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ETYMOLOGICAL SURVEY OF THE ENGLISH WORDSTOCK




12.1.The double heritage of the contemporary English language.

12.2.Words of native origin.

12.3.Borrowing: causes, ways, criteria.

12.4.Assimilation of borrowings.

12.5.Translation loans, etymological doublets, international words.

12.1. Etymology is both the study of the history of words and a statement of the origin and history of a word. Etymologically, all English words are divided into native words and borrowings.

A native word is one which hasn't been borrowed from another language, but represents the original English wordstock as known from the earliest available manuscripts of the OE period (5 th -7 th c.).

A borrowed word, also called a borrowing or a loan-word, is one which has come into English from another language.

The term "borrowing" is also used to denote the process of adopting words from other languages.

English has a great number of borrowed words (about 70%), which is explained by the eventful history of the country and numerous international contacts.

12.2.The original English word stock contains:

(a) the Indo-European element,

(b) the Germanic element,

(c) the Anglo-Saxon (or the English proper) element.

Only the lattter element can be dated: the words of this group appeared in the vocabulary in the 5th c. or later when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded Britain.

The ultimate origins of English lie in IE (possibly spoken between c. 3000 and c. 2000 BC). The Indo-Buropean element consists of words common to all or most IE languages. The roots denote elementary notions without which no communication could be possible:

· terms of kinship: father, mother, brother, son, daughter, etc.;

· parts of the human body: nose, lip, heart, foot, etc.;

· animals: cow, swine, goose, fish;

· plants: tree, birch, corn;

· times of day: day, night;

· heavenly bodies: sun, moon, star;

· adjectives: red, new, glad, sad;

· numerals: from one to one hundred;

· pronouns: all personal pronouns except they which is a Scandinavian borrowing; demonstrative pronouns;

· verbs: be, stand, sit, eat, know.

IE ceased to exist sometime soon after 2000 BC, having diversified into a number of increasingly distinct offspring as a result of migration and natural linguistic changes. One of these offspring is known as Primitive (Old) Germanic. It had a vocabulary that included some roots not inherited from IE. Thus, the Germanic element of English comprises words with roots common to all or most Germanic languages, but not found in other IE languages:

· parts of the human body: head, arm, hand, finger, bone;

· animals: bear, fox, calf;

· plants: grass, oak, fir;

· seasons of the year: spring, summer, winter (but autumn was borrowed from French);

· natural phenomena: rain, frost; but snow is IE;

· landscape features: sea, land;

· human dwellings, furniture: house, room, bench;

· sea-going vessels: boat, ship;

· adjectives: green, blue, grey, white, small, thick, high, old;

· verbs: see, hear, speak, tell, say, answer, make, give, drink.

The English proper element contains words which have no cognates in any other language,

e.g. bird, girl, boy, lord, lady, woman, always.

The OE vocabulary expanded mostly through compounding and derivation,

e.g. da3es - ēā3e > daisy; hāl "hale, whole" > hælђ "health".

Though native words are fewer in number, they play a very important role in English due to their characteristics:

1) They possess great stability, i.e. they have existed for centuries and are sure to exist for centuries to come.

2) They belong to very important semantic fields without which no communication would be possible as they denote everyday notions and objects.

3) They are monosyllabic, as a rule, and structurally simple, which makes them flexible, i.e. they serve as bases for numerous derivatives.

4) They are polysemantic.

5) They possess a wide range of lexical and grammatical valency, i.e. they enter into innumerable collocations.

6) They are used in a great number of phraseological units.

7) They have a high frequency value in speech.

Thus, native words are an indespensible part of the English vocabulary.

12.3.In the '80s, English borrowed words from 84 languages, as follows: French – 25%, Spanish and Japanese both – 8%, Italian – 6.3%, Latin – 6.1%, Greek – 6%, German – 5.5%. Here only the Japanese element breaks the traditional pattern, in which European languages predominate.

The structure of the borrowed element of the English vocabulary can be shown in the following table.

