The history of English (реферат)

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School Research Paper


Jakoubson Julia

Grade: 9 “A”

School №9

Teacher Gorbacheva M.V.

Kolomna 2003.




I. Old English……………………………………………………………3-17

a). Celtic Tribes…………………………………………………………3-4

b). The Romans…………………………………………………………4-10

c). Germanic Tribes…………………………………………………….10-15

d). The Norman French………………………………………………..15-16

II. Middle English……………………………………………………….16-19

III. Mordent English……………………………………………………20-22


List of Literature………………………………………………………..26



Why do people all over the world learn foreign languages? Perhaps
because the world is getting smaller, in a way: nations are more
closely linked with each other than ever before, companies operate
world-wide, scientists of different nationalities co-operate, and
tourists travel practically everywhere. The ability to communicate with
people from other countries is getting more and more important. And
learning foreign languages broadens your horizons, too!

Before learners of a foreign language are able to communicate, they have
to acquire many skills. They must learn to produce unfamiliar sounds.
They must build up a vocabulary. They must learn grammar rules and how
to use them. And, last but not least, they must develop listening,
speaking, reading and writing skills and learn how to react in a variety
of situations.

All people like to travel. Some travel around their own country, others
travel abroad. Some like to travel into the future, others prefer to
travel into the past. While I was working out my research paper and
reading many books on English history, I had an exciting trip into a
remote past. It was a fantastical journey our Imaginary Time Machine and
a Magic Wand. The Time Machine took me into the depth of the centuries,
into the very early history of Britain. I waved the Magic Wand and the
words began to talk, they disclosed to me their mysteries, I discovered
secrets hidden in familiar things. In other words, you will be a witness
of making of English.

Old English. (450-1100)

a). Celtic tribes.

Make a first turn of the Time Machine and you will find yourself on the
British Isles in the time of the ancient inhabitants, the Celts. The
Celts were natives of the British Isles long before the English. The
Celts had their language, which is still spoken by the people living in
the part of Britain known as Wales. And though many changes happened on
the British Isles, some Celtic words are still used in the English

Two thousand years ago there was an Iron Age Celtic culture throughout
the British Isles. It seems that the Celts, who had been arriving from
Europe from the eighth century BC onwards, intermingled with the peoples
who were already there. We know that religious sites that had been built
long before the arrival of the Celts continued to be used in the Celtic

For people in Britain today, the chief significance of the prehistoric
period (for which no written records exist) is its sense of mystery.
This sense finds its focus most easily in the astonishing monumental
architecture of this period, the remains of which exist throughout the
country. Wiltshire, in south-western England, has two spectacular
examples: Silbury Hill, the largest burial mound in Europe, and
Stonehenge. Such places have a special importance for anyone interested
in the cultural and religious practices of prehistoric Britain. We know
very little about these practices, but there are some organizations
today (for example, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids – a small
group of eccentric intellectuals and mystics) who base their beliefs on

The Celts preserved their language in some parts of Britain, but they
did not add many words to the English vocabulary. Those, that are in use
now, are mostly place-names: names of regions, towns, rivers. The Celts
had a number of similar words to name rivers, like: Exe, Esk, Usk. All
of them come from a word meaning water (uisge). Later this word was used
to name a strong alcoholic drink made from barley or rye. It was first
called “water of life”. The word changed its from and pronunciation, and
today at restaurants in the West one can see on the menu among other
spirits whisky, a Celtic word formerly meaning water.

b). The Romans.

One more turn of our Time Machine and it took me into the 1st century of
our era. At that time Romans came into Britain, they ruled the country
for 400 years. So, you can guess that many Latin words came later into
the English language through Celts, because, as you know, Romans spoke

The Roman province of Britannia most of present-day England and Wales.
The Romans imposed their own way of life and culture, making use of the
existing Celtic aristocracy to govern and encouraging this ruling class
to adopt Roman dress and Roman language. The Romans never went to
Ireland and exerted an influence, without actually governing there, over
only the southern part of Scotland. It was during this time that a
Celtic tribe called the Scots migrated from Ireland to Scotland, where
they became allies of the Picts (another Celtic tribe) and opponents of
the Romans. This division of the Celts into those who experienced Roman
rule (the Britons in England and Wales) and those who did not (the Gaels
in Ireland and Scotland) may help to explain the development of two
distinct branches of the Celtic group of languages.

The remarkable thing about the Romans is that, despite their long
occupation of Britain, they left very little behind. To many other parts
of Europe they bequeathed a system of law and administration which forms
the basis of the modern system and a language which developed into the
modern Romance family of languages. In Britain, they left neither.
Moreover, most of their villas, baths and temples, their impressive
network of roads, and the cities they founded, including Londinium
(London), were soon destroyed or fell into disrepair. Almost the only
lasting reminder of their presence are place-names like Chester,
Lancaster and Gloucester, which include variants of the Roman word
castra (a military camp).

Roman rule lasted for 4 centuries. There are many things in Britain
today to remind of the Romans: wells, roads, walls.

To defend their province the Romans stationed their legions in Britain.
Straight roads were built so that the legions might march quickly.
Whenever they were needed, to any part of the country. These roads were
made of several layers of stones, lime, mortar and gravel. They were
made so well that they lasted a long time and still exist today. Thomas
Hardy dedicated his poem to Roman roads. Here is the beginning.


The Roman road runs straight and bare

As the pale parting line in hair

Across the health. And thoughtful men

Contrast its days of now and then,

And delve, and measure, and compare,

Visioning on the vacant air

Helmed legionaries who proudly rear

The eagle as they pace again the Roman road…

One of the roads has a name – “KATLING STREET”. It is a great Roman road
extending east and west across Britain. Beginning at Dover, it ran
through Canterbury to London, thence through St.Albans, Dunstable, along
the boundary of Leicester and Warwick to Wroxeter on the Severn. The
origin of the name is not known and there are several other sections of
the road so called. In the late 9th century it became the boundary
between English and Danish territory.

