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Английский язык: краткая историческая справка, характерные особенности, современный статус

The English language


Two thousand years ago the British Isles were inhabited by speakers of Celtic languages. These languages still survive in parts of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany in France. The Celts were conquered by the Romans, and from 43 ВС to about AD 410 the areas which are now England and Wales were part of the Roman Empire, and Latin was the language of government. Between the fourth and seventh centuries A.D., the Anglo-Saxons arrived from what is now northern Germany, Holland and Denmark, and occupied most of Eng­land, and parts of southern Scotland. In some parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland, people still speak Celtic lan­guages. The Anglo-Saxons spoke a Germanic language which forms the basis of modern English. This lan­guage was modified by the arrival of Viking invaders in the north and east of the country, who came from Nor­way and Denmark between the eighth and eleventh centuries. These Scan­dinavian settlers spoke Old Norse, which was related to Anglo-Saxon, and which is the parent language of modern Danish. The mixing of the two languages greatly enriched the vocabulary of English. By the middle of the tenth century England had be­come a unified country under one king.

In 1066 England was conquered by the French-speaking Normans, and French became the language of government. For the next three hundred years three languages co-existed. The aristocracy spoke French, the ordinary people spoke English, while Latin was used in the church. Modern English evolved from the mingling of the three tongues. Today English vocabulary is approximately half Germanic (from the Saxons and Vikings) and half Romance (from French and Latin). There are however considerable borrowings from other languages.

Some derived words

Old English shirt, life, death, heaven, earth, love, hate.

Old Norse skirt, birth, window, ugly, wrong, they, their, them

French boil, roast, veal, beef, pork, village, painter, tailor

Latin index, item, major, memorandum

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 | Features of the English language

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