SOURCE LANGUAGE TIME OF BORROWING EXAMPLES OF BORROWINGS
Celtic 5th - 6th c. about a dozen words: bold, bin, down, cradle
Latin 1st layer: 1st c. BC cheese, butter, cherry, plum, cup, kitchen, meal, wine
2nd layer: 7th c. priest, bishop, nun, monk, candle (words mainly connected with religion and learning)
3rd layer: the Renaissance period (I5th - 17thc.) major, minor, moderate, elect, create, datum, status, method
Old Norse (Old Scandinavian) 8th -11th c. call, take, die, law, window, ill, weak, sky, skin, fellow (about 900 words in all)
French 1st layer: Norman French 11th c. - 14th c. sovereign, govern, state, council, power, court, judge, prison, crime, army, plate, mutton, veal, river, air (about 10.000 in all)
2nd layer: the Renaissance period and later regime, rountine, police, ballet
Greek the Renaissance period and later cycle, affix, atom, monarchy
Italian the Renaissance period and later aria, piano, violin, opera, fresco, colonel
others:Russian, Dutch, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese,etc. 17th c. and later tea, sari, kung fu, troika, mullah, etc.

Borrowing can have both linguistic and extralinguistic causes.

Extralinguistic causes are close contacts between different language communities, which may be of two kinds: on the one hand, wars, invasions, conquests when a foreign language is forced upon a reluctant conquered nation; on the other hand, trade and cultural links, which are more favourable for borrowing.

Linguistic causes are the necessity to fill in gaps in the vocabulary to name new objects and concepts.

Actually, reasons for borrowing may be:

(a) the domination of some languages by others (for cultural, economic, religious, political or other reasons),

(b) a sense of need, e.g. for education or technology,

(c) prestige associated with using foreign words,

(d) a mix of some or all of these. Individuals may use a foreign expression because it seems to them the most suitable term available, the only possible term (with no equivalent in their own language) or the most expressive term.

Loan-words may enter a language in two ways:

1) through oral speech by immediate contact between people,

2) through written speech (e.g. books, periodicals) by indirect contact.

Oral borrowing was more important in earlier periods whereas in more recent times written borrowing has gained importance.Oral borrowings are usually short and completely assimilated,

e.g. street, mill, inch, pound (all from Latin).

Written borrowings often preserve their spelling and some peculiarities of pronunciation; their assimilation takes more time,

e.g. naiveté, resumé (from French).

It is important to distinguish two terms: the source of borrowing and the origin of borrowing. The former is applied to the language from which the word was borrowed; the latter means the language the word originates from,

e.g. jacket, jumper, crimson, amber, magazine, zero, coffee

were borrowed from French (source of borrowing) but were originally Arabic.

There are certain criteria which can be used to identify a word as a borrowing (and maybe even determine the source language):

1) spelling and pronunciation, i.e. "alien" sounds and sound clusters, position of stress, unusual correlations between sounds and letters,

e.g. [v], [d3], [3] in the initial position: volcano (It), vase (Fr), genre (Fr);

j, x, z in the initial position: jungle(Hindi) , zeal (L);

x is read [z] in Greek borrowings: xylophone;

ch is read [∫] in late French borrowings (machine) and [k] in words of Greek borrowing : epoch, chemist;

ph, kh, eau in the root: Philology (Gr), Khaki (Hindi).

2) irregular plurals: stimulus - stimuli, criterion - criteria, datum - data, crisis - crises, etc.

3) morphological structure, i.e. some words may be recognized as Latin or French borrowings by suffixes and prefixes,

e.g. -ant/ -ent: convenient, constant, -ute: attribute, contribute,

-able: detestable, -ive: convulsive.

Note: sometimes foreign affixes can be added to native stems: talkative, drinkable.

4) "alien" concepts and object of different cultures (realia) denoted by words,

e.g. burqa "muslim woman's long enveloping garment worn in public", paella, pagoda, balalaika.

The above mentioned criteria are not always helpful. Some early borrowings have been so thoroughly assimilated that they are unrecognisable as such without etymological analysis.

12.4. Assimilation of borrowings (adaptation) means that a borrowing adapts itself more or less thoroughly to the norms of the borrowing language.

There are different types of assimilation: graphic, phonetic, grammatic, structural, semantic.

(1) Phonetic assimilation is substituting native sounds for foreign ones, as well as a shift of stress,

e.g. café (Fr) [e] > [ei]; spitz (German) [∫] > [s].

In French and Latin borrowings the stress is usually shifted to the first syllable,

e.g. garage [gæ'ra:3] > ['gæra:3]

(2) Grammatic assimilation is the change of grammatical categories and paradigms of borrowed words,

e.g. cactus - Pl. cacti and cactuses; trauma - Pl. traumata and traumas.

(3) Compounds and dirivatives are borrowed as simple words. But if a number of loan-words have the same structure it becomes clear, morphemes are singled out and in the course of time they may be even used to derive new words from native stems,

e.g. eatable, drinkable, talkative.

