconfesse);

- to make use of final -e

(1) as a mark for a preceding long vowel distinguishing:

e.g. made from mad

      stripe from strip

or (2) at the end of words having –v or –z as a final consonant

e.g. love or wise

Since Richard Mulcaster was more interested in having everyone adopt the same spelling and less interested in phonetic consistency, he added to the latter part of his book a General Table giving the recommended spelling for some 7000 of the most common words. His purpose in giving such a general table was that everyone should adopt a single spelling and use it regularly.

The merit or demerit of Mulcaster’s “Elementarie” was that it succeeded in standardizing a large number of current spellings, on the one hand and that the English spelling developed along the lines laid down by him.

As the Latin language held a privileged position throughout the Middle Ages, the vernaculars remained undeveloped. But during this period the scholarly monopoly of Latin was broken and the English language showed its shortcomings and deficiencies, as being inadequate to express the thought and the ideas of the period. Paradoxically, the translations from the former dominant Latin proved the limitations of the English language. Those people who had Latin as their second mother tongue had to cope with the temptation to transfer into English or to Anglicize the important Latin radicals, and this was the situation of the words having a French or Italian origin. New words were needed not only in literature for the newly translated Latin works, but in various technical fields as well.

Scholars dealing with writings and translations considered it a patriotic duty to employ their knowledge in order to improve the national speech. As a result of their time-consuming efforts along the 16th and the early 17th centuries thousands of new words penetrated into the English language. Even of the early Shakespearean English vocabulary acquisition was comprehensive, mention must be made about the attitude of contemporaries concerning the necessity and desirability of this new ware of acquisition.

Thus, on one side of the barricade there stood those who favored the borrowings and on the other, the so-called “purist”. This latter group is represented by John Cheke, whose attitude is quite interesting because he himself was a fine classical scholar and he might have been expected to show sympathy of classical borrowings and understanding for those resorting to such a method. The supporters of the purist attitude toward language considered the use of learned words as mere pedantry and they tried to exclude them from the language; ridiculing words of this type they baptized them “inkhorn terms”, objecting to their being characterized by obscurity. They had the same argument against another type of words – ‘the oversea language’.

The great exponent of this view of ‘inkhorn terms’ was Thomas Wilson, whose book “Arte of Rhetorique” (1553) enjoyed such an unexpected success that it was reprinted several times in the course of the century. In a passage which has come to be considered classic. “Plainnesse, what it is”, ha severely attacked the inkhorn terms, but things and attitude have so evolved that many of the words once ridiculed by Thomas Wilson are in common use today.

The former group, favoring the borrowings, is represented by Milton’s nephew, Edward Phillips and by Thomas Elyot. The scholars supporting the idea of innovation in vocabulary had the precedent on their side for English had been familiar with this process of word borrowings for centuries. Besides, they offered a solution to the charge of ‘obscurity’ labeled on the new words. As Mulcaster had already noticed people must get acquainted with the new words and when this acquaintance has been over passed their strangeness disappears “familiarities and acquaintance will cause facilitie, both in matter and in words”.

The negative attitude toward ‘inkhorn terms’ reached its peak in the middle of the 16th century and by the end of Elisabeth’s reign it had already spent its force. Borrowing had gone so far that the attack came to be directed to the abuse of the procedure than to the procedure itself. The scholars’ attitude toward borrowing as a word-forming process gradually changed and some of them admitted having to use some of the inkhorn terms and in several instances they even justified the use of the respective words.

In time the attitude of most of the scholars seemed to have been the compromise for no Elizabethan could wholly avoid the use of the new words.

The main concern of some of the English writers to standardize their native tongue was not the preoccupation of the 16th century generations but it was continuously increased during the first half of the 17th century.

The English spelling in its modern form had been established by about 1650.

“The New World of Words” (1658) published by Milton’s nephew Edward Phillips, reveals a few differences between the Early Shakespearean English and contemporary or present–day English, but these differences are neither very important nor very significant for a certain sound or group of sounds.

All these concerns for the language development and enrichment have their corollary in Richard Mulcaster’s remarkable idea which suggested the making of a dictionary, as presented below. This idea has a double value as it also proves that Mulcaster was not a man of his epoch, but that his mind and brains set him at least one century in advance of his time. In 1582 he stated that

            “It were a thing very praiseworthy in my

            opinion and no lesse profitable… if som

            one well learned and as laborious a man,

wold gather all the words whiche we use

            in our English tung, whether naturall

            or incorporate, out of all professions, as

            well learned as not, into one dictionarie

            and besides the right writing, which

            unto us there in both their natural force

            and their proper use.”

Mulcaster’s proposal found its echo almost twenty years later in Robert Cawdrey’s book entitled “The Table Alphabeticall of Hard Words” which included 3000 terms explained in 120 pages.

Most of the earliest dictionaries explained either the words in Latin or of some other foreign origin or explained “the hard words”. As an illustration, Henry Blount’s Glossographia (1656) and Edward Phillip’s New World of Words (1658) treated the more difficult words and, as Phillips put it “the interpretation of all the words derived from foreign languages”. As still another illustration John Bullokar’s English Expositor (1616) and Henry Cockeram’s English Dictionarie (1623) were very successful and enjoyed numerous editions. Cockeram’s dictionary and Bullokar’s later editions introduced a section intended to serve “for the translation of ordinary English words into the more scholastic or those derived from other languages”. (Baugh and Cable 1992).

These first lexicographic attempts sustaining the concern for the language development and its understanding by the people at large had a selective character, dealing only with ‘had words’ and with words of foreign origin.

Even of nobody thought that etymology would later develop into a branch of lexicology, two scholars produced the first etymological dictionaries in the second half of the 17th century. Stephen Skinner signed his Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae (1667) and Francis Junius his Etymologicon Anglicanum (1677), both written in Latin which restricted their area of utility.

The Universal Etymological English Dictionary published in 1721 under the authorship of Nathaniel Bailey is considered the first important dictionary until the publication of Dr. Johnson’s work.

Richard Mulcaster’s suggestion had a three fold contribution as dictionaries:

- enabled people to write in ordinary English and then, by making a few judicious substitutions, to convey a fine impression of learning;

-  helped to facilitate the adoption of the new words into general use;

-  marked the extensive additions that had been made to the language.

To conclude we shall have to emphasize that spelling was one of the problems which the English language began consciously to face in the 16th century and during the interval of one and a half century from 1500 to 1650 it was fairly settled.

Assignment 3.

1. Name three authors who exercised their ideas in the field of English orthography.

2. What is Richard Mulcaster famous for?

3. Name three of his general aims intended to reform the language.

4. What is Edward Phillips’s work remarkable for?



Pronunciation and Spelling in Early Shakespearean English

When trying to characterize the Early Shakespearean English pronunciation historian linguists unanimously admit that the most important transformation that took place at this stage in the history of the language is the change of sounds. This change did not affect all the sounds in the English language but some of them were more affected than others; Thus, the sound [e], under certain conditions, remained unchanged (e.g. the A.E. bed turned into the Shakespearean English bed), but the sound [a] in Alfredian English (e.g. stan) turned to the diphthong [∂u] in Shakespeare’s time and this word pronunciation has remained unchanged up to now. The literature in the field mentions that the short vowels in accented syllables remained comparatively stable, while all Chaucerian English long vowels underwent extensive alterations in passing into Shakespearean English.

In the times when Chaucer lived the long vowels had their so-called “continental value” e.g.

