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The history of the English language shows the influence of successive waves of wars, occupation and colonisation of England. Discuss.

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Introduction

Topic: 'The history of the English language shows the influence of successive waves of wars, occupation and colonisation of England.' Discuss. English as a language was developed through impact of the events that occurred in England and thus reflected the many changes in lifestyle with which its inhabitants were presented. Various aspects of the phonology of modern English resemble the proto-Germanic language spoken by its Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Old Norse, the language brought to England by the Vikings, greatly affected the syntax of Standard English. The versatile nature of the English Language allowed its lexicon to increase significantly with the invasions, expanding to include the Germanic languages and some Romance languages such as French and Latin. Instead of perishing into extinction, English adapted different aspects of the many invaders of England. ...read more.

Middle

The syntax of Modern English was vastly constructed by Old Norse, the Language imposed by the Scandinavian invaders of Britain in the mid ninth century. Old English, spoken by the British prior to Viking occupation, used a system involving inflection endings (similar to that of Latin) and word order was unimportant. Old Norse significantly impacted the syntax of the of the English Language by simplifying case endings and omitting prefixes such as 'ge' and 'v', which were used to indicate the past participle of certain verbs. The decline of the inflectional system followed the pattern of Viking raids, first in the North and finally in the South-west, where the Viking occupation was at its lowest. French has also appeared to have an impact in the extinction of case endings, so that ultimately the meaning is determined by word order and the use of function words. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Norman occupation had a considerable impact on English lexicon. The lexicology of the French infiltrated English during this period, as French was seen as the more prestigious language. Lexemes from the fields of business, law, government and religion are mainly from French or Latin descent. Due to this cultural difference of classes, the English words derived from French origin have more sophisticated connotation than synonyms of Germanic descent, for example freedom and liberty. It is due to the many lexemes English borrowed from its invaders that makes it the expressive and versatile language it is today. It is from its versatility and ability to adapt that the English Language survived competition and assimilated features such as phonology, syntax and lexicon without losing its identity. Through the many invasions and influences of the Celts, Germanic tribes, Vikings and the French, English has evolved to be the language it is today. ...read more.

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