To guard their province against the Picts and Scots who lived in the
hills of Scotland the Romans built a high wall, a military barrier
seventy-three miles long. It was called “Hadrian’s Wall” because it was
built by command of the Emperor Hadrian. Long stretches of “HADRIAN’S
WALL” have remained to this day.

In the capital of Britain you can see the fragments of the old London
wall built by the Romans.

What really happened in AD 61? In AD 61 the king of the Celtic tribe
Iceni died. Before he died he had named Roman Emperor Nero as his heir.
He hoped that this would put his family and kingdom under the Emperor’s
protection. But the result was the exact opposite of his hopes. His
kingdom was plundered by centurions, his private property was taken
away, his widow Boadicea was flogged, his daughters were deprived of any
rights, his relatives were turned into slaves. Boadicea’s tribe rose to
rebellion. Boadicea stood at the head of a numerous army. More than
70,000 Romans were killed during the revolt. But the Britons had little
chance against an experienced, well-armed Roman army. The rising was
crushed, Boadicea took poison to avoid capture.

Her monument on the Thames Embankment opposite Big Ben remind people of
her harsh cry: ”Liberty of death” which has echoed down the ages.

Some of the English words relating to meals are of Latin origin, they
were borrowed from the Romans in ancient times. The Romans in the period
of their flourishing and expansion came into contact with the Germanic
tribes, or the Teutons, who later moved to Britain and formed there the
English nation. The Romans were a race with higher civilization than the
Teutons whom they considered barbarians. They taught the Teutons many
useful things and gave them very important words that the forefathers of
the English brought with them to Britain and that remained in the
English language up to now. Kitchen and table are Latin words borrowed
in those far-off days, that show a revolution in culinary arrangements;
dish, kettle and cup also became known to the Teutons at that time.

The early words of Latin origin give us a dim picture of Roman trades
traveling with their mules and asses the paved roads or the German
provinces, their chests and boxes and wine-sacks full of goods that they
profitably bargained with the primitive ancestors of the nowadays
English. Wine was one of the first items of trade between the Romans and
the Teutons. That’s how this word came into use.

The Teutons knew only one fruit – apple, they did not grow fruit trees
or cultivated gardens, but they seem to have been eager to learn, for
they borrowed pear, plum, cherry.

The Teutons were an agricultural people, under the influence of the
Romans they began to grow beet, onion.

Milk was one of the main kinds of food with the Teutons, but the Romans
taught them methods of making cheese and butter for milk.

Among other culinary refinements that came to the Teutons from the
Romans are spices: pepper, mint.

Judging by the Latin borrowings of that period the ancestors of English
were very much impressed by Roman food, weren’t they?

The word “calendar” came to us from Latin. In the Latin there was a word
“calendarium”. It meant “a record-book”. Money-lenders kept a special
book, in which they recorded to whom they lent money and how much
interest they will get. This book was called “calendarium” because
interest was paid on the “Calends”. By the Calends the Romans named the
first day of each month.

Time passed, the old meaning was forgotten. “Calendar” began to mean the
record of days, weeks, months within a year.

This is a story of the word “calendar”. But the story of how a calendar
was made is still more interesting indeed. We know that a calendar
provides an easy way to place a day within the week, month or year. But
it is not easy to make a calendar. The trouble is that the length of a
year is determined by the length of time the earth takes to revolve once
on its own axis. But the earth does not take an equal number of days to
complete its year. It needs 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46
seconds. Obviously you cannot divide a day of 24 hours into that. And
the problem is further complicated because the month is determined by
the length of time it takes the moon to go around the earth, which is 29
1/2 days into 365 1/4 days, minus 11 minutes and 14 seconds. The result
is that most calendars were messes.

The English got their calendar from the Romans. But at first the Romans
had a very bad calendar. They had ten month of varying length, and then
they added enough days at the end to make the year right. Besides the
politicians changed the length of the months as they wished. They could
change the length of the month to keep themselves in office longer and
to leave less time for their opponents. I can’t imagine that somebody
will reduce June, July, August to two weeks each, and will take away
more than half my summer vacation? Will you like that? Of course, not.

The calendar varied so much that by the time of Julius Caesar January
came in August.

Meanwhile a very good calendar had been worked out in Asia Minor and was
in use in Egypt. Julius Caesar, a great Roman emperor, changed it a
little to fit the Roman customs and introduced it in Rome. This calendar
was called after him “the Julian Calendar”. As a matter of fact, Caesar
only gave the orders; he had the advice of a Greek astronomer named
Sosigenes. This calendar worked well for hundred years. But it provided
only for exact figure of 365 days a year and an extra day in every four
years, it did not count minutes and seconds. So, once more, the calendar
year was getting farther and farther from the year of the earth’s
revolution around the sun.

Then in 1582 another change of calendar took place. The Roman Pope
Gregory XII suppressed ten days in 1582 and started new calendar. The
English people adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. And for a time
all dates were given two ways: one for the New Style, one for the Old

Now nobody uses the Old Style any more, but of course the calendar is
not quite accurate yet. Still it will be a long time before we have to
add or subtract another day.

The year is divided into months and every month has its own name. Now
we’d like to investigate how the names of months appeared. But first,
let’s think of the word “month” itself.

A month is a measure of time. It is a very old word. It goes back to
Indo-European base. Long time ago people probably- had only three
measures of time – year, which was the four seasons; a day which was
the period from one sunrise to the next; and a month, which had the
period from one moon to the next.

So, the Indo-European base “me-“ came into Old English, and became
“mona”. The word meant “a measure of time”. Then it began to mean
“moon”, since the moon measured time. Later suffix “-th” was added to
the end of the word; the word “monath” meant the period of time which
the moon measured. Still later the English people dropped the “a” and
called it “month”.

