Evolution and functioning of French borrowings in the English vocabulary in the field of fashion, food, clothes

The role of English language in a global world. The historical background, main periods of borrowings in the Middle and Modern English language. The functioning of French borrowings in the field of fashion, food, clothes in Middle and Modern English.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид дипломная работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 01.10.2015

Howly and inevitably English regained supremey in the field of education. As early as 1349 it was ruled that English should be used at school in teaching Latin, but it was not until 1385 that the practice became general, and even the universities began to conduct their curricula in English. By the 15th c. the ability to speak French had come to be regarded as a special accomplishment, and French like Latin, was learnt as a foreign language. At the end of the 15th c. William Caxton, the first English printer, observed: `the most quantity of the people understand not Latin nor French here in this noble realm of England'.

One might have expected that the triumph of English would lead to weakening of the French influence upon English. In reality, however, the impact of French became more apparent. As seen from the surviving written texts, French loan-words multiplied at the very time when English became a medium of general communication. The large-scale influx of French loads can be attributed to several causes. It is probably that many French words had been in current use for quite a long time before they were first recorded. As it was aforementioned records in Early M.E. were scare and came mostly from the Northern and Western regions, which were least affected by French influence. Later M.N. texts were produced in London and in the neighboring areas, with a mixed and largely bilingual population. In numerous translation from French - which became necessary when the French language was going out of use-many loan-words were employed for the sake of greater precision, for want of a suitable native equivalent or due to the translator's inefficiency. It is also important that in the course of the 14th c. the local dialects were brought into closer contact; they intermixed and influenced one another: therefore the infiltration of French borrowings into all the local and social varieties of English progressed more rapidly.

As with other foreign influences, the impact of French is to be found, first and foremost, in the vocabulary. The layers and the semantic spheres of the French borrowings reflect the relations between the Norman rulers and the English population, the dominance of the French language in literature and the contacts with French culture. The prevalence of French as the language of writing led to numerous changes in English spelling.

The dialect division which evolved in Early M.E. was on the whole preserved in later periods. In the 14th and 15th c. the same grouping of dialects was present: the Southern group. Including Kentish and the South-Western dialects, the Midland group with its minute subdivision and the Northern group. And yet the relations among them were changing. The extension of trade beyond the conjines of local boundaries, the growth of towns with a mixed population favored the intermixture and amalgamation of the regional dialects. More intensive inter-influence of the dialects, among other facts is attested by the penetration of Scandinavian loan-words into the West-Midland and Southern dialects from the North and by the spread of French borrowings in the reverse direction. The most important went in changing linguistic situation was the rise of the London dialect as the prevalent written form of language.

The history of the London dialect reveals the sources of the literary language in Late M.E. and also the main source and basis of the Literary Standard, both in its written and spoken forms.

The Early M.E. records made in London-beginning with the Proclamation of 1258 - show that the dialect of London was fundamentally East Saxon; in terms of the M.E. division, it belonged to the South-Western dialect group. Later records indicate that the speech of London was becoming more mixed, with East Midland features gradually prevailing over the Southern features. The most likely explanation for the change if the dialect type and for the mixed character of London English lies in the history of the London population.

In the 12th and 13th c. the inhabitants of London came from the south-western district. In the middle of the 14th c. London was practically depopulated during the `Black Death' (1348) and later outbreaks of bubonic plague. It has bun estimated that about one third of the population of Britain died in the epidemies, the highest proportion of deaths occurring in London. The depopulation was speedily made good and in 1377 London had over 35.000 inhabitants.

Most of the new arrivals came from the East Midlands: Norfolk, Suffolk, and other populous and wealthy counties of Malieval England, although not bordering immediately on the capital. As a result the speech of Londoners was brought much closer to the East Midland dialect. The official and literary papers produced in London in the late 14th c. display obvious East Midland in features. The London dialect became more Anglian than Saxon in character.

This mixed dialect of London, which had extended to the two universities (in Oxford and Cambridge) ousted French from official spheres and from the sphere of writing.

The flourishing of literature, which marks the seconds half of the 14th c., apart from its cultural significance, testifies, to the complete rustablishment of English as the language of writing. Some authors wrote in their local dialect from outside London, but most of them used the London dialect or forms of the language combining London and provincial traits. Towards the end of the century the London dialect had become the principal type of language used in literature a sort of literary `pattern' to be imitated by provincial authors.

