Week 2 Beginnings of Language


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How human language originated and the earliest stages of English

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Week 2 Beginnings of Language

  2. 2. Last Week – English Today What is the English language? Difference between a national and international language? What do we mean by ‘English speaker’? What is the distinction between native, second language and foreign speaker? Do we use English in the same way? Dialects and accents – English or Englishes? Standard English – why important/necessary? Global language – lingua franca
  3. 3. What Changes Language? Historical Factors – wars, invasions, Geographical Movement and Location Social Considerations – class, age, gender, ethnicity Cultural Identity Professional Purposes – Register, Genre Globalisation – dissipation, fragmentation
  4. 4. Approaches to the study of language Synchronic Diachronic What do these terms mean? Clues – chronological, chronicle, synchronise watches, synthesis, diagonal, dialogue,
  5. 5. Last week, a brief synchronic look at English today This week, we begin our diachronic journey
  6. 6. Neanderthal Man and Homo Sapiens – 2 separate species – the dropped larynx Greater range of sounds – more advanced language
  7. 7. Evidence points at language developing at similar time in far apart places – evolutionary alarm clock? Chomsky, Pinker – studies of children – innate capacity for learning language
  8. 8. Sir William Jones in India, 1783, taught himself Sanskrit. Ancient, holy language, oldest writings in any Indo-European language He noticed many similarities between this and European languages
  9. 9. A common source? Proto-Indo-European PIE But no actual evidence of this language. As PIE is not directly attested, all PIE sounds and words are reconstructed using the comparative method
  10. 10. ACTIVITY 1 List of words in different languages, one, two, three, ten, father, mother, brother, king Example: • Brother, bruder, bhrathair, bhrata, biridar
  11. 11. Did English start on the plains of India over 4000 years ago and gradually move west? Split into branches as people spread, language families Can you guess what some of these language families might be?
  12. 12. • English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages. This broad family includes most of the European languages spoken today. The Indo-European family includes several major branches: • Latin and the modern Romance languages; • The Germanic languages; • The Indo-Iranian languages, including Hindi and Sanskrit; • The Slavic languages; • The Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian (but not Estonian); • The Celtic languages; • Greek.
  13. 13. Introductory Quiz Put in chronological order the following groups who invaded what we now call England: Romans Vikings Normans Celts Angles and Saxons Can you provide any approximate dates?
  14. 14. Decide which of the following statements about the history of English are true. English can be traced back to the language spoken by Germanic tribes nearly 2000 years ago, and who numbered only 20-30,000 thousand at the time . In the 9th century the North East of England was one of the most important centres of scholarship in Europe. For over 300 years, from 1066 to about 1400, no kings of England spoke English as their 1st language, if at all. For many years in the 15th and 16th centuries, ownership of a Bible in English could be punishable by death. When Caxton introduced printing into England in the late 15th century, there was no standard English for him to use. Works of scholarship in England, for example in science, were published in Latin until the mid 17th century. The first English dictionary wasn’t produced until 1755. The BBC was established in 1924 and until very recently (10-15 years) none of its presenters had a regional accent .
  15. 15. Stories of English Look again at the reading on p of the chapter 3 reading. What is the writer saying about the writing of history? Can there ever be one right version of history? What factors could influence how a historian views the past? What is needed to provide us with information about the past?
  16. 16. Evidence – External and Internal What is the main problem regarding evidence when it comes to the history of language? What do you think could be the difference between internal and external evidence of the history of language?
  17. 17. The Celts: Migrated to Britain around 6-700 BC – ‘an admired civilisation’, Bragg Inhabited much of Britain for 1000 years, but very few words in English – Thames, Avon, Dover The Celts: Migrated to Britain around 6-700 BC – ‘an admired civilisation’, Bragg Inhabited much of Britain for 1000 years, but very few words in English – Thames, Avon, Dover
  18. 18. Otherwise a handful of words relating to landscape – tor, pen, crag, comb, luh (lough. Loch) Survives today in Welsh, Gaelic, Bretagne Why such a tiny linguistic imprint on English?
  19. 19. The Romans From 43 BC to AD 410 – mighty imperial power, the language Latin Yet again very few Latin words in early English – place names – caster/chester (camp) The Germanic tribes did use Latin words when they came up against them on the European mainland, - street, wine, table, inch, mile and brought them with them from Europe.
  20. 20. However, the Romans had brought culture and civilisation – roads, running water, aquaducts, underfloor heating, sophisticated cuisine, art and literature The indigenous Celts mingled freely with the Romans, intermarrying, lifestyle and speaking Latin – with other races from all over the Roman Empire, Britain was a multicultural and sophisticated place compared to much of Europe.
  21. 21. Around 400 AD the empire was under threat from the east and the Roman army was withdrawn to help protect Rome – the Celts in Britain were left to fend for themselves.