                        a → [a:] – father

                        e → [e] – there

                                [ei] – mate

In the 15th century a great vowel change took place and as a consequence all the long vowels gradually came to be pronounced with a greater elevation of the tongue and an observable closing of the mouth. Thus the vowels that could be raised (a, e, ẹ, o, ọ,) were raised and those which could not gradually became diphthong. This alteration of the vowels (also known as the ‘Great Vowel Shift’) did not affect the English language exclusively and the changes diagrammed below did not take place successively. All it is known about this ‘moment’ is that it started around the 15th century, but there still is considerable controversy as to which vowel was the one to have started this general shift Aitchison 1991:154).

The ‘Great English Vowel Shift’ is visualized in a traditional manner by Baugh and Cable (1992:238) and rather mathematically by the linguists of the last twenty years. This ‘mathematical’ image shows the ‘Great Vowel Shift’ as a chain shift:

[∂i]

[i:]

[u:]

[∂u]

[e:]

[o:]

[ε:]

[:]

[a:]

Most of the historian linguists present the consequences of the Great Vowel Shift exemplifying Chaucerian English and Shakespearean English samples. I consider Aitchison’s table (1991:153) below, more relevant as it also has an intermediate stage which is intended to stress that the English language continued to evolve even after this process of sound alterations:

            The Great English Vowel Shift

[a:]

[na:m∂]  'name'

®

[e:]

[ne:m]

®

[ei]

[neim]

[e:]

[me:t]     'meat'

®

[e:]

[me:t]

®

[i:]

[mi:t]

[e:]

[me:t]     'meet'

®

[i:]

[mi:t]

®

[i:]

[mi:t]

[i:]

[ri:d]       'ride'

®

[i]

[rid]

®

[ai]

[raid]

[:]

[b:t]       'boat'

®

[o:]

[bo:t]

®

[ou/u]

[bout/but]

[o:]

[bo:t]     'boot'

®

[u:]

[bu:t]

®

[u:]

[bu:t]

Specialists agree that most of the long vowels must have acquired their new pronunciation by the 16th century. This phonetic law is responsible for the use of vowel symbols in the English spelling which had became fixed in a general way before the shift and, therefore did not change when the quality of the long vowels changed.

In unaccented syllables the spelling does not accurately represent the pronunciation today. In all the stages of the language development the vowels of unstressed syllables have had a tendency to weaken and often to disappear. The weakening is especially noticeable in words of French origin, where an accented vowel came to be unaccented in English as in the case of     moutan → mutton

                                                bonté   → bounty

As a conclusion, spelling ‘was very much discussed because it was extremely complicated (Iarovici 1972:148), it was neither phonetic not fixed yet. Spelling differed very much either from writer, or in case of a single writer a word or certain words were spelt in several ways.

The problem of spelling or orthography or as Richard Mulcaster put it “right writing” was a matter of real importance.

The spelling of the modern languages in the Middle Ages had attempted to represent the pronunciation of the words, but the Norman scribes introduced considerable confusion when they tried to write a language they imperfectly knew and carried over habits which they had performed when writing French texts.

In spite of the great efforts intended for the simplification and the ‘organization’ of the English spelling to many people the English spelling seemed and even nowadays seems chaotic.

The Vocabulary of Early Shakespearean English

The enrichment of the vocabulary was one of the major problems confronting the modern language in the 16th century. This was so because the Renaissance – a period of increased activity in almost every field – enhanced the spirit of adventure, inquiry and experiment which brought about the reform of the church, the Copernican theory and the revolution of thought in many fields.The rediscovery of Greek and Latin literature gave a new impulse to the development of the modern languages, as they became the medium of literary expression.

Word Borrowings, Re-Borrowings and Derivation

The donor languages for the early Shakespearean English lexicon include European countries as France, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands.

Besides its domination along the centuries, Latin continued to influence the English vocabulary, giving it a lange number of basic nouns, adjectives and verbs.

The considerable percentage of Latin words belonging to the English vocabulary generally entered the language of this period through the medium of writing. The Greek element was less represented than the Latin one and it was taken directly from its source or indirectly via Latin. The Latin influences were exercised by the work of churchmen and scholars who helped the people to understand the learned words. The Latin loans adopted during The Renaissance and the post-Renaissance period included:

-          nouns: allusion, disrespect, emanation dexterity, expectation, excursion, denunciation;  

-          basic adjectives which may be exemplified by: agile, appropriate, insane, impersonal, external, malignant, hereditary, habitual;

-          verbs: adapt, assassinate, benefit, consolidate, emancipate, erupt, eradicate, excavate, exist, extinguish, harass, meditate, etc.

The Latin words came into English either directly, as it was the case with the above mentioned examples or they could came indirectly.

Latin was the channel for some Greek words to the English vocabulary: atmosphere, autograph, crisis, antipathy, chaos, antithesis, chronology, climax, dogma.

Directly taken from Greek are among other examples: anonymous, catastrophe, criterion, ephemeral, idiosyncrasy, lexicon, misanthrope, polemic, thermometer and tonic.

There is another criterion according to which borrowings can be classified into unaltered words and words undergoing a certain change. The above mentioned Latin and Greek words, as well as such examples as climax, appendix, axis, delirium, exterior and epitome stand for the former category.

The changes undergone by the words of foreign origin may imply:

- a process of cutting off or reduction of an ending:

e.g. Latin words produced according to this process are conjectural (-is)

                                    consult (-is)

                                    exclusion (em)

                                    exotic (-us)

- a process of transformation:

e.g.

a) Latin noun endings

became

English noun endings

    -tas            celebritas

®

-ty                    celebrity

    -antia         consonantia

®

-ance/-             consonance

                      constantia

®

          -ancy      constancy

    -entia         concurentia

®

-ence/               conccurence

                      frequentia

®

          -ency       frequency 

b) Latin adjective ending

became

English adjective endings

     -bilis         considerabilis

®

-ble                  considerable

                       susceptibilis

®

                         susceptible

c) Latin past participle

became

English infinitive

    -atus          exterminatus

®

-ate                   exterminate

                      creatus

®

                          create

                      consolidatus

®

                          consolidate

                      eradicatus

®

                          eradicate

Also peculiar to the Renaissance period is the reintroduction of same words that had already been introduced in a previous period. Nevertheless, this reintroduction gave new meanings to the old word, which, in fact meant the extension of meaning – i.e. a new word building process. Thus fastidious was used in the 15th century with the meaning of proud or scornful, but in the 16th century More, and Elyot meant ‘distasteful, disgusting’ by it.

The process of reintroduction also affected words existing in English in their Norman–French origin which had to co-exist with their Latin counter parts, whose new meaning was different from that of the Norman-French word. Thus, there existed Latin doublets completed by a third word derived from the Norman-French:

Latin words

Latin words derived from Norman-French

Reintroduced form

              abbreviare

               abridge

                 abbreviate

             allocare

               allow

                 allocate

             exemplum

               sample

                 example

             historia




               story

                 history

             corpus

              corp

                 corpse

 

With some of these triplets the differentiation in meaning is rather slight (the more recent borrowings have a more learned or abstract character e.g. story history), while with other examples, the differentiation is quite important (e.g. corpuscorpscorpse).

This situation holds true the Greek doublets:

Greek words

Alfredian English forms

English forms

blasphemein

blame

blaspheme

phantasma

phantom

phantasm

phantasia

fancy

phantasy

paralysis

palsy

paralysis

Besides words, some derivative elements of Greek and Latin origin also penetrated into the English language during the Renaissance. Out of the prefixes re- is an example in the word rebuild and of the suffixes –able (e.g. drinkable), -ative (e.g. talkative), -ation (e.g. starvation).