Derivatives may also be made from borrowed stems with the help of native affixes,

e.g. faintly, faintness < faint (Fr), beautiful < beauty (Fr).

Perhaps the largest morphological impact on English has been the addition of French, Latin and Greek affixes such as dis-, pro-, anti-, -ity, -ism and such combining forms as bio-, micro-,-metry, -logy, which replaced many of the original Gc affixes in English.

(4) Semantic assimilation consists in changes in the semantic structure of loans.

Polysemantic words are usually borrowed in one meaning,

e.g. kulak (Rus) "well-to-do Russian peasant".

The original meaning may change, i.e. it may become more specialized or generalized,

e.g. umbrella was borrowed from Italian in the meaning "a sunshade, parasol", then it came to denote similar protection from rain as well.

A borrowing can acquire new meanings, not found in the original semantic structure,

e.g. move was borrowed from French and later acquired the meanings "to propose", "to change one's flat", "to mix with people".

The original primary meaning of a loan may become a minor one,

e.g. fellow was borrowed from Old Norse in the meaning "companion" , which later became its minor meaning as a new meaning of the word appeared in English, i.e. "man, boy".

According to the degree of assimilation, borrowings are completelyassimilated, partially assimilated and unassimilated (called barbarisms).

Completely assimilated loan-words comply with all the norms of the language, their foreign origin is entirely obscured; they are usually old borrowings, characterized by high frequency of usage and stylistically neutral,

e.g. cheek, wrong, cockroach.

Partially assimilated loan-words may not be assimilated phonetically (regime, foyer ['foiei]); graphically (corps [ko:]; buffet [ei]); morphologically, i.e. they preserve foreign plurals (corpus - corpora); semantically, i.e. denote "alien" notions and objects (jihad "religious war of Muslims against unbelievers", mullah, sarong).

Unassimilated loans are foreign words used by English people, but not adapted in any way and for which there are English equivalents ,

e.g. carte blanche (Fr) - a free hand, Status quo (L) - unchanged position.

12.5. Translation loans are words and expressions formed from morphemes available in English after patterns characteristic of the source language by way of literal morpheme-for-morpheme translation,

e.g. Übermensch (Ger) - superman (translated by B. Shaw), prima balerina (It) - first dancer.

Semantic borrowing is the appearance of a new meaning in an English word's semantic structure under the influence of the correlated word in the source language,

e.g. reaction acquired the political meaning "tendency to oppose change or return to former system" under the influence of the French word.

Etymological doublets are two (or sometimes more) words derived by different routes from the same source. They differ to a certain degree in form, meaning and usage. Etymological doublets may be:

1) two native words which were originally dialectal variants of the same OE word,

e.g. hale f. hāl (Northern dialect) and whole f. hōl (Southern and Eastern dialects), both originally f. OE hāl;

2) a native and a borrowed word,

e.g. shirt (native) and skirt (Scandinavian), both originally f. Gc *skurt "short";

3) two borrowings from different languages which are etymologically descendant from the same root,

e.g. canal (L) - channel (Fr) , etymologically f. L canalis;

4) words borrowed from the same language twice but at different time,

e.g. corpse - corps (originally f. L corpus "body"), both borrowed from French, but corpse was borrowed from Norman French after the Norman conquest, while corps was borrowed during the Renaissance period.

Etymological triplets are rare,

e.g. hospital (L) - hostel (Norman Fr) - hotel (Fr during the Renaissance).

International words are words of the same origin that exist in several languages as a result of simultaneous or successsive borrowing from one ultimate souce. Usually they are words of Latin or Greek origin. Here belong:

· scientific terms, e.g. philosophy, mathematics, medicine, antenna;

· terms of art, e.g. music, tragedy, comedy, theatre, museum;

· political terms, e.g. policy, democracy, anarchy, progress;

· foodstuffs, e.g. banana, chocolate, coffee, cocoa.

English has also contributed quite a few international words to world languages, e.g.

· sport terms: football, tennis, box, match, knock-down;

· clothes: sweater, pullover, tweed, jersey, nylon;

· entertainment: film, club, jazz, cocktail, etc.

International words in different languages, despite their outward similarity, often have different meanings. They are called "false friends of interpreters" as interpreters and translators, as well as language learners should be aware of them,

e.g. sympathy "compassion" – симпатия "liking",

complexion "face colour" - комплекция "build",

decade "ten years" - декада "ten days".

 







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