The literary text of the late 14th c. preserved in numerous manuscripts, belong to a variety of genres. Translation continued, but original composition were produced in abundance; party was more prolific than prose. This period of literary florescence is known as the `age of Chaucer'; the greatest name in English literature before Shakespeare other writers are referred to as `Chaucer's contemporaries').

One of the prominent authors of the time was John de Trevisa of Cornwall. In 1387 he completed the translation of seven books on world history - `Polychronicon' by R. Higden - from Latin into the South-Western dialect of English. Among other information it contains some curious remarks about languages used in English: ` Trevisa:…gentle men have now left to teach (i.e. `stopped teaching') their children French. …Higden: It sums a great wonder how Englishmen and their own language and tongue is so diverse in sound in this one island and the language of Normandy coming from another land has one manner of sound among all men that speak it right in England…men of the East with men of the West, as it were under the same pared of heaven, award more in the sound of their speech than men if the North with men of the South.

Of Greatest linguistic consequence was the activity of John Wyclif (1324-1384), the forerunner of the English Reformation. His most important contribution to English prose was his (and his pupils') translation of the Bible completed in 1384. He also wrote pamphlet protesting against the corruption of the Church. Wyelif's Bible was copied in manuscript and read by many people all over the country. Written in the London dialect, it played an important role in spreading this form of English.

The chief poets of the time, besides Chaucer, were John Gower, William Langland and, probably, the unknown author of `Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight').

The remarkable poem of William Langland `The Vision Coneerning Piers the Plowman' was written in a dialect combining West Midland and London features; it has survived in three versions, from 1362 to 1390; it is an allegory and a satire attacking the vises and weaknesses of various social classes and sympathizing with the wretchedness of the poor. It is presented as a series of visions appearing to the poet in his dreams. He susdiverse people and personifications of vices and virtues and explains the way to salvation, which is to serve Truth by work and love. The poem is written in the old alliterative verse and shows no touch of Anglo-Norman influence.

John Gover, Chaucer's friend and an outstanding poet of the time, was born in Kent, but there are not many Kentisins in his London dialect. His first poems were written in Anglo-Norman and in Latin. His longest poem `Vox Clamantis' ('the Voice of the Crying in the Wilderness') is in Latin; it deals with Watiyler's rebellion and condemns all roans of Society for the sins which brought about the terrible revolt. His last long poem I is in English: Confession Amantis (`The Lover's Confession), a composition of 40000 acto-syllabis. It contains a vast collection of stories drawn from various sources and arranged to illustrate the seven deadly sins. John Gower told his tales easily and vividly and for long was almost as popular as Chaucer.

There was one more poet whose name is unknown. Four poems found in a single manuscript of the 14th c. - `Peasl', `Patience', `Cleanness', and `Sir Gawaineand the Green Knight' - have been attributed to the same author. Incidentally, the latter poet belongs to the popular Arthurian cycle of Knightly romances, though the episodes narrated as well as the form are entirely original. The poems are a blending of collaborate alliteration, in line with the OE tradition, and new rhymed verse, with a variety of difficult rhyme schemes.

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) was by far the most outstanding figure of the time. A hundred years later William Caxon, the first English printer, called him `the worshipful father and fist founder and embellisher of ornate eloquence in our language. `In many books on the history of English literature and the history of English Chaucer is described as the founder of the literary language.

His carried works more of less imitative if other authors - Latin, French or Italian - though they bear abundant evidence of his skill. He never wrote in any other language than English. The culmination of Chaucer `s work as a poet ; his great unfinished collection of stories `The Canterbury Tales'.

Chaucer wrote in a dialect which in the main coincided with that used in documents produced in London shortly before his time and for a long time after. Although he did not really create the literary language, as a poet of outstanding talent he made better use if it than contemporaries and set up 2 pattern to be followed in the 15th c. His poems were copied so many times that over sixty manuscripts of `The Cantervary Tales' have survived to this day. No books were among the first to be printed, a hundred years after their Compositon.