Derivation, as a means of producing new words, formed hybrids consisting of a Latin/Greek stem and an English affix: as in overturn, unjust, underestimate, grateful, rapidly, membership, etc.

Out of the many words that where introduced into English some had a very short life, being used for a few times and than forgotten, some others, some others enjoyed a rather long life without becoming in any sense popular, while a few where in sufficiently common use for a while to seen assured of a permanent place, but which, for some reason lost favour later and dropped out of use.

Although linguist historians remarked this phenomenon of word rejection along the centuries, they have not been able to find a sound explanation, yet. Some of them explained the word rejection phenomenon as the result of a lack of necessity for the respective word.

The borrowings of the period were often experimental, they were being tried out and eventually dropped, of they proved as not appealing to the public at large.

These is some uncertainty when to establish the origin of a borrowing at the language development, as besides English French also borrowed words from Latin and the same words were introduced in the two languages. Thus, the English fact is the Latin cut off factum and not the French fait. The English verbs confiscate and congratulate have their origins in the Latin past participles confiscates and congratulatus. There still are many other examples, but our purpose is to exemplify words of various origins penetrating the English language at a certain moment along its evolution and not the description of various etymologies.

As a result of the travels to France and of the consumption of French books, words of French origin as alloy, bizarre, chocolate, comrade, detail, duel, entrance, equip, essay, explore, mustache, naturalize, progress, shock, surpass, tricket, vogue found their right place in the English vocabulary.

The people traveling to Italy admitted Italian architecture and brought back with them not only manners and styles of dress, but new words, too. Among the words belonging to this language mention is made about algebra, balcony, granite, design, grotto, portico, stanza, volcano, and violin. The indirect Italian borrowings, via French had French forms, as it is obvious from the examples bankrupt, gazette, grotesque, cavalcade, brigade, and infantry.

The rigid attitude of the purists raised protests against the Italianate Englishmen frequently in the Elizabethan literature as they “powdered their talk with oversea language” (Carew).

The Iberians also contributed to the English lexicon with Spanish or Portuguese words as alligator, apricot, armada, banana, barricade, cannibal, canoe, cocoa, embargo, coral, hammock, mosquito, and mulatto.

Some Spanish words entered, the English vocabulary via French: grenade, palisade, escalade.

Even if reduced in number, the Dutch borrowings are due to the naval wars and to the maritime rivalry of the two countries bulwark, boom and cruise are terms connected with life at sea, while loiter, landscape and wagon were some of the words brought back by the volunteers sent by Elisabeth to assist the Dutch against the duke of Parma.

The Dutch merchants and manufacturers who settled in England after the fall of Artwerp also paid their “tribute” to the English language, under the form of cambric (a fine thin white linen or cotton fabric, a common noun derived from Kameryk, the name of a Flemish town) and holland (a cotton or linen fabric in plain weave, whose name is also derived from Holland, the Dutch Netherlands country).

These examples of words of foreign origin admitted into the English language point to the cosmopolitan tendency and to the spirit of exploration and adventure and they also describe an interesting way in the growth of the vocabulary as well as the contribution along the more intellectual forms of activity to the enrichment of the English language.

While the words borrowed from the Romance languages came into English through books, the revivals and the new formations from native materials were due to the efforts of individual writers and their associates.

Many purists, like Sir John Cheke himself that English was an endless source which could produce new words from old roots, or could revive expressions that had gone out of use. Thus, he sought wherever possible for English equivalents when he translated and updated the Authorized Version and for lunatic he wrote mooned or for prophet he gave foresayer while for crucified for used crossed.

Assignment 6.

Answer the following questions:

1. How did words of other languages become part of the English vocabulary in pre-Shakespearean English?

2. Did Latin and Greek still act as donour languages for English?

3. How do you classify the borrowings which became ‘English heritage’?

4. What other European languages influenced the pre-Shakespearean English vocabulary?

5. What fields of activity did these borrowings belong to?

The poets manifested a bias to the revival of old words, especially those words which were familiar to them from Chaucer’s writings. That is why this type of revivals and new formations that suggest an old period have often been referred to as “Chaucerisms”.

The representative of this group of poets is Edmund Spencer, who consciously made use of old words to enlarge the poetical vocabulary. Milton also enriched the English vocabulary, but to a lesser degree.

The poetical innovations of this period may be grouped into:

- old words revived: astound, blameful, euroot, doom;

- new words whose origin is either uncertain or dialectical: e.g. askew, flout, freak;

- coinages: e.g. bellibone (this word is Spencer’s creation denoting a fair maid,             possibly from belle et bonne);

                                       scruze       ( Spencer’s combination of screw + squeeze);

- adaptations and derivatives of old words: e.g. changeful, sunshine, wolfish.

The result of the foregoing processes were not so numerous as those obtained from outside bur they filled a gap and covered a linguistic need and due to their usefulness many of them passed from the poetic language into common use.

The existence of such words is highly valued as they kept alive the vital principle of English word formation. The origins of this principle are deeply rooted into the soil of the Alfredian English language. The numerous newly created words entailed a certain degree of difficulty as far as their meaning was concerned.

The newly created words penetrated the languages in various ways. There were instances when (1) the Latin origin of the respective words helped the reader to understand the meaning of the new word, but there also were instances when (2) the author parenthetically explained the words. In this regard, Baugh and Cable (1992) quote an example extracted from T.S. Elyot’s work:

           

Industrie hath not ben longe

            tyme used in the englisshe tonge

            It is a qualitie procedying of witte

            and experience, by whiche a man

            perceyveth quickly, inventeth freshly

            and consayleth speedily.”

There still was a simpler way to create words, e.g. (3) by combining a new word with an old word in a self-interpreting system, such as animate or giving courage, explicating or unfolding, education or bringing up children.

To complete the image of the English vocabulary enrichment historian linguists tried to calculate the total number of new words added along this period. The data available in the Oxford English Dictionary offer an approximate number of 10000 words, taking no account of minor variations of the same word or of words, which while appearing before 1500, were introduced in the language for a second time in the 16th century or first gained currency at that time.

Certainly, not all of the words introduced in the English lexicon succeeded in filling the gaps of the already existing vocabulary, but they provided an abundance of synonyms.

Most of these have often gained new values and have become differentiated, thus enabling the English speaker to express slight shades of meaning.

Since most of the words entered the English language by way of writing, they embody the evidence of the new force exercised by the printing press and they also furnish a remarkable instance of the ease with which the printed word can pass into everyday speech.

Early Shakespearean English Grammar.

The English grammar in the 16th and early 17th centuries is marked by the survival of certain forms and usages that have since disappeared than by any fundamental developments. The great changes which had resulted in the reduction of the Alfredian English inflexions to their modern proportions had already taken place. There are not so many differences as far as the parts of speech and their inflexions are concerned and the differences of syntax and idiom are so minor that they do not affect the understanding of the message, in case a present-day reader wants to read Shakespeare or the Authorized Version in the original. Applying the criterion of symmetry the grammar approach will consider nearly the same structure as that adopted in the preceding study sessions, making reference to nouns, adjectives,  pronouns and verbs.                   

The Noun.

The only inflexions retained in the noun were the plural markers and the singular possessive markers. The  -s plural had become so generalized that with the exception of a few nouns (e.g. sheep or swine) whose plural form coincided with the singular and of a few others (e.g. mice or feet) whose plural was based on mutated vowels, the rest of the nouns marked the plural by means of the above mentioned ending.

The 16th century witnessed certain survivals of the old weak plural form in –n (e.g. ox, child, brither), but most of these gradually adopted the –s plural form (e.g. fonfoes, kneenknees) while besides the modern forms authors occasionally used the two forms; the old fashioned and the modern one. Thus, Shakespeare used both eyen and eyes or shoon and shoes. Nowadays, except for the poetical kine and mixed plurals – children and bretheren, the only plural of this type in general use is oxen.