And now, stories of the names of months. The Modem English names for the
months of the year all come from the Latin. But before the English
people adopted the Latin names they had their native names. And, in
fact, in some cases the native names are more interesting than the Latin

The first month of the year is January. January is the month of Janus.
Janus was a Roman God of the beginning of things. Janus had two faces:
on the front and the back of the head. He could look backwards into the
past and forward to the beginning year. January is a right name for the
first month of the New Year, isn’t it? On the New Year eve we always
think of what we have done in the past year and we are planning to do
better in the New Year.

Now, the Old English had its own name for January. It was
“Wulf-Monath”, which means “month of wolves”. To-day England is thickly
populated and a very civilized country and it is hard, to imagine that
their was a time when wolves roamed the island. In the cold of the deep
winter they would get so hungry they would come into the towns to look
for food, and so January was called “the month of the wolves”.

The name of February comes from the Latin “februa” – “purification”. It
was a month when the ancient Romans had a festival of purification.

Before the English adopted the Latin name, they called this month
“Sprate-Kale-Month”. “Kale” is a cabbage plant, “sprote” means to
sprout. So, it was “the month when cabbages sprout”

March is a month of Mar’s, the Roman God of war. March was the earliest
warm time of the year when the Romans could start a war. Before the time
of Julius Caesar the Roman year began with March which was then the
first month of the year.

The Old English name for March was “Hlyd-Monath”, which means “the month
of noisy winds”. March in Britain often comes with strong winds. By the
way, this explains the saying: “If March comes in like a lion, it will
go out like a lamb”.

There are a few stories about the meaning of the name “April”! The most
spread one is a pretty story that the month was named from a Latin word
“aperire” – “to open”. It is a month when buds of trees and flowers
begin to open.

The English before they adopted the Latin names, called April
“Easter-Monath”, the month of Easter.

“May” is named for the Roman goddess of growth and increase, Maia. She
was the Goddess of spring, because in spring everything was growing,
flourishing, increasing.

The English name is not so poetic. They called the month “Thrimilce”,
which means something like “to mi1k three times”. In May the cows give
so much milk that the farmers had to milk them three times a day.

Month of “June” was so called after the Junius family of Rome, one of
the leading clans of ancient Rome. Besides, the Roman festival of Juno,
the Goddess of Moon, was celebrated on the first day of the month.

We think of June as the month of brides and roses, but to the
Anglo-Saxons it was “Sere-Monath”, the “dry month”.

“July” is the month of Julius Caesar. The month began to be called that
in the year when Julius Caesar was killed.

The English called July “Maed-Monath”, “meadow month”, because the
meadows are in bloom in July.

Now, comes “August”. This month was once called “sexillis”, as it was
the sixth month from March, with which, as you remember, the year once
opened. It was then changed into August in honour of the Roman emperor
Augustus Caesar, the nephew of Julius Caesar. This man was chosen by
Julius Caesar as his heir, he took the name Caesar, and was given the
title “Augustus” by the Roman Senate. This month was “a lucky Month” for
Augustus Caesar. By the way, Augustus refused to have fewer days in his
month of August than there were in the month of July. So he borrowed a
day from February and added it to August; that is why August has 31

The Old English name for August was “Wead-Monath”, the month of weeds.
You know, the Old English word “weed” meant vegetation in generale.

“September”, “October”, “November” and “December” are just “seventh”,
“eighth”, “ninth” and “tenth” months of the year. You remember that
before the Romans changed their calendar, March was the first month.

The English had more descriptive names for these month. September was
called “Harfest-Monath”, “the harvest month”. October was “Win-Monath”,
“the wine month”. November was “Bloo-Monath”, because in November the
English sacrificed cattle to their gods. December was
“Mid-Winter-Monath”, because this month was the middle month of winter.

C). Germanic tribes.

At the beginning of the 5th century the Romans left the islands, they
had tо save their own country from barbarians. If you want to know what
events followed after that, turn on the Time Machine again. So, here we
are, in the 5th century, This is the time of the birth of the English
language. Тhe Germanic tribes of Angles, Sаxоns and Jutes invaded thе
misty fertile island. Some of the native Britons were killed, mаnу
others fled from the invaders “аs from fire” into the hillу parts of the
country. Anglеs, Saxons аnd Jutes spread all over the fertile lаnds of
the Isles. Gradually thеу bесаmе one nation – English. They developed
one language – English. As historians write, “thе English language
arrived in Britain on the point of а sword”! The реорlе оf that timе of
thе history аrе called Аng1о-Sахоns, their language is оld English оr
Ang1о-Saxon as well.

Тhе next destination оf оur Тimе Масhinе is the 7th century, when
Christiаnity was introducеd in Britain, monasteries with sсhools аnd
libraries were set uр all оver thе соuntry. Тhе English language was
considerably enriched bу the Latin woгds.

Now, with the help of the Тimе Масhinе we’ll fly over into the 8th
сеntuгу. Аt this time the ancient Scandinavians, cаlled the Vikings,
began to гаid Britаin. Тhе Vikings continued thеir wars with the English
until the timе the Ang1о-Saxоn king Alfred thе Great made а treaty with
them аnd gave them а раrt of the country, that was саlled “Danelaw”. Тhе
Vikings settled thеrе, married Еnglish wives аnd bеgan peaceful life on
the territory of Britain. Later military conflicts resumed again, but by
the 11th century they were over. The influence of these events оn the
English lаnguagе was great, indeed. А lаrge number of Scandinavian words
саmе intо Еnglish from “Danes” as thе Ang1o-Saxons called all the

One reason why Roman Britannia disappeared so quickly is probably that
its influence was largely confined to the towns. In the countryside,
where most people lived, farming methods had remained unchanged and
Celtic speech continued to be dominant.

