80753

The Origin and Position of English

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Иностранные языки, филология и лингвистика

The English language of today is the language that has resulted from the history of the dialects spoken by the Germanic tribes who came to England in the manner described. It is impossible to say how much the speech of the Angles differed from that of the Saxons or that of the Jutes. The differences were certainly slight.

Английский

2015-02-18

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 2. The Origin and Position of English.

The English language of today is the language that has resulted from the history of the dialects spoken by the Germanic tribes who came to England in the manner described. It is impossible to say how much the speech of the Angles differed from that of the Saxons or that of the Jutes. The differences were certainly slight. Even after these dialects had been subjected to several centuries of geographical and political separation in England, the differences were not great. As we have seen above {§25) English belongs to the Low West Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. This means in the first place that it shares certain characteristics common to all the Germanic languages. For example, it shows the shifting of certain consonants described above (§ 16) under the head of Grimm's Law. It possesses a "weak" as well as a "strong" declension of the adjective and a distinctive type of conjugation of the verb—the so-called weak or regular verbs such as fill, filled, filled, which form their past tense and past participle by adding -ed or some analogous sound to the stem of the present. And it shows the adoption of a strong stress accent on the first or the root syllable of most words, 1 a feature of great importance in all the Germanic languages because it is chiefly responsible for the progressive decay of inflections in these languages. In the second place it means that English belongs with German and certain other languages because of features it has in common with them and that enable us to distinguish a West Germanic group as contrasted with the Scandinavian languages (North Germanic) and Gothic (East Germanic). These features have to do mostly with certain phonetic changes, especially the gemination or doubling of consonants under special conditions, matters that we do not need to enter upon here. And it means, finally, that English, along with the other languages of northern Germany and the Low Countries, did not participate in the further modification of certain consonants, known as the Second or High German Sound-Shift. In other words it belongs with the dialects of the lowlands in the West Germanic area.


 

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