The borrowings of the Shakespearean English period have often preserved their original plural (e.g. axisaxes, basisbases, etc.) but the contemporary tendency is either to regularize the foreign plural forms (e.g. stadiumstadiums or gymnasiumgymnasiums) or to build the two plurals of a noun according to the language register (e.g. formulaformulae for the scientific language and formulas all the other fields in everyday use).

An interesting particularity of this period is the use of the ‘his-genitive’. In Chaucerian English the –es of the genitive was unaccented and consequently, was frequently written and pronounced –i/ -ys. Thus, the ending was often identical with the pronoun his, which commonly lost its h- when unstressed. Consequently there was no difference in pronunciation between stonis and ston is (his) and in the 13th century the ending was sometimes separately as though the possessives case were a contraction of a noun and the pronoun his. This statement may be exemplified by the Alfredian English form “Adam is sune” which evolved to the Chaucerian English system Adam’s son to get reduced to the nowadays Adamson. During the 18th century people became dissatisfied with a type of construction a s Shakespeare’s “In characters as red as mars his heart and Dr. Johnson pointed out that one could hardly believe that the possessive ending was a contraction of his in syntagms as: a woman’s beauty. The group-possessive as in ‘the Duke of Gloucester’s niece” or “the King of England’s nose” also becomes established along this period. The syntagms Duke of Gloucester and King of England occurred so commonly as a unit that in the 16th century the sign of the possessive was added to the group.

The Adjective.

As previously stated, the adjective had already lost all its endings and no longer expressed distinctions of gender, number and case. The chief interest of this part of speech lies in the expressions of gradability. In the 16th century gradability was always expressed according to the nowadays patterns. Forms like lenger (Ascham) strenger (Elyot) show that forms like elder were once more common in the language. The two methods commonly used to express gradability inflexionally or periphrastically had been customary since Alfredian English times, but there was most variation in their use. Shakespearean comparison as honesties or violentest were replaced by analytical forms and the double gradability, fairly frequent in Shakespeare’s wore and in that of his contemporaries (e.g. more larger, most oldest) still remained in use, but not for a long time.

The chief development affecting in the adjective in modern times was the gradual setting down of usage and the monosyllabled adjectives took the inflexions, while most bisyllabled and multisyllabled ones (especially the suffixed adjectives) took the periphrastic constructions.

The pronoun.

The establishment of the personal pronoun in the present-day forms took place in the 16th century. To arrive at such a result, three changes occurred in the pronoun system:

- the disuse of thau, thee, thy;

- the substitution of you for ye as a nominative case form;

- the introduction of its as the possessive of it.

In Alfredian English the distinction thou and ye was simply one of number, the former expressing the singular and the latter the plural. In the 13th century thou and its case derivatives (thy, thee) were used either among familiars or in addressing children or persons of inferior rank while ye (and its case derivatives your and you) had acquired new meanings being used as a mark of respect or in addressing a superior. Such a practice must have been suggested by the French usage in court circles, but it finds a parallel in many other modern languages. This usage spread as a general concession to direct address irrespective of rank or intimacy. By the 16th century the singular forms had all disappeared from polite speech.

The most interesting development in the pronoun at this stage of the English language evolution was the formation of a new possessive neuter, its. The neuter pronoun was declined in Alfredian English hit, his, him, hit and dative and accusative merged under hit in Chaucerian English – hit, his, hit. In unstressed positions hit weakened to it and at the beginning of the modern period it was the usual form for the subject and object. His remained the proper form of the possessive. If grammatical gender had survived in English the continued use of his when referring to neuter nouns would probably have seemed strange. But when with the substitution of natural gender, meaning came to be the determining factor in the gender of nouns, and all lifeless objects were thought of as neuter, the situation was somewhat different. The personal pronoun of the 3rd person singular, he, she, it had a distinctive form for each gender in the nominative and objective, and a need seems to have been felt for some distinctive form in the possessive case as well. Various substitutes were tried, clearly, indicating a desire, conscious or unconscious to avoid the use of his in the neuter. The simple form it was as a possessive (e.g. “It lifted up it head” – Shakespeare).

The same use of it is seen in combination with own (e.g. “we enjoin thee… that there thou leave it. Without more mercy to it own protection” – Shakespeare).

Another important development in the pronoun system taking place during the 16th century was the use of who as a relative pronoun.

Alfredian English had no relative pronoun proper and made use of the definite article (se, seo) which displayed more demonstrative force than the relative. Sometimes the indeclinable particle be was added to the article and at the end of the Alfredian English period this particle had become the most usual relative pronoun, but it did not retain its popularity for a long time. In the early Chaucerian English period baet became the almost universal relative pronoun used for all genders, throughout the Chaucerian English period.

In the 15th century, which frequently alternated with that at first it referred mostly to neuter antecedents although occasionally it was used for persons, a use that survives in “Our Father, which art in heaven”, but the tendency to alternatively use which and that has never been lost.

The 16th century enriched the pronoun system with the form who, even if occasional instances of such a use occurred earlier, but they were quite exceptional whose and whom were infrequently used as relative pronouns.

The present-day widespread use of who as a relative pronoun is primarily a contribution of the 16th century to the language.

The Verb.

The differences of usages in the verb were sometimes very slight. One of the differences concerns the interrogative which was expressed without an auxiliary (e.g. “Macbeth, goes the King hence today?” – Shakespeare).

The Early Shakespearean English verb system proves a scarcity of progressive forms, while the compound participle (e.g. having spoken thus’ or ‘having decided to make the attempt’) was conspicuous by its infrequency.

The impersonal uses of the verb were much more common than they are today.

Some of the more noticeable differences in inflexion focused on the endings of the 3rd person singular of the present indicative and on the multitude of forms of the past tense and past participle, especially of strong verbs.

The regular ending of the 3rd person singular in the whole south and southeastern part of the country I.e. the district the most influential in the making of the standard speech was –eth all through the Chaucerian English period it was also universal in Chaucer: telleth, giveth saith …

In the 15th century some third person verb forms with as occasionally appeared, but they were difficult to account for since it was easy to see how the Northern dialect, where they were absolutely normal, could have exerted so important an influence upon the language of London and of south.

The 16th century saw their number increasing especially in writings which seemed to reflect the colloquial usage. By the end of the  century the forms tells, gives and says were predominant, though doth and hath may have been the commoner.

The historian linguist state with certainty that during the first half of the 17th century the third person ending –s of the present simple tense had already become universal in the spoken language and, probably due to the principle of analogy the –s verb ending was frequent in the 3rd person plural. Normally, the plural had no ending in the language of literature and that of the court, a circumstance originating in the loss of the East midland endings –en and -e which were characteristic in chancer’s plural. The 3rd person plural forms in –s were occasionally found as late as the 18th century.

In the Shakespearean English period many of the Alfredian English strong forms were lost and many others became weak.

Those forms that remained were subject to considerable fluctuation and alteration in the past tense and past participle.

Among the verbs which developed weak forms (e.g. bide, crowd, mow) there exist corresponding strong forms still in common use, but they gradually disappeared since this period.

Strong forms also alternate with weak in some verbs which had begun to change earlier (e.g. waxen, was more frequent in the Bible than waxed, sew beside sowed, or holp collocated with helped).

The weak forms, such as blowed, growed, shined, shrinked were in fairly common use and nevertheless, they ultimately remained strong.