The Roman occupation had been a matter of colonial control rather than
large-scale settlement. But, during the fifth century, a number of
tribes from the north-western European mainland invaded and settled in
large numbers. Two of these tribes were the Angles and the Saxons. These
Anglo-Saxons soon had the south-east of the country in their grasp. In
the west of the country their advance was temporarily halted by an army
of Celtic Britons under the command of the legendary King Arthur.
Nevertheless, by the end of the sixth century, they and their way of
life predominated in nearly all of England and in parts of southern
Scotland. The Celtic Britons were either Saxonized or driven westwards,
where their culture and language survived in south-west Scotland, Wales
and Cornwall.

The Anglo-Saxons had little use for towns and cities. But they had a
great effect on the countryside, where they introduced new farming
methods and founded the thousands of self-sufficient villages which
formed the basis of English society for the next thousand or so years.

The Anglo-Saxons were pagan when they came to Britain. Christianity
spread throughout Britain from two different directions during the sixth
and seventh centuries. It came directly from Rome when St Augustine
arrived in 597 and established his headquarters at Canterbury in the
south-east of England. It had already been introduced into Scotland and
northern England from Ireland, which had become Christian more than 150
years earlier. Although Roman Christianity eventually took over the
whole of the British Isles, the Celtic model persisted in Scotland and
Ireland for several hundred years. It was less centrally organized, and
had less need for a strong monarchy to support it. This partly explains
why both secular and religious power in these two countries continued to
be both more locally based and less secure than it was elsewhere in
Britain throughout the medieval period.

Britain experience another wave of Germanic invasions in the 8th
century. These invaders, known as Vikings, Horsemen or Danes, came from
Scandinavia. In the ninth century they conquered and settled the extreme
north and west of Scotland, and also some coastal regions of Ireland.
Their conquest of England was halted when they were defeated by King
Alfred of the Saxon kingdom of Wessex. This resulted in an agreement
which divided England between Wessex, in the south and west, and the
“Danelaw” in the north and east.

However, the cultural differences between Anglo-Saxons and Danes were
comparatively small. They led roughly the same way of life and spoke two
varieties of the same Germanic tongue (which combined to form the basis
of modern English). Moreover, the Danes soon converted to Christianity.
These similarities made political unification easier, and by the end of
the 10th century England was one kingdom with a Germanic culture

Most of modern-day Scotland was also united by this time, at least in
name, in a Gaelic kingdom.

Paopla in Anglo-Saxon times. Living uncomfortably close to the natural
world, were wall aware that though creation is inarticulate it is
animate, and that every created thing, every “with”, had its own

The riddle is a sophisticated and harmless for of invocation by
imitation: the essence of it is that the poet, by an act of imaginative
identification assumes the personality of some crested thing – an
animal, a plant, a natural force.

The specialists consider that they know not enough about The Exeter Book
collection of riddles. Ridding was certainly a popular pastime among the
Anglo-Saxons, especially in the monasteries, and there are extant
collections (in Latin, of course,) from the pens of Aldhelm, Bishop of
Sherborne, Tatwin, Archbishop of Canterbury and others.

The provenance and genesis of the collection are unknown, and from
internal evidence one can only draw the modest conclusion that the
ninety-five riddles were not written by one man.

In English a student and the little black circle in the center of the
eye are both called “pupils”? And the connection between them is a doll.
Both the words came into the English language through French from the
Latin. In Latin there was a word “pupa” – “a girl”, and “pupus” – “ a
boy”. When the Latin ending “illa” was added to “pupa” or “pupus”, the
word meant “ a little girl” or “ a little boy”. Since little girls and
little boys went to school, they became “pupils”.

But “pupilla”, a little girl, also meant “a doll”. It is easy to
understand why, isn’t it? Now, if you look into the pupil of someone’s
eye when the light is just right, you can see your reflection. Your
figure, by the way, is very, very small like a tiny doll. The Romans
named the black circle in the eye “pupilla” because of the doll they
could see there. And the word came into the English as “pupil” as well.
And thus, we have in the English language two words that are spelt the
same and have the same origin, but mean different things: “pupil” – a
student, and “pupil” – a black circle in the center of your eye.

Professor casts a quick glance at the wall and noticed a map there.
“This map is made of paper. But the word itself meant cloth once. This
word came into English from Latin, the Latin mappa was cloth. First maps
were drawn on fabrics. In Latin the combination of the words appeared:
mappa mundi – “cloth of the word”. It was the first representation of
the world as a drawing on the cloth. Later maps began to be made of
paper, but the word remained.

By another route the same word came into English for the second time. In
Late Latin this word was corrupted into nappa, and later, through
French, it entered the English language with the new meaning of napkin.”

“When a teacher asks you a question. She expects you will give a correct
answer. Answer is a very strange word. Its spelling makes no sense until
you know its origin. This is a very old word. In Old English the noun
was andswaru and the verb – andswearing. So, you see, it consisted of
two parts: and and swear. The word and at that time meant against; swear
meant to give a solemn oath. In the youth of the English language
andswaru was “ a solemn oath made against an accusation”. A man had to
pronounce a solemn in reply to an accusation, to prove that it is wrong.
In the course of historical development the word lost its solemnity and
it means now a reply, to reply. Any little child answer you back today.”

Professor History remarks, “ I see that some of you write with a
ballpoint pen, others with a pencil, and there are some who write with a
fountain pen. So, you can’t do without ink, after all. A simple
three-letter word ink comes from a nine-letter ancestor that meant a
branding iron. And now a few steps away from the skill of writing
towards the skill of healing wounds. When we have a wound we cauterize
it, we burn it with heat or with a chemical in order to close it and
prevent it from becoming infected. The ancient Greeks used to cauterize
a wound as we do, and the grandparent word of cauterize is kauterion, a
branding iron. The Greek not only sealed wounds with heat, but they used
much the same process in art for sealing fast the colours of their
painting. It was customary then to use wax colours fixed with heat or,
as they expressed it, encauston, burned in. In Latin this word changed
to encaustum, and it became the name for a kind of purple ink that the
emperors used when they signed their official documents. In Old French
encaustum became enque. English adopted the word as enke or inke, that
is how today we have our ink, coloured liquid used for writing or

“The start of spoken language is buried in mystery and in a tangle of
theories,” Professor History begins his lecture. “The history of written
language also disappears in the jungles, in the deserts and far fields
of unrecorded time. But at least the words that have to do with writing
tell us much about the early beginning of the art and the objects that
were used to record the written symbols.

