Latin and French borrowings in Modern English, their periodization and recognition.

3. The first century . . Most of the territory now, known to us as Europe is occupied by the Roman Empire. Among the inhabitants of the continent are Germanic tribes, "barbarians" as the arrogant Romans call them. Theirs is really a rather primitive stage of development, especially if compared with the high civilisation and refinement of Rome. They are primitive cattle-

4. By etymology of words is understood their origin.

5. breeders and know almost nothing about land cultivation. Their tribal languages contain only Indo-European and Germanic elements. The latter fact is of some importance for the purposes of our survey.

6. Now comes an event which brings an important change. After a number of wars between the Germanic tribes and the Romans these two opposing peoples come into peaceful contact. Trade is carried on, and the Germanic people gain knowledge of new and useful things. The first among them are new things to eat. It has been mentioned that Germanic cattle-breeding was on a primitive scale. Its only products known to the Germanic tribes were meat and milk. It is from the Romans that they learn how to make butter and cheese and, as there are naturally no words for these foodstuffs in their tribal languages, they are to use the Latin words to name them (Lat. butyrum, caseus). It is also to the Romans that the Germanic tribes owe the knowledge of some new fruits and vegetables of which they had no idea before, and the Latin names of these fruits and vegetables enter their vocabularies reflecting this new knowledge: cherry (Lat. cerasum), pear (Lat. pirum), plum (Lat. prunus), pea (Lat. pisum), beet (Lat. beta), pepper (Lat. piper). It is interesting to note that the word plant is also a Latin borrowing1 of this period (Lat. planta).

7. Here are some more examples of Latin borrowings of this period: cup (Lat. cuppa), kitchen (Lat. coquina), mill (Lat. molina), port (Lat. portus), wine (Lat. vinum).

8. The fact that all these borrowings occurred is in itself significant. It was certainly important that the Germanic tribal languages gained a considerable number of new words and were thus enriched. What was

9. 1 By a borrowing or loan-word we mean a word which came into the vocabulary of one language from another and was assimilated by the new language. (For more about the assimilation of borrowings see Ch. 4.)

10. even more significant was that all these Latin words were destined to become the earliest group of borrowings in the future English language which was much later built on the basis of the Germanic tribal languages. Which brings us to another epoch, much closer to the English language as we know it, both in geographical and chronological terms.

11. The seventh century A. D. This century was significant for the christianisation of England. Latin was the official language of the Christian church, and consequently the spread of Christianity was accompanied by a new period of Latin borrowings. These no longer came from spoken Latin as they did eight centuries earlier, but from church Latin. Also, these new Latin borrowings were very different in meaning from the earlier ones. They mostly indicated persons, objects and ideas associated with church and religious rituals. E. g. priest (Lai. presbyter), bishop (Lai. episcopus), monk (Lat. monachus), nun (Lai. nonna), candle (Lai. candela).

12. Additionally, in a class of their own were educational terms. It was quite natural that these were also Latin borrowings, for the first schools in England were church schools, and the first teachers priests and monks. So, the very word school is a Latin borrowing (Lat. schola, of Greek origin) and so are such words as scholar (Lai. scholar(-is) and magister (Lat. ma-gister).


14. French borrowings

15. 1066. With the famous Battle of Hastings, when the English were defeated by the Normans under William the Conqueror, we come to the eventful epoch of the Norman Conquest. The epoch can well be called eventful not only in national, social, political and human terms, but also in linguistic terms. England became a bi-lingual country, and the impact on the English vocabulary made over this two-hundred-years period is immense: French words from the Norman dialect penetrated every aspect of social life. Here is a very brief list of examples of Norman French borrowings.

16. Administrative words: state, government, parliament, council, power.

17. Legal terms: court, judge, justice, crime, prison.

18. Military terms: army, war, soldier, officer, battle, enemy.

19. Educational terms: pupil, lesson, library, science, pen, pencil.

20. Everyday life was not unaffected by the powerful influence of French words. Numerous terms of everyday life were also borrowed from French in this period: e. g. table, plate, saucer, dinner, supper, river, autumn, uncle, etc.

21. The Renaissance was a period of extensive cultural contacts between the major European states. Therefore, it was only natural that new words also entered the English vocabulary from other European languages. The most significant once more were French borrowings. This time they came from the Parisian dialect of French and are known as Parisian borrowings. Examples: regime, routine, police, machine, ballet, matinee, scene, technique, bourgeois, etc. (One should note that these words of French origin sound and "look" very different from their Norman predecessors. We shall return to this question later (see Ch. 4).)

22. The lasting nature of phonetic adaptation is best shown by comparing Norman French borrowings to later ones. The Norman borrowings have for a long time been fully adapted to the phonetic system of the English language: such words as table, plate, courage, chivalry bear no phonetic traces of their French origin. Some of the later (Parisian) borrowings, even the ones borrowed as early as the 15thc., still sound surprisingly French: regime, valise, matinee, cafe, ballet. In these cases phonetic adaptation is not completed.

23. The largest group of borrowings are French borrowings. Most of them came into English during the Norman conquest. French influenced not only the vocabulary of English but also its spelling, because documents were written by French scribes as the local population was mainly illiterate, and the ruling class was French. Runic letters remaining in English after the Latin alphabet was borrowed were substituted by Latin letters and combinations of letters, e.g. v was introduced for the voiced consonant /v/ instead of f in the intervocal position /lufian - love/, the digraph ch was introduced to denote the sound /ch/ instead of the letter c / chest/ before front vowels where it had been palatalized, the digraph sh was introduced instead of the combination sc to denote the sound /sh/ /ship/, the digraph th was introduced instead of the Runic letters 0 and /this, thing/, the letter y was introduced instead of the Runic letter 3 to denote the sound /j/ /yet/, the digraph qu substituted the combination cw to denote the combination of sounds /kw/ /queen/, the digraph ou was introduced to denote the sound /u:/ /house/ (The sound /u:/ was later on diphthongized and is pronounced /au/ in native words and fully assimilated borrowings). As it was difficult for French scribes to copy English texts they substituted the letter u before v, m, n and the digraph th by the letter o to escape the combination of many vertical lines /sunu - son, luvu - love/.

Borrowing of French words.

25. There are the following semantic groups of French borrowings:

26. a) words relating to government : administer, empire, state, government;

27. b) words relating to military affairs: army, war, banner, soldier, battle;

28. c) words relating to jury: advocate, petition, inquest, sentence, barrister;

29. d) words relating to fashion: luxury, coat, collar, lace, pleat, embroidery;

30. e) words relating to jewelry: topaz, emerald, ruby, pearl ;

31. f) words relating to food and cooking: lunch, dinner, appetite, to roast, to stew.

32. Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650, mainly through French literature, but they were not as numerous and many of them are not completely assimilated. There are the following semantic groups of these borrowings:

33. a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie, brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

34. b) words relating to military affairs: corps, echelon, fuselage, manouvre;

35. c) words relating to buildings and furniture: entresol, chateau, bureau;

36. d) words relating to food and cooking: ragout, cuisine.

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