A History of the English Language, by Rolf Berndt

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Ed. VEB, año 1984. Tapa dura con sobrecubierta. Tamaño 24,5 x 17,5 cm. Estado: Usado muy bueno. Cantidad de páginas: 236

A history of the english languageThis book has been written primarily for German-speaking students and in particular for future teachers of English, though other readers interested in historical and linguistic questions will no doubt also find it a useful source of information and guidance. The main purpose of the book is to acquaint the student with some of the major aspects of the history of the language in order to widen his or her understanding of present-day English as a historically evolved social phenomenon. At the same time an attempt has been made to point out at least some parallel and divergent developments in English and German with the aim of deepening the student’s awareness of the present-day similarities and differences between the two related languages and of their historical origins.

A book of this length can, of course, make no claim to completeness. As an introduction it is only concerned with the main lines of development and even these could not be treated exhaustively. Strict limitations of space inevitably entailed a highly selective approach but every attempt has been made to avoid the consequent danger of arbitrariness in the choice of items to be dealt with. Considerations of space also played a part in the presentation of the data. Coherent accounts of the state of the language in earlier historical periods, however desirable for a variety of reasons, especially for a fuller picture of the whole system of the language at a particular developmental stage, of its various sub-systems and of the interrelations between them, would not only have been impossible for reasons of space and other objective reasons but would also have gone far beyond the main purpose of this book as stated above.

A history of the english language2The chosen method, namely that of following lexical, morphologico-syntactic and phonological developments separately and through the various historical periods up to a fairly modern stage without ignoring the most obvious interrelations, seems to us a perfectly legitimate procedure if one’s main concern is the historical foundations of present-day English rather than the ‘grammatical systems’ of Old English, Middle English or Early Modern English respectively. For the study of these recourse to the relevant handbooks and dictionaries will be indispensable.

Despite the constraints of space, the illustration of various lexical, morphological and other changes by means of isolated words, word forms or patterns has been largely eschewed in favour of complete linguistic utterances taken from contemporary texts. This has the great advantage that the phenomena under discussion (or at least many of them) can be studied authentically within the larger context of the sentence. It is hoped that this procedure, although requiring additional effort on the part of the student and the careful use of the glossary, will contribute to a deeper understanding of the matter under discussion.

It goes without saying that a book like this owes a great deal to the research work of numerous other scholars. It would never have been written without the moral, intellectual and material support of countless friends and colleagues and without the sacrifices and unending patience of my own family. My deeply felt thanks are due to all of them. I am also greatly obliged to Professor Duncan Smith from Brown University (Providence, R.I.) and to my colleague and friend Patrick M. Plant for reading parts of the manuscript and making valuable suggestions for improving the English. Responsibility for any errors, of course, rests entirely with me. Last but not least a word of thanks is due to Dr. Wilfried Rathay who generously bore the heavy burden of my administrative duties for most of the time during which I was working on the manuscript.

Rolf Berndt
Rostock, January 1980

Abbreviations, special signs and phonetic symbols used in this book
1- Some aspects of the history of the language community from the Anglo-Saxon invasión of Britian to the end of the Middle Ages
The formation of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England
The Christianization of the ‘Anglo-Saxons’
The Viking invasions of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ England
The Norman Conquest and its effects on the linguistic situation in England
2- “Variation in language”: origin and development, or the evolution of a differentiated language system
Pre-Old English
Old English
Middle English
Modern English, with special consideration of Early Modern English.
National variants
3- Historical changes in the sphere of lexis
General remarks
The intake of words of other languages into the lexicón of English
-Lexical borrowing from Latin
-The impact of French upon English
-The Scandinavian influence on the English language
-Loaning from Low Dutch
-Borrowings from other languages
The passing out of use of native words
-The importance of the inherited Germanic lexical material in present-day English
-The losses among oíd native words
Semantic change
-Motivating forces
-Major categories of semantic change
–‘Specialization’ and ‘generalization’
–‘Semantic shift’: substitution, regrouping, and expansión
-Other types of semantic change
–Association of an existing form with a new, figurativo meaning
–Euphemistic use of lexical items (euphemizing)
–Semantic changes involving gain or loss of evaluative meaning components
–Changes affecting the’stylistic meaning’of words
– Loss of one or more meanings of a word
– Semantic differentialion of originally synonymous (or partially synonymous) native words and loan words
– The problem of “hard words” in English
4- Aspects of the morphological and syntactic development of English
-Changes in the marking of syntactic relations
–Marking ¡n the earliest developmental stages of English
–The change-over to (predominantly) analytic marking of syntactic relations
–Loss of ‘concord’
-Other changes affecting the category of nouns
–The abandonment of ‘grammatical gender’
–The development of the number marking inflectional forms of nouns
–The ‘genitive’ and the ‘analytic prepositional construction with ‘of’
-The development of verb inflection in English
–Marking for ‘person’ and ‘number’
–‘Simplification’ in ‘tense marking’
—Reduction of the number of ‘ablaut’ vowels in the tense forms of ‘strong’ verbs
—Increases in the frequency of occurrence of ‘regular’ past tense (and second participle) forms through the formation of new, ‘weak’ forms of originally
‘strong’ verbs and integration of borrowed verbs into the ‘weak class’
—The evolution of ‘irregular’ past tense forms of ‘weak’ verbs
-Further elaboration of the verb system: the development of ‘compound’ verbal forms
–The development of compound tense-forms: the periphrastic future
–The growth of the ‘expanded form’ in English
–The evoluíion of the ‘Perfect’in English
–The history of the passive constructions in English
-The development and spread of do as a semantically empty auxiliary in interrogative and negative clauses
5- Phonological changes
-Major vowel changes in Old and Middle English
–The Old English vowel system in comparison to the protolanguage from which both English and German developed
–The development of the Germanic diphthongs /au/ and /eu/
–Developments in the direction of an elimination of vowel quantity as a phonemic feature in English
–Decrease in the number of contrastive units in the vowel system: the disappearance of short and long /y/
–Phonological changes affecting the syllable-structure of words in English: the reduction and loss of vowels in final unstressed syllables
-Some divergent consonantal developments in English and German
–The ‘split’ of the Germanic velar stops /k/ and /g/ into velar and palatal variants and their further development
–Non-weakening of Germanic /p/ and /t/ in English
–The disappearance of the voiceless fricatives [c] and [x] from the (southern) English consonant system
-The ‘Great Vowel Shift’
–The early stages: changes in the sub-system of Middle English long vowel phonemes without loss of phonological oppositions
–The later stages: losses of phonological contrast in the vowel system of Modern (Standard) English
–The question of the ‘moving factors’
Appendix: On the present state of Middle English dialectology (by Michael Benskin)
Selected Bibliography