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Etymological survey of the English word-stock

Learning objects:

After you have studied the material you should be able:

a) To speak on: -The term "native (word-stock), sources of borrowing, "origin of borrowing".

-To give characteristic of the words of "native origin"

b) Borrowings in English language (causes, ways, their assimilation, etc.)

c) To speak on the interrelation between native and borrowed elements in the English language.

Literature to be studied:

1. A course in Modern English Lexicology. By R. Ginsburg and others pp. 209-228.

2. English Lexicology. By Antrushina. Ch. З. pр.44-56 (n. 9 pp.48-54) Ex. 1, ch.4.p.62-71..Ex.l,?,3,o.71-72.

3.The English word. By I. Arnold pp. 248-55. Ch. 14

4. Этимологические основы словарного состава современного английского языка. Н. Амосова, стр.7-23,стр.160-166.

Etymology. The English word-stock.

Some basic notions

The most characteristic features, of English is said to be its mixed character. While it iS wrong to speak of the mixed character of the language as a while, the composite nature of the English vocabulary cannot be denied.

l) The term native in linguistic literature is used to denote word of Anglo-Saxon origin brought to the Britain from the continent in the 5th century by Germanic tribes (the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes)- Practically, the term is often applied to words, whose origin cannot be traced to any other language, for example, the word path.

2) prof. Smirnitsky A.I, suggested another interpretation of the term: as words which existed in the English word-stock of the 7th century.

3) Ginsburg and her colleagues proceed from a different understanding of the term native as comprising not only the ancient. Anglo-Saxon core bur also words coined later by means of various processed operative in English; namely word-formation, split of polysemy, etc.

The term borrowing is used to denote the process of adopting we words from other languages and also the resulting of this process, the language material itself. Not only words, but also word-building affixes were borrowed into English such as -able, -ment, -ity, etc. As well as some word-groups: coup d'etat1, vis-a-vis2.

In its sec6nd meaning the term borrowing is sometimes used in wider sense. It is extended into the so-called translation-loans or loan-translation) and semantic borrowing. Translation-loans are words and expressions formed from the material available in he language after the patterns characteristic of the given language, but under the influence of some foreign words and expressions (e.g. mother tongue/ Latin lingua materna3; wall newspaper /Russian стенгазета

Distinction should be made between true borrowings and words made up of morphemes borrowed from Latin and Greek, e.g. telephone, phonogram. Such words were never part, of those languages.

3) There is also certain confusion between the terms "source of borrowings" and "origin of borrowed words". The term "source of borrowings should be applied to the language from which this or that particular word was taken Into English. So when describing words as Latin, French or Scandinavian borrowing we point out their source,but not their origin. The term "origin of the word" should be applied to the language the word may be traced to. Thus the French borrowing table is Latin by origin (L. tabula), the Latin borrowing school came into Latin from the Greek language (Gr. scole - досуг).

Words of Native Origin

Words of native origin consist for the most part of very ancient elements (Indo-European, Germanic and West Germanic cognates). The bulk of the Old English word-stock has been preserved, although some words have passed out of existence.

To assign the native element its true place it's not so important to count the number of Anglo-Saxon words as to study their semantic and stylistic character, frequency value, collocability4, their word-building ability, the productivity of the word-building patterns.

As we know almost all words of Anglo-Saxon origin belong to very important semantic groups. They include

* Most of the auxilary and modal verbs: shall, will, should, would, must, can, may, etc.

* Pronouns: I, you, he, my, your, his, who, whose.

* Prepositions: in, out, on, under, etc.

* Numerals: one, two, three, four, etc.

* Conjunctions; and, but, till, as, etc.

National words of Anglo-Saxon origin include: such groups as words denoting:

* Parts of the body ( head, hand, arm, back, etc.)

* Members of the family and closest relatives (father, mother, brother, son, wife)

* Natural phenomena and planets (snow, rain, wind, frost, sun, the Moon)

* Animals (horse, cow, sheep, cat)

* Qualities and properties (old, young, cold, hot, heavy, light, white, long, etc.)

* Common actions (do, make, go, come, see, hear, eat, etc.)

Most of the native words have undergone striking transformation in semantic structure and as a result are nowadays highly polysemantic. E.g. the word "finger" does not only denote a part of a hand as in Old English, but also: 1) the part of a glove covering one of the fingers; 2)a finger-like part in various machines; 3) a hand of a clock; 4)an index; 5) a unit of measurement

Highly polysemantic are the words man, head, go, etc. Most native words are stylistically neutral.

Due to their semantic characteristic and great stability most native words possess a wide range of lexical and grammatical valence. Many of them enter a number of phraseological units, e. g. the word heel enters the following units: heel over head = upside down; cool one's heels=be kept waiting; heel of Achilles5.

Word-forming ability of native words in Modern English.

Most native words possess large clusters of derived and compound words in the present-day language, e.g. the word wood was the base for the formation of the following words: wooden, woody, wooded, woodcraft, woodcutter, woodwork, etc.

New words have been coined from Anglo-Saxon roots mainly by means of affixation, word-composition and conversion. Such affixes of native origin as -er, -ness, -ish, un-, -niss have been widely used to build numerous new words throughout the whole history of English.

Borrowings in the English language

In its 15 century long history recorded in written manuscripts the English language happened to come in long close contacts; with several other languages, mainly Latin, French and Old Norse (or Scandinavian). Due to the great influence of the Roman civilization/Latin was for a long time used in England as the language of learning and religion.

Old Norse was the language of the conquerors who were on the same level of social and cultural development and who merged rather easily with the local population in the 9th, 10th and the first half of the 11th century.