The word write was spelled writan in Old English. It first meant to
scratch, and it is exactly what the primitives did on their birch-bark
or shingles with sharp stones and others pointed instruments. In the
more sophisticated lands that surrounded the Mediterranean the papyrus
plant was used instead of the bark of the trees; as you already know,
that gave us the word paper.

Pen with which we write now, in its Latin form penna, meant a feather
and in some ancient collections you can still see quill pens. And pencil
that we hold inherits its name from the Latin penicillum, meaning a
little tail, and this refers to the time when writing was done with a
tiny brush that looked indeed like a little tail.

The term letter designating a written symbol, a letter of the alphabet
is thought to be relative to the Latin word linere, to smear, to leave a
dirty mark on some surface. Isn’t it a good description of some of the
early writing?

But what is written should be read. In read we have an odd little word,
from the Old English raedan, which meant first to guess, to discern. And
again it is just what you had to do to interpret what was scratched on
wooden shingles. Anything that had to be interpreted was called a
raedels. Later on people began to think that the word raedels was a
plural because of the “s” on the end. A new singular, raedel was formed
and here is the ancestor of our word riddle. Finally the word read took
on its modern meaning: if you can read, you have the ability to look at
and understand what is written.

Of course the basis of all writing is language. But it is first of all,
a spoken activity, and hence this noun is derived from a word referring
to the organ of speech primarily involved. In this case it is the French
word language, which goes back to the Latin lingua, tongue. The English,
though, retained their native word to name that soft movable part inside
your mouth whish you see for tasting and licking and for speaking”, a
tongue. Sometimes you may hear the word tongue used in the meaning of
language, but it is an old-fashioned and literary use.

If you want to read what is written in a foreign language, you need a
dictionary. The term dictionary comes from the Latin word dictio, from
dico, say or speak. A dictionary is really a record of what people say,
of the pronunciation, spellings, and meanings that they give to words.”

In Old English there was a different word with which the Englishmen
called bread, it was half. But then as a result of the Vikings invasion
and Scandinavian influence on the English language a new word of the
same meaning entered the English vocabulary from Scandinavian: cake.
Since the English had already their own word (half), they started to use
the word cake for a special type of bread. First it referred to a small
loaf of bread of flat and round shape. From the 15th century it began to
mean sweet food, as it does now.

To the Scandinavians, living in Britain, called their bread by the word
brauth. The English had a similar word – bread meaning a lump, a piece
of bread. Under the influence of the Scandinavian language the word
bread widened its meaning and began to mean bread in general, while the
word loaf (from Old English half) narrowed its meaning, now it is a
large lump of bread which we slice before eating.

The Great Englishman Caxton, who introduced printing in Britain in 1476,
wrote in a preface to one of the books about a funny episode with egg.
The thing is that in Old English the word egg had a different form which
spelled as ey in Middle English; its plural form was eyren. And again
the Scandinavians brought with them to Britain their word egg. It first
spread in the northern English dialects, the southerners did not know it
and used their native word.

Caxton tells the readers that once English merchants from the northern
regions were sailing down the Thames, bound for the Netherlands. There
was no wind and they landed at a small southern village. The merchants
decided to buy some food. They came to a house and one of them asked a
woman if she could sell them eggs. The woman answered that she did not
understand him because she did not know French. The merchant became very
angry and said that he did not speak French either. Then another
merchant helped. He said they wanted eyren, the woman understood him and
brought them eggs.

For rather a long period of time two words existed in Britain: a native
English word eyren was used in the South, and the Scandinavian borrow
eggs in the North. The Scandinavian word has won after, as you can see.

D). The Norman French.

I made another excursion into the past. The Time Масhinе has саrried me
into the 11th century, into the year of 1066. An аwful picture ореns
before my eyes: а great battle at Hastings, the English king Наrold is
killed, the English are defeated, the Norman invaders have won а
victory. Тhe Normans саmе frоm across the British Сhannеl, from the part
of France called Normandy. Тhеу conquered the English under the head of
their leader, Duke William, who later got the name of William the
Conqueror. Тhе Normans brought into Britain not оn1у their king, but
their French language as well. So it еxplаins why there are so many
French words in the English vocabulary.

The successful Norman invasion of England in 1066 brought Britain into
the mainstream of western European culture. Previously most links had
been with Scandinavia. Only in Scotland did this link survive; the
western isles (until the thirteenth century) and the northern islands
(until the fifteenth century) remaining under the control of
Scandinavian kings. Throughout this period the English kings also ruled
over areas of land on the continent were often at war with the French
kings in disputes over ownership.

Unlike the Germanic invasions, the Norman invasion was small-scale.
There was no such thing as a Norman area of settlement. Instead, the
Norman soldiers who had been a part of the invading army were given the
ownership of land – and of the people living on it. A strict feudal
system was imposed. Great nobles, or barons, were responsible directly
to the king; lesser lords, each owing a village, were directly
responsible to a baron. Under them were the peasants, tied by a strict
system of mutual duties and obligations to the local lord, and forbidden
to travel without his permission. The peasants were the English-speaking
Saxons. The lords and the barons were the French-speaking Normans. This
was the beginning of the English class system.

The existence of two words for the larger farm animals in modern English
is a result of the class divisions established by the Norman conquest.
There are the words for the living animals (e.g. cow, pig, sheep), which
have their origins in Anglo-Saxon, and the words for the meat from the
animals (e.g. beef, pork, mutton.), which have their origins in the
French language that the Normans brought to England. Only the Normans
normally ate meat; the poor Anglo-Saxon peasants did not!