In certain common verbs the past tense differed from the present-day forms. Verb forms as brake, spake, drave were familiar from the Bible, while bote (bite) and wrote (write) were still in occasional use, to denote the past tense.

Past participles as baked, while burnt or burst were common forms for the last two examples.

Since in all of these cases the forms current today were also in use, it is apparent that in Shakespeare’s day there was much more latitude in verb inflexions than is permitted today.

Late Shakespearean English.

A Chronology of the Rise and Fall of the British Empire

The second half of the 17th century, the revolutionary age was the stage of some remarkably important events: the Bourgeois Revolution (1648), the Glorious Revolution (1688), the Restoration (1660) and the Industrial Revolution.

The first half of the 18th century, the Augustan Age was marked by a strong sense of order and by a desire for system and regularity brought about by the adventurous individualism and the spirit of independence which characterized the previous age.

The 18th century, conscious of its own superiority over the previous epochs, showed intellectual tendencies and efforts to standardize, refine and fix the English language.

It is along this century that attention is directed to grammar as a consequence of the awareness of specialists that English had no grammar at all or that its grammar had not been systematized or codified.

In its effort to set up a standard of correctness in language, the rationalistic spirit of the 18th century showed itself in the attempt to settle disputed points logically by reasoning about them.

John Milton, the outstanding figure of the 17th century canvas, created his own specific style which reflected Greek and biblical influences.

The Restoration brought back the feudal aristocratic culture and a new wave of French influence was proved by the many new words and phrases introduced by William Congreve the liberal playwright of French origin which were.

The presence of this label ‘liberal’ suggests the fact that the purist versus liberal movement was further taking place in these centuries, too.

Thomas Sprat is the continuator of the purists, and in his: History of the Royal Society” (1667) he expressed his protest against those affected words and expressions and those artificial constructions and metaphors invading the language. He also emphasized the necessity to return to a simple and natural way of speaking, but the time-enduring processes of word building could not be stopped by a restricted number of people.

The tendency to adopt French words continued and

* miscellaneous words (e.g. avalanche, bourgeois, charade, caprice)

* words connected with life and preoccupations of aristocracy (salon, éclat);

*military terms (e.g. pontoon, parade barracks, dragoon)

* words denoting elements of French culture (e.g. brochure, critique, burlesque, miniature, nuance, profile, symphony, serenade);

* modern commercial terms [e.g. bank divided, insurance, machine, manufacture (r), capital(ism)]

* added new concepts, ideas and meanings to the English vocabulary.



The French Revolution also left its imprint on the English lexicon, due to some terms among which aristocrat, diplomatic, democrat(ism), bureaucracy, fraternization, centralization, revolutionary; the verbs produced by this event include examples as democratize, revolutionize, centralize, demoralize, nationalize terrorize.

The literary terms inventory increased since words as copyright, editor, magazine, novelist press, publisher crossed the Channel to find their place in the British culture

The vocabulary section of borrowings also includes words belonging to the European languages, as it follows:

* Italian (e.g. concert, intermezzo, opera, operetta, libretto, piano, soprano, solo, tempo)

* Latin and Greek (words belonging to the scientific and technical vocabulary)

 e.g. inertia, insomnia, minimum, lens, nucleus, pendulum, specimen, status, ultimatum.

* German (words connected with mineralogy, a science which developed in Germany)

 e.g. cobalt, bismuth, quartz.

The 17th and 18th centuries enlarged the scope of the English vocabulary so as to encompass words originating in non-European languages. The North Americans gave some:

* Indian words: e.g. hickory moccasin, wigwam;

* Mexican terms which traveled to English via Spanish

 e.g. chili, coyote;

* Cuban words and terms from the West Indies: e.g. barbecue (a framework for roasting or smoking a hog or an ox), guava iguana, savannah.

Brazil, Peru and other South American countries gave to the English:

* names of plants (e.g. coca, petunia);

* names of animals (e.g. puma jaguar) and their representative poncho.

The Indians gave the English words belonging to various semantic fields, e.g. bungalow, calico cashmere, jungle nirvana, parish polo, punch, verandah.

The Malay archipelago enriched the English lexicon with bamboo, caddy, gong, mango, ourang-outang.

Africa, by means of its natives or by means of the Dutch and Portuguese traders sent to the British culture some names of animals populating its vast territories: chimpanzee, gorilla and zebra.

Australia cannot be left aside because of a rather modest contribution sustained bu, boomerang, kangaroo and paramatta.

In addition to these acquisitions having their roots abroad standard English adopted a few words from some English dialects, as it follows:

* Irish e.g. galore, shamrock, Tory;

* Scotch Gaelic e.g. slogan, whiskey, claymore;

* Welsh e.g. flannel, flummery.

Writers themselves gave their native language new words created by them and indented to fill in “a niche” (T.S. Coleridge).

Thus    * Milton produced impassive, irresponsible, Pandemonium and gloom (in its modern meaning of darkness);

* Addison coined action, egotism-egotist, consistency;

* T.S. Coleridge gave the verb to intensify and the adjective esemplastic;

* Dryden coined witticism and foreground and introduced the French word verve.

As centuries elapsed the vocabulary signals a new word-forming process: the change of meaning or the extension of meaning as the word business proves it. In Alfredian English business meant anxiety, solicitude, care: in Chaucerian English the meaning changed to “the state of being busily engaged in anything”, “industry”, “diligence”, “a task appointed or undertaken”, “a  person’s official duty”, “occupation”; in the 17th century it meant “affair”, “concern”, “matter” and in the 18th century the new meanings of this Alfredian English word were “trade” , “commercial transaction”, “engagements”.

The eighteenth century panorama displays the attempts of the writers to deal with the English language and to direct its course which fall under these main concerns:

* to reduce the language to rule and set up a standard of correct usage:

* to refine the language ;

* to permanently fix the language in the desired form.

Writers as John Dryden and Thomas Stackhouse became aware that English did not possess an orderly character and they highlighted the need for a dictionary to record the proper use of words and for a grammar to authoritatively settle the correct usage in matters of construction.

Concerned with the refining of the language the writers of the period tried to find a solution in order to attain the highest perfection of the English language

While Dryden considered that “from Chancer the purity of the English tongue began”. Swift stated that the golden age of the English language was that of the Elizabethans. Opinions differed from writer to writer; nevertheless, Priestley, Sheridan and Webster looked upon the Restoration and the period of Swift as the classical age of the language. Not finding the perfect language in their epoch, the writers do not devise a perfect model, but claim to have found it backwards, in the previous epochs.

Even it he considered Elizabethan English as the golden language. One of the purists of his time he expressed his opposition to the:

*  tendency to clip or shorten words;

*  tendency to contract verbs (e.g. disturb’d);

* use of polysyllabic loan-words (e.g. speculation, communication, operation, ambassador);

* use of ‘fashionable’ words (e.g. bubble, palming ).

Unlike Swift who was against the use of polysyllabic loan words only. George Campbell bitterly objected to borrowings as such when he said “our language is in greater danger of being overwhelmed by an inundation of foreign words, than other species of destruction”.

The writers supporting the idea of standarzing, refining and fixing the English language were impressed by the French Academy, founded in 1635. As a consequence The Royal Society was created in 1667, primarily concerned with the exact sciences, the society later adopted a resolution according to which those who felt inclined to language matters should gather in a committee. Twenty-two members joined to form the committee and to set their lofty ideals (e.g. produce a slight spelling reform, to make up a lexicon and several collections of various types of words – technical, exotic, archaic, etc.) to purify and fix the language could not be fulfilled.

