Lexicology of the English Language

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Latin borrowings.

Among words of Romanic origin borrowed from Latin during the period when the British Isles were a part of the Roman Empire, there are such words as: street, port, wall etc. Many Latin and Greek words came into English during the Adoption of Christianity in the 6-th century. At this time the Latin alphabet was borrowed which ousted the Runic alphabet. These borrowings are usually called classical borrowings. Here belong Latin words: alter, cross, dean, and Greek words: church, angel, devil, anthem.

Latin and Greek borrowings appeared in English during the Middle English period due to the Great Revival of Learning. These are mostly scientific words because Latin was the language of science at the time. These words were not used as frequently as the words of the Old English period, therefore some of them were partly assimilated grammatically, e.g. formula - formulae. Here also belong such words as: memorandum, minimum, maximum, veto etc.

Classical borrowings continue to appear in Modern English as well. Mostly they are words formed with the help of Latin and Greek morphemes. There are quite a lot of them in medicine (appendicitis, aspirin), in chemistry (acid, valency, alkali), in technique (engine, antenna, biplane, airdrome), in politics (socialism, militarism), names of sciences (zoology, physics) . In philology most of terms are of Greek origin (homonym, archaism, lexicography).

French borrowings

The influence of French on the English spelling.

The largest group of borrowings are French borrowings. Most of them came into English during the Norman conquest. French influenced not only the vocabulary of English but also its spelling, because documents were written by French scribes as the local population was mainly illiterate, and the ruling class was French. Runic letters remaining in English after the Latin alphabet was borrowed were substituted by Latin letters and combinations of letters, e.g. v was introduced for the voiced consonant /v/ instead of f in the intervocal position /lufian - love/, the digraph ch was introduced to denote the sound /ch/ instead of the letter c / chest/ before front vowels where it had been palatalized, the digraph sh was introduced instead of the combination sc to denote the sound /sh/ /ship/, the digraph th was introduced instead of the Runic letters 0 and /this, thing/, the letter y was introduced instead of the Runic letter 3 to denote the sound /j/ /yet/, the digraph qu substituted the combination cw to denote the combination of sounds /kw/ /queen/, the digraph ou was introduced to denote the sound /u:/ /house/ (The sound /u:/ was later on diphthongized and is pronounced /au/ in native words and fully assimilated borrowings). As it was difficult for French scribes to copy English texts they substituted the letter u before v, m, n and the digraph th by the letter o to escape the combination of many vertical lines /sunu - son, luvu - love/.

Borrowing of French words.

There are the following semantic groups of French borrowings:

a) words relating to government : administer, empire, state, government;

b) words relating to military affairs: army, war, banner, soldier, battle;

c) words relating to jury: advocate, petition, inquest, sentence, barrister;

d) words relating to fashion: luxury, coat, collar, lace, pleat, embroidery;

e) words relating to jewelry: topaz, emerald, ruby, pearl ;

f) words relating to food and cooking: lunch, dinner, appetite, to roast, to stew.

Words were borrowed from French into English after 1650, mainly through French literature, but they were not as numerous and many of them are not completely assimilated. There are the following semantic groups of these borrowings:

a) words relating to literature and music: belle-lettres, conservatorie, brochure, nuance, piruette, vaudeville;

: 21/06/2009