The strong system of government which the Normans introduced meant that
the Anglo-Norman kingdom was easily the most powerful political force in
British Isles. Not surprisingly therefore, the authority of the English
monarch gradually extended to other parts of these islands in the next
250 years. But the end of the thirteenth century, a large part of
eastern Ireland was controlled by Anglo-Norman lords in the name of the
English king and the while of Wales was under his direct rule (at which
time the custom of naming the monarch’s eldest son the “Prince of Wales”
began). Scotland managed to remain politically independent in the
medieval period, but was obliged to fight occasional wars to do so.

II. Middle English. (1100-1500)

The English which was used from about 1100 to about 1500 is called
Middle English. The cultural story of this period is different. Two
hundred and fifty years after the Norman Conquest, it was a Germanic
language (Middle English) and not the Norman (French) language which had
become the dominant one in all classes of society of England.
Furthermore, it was the Anglo-Saxon concept of common law, and not Roman
law, which formed the basis of the legal system.

Despite English rule, northern and central Wales was never settled in
great numbers by Saxon or Norman. As a result the (Celtic) Welsh
language and culture remained strong. Eisteddfods, national festivals of
Welsh song and poetry, continued throughout the medieval period and
still take place today. The Anglo-Norman lords of eastern Ireland
remained loyal to the English king but, despite laws to the contrary,
mostly adopted the Gaelic language and customs.

The political independence of Scotland did not prevent a gradual switch
to the English language and customs in the lowland (southern) part of
the country. First, the Anglo-Saxon element here was strengthened by the
arrival of many Saxon aristocrats fleeing the Norman conquest of
England. Second, the Celtic kings saw that the adoption of an
Anglo-Norman style of government would strengthen royal power. By the
end of this period a cultural split had developed between the lowlands,
where the way of life and language was similar to that in England, and
the highlands, where (Celtic) Gaelic culture and language prevailed –
and where, because of the mountainous landscape, the authority of the
king was hard to enforce.

It was in this period that Parliament began its gradual evolution into
the democratic body which is it today. The word “parliament”, which
comes from the French word parler (to speak), was first used in England
in the thirteenth century to describe an assembly of nobles called
together by the king. In 1295, the Model Parliament set the pattern for
the future by including elected representatives from urban and rural

Many food names in English are French borrowings. After the Norman
Conquest under William the Conqueror (1066) French words began to enter
the English language increasing in number for more than tree centuries.
Among them were different names of dishes. The Norman barons brought to
Britain their professional cooks who showed to English their skill.

Learners of the English language notice that there is one name for a
live beast grazing in the field and another for the same beast when it
is killed and coked. The matter is that English peasants preserved
Anglo-Saxon names for the animals they used to bring to Norman castles
to sell. But the dishes made of the meat got French names. That is why
now we have native English names of animals: ox, cow, calf, sheep,
swine, and French names of meals from whose meat they are cooked: beef,
veal, mutton, pork. (By the way “lamb” is an exception, it is a native
Anglo-Saxon word). A historian writes that an English peasant who had
spent a hard day tending his oxen, calves, sheep and swine probably saw
little enough of the beef, veal, mutton and pork, which were gobbled at
night by his Norman masters.

The French enriched English vocabulary with such food words as bacon,
sausage, gravy; then: toast, biscuit, cream, sugar. They taught the
English to have for dessert such fruits as: fig, grape, orange, lemon,
pomegranate, peach and the names of these fruits became known to the
English due the French. The English learned from them how to make
pastry, tart, jelly, treacle. From the French the English came to know
about mustard and vinegard. The English borrowed from the French verbs
to describe various culinary processes: to boil, to roast, to stew, to

One famous English linguist exclaimed: “It is melancholy to think what
the English dinner would have been like, had there been no Norman

The period of Middle English is the time of the fast development of
English literature. The greatest poet of the 14th century was Geoffrey
Chaucer. He is often called the father of English poetry, although, as
we know, there were many English poets before him. As we should expect,
the language had changed a great deal in the seven hundred years since
the time Beowulf and it is much easier to read Chaucer than to read
anything written in Old English. Here are the opening lines of The
Canterbury Tales (about 1387), his greatest work:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures swote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote

When April with his sweet showers has stuck to the roots the

dryness of March…

There are five main beats in each line, and the reader will notice that
rhyme has taken the place of Old English alliteration. Chaucer was a
well-educated man who read Latin, and studied French and Italian poetry;
but he was not interested only in books. He traveled and made good use
of his eyes; and the people whom he describes are just like living

The Canterbury Tales total altogether about 17,000 lines – about half of
Chaucer’s literary production. A party of pilgrims agree to tell stories
to pass the time on their journey from London to Canterbury with its
great church and the grave of Thomas a Becket. There are more than
twenty of these stories, mostly in verse, and in the stories we get to
know the pilgrims themselves. Most of them, like the merchant, the
lawyer, the cook, the sailor, the ploughman, and the miller, are
ordinary people, but each of them can be recognized as a real person
with his or her own character. One of the most enjoyable characters, for
example, is the Wife of Bath. By the time she tells her story we know
her as a woman of very strong opinions who believes firmly in marriage
(she has had five husbands, one after the other) and equally firmly in
the need to manage husbands strictly. In her story one of King Arthur’s
knights must give within a year the correct answer to the question “What
do women love most?” in order to save his life. An ugly old which knows
the answer (“to rule”) and agrees to tell him if he marries her. At last
he agrees, and at the marriage she becomes young again and beautiful.

