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Latin influence on English Language

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Q. Write a note on the Latin influence on the English language. A. The Latin influence affects the English language and vocabulary through three phases. The first phase was before the introduction of Christianity in England, the second phase was after the introduction of Christianity and the third phase was during and after the Renaissance. Before the introduction of Christianity, some of the important Latin words which the English with their Germanic brethren on the continent borrowed were ?wine?, ?pea?, ?plum?, ?cheese?, ?cheap?, ?mint?, ?street? etc. The words that were borrowed mainly related to commerce and travel, war and warfare, names of household articles and names of plants and fruits. Some of the names mentioned above were brought with the Anglo-Saxons when they invaded England. ...read more.


For instance, the OE ?Eastorn? referred , before the coming of Christianity, to a great pagan spring festival celebrating their Goddess of spring called ?Austro?. It later became ?Easter?. The second phase of Latin influence came with the introduction of Christianity and with it the floodgates of Latin loans relating to Christianity were opened to the people when they were converted. The English borrowed the names of a whole host of church dignitaries like ?apostle?, ?disciple?, ?Pope?, ?archbishop?, ?provost?, ?abbot? etc. Besides, the names of things connected with the Christian religion were also introduced, for example, ?shrine?, ?pall?, ?rule?, ?mass?, ?offer?, ?alter? etc. This phase of Latin influence continued up to the middle ages and then there were other Latin introductions in the sphere of religion, law, medicine and alchemy and also a number of abstract nouns. ...read more.


The borrowings in this period embody abstract and scientific terms and ideas. The words were adopted almost exclusively through the medium of writing and are not as popular as the earlier strata. These Latin importations which include words of Greek origin as well were mixed up with the French loans, for as French vocabulary had already been enriched by Latin and therefore the Latin words borrowed in this period cannot be definitely separated from the French loans. The Latin influence had a remarkable influence on the English vocabulary by giving it the advantage of enriching the language, filling up the gaps in the native stock of words which otherwise would have remained nameless, supplying Latin adjectives (?nose? ? ?nasal?; ?Oxford? ? ?Oxonian?), giving appropriate synonyms (?fire? ? ?conflagration?; ?ask? ? ?interrogate?) and finally polishing the language by giving dignity and international intelligibility. Thus, Latin influence on the English language was very extensive and thorough. ...read more.

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