The ‘virus’ of the Royal Society contaminated the next generation of writers who thought of such an institution “something like an Academy” (Addison 1712) and they (e.g. Swift) even gave suggestions with regard to its purpose, its members and their tasks.

As in many other preceding instances, the idea of an English Academy had supporters but it also had opponents.

Although remarkably liberal in his views upon language, but anticipating the attitudes of later times, Joseph Priestly protested against the idea of founding an English Academy, when he stated:

            “As to a public Academy, invested with

            authority to ascertain the use of words, which

is a project that some persons are very sanguine

in their expectations from, I think it not

only unsuitable to the genius of a free nation

but in itself ill calculated to reform and fix

a language We need make no doubt but

that the best forms of speech will, in time,

establish themselves by their own

superior excellence: and in all controversies

it is better to wait the decisions of time, which

are slow and sure, than to take those of

synods, which are often hasty and injudicious.”

The winners in the race for or against an academy were the opponents to the project, but it is hard to say whether the above quotation convinced the supporters that hey were wrong.

That the English Academy was not founded is true, but also true in the fact that writers continued to show their interest in matters of language.

Dr. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1755), hailed as the first great achievement, exemplifies this interest. Highly praised by many of the contemporaries this dictionary was an example to be followed by those two indented to explain and to settle the problems concerning the syntax.

The “Short Introduction to the English Grammar” written by Robert Lowth and first published in 1762 was so successful that it had 22 editions. Later on appointed as bishop of London, Robert Lowth is the typical representative of the normative and prescriptive school of grammarians.

The interest in language problems was also manifest in America, where Noah Webster’s “A Grammatical Institute of the English Language” (1784) enjoyed much prestige

The humanities laid a host of prospects in front of scholars who enlarged their scope taking an interest in philosophy (under the influence of French scholars who expressed their philosophical concern for linguistic universals).

John Wilkins and his “Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Understanding” (1668) is an example of the French influence.

Another group of more practical writers the rhetorician turned their philosophical preoccupations into linguistic prescriptions, and discussed the question of usage.

A learned Scottish divine, George Campbell, the author the definition of “good use” wrote the volumes entitled “Philosophy of Rhetoric”, showing great respect for the evidence of usage.

The eighteenth century grammarians were not specialists in the linguistic field, but they aimed at :

* codifying the language principles;

*  settling questionable points;

*  finding out faults and thus at correcting and improving the language.

In spite of their failures and mistakes (see Baugh and Cable 1992:176-7) their merit is to have paved the way to the study of the English language as consisting of an assembly of assemblies.

28. The 19th and 20th centuries’ English vocabulary is often looked upon as a “mirror” of the history and the social life, of the progress of science and technology, as it has constantly recorded each bit of novelty under the form of new words. The last two centuries have witnessed political and social events of great importance, whose linguistically consequences may be either new words given to the large word stock, or the wide spreading and consolidation of the standard speech.

Some of the historical, political or social events of great importance to have produced new lexical acquisitions may include:

* the success of the British at sea during the Napoleonic Wars, which have culminated in Nelson’s famous victory at Trafalgar. Set in a position of undisputed naval supremacy. England had control over most of the world’s commerce linguistically this meant the status of the English language as a lingua franca;

* the two world wars and the troubled periods following them;

* the progress of science and technology;

* the increased, public interest in sports and amusements;

* the numerous improvements in the mode of living.

The second important linguistic consequence, the consolidation of the standard speech, was influenced by the establishment of the first cheap newspapers (1816) and of the first cheap postage (1840) and, later on, by the improved means of travel and communication (the railroad, steamboat and the telegraph). At present, the television system and internet-type systems of communication in particular not only allow people through out the world to get in touch whenever they want, but they also enable them to get a good command of the various registers of the English vocabulary (slang included).

The last two centuries offer an excellent opportunity to observe the relationship between a civilization and the language which is an expression of it.

The most important contributions to the vocabulary are due to the progress made by science and technology.

The great majority of technical words known in certain instances only to the specialist, have become familiar to the layman and have posed into general use:

Thus medicine introduced into the daily vocabulary terms as  anemia, appendicitis, arteriosclerosis, diphtheria, homeopathic, bacteriology, immunology, clinics, antitoxin, vaccinate, aspirin, iodine, insulin, morphine, penicillin, sulfa-compounds, hormones, endocrine, glands, metabolism, proteins, carbohydrates, enzymes, cholesterol.

Sciences auxiliary to medicine (chemistry, biochemistry) produced words as biochemical, alkali, radium, petrochemical, while psychology, also related to medicine, introduced apperception, egocentric, extravert, introvert, behaviorism, inhibition, inferiority complex, psychoanalysis, in the ordinary speech.

Physics offered the vocabulary simple words as electron, ionization, radioactive and syntagms as ultraviolet rays, quantum theory, relativity theory, atomic energy, hydrogen bomb, chain reaction.

Electricity, a branch of physics produced words as dynamo, commutator, alterning current, arc light.

The use in the colloquial speech of words as cosmonaut, astronaut, countdown, moon landing, spacecraft, launch pad, command module, space walk point to the English people having become scientifically minded. The vocabulary of each speaker reflects the extension of the consciousness and interest in the progress of science and technology.

Nevertheless, the scientific discoveries and inventions do not always influence the language in proportion to their importance. The vocabulary additions depend upon the degree to which the discovery or invention enters into the life of the community. Thus, the popularity of the automobile and of the numerous activities associated with it resulted both into new words and into old words with new uses. For instance the verb to park was originally a military term used in connection with cannon, but later it was associated with carriages, and later on with cars.

The automobile was more often designated motor car in England, but it was also named with terms adopted from earlier types of vehicles (coach for instance).

This new element of civilization also brought along terms connected with parts or car body components, such as carburetor, spark plug, choke, gear shift, differential, radiator, universal steering wheel, shock absorber, windscreen, chassis, automatic transmission. For his car one buys gas in America, but petrol in England.

The birth of film production offered the vocabulary the motion picture or the moving picture which was later reduced to movie, screen, film, scenario, projector, animated cartoon. Television, whose first hint is found in 1904 also enlarged the vocabulary with words as broadcast, aerial, antenna, loud speaker, stand-by, announcer, reception, transmitter.

Some abbreviations, such as FM (frequency modulation), AM (amplitude modulation), UHF (ultrahigh frequency), VHF (very high frequency), cable T.V. have also to do with this new field of entertainment.

Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 also entailed the use of some special terms as stereo stereophonic, four-channel.

The two very destructive historical events – the world wars had a productive impact on the vocabulary. Old words acquired new meanings, having a military significance air, raid, antiaircraft gun, gas mask, tank. The first world was also borrowed words from French: liaison officer camouflage.

The word sector acquired a new meaning: a specific portion of the fighting line.

Words as hand grenade, dugout, machine gun, periscope, no man’s land, whose circulation had been quite limited, came into general use after world war I.

Blighty, a popular bit of British army slang, is a word whose roots are in India. It designated England or home and was often applied to a wound that sent a man back to England.

The second World war not so productive of memorable words. Connected with this event are words as alert, evacuate, parachutist, shelter, paratroop, jeep, fox hole (a shelter for one or two men), decontamination, resistance movement.

The aftermath of the war produce syntagms as cold war from curtain, front organization, police state, all having a very special connotation.

The chronological setting of some contributions to the progress of science and technology is facilitated by the appearance of new words:

* the year 1834 marks the use of concrete ( a mixture of crushed stone and cement);

* 1835 registers the appearance of railway, locomotive;

* photograph and photography first appear in 1839 and they mark the beginning of a considerable vocabulary of special words or meanings of words camera, film, emulsion, focus.