A good deal of Middle English prose is religious. The Ancren Riwle
teaches proper rules of life for anchoresses (religious women) how they
ought to dress, what work they may do, when they ought not to speak, and
so on. It was probably written in the thirteenth century. Another work,
The Form of Perfect Living, was written by richard rolle with the same
sort of aim. His prose style has been highly praised, and his work is
important in the history of our prose.

john wycliffe, a priest, attacked many of the religious ideas of his
time. He was at Oxford, but had to leave because his attacks on the
Church could no longer be borne. One of his beliefs was that anyone who
wanted to read the Bible ought to be allowed to do so;

but how could this be done by uneducated people when the Bible was in
Latin? Some parts had indeed been put into Old English long ago, but
Wycliffe arranged the production of the whole Bible in English. He
himself translated part of it. There were two translations ! 1382 and
1388), of which the second is the better.

It is surprising that Wycliffe was not burnt alive for his attacks on
religious practices. After he was dead and buried, his bones were dug up
again and thrown into a stream which flows into the River Avon (which
itself flows into the River Severn):

The Avon to the Severn runs,

The Severn to the sea,

And Wycliffe’s dust shall spread abroad,

Wide as the waters be.

An important Middle English prose work, Morte D’Arthur [= Arthur’s
Death], was written by sir thomas malory. Even for the violent years
just before and during the Wars of the Roses, Malory was a violent
character. He was several times in prison, and it has been suggested
that he wrote at least part of Morte D’Arthur there to pass the time.

Malory wrote eight separate tales of King Arthur and his knights but
when Caxton printed the book in 1485 (after Malory’s death) he joined
them into one long story. Caxton’s was the only copy of Malory’s work
that we had until, quite recently f1933-4;. a handwritten copy of it was
found in Winchester College.

The stories of Arthur and his knights have attracted many British and
other writers. Arthur is a shadowy figure of the past. but probably
really lived. Many tales gathered round him and his knights. One of the
main subjects was the search for the cup used by Christ at the East
Supper. (This cup is known as The Holy Grail. Another subject was
Arthur’s battles against his enemies, including the Romans. Malory’s
fine prose can tell a direct story well, but can also express deep
feelings in musical sentences. Here is part of the book in modern form.
King Arthur is badly wounded:

Then Sir Bedivere took the king on his back and so went with him to the
water’s edge. And when they were there. close by the bank, there came a
little ship with many beautiful ladies in it; and among them all there
was a queen. And they all had black head-dresses, and all wept and cried
when they saw King Arthur.

III. Modern English (1500-to the present day)

By the beginning of 20th century, Britain was no longer the world’s
richest country. Perhaps this caused Victorian confidence in gradual
reform to weaken. Whatever the reason, the first twenty years of the
century were a period of extremism in Britain. The Suffragettes, women
demanding the right to vote, were prepared both to damage property and
to die for their beliefs; the problem of Ulster in the north of Ireland
led to a situation in which some sections of the army appeared ready to
disobey the government; and the government’s introduction of new types
and levels of taxation was opposed so absolutely by the House of Lords
that even Parliament, the foundation of the political system, seemed to
have an uncertain future in its traditional form. But by the end of the
First World War, two of these issues had been resolved to most people’s
satisfaction (the Irish problem remained) and the rather un-British
climate of extremism died out.

The significant changes that have taken place in this century are dealt
with elsewhere in this book. Just one thing should be noted here. It was
from the beginning of this century that the urban working class (the
majority of the population) finally began to make its voice heard. In
Parliament, the Labour party gradually replaced the Liberals (the
‘descendants’ of the Whigs) as the main opposition to the Conservatives
(the ‘descendants’ of the Tories). In addition, trade unions managed to
organize themselves. In 1926, they were powerful enough to hold a
General Strike, and from the 1930s until the 1980s the Trades Union
Congress (see chapter 14) was probably the single most powerful
political force outside the institutions of government and Parliament.

From about 1600, explorers, adventurers, settlers and soldiers went out
from Britain to found settlements and colonies overseas. They took the
English language with them. At the height of their power, during the
19th century, the British could claim that the sun never set on their
Empire. Today almost all the countries of the old Empire have become
independent. However, most of them are now members of the Commonwealth
of Nations, and English continues to be an important language for them.

After the Second World War the United States became what Britain had
been in the 19th century: politically and economically one of the most
powerful nations in the world. As its power spread, so the English
language spread.

Five hundred years ago they didn’t speak English in North America. The
American Indians had their own languages. So did the Inuit (often called
‘Eskimos’) and Aleuts in Canada. So did the Aborigines in Australia, and
the Maoris in New Zealand.

The English arrived and set up their colonies. And then other people
came from all over the world, bringing many different languages and

The USA has the biggest mixture of all: it is often called a ‘melting
pot’ of cultures. In 1619 a small ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia,
with twenty slaves from Africa. For over two hundred years, the
Americans imported, bought and sold African slaves. Today there are over
29 million black Americans living in the USA.

In 1848 the population of the United States was still very small. Then
two important things happened: they discovered gold in California and a
new law, the Homestead Act, gave free land to farmers. Suddenly millions
of immigrants came to America, ‘The Land of Opportunity’.

At first they were English, Irish, German and Scandinavian. Then
Italians, Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Russians and Poles came. Most
immigrants came because economic conditions at home were bad. But there
were also other problems in Europe. About three million Jews came to the
USA between 1880 and 1910 because of religious persecution in Russia and
other countries.

Today the USA is still much richer than most of its neighbors. Its most
recent new citizens are many Spanish-speaking people from Puerto Rico,
Mexico and South America.

The population of Britain is only about 58 million. But throughout the
world English is spoken by over 700 million people.

About 350 million people speak English as their first language in 12
countries such as Britain, the USA. Canada Australia. New Zealand. South

About 300 million use English as a second or official language in over
60 countries, for example, in India. They usually use it when doing
business, or when completing official documents and forms.

It is estimated that at least 100 million people throughout the world
use English fluently as a foreign language.

There are over 3.000 languages in the world. So why has English become
so widely spoken?

Today the English language is almost the same all over the world. You
can tell a person’s nationality from their accent – Australian,
Scottish, Canadian and so on. But the words are more or less

It’s strange that the differences in Britain itself are greater than
those between Britain and other English-speaking countries. For a
Londoner, it’s easy to understand an American, but quite difficult to
understand the dialect of Newcastle in the North of England!

