History of the EnglishLanguage2nd Semester 1432-1433 AHDr. Abdel-Fattah AdelPart 2
• History and Development of Historical linguistics• Comparison of Traditional and Modern Historical Linguistics• The History of the English Language as a Cultural Subject.
• People have thought about the origin of languages for a long, long time.• Like other early looks into nature and the universe, the early ideas about language where at best obvious (realizing that two very similar languages were related) or lucky guesses, at worst dead wrong, and almost always ethno-centric (only paying attention to nearby languages.• This, of course, wasnt always their fault, since communication was so slow.
• The Greeks simply considered most languages in Europe to be "Barbarian", even though there were certainly several distinct "Barbarian" languages).
• One of the earliest observations about language was by the Romans. They noticed that Latin and Greek were similar. However, they incorrectly assumed that Latin came from Greek. The reality is that both came from Indo-European.
• There were lots of people looking at languages in the middle ages. However, most of them were trying to show Hebrew giving rise to all of the worlds languages, specifically European languages. This never really worked, since Hebrew is not directly related to Indo- European languages.
• When Europeans started travelling to India about 300 years ago, they noticed that Sanskrit, the ancient literary language of India, was similar to Greek, Latin, and other languages of Europe.
• In the late 18th century, it was first correctly theorized that Sanskrit and the languages of Europe had all come from the same language, but that that language was no longer living.
• This was the beginning of Indo-European. Since then, many languages from all over the world have been studied, and we are starting to get a good idea of how all the worlds languages may be related.
• Modern historical linguistics dates from the late 18th century. It grew out of the earlier discipline of philology, the study of ancient texts and documents dating back to antiquity.
• At first, historical linguistics was comparative linguistics. Scholars were concerned chiefly with establishing language families and reconstructing prehistoric proto- languages, using the comparative method and internal reconstruction.• The focus was initially on the well-known Indo-European languages, many of which had long written histories.
• Since then, there has been significant comparative linguistic work expanding outside of European languages as well.• Most research is being carried out on the subsequent development of these languages, in particular, the development of the modern standard varieties.
Areas of Comparison1) Focus of Effort1) Internal vs. External Factors1) Centrality of Language Use1) Primary Subjects of Interest1) Methods1) Subject Matter
Focus of Effort Traditional ModernThe focus of traditional Modern historical linguistics,historical linguistics lies in however, focuses on thekeeping records of language progress of language change,change in past times of a trying to analyze the cause orlanguage or language family. motivation, the spread and the modality of language change.
Internal vs. External Factors Traditional ModernTraditional historical linguistics Modern historical linguisticsconcentrates on language and puts its focal point on externalits changes regarding internal factors, e.g., the socialfactors. surroundings.
Centrality of Language Use Traditional ModernFor traditional historical In modern historical linguistics,linguistics the language the language use and the userstructure and the language are centered, claiming thatsystem are very important. grammar is shaped by discourse, and language is changed by the speakers.
Primary Subjects of Interest Traditional ModernTraditional historical linguistics In modern historical linguistics,is mainly interested in syntax, semantics, andphonology and morphology and pragmatics are also taken intonot so much in syntax and account.semantics.
Methods Traditional ModernTraditional historical linguistics Modern historical linguistics isis based on qualitative both qualitative andassessments. quantitative.
Subject Matter Traditional ModernTraditional historical linguistics Modern historical linguistics isdeals only with written also concerned with spokenlanguage. language.
• The diversity of cultures that find expression in the English language is a reminder that the history of English is a story of cultures in contact during the past 1,500 years.
• It understates matters to say that political, economic, and social forces influence a language. These forces shape the language in every aspect, most obviously in the number and spread of its speakers, and in what is called “the sociology of language,” but also in the meanings of words, in the accents of the spoken language, and even in the structures of the grammar.
• The history of a language is intimately bound up with the history of the peoples who speak it.
• The English language of today reflects many centuries of development. The political and social events that have in the course of English history so profoundly affected the English people in their national life have generally had a recognizable effect on their language. • The Roman Christianizing of Britain in 597 • The Scandinavian invasions • The Norman Conquest • The Hundred Years’ War
• References in scholarly and popular works to “Indian English,” “Caribbean English,” “West African English,” and other regional varieties point to the fact that the political and cultural history of the English language is not simply the history of the British Isles and of North America but a truly international history of quite divergent societies, which have caused the language to change and become enriched as it responds to their own special needs.
• Moreover, English, like all other languages, is subject to that constant growth and decay that characterize all forms of life. It is a convenient figure of speech to speak of languages as living and as dead.
• Although we rarely think of language as something that possesses life apart from the people who speak it, as we can think of plants or of animals, we can observe in speech something like the process of change that characterizes the life of living things.
• When a language ceases to change, we call it a dead language.• Classical Latin is a dead language because it has not changed for nearly 2,000 years.
• The change that is constantly going on in a living language can be most easily seen in the vocabulary. Old words die out, new words are added, and existing words change their meaning. Much of the vocabulary of Old English has been lost, and the development of new words to meet new conditions is one of the most familiar phenomena of our language.• Nice in Shakespeare’s day meant foolish; rheumatism signified a cold in the head.
• Less familiar but no less real is the change of pronunciation. A slow but steady alteration, especially in the vowel sounds, has characterized English throughout its history. Old English stān has become our stone; cū has become cow. Most of these changes are so regular as to be capable of classification under what are called “sound laws.”
• Changes likewise occur in the grammatical forms of a language. These may be the result of gradual phonetic modification, or they may result from the desire for uniformity commonly felt where similarity of function or use is involved. The person who says I knowed is only trying to form the past tense of this verb after the pattern of the past tense of so many verbs in English. This process is known as the operation of analogy, and it may affect the sound and meaning as well as the form of words.
• Thus it will be part of our task to trace the influences that are constantly at work, tending to alter a language from age to age as spoken and written, and that have brought about such an extensive alteration in English as to make the English language of 1000 quite unintelligible to English speakers of 2000.