French (to be more exact its Norman dialect) was the language of the other conquerors who brought with them a lot of new notions of a higher-social system developed feudalism, it was the language of upper classes, of official documents and school instruction from the middle of the 11th century to the end of the 14th century.

The greatest number of borrowings has come from French. They referred to the various fields of social, scientific and cultural life. A large portion of them (41%) is scientific and technical terms,

Borrowings enter the language in two ways;

1) Through oral speech (by immediate contact between the peoples) and 2) Through written speech (by indirect contact through books, etc.). 0ral borrowings took place chiefly in the early periods of history, whereas in recent times written borrowings' gained importance. Words borrowed orally (e.g. L. inch, mill, street) are usually short and they undergo more changes in the act of adoption. Written borrowings (e.g. Fr. communique, belletrist6) preserve their spelling; they are often rather long and their assimilation, is a long and laborious.

Criteria of borrowings in English.

Though borrowed words undergo changers in the adopting language, they preserve some of their former peculiarities for a comparatively long period.

In some cases the pronunciation of the word, it's spelling and the correlation between sounds and letters show I waltz7 [wo:lz] (Ger.), psychology (Gr.), souffle8 (Fr.), buffet9 (Fr.).

The initial position of the sounds [v, dз, з] of the letters (x, j, z) is a sure sign that the word has been borrowed, e. g. volcano (It.), vase (Fr.), vaccine10 (L.); jungle (Hindi), gesture (L.), giant (O. Fr.); zeal11 (L.), zero (Fr.), zinc (Fr.), etc.

The morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms may also bear witness to the word being adopted from another language. Thus, the suffixes in the words neurosis (Gr., pl. neurosis) and violoncello (It.) betray the foreign origin of the words. The same is true of the irregular plural forms: Fr. beau [bou] (sing.)- beaux [bouz] (pl.) ; Lat. bacterium (sing.)- bacteria (pl.); Gr. parenthesis (sing.) - parentheses12 (pl.).

Last but not least is the lexical meaning of the word. Thus, the concept denoted by the words ricksha (w), pagoda (China) make us suppose that we deal with borrowings

Sometimes the form of the word and its meaning in Modern English enable us to tell the immediate source of borrowing. For instance, if the digraph ch is sounded as [ ], the word is a late French borrowing: echelon13, chaufeur14, chauvinism, chief15. If ch stands for [k], it came through Greek: archaic, architect, chronology, chaos, Crimea. If ch pronounced as [t ], it is either early borrowing (chase (O. Fr),cherry (L.), Chime (Lat.) ,chauffer16 or a word of Anglo-Saxon origin (choose, child, chin).

Assimilation of borrowing.

All the changes that borrowed words undergo may be divided into 2 groups:

1) Changes specific of borrowed words only. For example, the consonant combinations [pn], [ps], [pt] in the words: pneumatics, psychology, Ptolemy of Greek origin were simplified into [n], [s], [t] since they were never used in English, in the initial position. For the same reason the initial [ks] is changed into [z] as in Gr. Xylophone ['zailefoun]17, Xerox.

2) Changes that are characteristic of both borrowed and native words. For example, early borrowing [straekt] (strect in Modern English), disk (Mn. Eng. dish) were a adopted to the norms in Middle English.

Russians linguists distinguish phonetic, grammatical and lexical assimilation of borrowings. Phonetic assimilation means changes in sound form add stress. For instance, the long [e] and [?] in recent French borrowings, quite strange to English speech rendered with the help of [ei]-communique, cafe, etc. The German spitz [spits], was turned into English [spits].

Grammatical assimilation -when borrowed words are acquired new grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with the other English words: cf. Rus. sputnik,-s,sputnik's, etc. But, considerable group of words adopted in the 16th century preserved their original plural inflexion: phenomenon-phenomena (L.),addendum-addenda (L.),parenthesis- parentheses,(Gr.). Others have 2 plural forms vacuum (L.)- vacua, vacuums; etc.

Lexical assimilation - when semantic structure of the borrowed word undergoes some changes (it takes 50-100 years). Polysemantic words are usually adopted only in one or 2 of the meaning. Thus, the words cargo and cask18, highly, polysemantic in Spanish were adopted in one of the meaning "the goods carried in a ship" and "a barrel for holding liquids" respectfully".

Interrelation between native and borrowed elements in the English language

If the estimation of the role of borrowings is based on the study of words recorded in the dictionary, it's easy to over-estimate the effect of the foreign words, as the number of native words is extremely small compared with the number of borrowings recorded.

The only true way to estimate the relation of the native to the borrowed element is to consider the two as actually used in speech. If one counts every word used, including repetitions, in some reading matter, the proportion of native to borrowed words will be quite different. On such a count, every writer uses considerably more native words, than borrowings. Shakespeare, for example, has 90 %, Milton 81 %, Tennysom 88%. It has been estimated, that less, than 50 words, all of them native words, suffice for more than half our needs. This shows how important is comparatively small nucleus of native words.

Note Speaking about the role of the native element in the English language linguists usually confine themselves to the small Anglo-Saxon stock of words, which is estimated to make 25-30% at the English vocabulary.

1 Государственный переворот

2 Визави, друг напротив друга

3 Родной язык

4 сочетаемость

5 Ахиллесова пята

6 автор художественного произведения

7 вальс 8 суфлер

9 буфет 10 вакцина

11 усердие, рвение

12 круглые скобки

13 эшелон, выступ

14 шофер 15 шеф, шеф-повар

16 небольшая переносная железная печь

17 ксилофон

18 бочонок, бочка






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43 Кб, 23 июня 2015 в 15:25 - Россия, Москва, МПСУ (бывш. МПСИ), 2015 г., doc
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