But not many people speak dialects in Britain these days. A hundred
years ago (before radio and television) all ordinary working people did.
In Emily Bronte’s book Wuthering Heights the old man Joseph speaks
Yorkshire dialect:

“Take these in tuh t’maister, lad. Un’ bide theare. Aw’s gang up tuh my
awn rahm.” (Take these in to the master, boy. And stay there. I’m going
up to my own room.)

Don’t worry. Joseph doesn’t say very much in the book – the rest is in
normal English!

In a country like New Zealand, English is the first language. In fact
it’s the only language for most people. About 100,000 Maoris have their
own language, but they also speak English. Most of this book is about
countries where English is the first language – Canada, Ireland, the USA
and so on.

But in more than sixty other countries English is a second language. The
government, business and universities use it. Some of the people, but
not all, speak it well and use it for certain parts of their lives.

IV. Conclusion.

I enjoy learning English, it is really great’ I like to learn new words,
to look up in the dictionary their meanings. English grammar is
difficult, but I try hard to understand it, to learn the rules, to put
them into practice.

I think it is very interesting to read English books, newspapers,
magazines. I came to know a lot of exciting facts and new things. It is
like a new world where you can enter if you know the language.

English folklore is very rich. I believe, it is good to know English
proverbs and tongue-twisters, English rhymes and limericks. English
sayings and songs.

When you learn tongue-twisters, it helps you to improve your

I know quite a number of them. Here is a good one:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper:

A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked:

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper

Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked!

This one is my favorite:

A thatcher of Thatchwood went to Thatchet a-thatching

Did a thatcher of Thatchwood go to Thatchet a-thatching?

If a thatchcr of Thatchwood went to Thatchet a-thatching

Where’s the thatching the thatcher of Thatchwood has thatched?

While writing my research paper report I had to read a lot of books on
English History I came to know a lot of English folk songs, they are
simple and nice. Some of them help me to learn words. Solomon Grundy is
a folk song it helps you to remember the days of the week. It is a sad
song/ but 1 the same it’s funny too.

Solomon Grundy

Born on Monday

Christened on Tuesday

Married on Wednesday

Ill on Thursday

Worse on Friday

Died on Saturday

Buried on Sunday

This is the end

Of poor old Solomon Grundy.

English proverbs are useful in many situations. Here are a few examples.
When there’s a will, there’s a way. Or: All’s well that ends well. No
sweet without sweat. Lend money and lose a friend. East or West, home
is best.

English jokes are very funny. They often laugh at nationalities of the
British Isles. Here is a typical one. “An Englishman, a Scotsman and
an Irishman were alone on a desert island.” One day the Englishman
found an old bottle. He broke it and out came a genie. The genie said:
“I’ll give you and your friends three wishes. But choose well,
because you may have only one wish each” “My wish is quite simple”, –
said the Englishman, – “I wish to be taken home”. “Your wish is my
command”, – said the genie, and the Englishman disappeared. “Yes, I’d
like the same”, – said the Scotsman. And in a minute he was at home as
well. Then the genie turned to the Irishman. “And what about you?
What’s your wish?” The Irishman thought a little and then said: “I’m
very lonely without my friends. I wish they were back here with me.”

English literature has very rich traditions. English poetry is well
known in the world best Russian poets translated English poetry into
Russian. But of course, when you study English it’s a pleasure to learn
English poems in the original. My favorite poem is “If by R. Kipling. I
think, he gives very good advice for the young people in this poem.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are loosing theirs and blaming it on you*

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master:

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same.

You can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginning

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the will which says to them; “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, out non much;

If you can *ill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Yes, to learn English is such a fun, indeed!!!

List of Literature

Speak Out 3/2001 – pages 2-4 Издательство «ГЛОССА».

Борисов В.С., Борисова Л.М. «Английский не для всех»

Mark Farrell «The World Of English» England Longman 1995.

James O’Driscoll «Britain» Oxford University England Press 1995.

«Treasures Of Historical English» Борисова Л.М.

«History And Mystery Of The English Words» Борисова Л.М.

G.C. Thorney «An Outline Of English Literature» England Longman 1984.


OE Gothic Description; Position; Pronunciation Examples

a a Short back vowel; Mainly in open syllables, when the following one
contains a back vowel; English cup macian (to make), habban (to have)

б ai Long back [a] vowel; In any kind of syllables; English star stбn (a
stone), hбtan (to call)

ж a Short back vowel; Met mainly in closed syllables, or in open ones,
if the next syllable contains a front vowel; English bad dжg (a day),
wжter (water)

ж ‘ й, б Long back vowel; as Gothic й found only in some verbal forms,
as Gothic б is the result of the so – called i – mutation; German za
“hlen stж ‘ lon (stolen), hж ‘ lan (to cure)

e i, ai, a Short front vowel; as Gothic i, ai noticed only in some
infinitives, otherwise is result of the mutation of i; English bed
sengean (to sing)

й у Long front [e] vowel; resulted from the i – mutation of у; German
Meer dйman (to judge)

i i, ie Short front vowel; can be either stable or unstable, the
unstable sound can interchange with ie and y; English still bindan (to
bind), niht – nyht (a night)

н ie Long front [i] vowel; also stable and unstable (mutating to э);
English steal wrнtan (to write), hн – hэ (they)

o u, au Short back vowel; English cost coren (chosen)

у o Long back [o] vowel; English store scуc (divided)

u u, au Short back vowel; used only when the next syllable contains
another back vowel; English book curon (they chose)

ъ ъ Long back [u] vowel; English stool lъcan (to look)

y u Short front vowel; i – mutation of u; German fu” nf gylden (golden)

э ъ Long front [y] vowel; i – mutation of ъ, German glu “hen mэs (mice)

a. o A special short sound met only before nasals in closed syllables
monn (a man)



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