Chauser's literary language, based in the mixed (lavgely East Midland) London dialect is known as classical M.E. In the 15th and 16th c. it became the basis of the national literary English language.

The 15th c. could produce nothing worthy to rank with Chaucer. The two prominent poets, Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate, were chicfly translators and imitators. The style of Caucer's successors is believed to have drawn farther away from everyday speech; it was highly effected in character, abounding in abstact words and strongly influenced by Latin rhetoric (it is termed `aureate language').

Whereas in English literature the decline after Chaucer is apparent, the literature of Scotland forms a Northern dialect of English flourished from the 13th until the 16th c. `The Bruce', written by John Barbour between 1373 and 1378 is a national epic, which describes the real history of Rolert Bruce a hero and military chief who defeated the army of Edward 2 at Bannockburn in 1314 and secured the independence of Scotland. This poem was followed by others, composed by prominent 15th c. poets: e.g. `Wallace' attributed to Henry the Minstel; ` Kind's Quhair' (King's Book') by King James of Scotland.


Language belongs to each of us. Everyone uses words. What is there in a language that makes people so curious? The answer is that there is almost nothing in our life that is not touched by language. We all speak and we all listen so we are all interested in the origin of words, in how they appear and die. Nowadays 750 million people all over the world use English. 300 million people are native speakers, 300 million people use English as the second language, another speakers learn English as foreign language. It has become the language of the planet. People use English everywhere, it is the first wide spread language in the world after Chinese.

The origin of the English language began from old times. The Germanic tribes took the language to the country. It was considered as Anglo-Frisian dialect, and depended on the West Germanic languages family. The first English speakers were Anglo-Saxons. But their language was in another way, and it was called the Old English language. One of the dialects of Old English was Late West Saxon, which dominated and similar with today`s one. When we read extract of the work which was written in Old English we understand the main idea of the work. We also meet words which we can`t understand. During the development of the English language we note loan words from foreign languages, they are borrowed words. We meet words of every time, because the language was influenced by several people in the periods of its development. The process of its development divided into three periods: Old English, Middle English and Modern English. And also borrowed words completed in periods.

Most of words are the same, but there are some differences. For example in Middle English ynogh is enough in modern English; longe is long; agoon is ago and so on, but they are a little bit similar in writing, so it is not very difficult to understand them.

There also the language is full of borrowed words from other languages. These loan words take the main role in each language. Like this, English is completed with loan words from French, Latin, German, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, from other Asian and African languages. French borrowed words are the main of them.

The beginning of the borrowed words from French began after the influence of Normans. After the death of William the Conqueror people needed a new head from abroad. Norman inhabitants settled to the country and slowly influenced to the language. During the reign of Normans there appeared a mass of French borrowed words.

The borrowing consist of three main periods: the first period lasted 1066-1250, the second period lasted 1250-1400, the last period contained from 1400. In the first period there appeared only few words, because the Conqueror allowed common people to use their native language. There were three languages spoken in the country. French was used in the Court and Government. Latin was learned in churches, people who wanted to learn science learned Latin. Only common people used English. But later they began to speak in the mixed language, because the Norman language was considered as the language of Aristocracy, and people who didn`t know the language was considered as non-educated man.

Though the number of French loans in the modern period is relatively minor in comparison to Middle English, the contribution is most important. The French Loans were primarily borrowed to provide richness to the language. Whilst it was arguable during the Restoration whether the loans were corrupting or enriching the language, today there is no doubt or disputable grounds to argue that the loans did nothing but enrich the English language.

They also divided into periods by their entrance. These periods are the same with the periods of own the English language.

The borrowing of vocabulary is rapprochement of nations on the ground of economic, political and cultural connections. The bright example of it can be numerous French borrowings to English language. They play important role in the English language. Nowadays people use English to communicate with foreigners, to learn science, to visit another countries, to make career, to develop own business, to do international relationship, etc.

Attempts to continue borrowings in 20th century did not have special success because language became more independent.

In my opinion we managed to study the problems of French borrowings in the English language. We understood possible ways of penetrating French words in the English language, we have seen different ways of difference types of borrowings.

In spite of arrival of the words from different languages into the English vocabulary, the English Language did not suffer from large flow of foreign elements.

On the contrary its vocabulary has been enriched due to the taken foreign elements.


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