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Реферат Квитки з історії англійської мови (The history of the English language)

1. Periods in the history of English.

The history of English covers roughly 1200 years. p> The commonly accepted, traditional periodisation divides English history into three periods:

The Old English period (OE) begins about 700 a. d. (It's the time to which the earliest writings in English belong), and lasts till about 12 th century. p> The Middle English period (ME) lasts from about the beginning of the 12 th century till 15 th century.

The Modern English period (MnE) begins at about 15 th century and lasts to the present day.

Within the Modern English period it's customary to distinguish between Early Modern English - 1500 - 1660, and Late Modern English - 1660 - ...

2. Synchronic and Diachronic Aspects.

Before embarking on a study of the historical development of the English language we will briefly consider the two aspects of such study, now commonly called the synchronic and the diachronic.

We would get a descriptive grammar of the language of the period. Thus, a study of the language of Chaucer and his contemporaries would yield a system of Middle English grammar. A study of the language of King Alfred's works and translations, of Old English poems, and other texts of the period would be synchronic as a study of 20 th - century language.

A different kind of study is that which seeks to establish the changes which occurred in this or that sphere of the language; this would yield a diachronic result. p> Let us illustrate this statement by one example.

The study of the system of substantives in the 9 th c. leads to the conclusion that in Old English the substantives had four cases: the nominative, genitive, dative, and accusative. In a similar way, the study of the system of substantives in the 14 th c. leads to the conclusion that in Middle English the substantive had two cases: the common and the genitive. Both these conclusions are strictly synchronic. But when we compare the results obtained by the study of the 9 th and of the 14 th c., and draw the conclusion that during the intervening centuries the number of cases of substantives was reduced from four to two, this is a diachronic statement. Such reasoning of course applies to many other phenomena. br/>

3. Origin of the English Language. Languages ​​in England before English.

The English Language originated from Anglo- Frisian dialects, which made part of the West Germanic language group. The Germanic tribes which conquered Britain in the 5 th c. belonged, as ancient historians say, to three tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. These tribes occupied the following territories on the continent: the Angles lived north of the Schlei river; the Saxons lived in modern Holstein; the Jutes lived in Northern Sleswick, which is now part of Denmark. About the 4 th century A. D. (Anno Domini) these tribes spread westwards. p> The earliest mention of the British Isles is in the 4 th c. B. C. (Before Christ). At this time Britain was inhabited by Celtic tribes (Britons and Gaels), who spoke various Celtic languages. p> Celtic languages ​​are divided into two main groups: the Gallo-Breton and the Gaelic. The Gallo-Breton group comprises (1) Gallic, which was spoken in Gaul (modern France), and (2) British, represented by Welsh (or Cymry) in Wales, Cornish in Cornwall (became extinct in the 18 th c.), and Breton in Brittany. The Gaelic group comprises (1) Irish, (2) Scots, so-called Erse, (3) Manx, on the isle of Man, between Scotland and Ireland.

4. Writings in OE. OE poetry. " Beowulf". Найбільш яскраві твори OE.


Among the earliest insertions in Latin texts are pieces of OE poetry. Bede's HISTORIA ECCLESIASTICA GENTIS ANGLORUM (Written in Latin in the 8 th c.) Contains an English fragment of five lines known as "Bede's Death Song" and a religious poem of nine lines, "Cadmon's Hymn". p> All in all we have about 30, 000 lines of OE verse from many poets of some three centuries. The names of the poets are unknown except Cadmon and Cynewulf, two early Northumbrian authors.

The greatest poem of the time was BEOWULF, an epic of the 7 th or 8 th c. It was originally composed in the Mercian or Northumbrian dialect, but has come down to us in a 10 th c. It is based on old legends about the tribal life of the ancient Teutons. The author is unknown.

In the 10 th c. some new war poems were composed and inserted in the prose historical chronicles: THE BATTLE OF BRUNANBURH, THE BATTLE OF MALDON. p> Another gro...

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