• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Has English changed as a result of contact with other languages? What other factors have caused English to change?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How Has English changed as a result of contact with other languages? What other factors have caused English to change? In answering both parts of this question I propose to discuss the nature of language change from an historical perspective (diachronically) and then from a contemporary point of view (synchronically). There are four areas which can be affected in any language and which will be examined in my essay: lexis, which is vocabulary - and I will include semantics here; phonology, which is the sound system and pronunciation; syntax, which is the grammar, sentence structure and word endings; lastly, orthography, that is spelling and the written letter. It is important at the outset to say that English did not arrive in Britain as a single unified language but in the form of three or four Germanic dialects spoken by Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. The first point of contact on British shores would have been with Celtic speaking Britons. David Crystal says that only a handful of Celtic words came .into English: crag, combe - valley; tor-peak; Thames, avon (river), Dover (water) in south eastern Britain. Dick Leith talks about the importance of external and internal history in understanding language change. Internal history and evidence refers to the nature of grammar and vocabulary and linguistics. External history and evidence refers to who spoke the language and non-linguistic historical information. The place names in Anglo-Saxon Britain are internal evidence but the dates and the invasions by different tribes is external. Leith reminds us that this point of history is more complex than initially realised. ...read more.

Middle

As a result, the inflected syllable at the end of the words are more weakly stressed. "Some linguists argue that the Old English inflectional system was inefficient and was, therefore, as the linguist Roger Lass has argued, 'ripe for re-modelling'. Speakers themselves start to regularise the paradigms...deleting endings." .. CH.3 Origins of English P. 118. As said before, the greatest phonological change occurred between 1400 and 1700: the Great Vowel Shift. The pronunciation of vowels shifted to produce sounds that we would more or less recognise today. It meant that the vowel quality was raised on the tongue. One of the most persuasive explanations is a sociological one that focuses on speakers' sense of their own language prestige. At a time of urbanisation of London and the rise of the modern class system, people from rural East Anglia and the Midlands moving toward London would not have wanted to sound like country bumpkins. Chambers and Trudghill are quoted in CH. 7 Accents of English, as referring to this change as lexical diffusion. Undoubtedly, the greatest internal factor for change was the invention of the printing press. As Harris and Taylor observe, Caxton had to "...introduce and popularise a new technology which is destined to revolutionise the availability of information in civilised society. The political and educational consequences of this new technology will be profound." (Caxton on Dialects P. 1-69) Caxton recognised the problem of English having no standard dialect and he had to make an arbitrary choice and he chose the dialect where his press was based, which happened to be a great commercial centre of Britain: London .and the dialect of the south east Midlands. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Ch.5 P.213) If we come up to date and withdraw from the international scene, we can consider the internal factors in Britain which are still influencing and causing language to change. We can see that these are pretty much the same factors that I have mentioned before. Technological innovations - particularly in media and computers - has seen a massive expansion in vocabulary, new words, acronyms and word extension: e.g. internet, WISIWYG and mouse. Social and political events continue to provide neologisms and phrases: 'yomping' from the Falklands war. The desire for a pure, language surface with regularity in newspapers, radio programmes and in Parliament. Indeed, .the last .fifteen years have witnessed an education debate resulting in a much more prescriptive English curriculum. Urbanisation and the expansion of the media has produced a homogenous accent over the south of England: Estuary English, which is simultaneously being bombarded by mid-Atlantic English from the USA. The glut of Australian TV soaps is considered influential in producing .the sound of the high rising tone in English accents. The Feminist movement has been instrumental over the past 'thirty years in persuading change from male orientated expressions to neutral ones: chairman - chairperson; Miss/Mrs - Ms. In conclusion, I believe that the most powerful cause of change is contact with other languages but I hope I have shown that we must be aware of internal factors too.. Britain is a maze of diverse dialects and accents in constant exposure with one another and at the mercy of political, social and economic pressures. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Growth and Importance of English as a Global Language.

    4 star(s)

    Feature films were developed, and the actors became 'stars' across the world, thus solidifying America's control over the film industry, which it still maintains today. Their industry is the largest and richest, and therefore the films which are produced, are sent off all around the world where they are subtitled (or dubbed).

  2. Language Change: from Old English to Modern English.

    This analogy, or even use of an evolutionary model to explain language change is also supported by Smith (1996: 40-52), who writes that, "It is held here that the model of evolution established in biology is also at least partially applicable to linguistic evolution", although this is, "...of course, in

  1. Investigation into Gender Differences in the Language of Personal Profiles on Dating Websites

    my education: Have a degree in Land Management so know theory of Farming, lots of Law, lots of Building Construction, etc. Am very practical, a Jack of all Trades, especially plumbing, electrics, carpentry, engineering, etc, etc. Quite good with my brain too!

  2. Why did the Scots win the Battle of Bannockburn?

    We are fighting for our lives, our wives, our children and the freedom of our country. Meet your enemies boldly. See that your ranks are not broken so that the enemy come charging at you on horseback, but you'll meet them bravely with your spears.

  1. Explain the difference between competence and performance and discuss whether this is something that ...

    or it is acquired through immersion in language from an early age (Saussure's view). Theoretically, there is a valid link between Competence and Performance, what we say must logically be based upon what we know but the fact that what we know and think does not always translate to what

  2. Geographical Variation of English.

    Therefore, most Asian governments sent people to study abroad because they wanted to strengthen their competitive ability. Besides this, U.S.A became the strongest country all over the world after World War Two. By colonialism, the local people were exposed to Western culture and economics, even in Taiwan.

  1. The language situation in Kenya, and in particular the shift and choice of English, ...

    As a result of language diversity, the government created an educational policy that gave priority to Kiswahili and English over other indigenous languages (Whiteley, 1974). These two languages, hence, have a written tradition which the indigenous languages do not have.

  2. Act 3 scene 3 is a pivotal scene in the play Othello. How does ...

    However Iago uses many techniques to completely transform Othello?s character. Firstly, Iago plants seeds of suspicion in Othello?s mind, and continues to water and nurture them throughout the whole scene, until he has completely ruined Othello. For instance, Iago?s first words in Act III Scene 3 are: ?Ha!

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work