* questionnaire and suffragette were spotted to have been used in 1906 while;

* futurist, postimpressionist art, Freudian psychology are first recorded in 1910

Structurally speaking nearly half of the words mentioned above are compound words pointing to one of oldest methods used to produce new words. The practice of making self-explaining compounds finds its examples in fingerprint, fire extinguisher, jet propulsion, body language, know-how, lipstick, streamline, which give an unmistakable testimony to the fact that the power to combine existing words into new ones expressing a single concept, still remains with the English vocabulary.

Compounding also resorts to Greek and Latin elements to produce terms used by scientists. Thus, the Greek prefixes tele-(meaning far) and pan-(meaning all) produced panamerican, panslavic or panchromatic or television, the suffix –scope, having the same Greek origin combined with peri –to produce periscope, or with some other elements as to produce telescope, stethoscope, fluoroscope, etc.

That branch to dentistry that endeavours to straighten irregular teeth got its name from a combination of two Greek elements: orthos > straight + odont  tooth which produced orthodontia. This pattern, Greek + Greek element produced orthocephalic, orthoclastic telephone, telegraph, a.s.o.

The elements of a compound may be of Greek and Latin origin as  in the examples: automobile (auto > Greek and mobilis > Latin ) television (tele > Greek and vision > Latin).

Affixation was also productive along these last two centuries and it produced words as transoceanic, transcontinental, transformer, postimpressionist, postclassical (period), prehistoric, postgraduate, preschool, pre-Raphaelite, counter intelligence, counter attack, subtitle, subway, superman, supermarket, decode, decompose, defrost, defreeze, preheat, precool, etc.

The suffixes highly productive along this include)

-dom (boredom), some (troublesome)

-ful (peaceful) and  -less (sleepless)

The practice of coining new words as a result of ingenuity or imitation has continued along the period in focus. The 20th century pinned such coined therms as nylon or holism and borrowed J. P. Sartre’s coinages pour-soi and en-soi.

The past couple of hundred years witnessed the on going process of borrowing which resulted in an extraordinary richness of the vocabulary proved by the subtle lexical distinctions characterizing the English language.

The “linguistic kleptomania” (Ayto 1995:VI) has had no borders and the English language has acquired new concepts and ideas, new notions and new ways of living both from virtually all the major languages of the world and from many minor ones.

29. Major contributions to the English vocabulary. Thus, the 19th century French culture gave the English not only the dansant or the musical or soiree dansante but also words as chauffeur, coupon, gourmet, menu, milieu, mirage, prestige, repertoire, restaurant. The 20th century English acquisition of French elements is exemplified by discotheque, tour d’horizon, touché, maitre d’hotel , piece de resistance, pied a terre, nouvelle vague, mise-en-scene, haute couture, prêt-a-porter.

Even if a “dead language” Latin continued to constitute a never-ending source of words and syntagms such as locus classicus, locus standi, nulli secundus, obiter dictum, primum(prima) inter pares, carpe diem, apparatus criticus, or modus vivendi which were first used in the 19th century. In addition to these examples some words or phrases, such as redivivus, lusas natural, pons asinorum or mens sana in corpore sano accepted in the vocabulary in the previous centuries knew a revival in the 19th century. Word combinations as sensu stricto, memento, vivere, miles gloriosus, or the abbreviation et al were first used in the 20th century.

The Italian contribution to the English vocabulary is most distinguished by words having to do with

* music and art (solo, soprano, violin, piano mobile, prima donna , prima ballerina, maestro di capella, cartoon, scenario, studio ,virtuoso ,profile) ;

* literature: canto, sonnet, stanza.

Other notable groups of words are those referring to

* food: spaghetti, pizza, salami, broccoli, macaroni;

* festivities: carnival, confetti, gala, masquerade, regatta;

* martial pursuits: stratagem, squadron, infantry, carabiniere, infantry;

* miscellaneous fields: balcony, portico, ghetto, inferno, influenza, umbrella, volcano, zebra, graffiti, grand turismo, grosso modo, irredenta, omerta, malaria, replica.

Bambino, meaning child in Italian, gained some more currency in the late 1980s as a term for “beautiful but brainless young woman”.

The Spanish language gave some of its words to the English vocabulary (for example guerilla, corrida, pronto, parador, posada, bodega, duende, incommunicado, manana, caudillo, ole, quien sabe?, ranchero, bandolero, caballero, sombrero, torero, posadero, pistolero, que sera sera) and acted as intermediary as well. By way of Spanish, Mexican words (pocho, macho) penetrated the English language or the American variant (cafeteria, canyon, lariat, stampede). Spanish also served  as a channel for Quechua, the language of the Quechua people, widely spoken by the American Indian people of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. Words of this origin include coca, condor, llama, pampas, puma and quinine.

Another Romance language to have contributed to the English Vocabulary is Provencal, spoken by the inhabitants in the southeastern France. Most of the words are derived from Latin  and have passed into English by way of French. The Provencal elements  include career, cavalier, noose, nutmeg, cocoon, funnel and nougat.

While numerous English words and word elements derive from the ancient Greek language, only few examples originate in modern or New Greek. The most recent Greek acquisitions relate to food and drink: moussaka, ouzo, pitta, retsina, taramosalata.

The Germanic languages also enlarged the word stock with a large number of lexemes connected with various fields of their daily life. Thus, German produced terms as Kapellmeister, kaputt, Jugendstil, kibitzer, kitsch, lied, fuhrer, and last but not least the formula which expresses the way the Nazis looked upon women “kinder, kirche, kuche”.  These words represent, nowadays, a way of referring to outdated views of women’s place in society.

The West Germanic language of the Netherlands, Dutch has continued influencing the English vocabulary; after the 16th and 17th centuries when the borrowings reflected the preeminence of these speakers in artistic, military and nautical matters as illustrated by terms as cruise, drill, easel, etch, keelhaul, yacht, landscape, sketch, the later borrowings point out to the contact between the Dutch and English settlers in North American (for example: coleslaw, cookie, dope, poppycock, sleigh, spook, waffle).

The substantial Old Norse element in the English vocabulary has its roots particularly in Denmark and Norway. The Scandinavians raided England from the late 8th century, settled in the country from the mid-9th century and became rulers of the region north and east of a line from London to Chester.

The words from modern Norwegian which have become part of the British vocabulary denote the physical features, fauna, legends and activities of the country, as in the following  fiord, auk, floe, kraken, krill, lemming, ski, slalom, troll.

The Swedish language is represented by terms as moped, gauntlet, ombudsman, orienteering, tungsten and fartlek.

The Icelandic people of Germanic origin gave the English words as geyser, eider and skua.

Yiddish, a High German language with some Hebrew and Slavonic elements that is usually written in Hebrew characters  and is spoken by Jews chiefly in or from Eastern Europe, gave English words as bagel, goy ,chutzpah, kosher, norh, pogrom, schlep, schmaltz. Most of these examples have entered American English as a consequence of the immigration of nearly three million speakers of Yiddish into the U.S.A. between 1880 and 1910. Yet a few words of Yiddish origin (such as shtum, shiksa, schlemiel, schlimazel, shmutter, shtetl and mensch) are found only in the British variant of the English language.

Gaelic Irish and Welsh, two descendants of the Celtic languages also paid their tribute to the ever changing and ever lasting English vocabulary. The Gaelic contribution is materialized by brogue, Galore leprechaun, shamrock, Tory, whisky, while the Welsh one by hwyl, cwm, coracle, corgi, eisteddfod, flummery.

The Czech elements are represented by howitzer, pistol, polka and robot and the Hungarian by coach, hussar, goulash, paprika and shako.

The Russians, like many other preceding examples enriched the English vocabulary with various terms that deal with:

* politics and sociology: Bolshevik- with its derogatory abbreviation bolshie, commissar, glasnost, perestroika, Duma, gulag, politburo, apparatchick, kolkhoz;

* aeronautics: cosmonaut, sputnik, mir;

* fauna and natural features of Russia: mammouth, steppe, tundra;

* domestic items: balalaika, caftan, samovar, vodka, troika, babushka.

Even of the Middle East has provided a few loan words to the English vocabulary, it is worthwhile mentioning the penetration  of Hebrew  words since earlier times, due to their use in the Bible (for example amen, cherub, jubilee, manna, rabi, Sabbath, shibboleth).

Modern Hebrew provided chalutz, cheder, kibbutz, kasher, kashrut, machzor, khalukah, and so on.

The one powerful Arabians contributed to the progress of mankind with Islamic mathematician and scientists whose supremacy is illustrated by words as algebra, zero, alkali, chipher, alcohol, nadir. In addition to these examples the Arabian compartment of the English vocabulary also include terms connected with domestic items (candy, cotton, lemon, magazine, mohair, safari, sherbet, saffron, sofa, syrup) or with fauna and weather (giraffe, monsoon) and with the Islamic religion (ayatollah, jihad, intifada, fatwa, inshallah- if  Allah wills-).

The Persian heritage of the English vocabulary is illustrated by words as baksheesh, bazaar, caravan, serang, shawl, spinach, taffeta, turban.

The Turkish language not only transmitted words of Arabian and Persian origin (such as coffee, divan, kiosk, or dervish), but it has introduced its own words (baklava, janissary, bosh, kebab, shagreen, youghourt, etc.).

The British involvement in India has resulted in a considerable number of words being borrowed both from Hindi and from Tamil.

Words as bungalow, chutney, cummerbund, dungaree, gymkhana, juggernaut, jungle, jute, khati, loot, verandah, pyjamas, shampoo have become so anglicized that their exotic origin is rarely recognized. Terms as gum , pukka, purdah, puttee, sitar, topee, om, karma probably still point to their origin.

Even if in the neighbourhood of India, Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken in Sri Lanka and South India, and not an Indo-European one. Tamil gave catamaran, cheroot, coir, corundum, mango, pariah and mulligatawny, not only to the English vocabulary but to the whole world.

Descendants of a “dark Caucasian people coming originally from India to Europe” and “maintaining a migratory way of life chiefly in Europe and the Americas”(Longman Dictionary of the English Language 1991:665), the Gypsies first came to England in the 16th century. Their language of Indic origin, the Romany language has penetrated the English language by means of words as cosh, mush, pal, nark, didicoi(didicoy).

The Western interest in the Far Eastern world is demonstrated by words of Chinese and Japanese origin. The Chinese cookery, medicine and philosophy introduced into the British vocabulary terms as chopsuey, ginseng, yang and ying, in addition to older acquisitions as kawtow, tea typhoon and yen.

Tibetan, the language of the Tibetans, a Mongoloid people of Tibet, modified in the west and south by intermixture with Indian peoples and in the east with the Chinese enriched the English vocabulary with yak and yeti and polo, a term deriving from a closely related Balti language.

After the opening of its borders to the Europeans in the 1850s, many Japanese words have appeared in English. Nearly all these Japanese are restricted to specialized fields as          *  food and drinks, sake, soy, sukiyaki

  * practices and activities: judo, karate, kamikaze, sumo, ikebana, bonsai, banzai, haiku, seppuku, hara-kiri, origami, go, karaoke

Although the above mentioned examples still bear their exotic origin, tycoon has become thoroughly anglicized.

The inhabitants of the island of Java, speakers of Javanese, an Austonesian language, have modestly contributed to the English vocabulary with words as batik, gong, junk and muntjac.

Malay, a language spoken in South Eastern Asia introduced in the comprehensive and readily accepting vocabulary of the English language words as amok, bamboo, caddy, cockatoo, gingham, gutta-percha, kapok, ketchup, rattan, sago and sarong.

Words from the aboriginal languages of Australia, which refer to indigenous flora and fauna or to aboriginal practices have also become familiar to the speakers of English. Terms of Australian origin include boomerang, budgerigan, dingo, kangaroo, koala, kookaburra, wallaby and wombat.

The neighboring  New Zealand produced words of Maori origin referring to the fauna and the flora of this country: kiwi, kowhai, mako, moa, rata. Haka, which originally denoted a Maori war dance accompanied by chanting has also penetrated the English language, together with word of more general reference, such as puku, tapu, utu, and whare.

30. Minor contributions to the English vocabulary. As previously mentioned the ‘linguistic kleptomania’ of the English vocabulary was directed not only to the major languages of the world but to the minor languages as well.

Therefore, these minor contributions include the languages of the Americas and of the Africans.

The Taino people, descendants of an extinct Arawakan people of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas gave the English barbecue, cassava, maize, hammock, hurricane, potato, and tobacco. To enter the British vocabulary these words followed the Spanish connection.

Tupi, a group of people in Brazil, living in the Amazon valley produced cashew, cayenne, cougar, jaguar, petunia, tapioca and toucan.

Nahuatl, the Uto-Aztecan language of a group of American Indians living in the south of Mexico and Central America submitted by the Spanish conquistadores and setters gave words as avocado, cocoa, chilli, coyote, chocolate, tomato.

To continue the voyage around the world in quest of the real roots of various components of the English vocabulary we shall have to mention Algonquian or Algonquin, which is a dialect of Ojibwa spoken by the American Indians in the Eastern parts of the United States of America and Canada. Words belonging to this dialect include chipmunk, moccasin, moose, mugwump, persimmon, powwow, raccoon, skunk, kerrapin, toboggan, totem, wigwam and woodchuck.

Already mentioned in the foregoing paragraph, Canada- with its French Canadian –also slightly left its imprint on the English vocabulary, since the words transferred include few examples (caribou, lacrosse, shanty). These still are some other examples, such as babiche, cariole, dalle, sault, toque, and voyageur which are restricted to the Canadian variant of the English language.

With Bantu, a group of languages spoken generally at and south of the Equator, exemplification is made about the African contribution to the English word stock.

Next to banjo, chimpanzee, mamba, tsetse, and zombie which have a Bantu origin, morocco and marocain come from the kingdom of Morocco to enrich the African heritage.

The Afro-Asian language of the ancient Egyptians supplied ivory, nitre and pharaoh to the English lexicon.

I shall not be able to conclude the presentation of the donor languages of the whole wide world without mentioning the phrase mene, mene, tekel, upharsin which has come down in the present day speakers of English from the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus Christ. In his work dealing with ‘foreignisms’ Ayto(1995:196) includes not only the phrase as such- whose literal meaning is ‘numbered, numbered, weighed, divided’- but also a little story about the use and the meaning of these words. According to Ayto, these words “appeared on the wall during Belshazzar’s Feast written by the fingers of a man’s hand.’ Belshazzar asked his wise men to interpret them, but they could not, so on the advice of his wife he asked Daniel, chief wise man of his father Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel told him that they meant: ‘God hath numbered thy Kingdom, and finished it; thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting: thy kingdom is divided.’” That very night the prophecy of Belshazzar’s downfall was fulfilled.

The Aramaic phrase, even if occasionally used, has a twofold value in English: on the one hand it is allusively pronounced to suggest impending doom and, on the other it points to the value of Aramaic wise words beyond times.

Both the attitude and the writings of these authors point to an increasing interest in the language problems.








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