The old English (Anglo Saxon) Period.
Þ There are three periods basically;
1. The old English period (The Anglo Saxon-A.D. 600 to
2. The Middle English period(1100 to 1500)
3. The Modern English period(1500 onwards)
Þ In the 600 A. D. Angles and Saxons succeeded in establishing the power over
Britain. So our history begins with
it as they firmly implanted their language. In 1066 the Norman invaded and they conquered and when
1100 came they consolidated their power. Their language begun to influence
native Saxon tongue. By 1500 Renaissance came down and it swept away the whole Britain. SO
these three dates are important.
Þ Old English was not a single, homogenous language. Out of all dialects
Wessex was most
highly civilized. It came to be used for political, governmental system. The
main work survives is epic ‘Beowulf’. Some other a few records are the as well.
Other dialects also gave some words esp. doublets. ‘Whole’ is now hale’ (i.e.
healthy) ‘raia’ is now ‘road’.
¬ Complicated Grammar:-
Þ Grammar of Anglo-Saxon dialect was highly complex. Adjectives were strong and weak. Three gender system was there but ‘girl’ was neuter and ‘woman’ was ‘neuter’ and masculine’ both. By 1100 leveling began to take place and inflexion started disappearing. Many of plural nouns ended in- ‘as’ or ‘es’. That is how in modern English genitive plural is forms of ‘S’
¬ Gradation and Mutation:-
Þ Gradation means process and Mutation means change. Change is vowel position in verbs. Addition of suffix to the root of a verb is for modification. That’s why Anglo-Saxon verbs have changed in present and past participle forms. E.g. drive-drove-driven or ride-rode-ridden. Though ‘climb is a weak verb, it takes now-ed. But it had forms like clumb and clumben. This tendency is gone. The following verbs have no mutation;
Help, dive, lock, sulk, chew etc. The change is caused by ‘I’ mutation.
(A) Mutated Plurals:-
Þ Inflexion ‘-iz’ was added to many nouns. It results in ‘I’. So it was in plural, Because of mutation it became and in modern English ‘teeths’. Other words; mus (mouse), musiz mys= now ‘mice’ later on tendency of adding‘s’ came. It is call ‘i' mutation.
(B) Mutated Abstract Noun derived from adjectives Or Adjective to Abstract Noun:-
Þ To make abstract noun from adjective Anglo-Saxon used suffix- ‘iou’. e.g. long-longidu. It which became lengd and now length.
(C) From noun new verbs mutation Or Noun to Verb:-
Þ This is another tenaency. ‘brood’ becomes ‘breed’ which is another verb. Like wise food becomes verb ‘feed’.
(D)Adjective becomes verb by mutation or Adjective to verb:-
Þ was ad suffix. e.g. ‘full’ gave us which became ultimately turning fill. The termination Jon to added certain adjective to make verb thus halijam whole some had an where our verb is heal e.g. full become and modern English ‘full’
(E) Mutated degrees:-
Þ Anglo Saxon used- ‘ira’ and ‘ist’. Both of them changed and became ‘-er’ and ‘est’. Thus eald (old) became ‘elder and ‘eldest’. But sometime mutated forms are dropped otherwise we would have words like strong. Strenger - strengest ; long- lenger- longest.
¬ Foreign Influences:
Þ Anglo-Saxon accepted many foreign words. The cardinal numbers are a case. Following is the list of some word which came from Indo-European languages.
§ Name of nature: day, night, sun, moon, star, wind, earth…
§ Animals: cow, mouse, goose, wolf..
§ Through Tree: door, timber, yoke, wheel, wagon.
§ Fighting: Shield
§ Agriculture: plough, mow
§ Colour: red yellow...
(A) Celtic words:- The original language of Briton was Celtic, but not considerable Celtic elements are absorbed into whole English. Words related to land scope’ ‘hill’, slough’, ‘valley’ have come.
(B) Latin words:- This is very important. They came because of (a) Roman occupassion and (b) Latin Christianity. The word ‘mile’, ‘wine’ etc. show this effect.
1. Words related to building: wall, road, way, street.
2. financial: money
3. Place names: (
and caster) - camp, Manchester Winchester, Lancaster etc.
4. Christianity: religious: Monastery,
Mont, priest, mass,
(C) Norse/Danish words: Danes invaded Anglo-Saxons and had settled themselves since 9th century. On political basis they made effect. Three way the language was influenced. (a) Place-names; settled by Norseman:
Þ Termination likes ‘toft’- ‘thwaite’ and ‘thorpe’ and ‘by’. English words ‘borough’ and ‘bury suggest ‘by’ which means a town. e.g. whit by, Selby, grmspy.
Þ ‘Thrope’- toft; thwaite – slaithwaite, Lintwhite, Lowest, Northrop, Oglethorpe.
¬ Addition of verbs: ‘get’ and ‘take’.
¬ Addition of pronouns: they and ‘them’.
¬ Relationship: husband, sister.
¬ Other: fleet, maid, knife, big, haven, skipped.
Þ Many of the writers have adopted these changes in their language. The Bible and Shakespeare even though seem much more influenced actually are not but classical writers and modern writers are more influenced.
Þ Anglo Saxon period has given us plenty of things as permanent ones, and they still are in our language. A small list is given below.
1. Relationship: Father, mother, brother.
2. Food: bread, butter, milk, meet.
3. Weapon: sword, spear, bow, arrow, shield.
4. Other words: star, loom, steer
5. Phrases: might and main, fair on foul, kith and kin
6. suffixes: dom, hood, ing, ness, ship
7. Prefixes: forth- with
¬ Change in meaning:-
Þ Some words are there. They have lost their original meaning and acquired a new. Sometime the word has generalized or classified. Such words are: Lord, lady, steward, town, etc.
Þ One time ‘knave’ meant ‘a boy’ but is retained in that sense in a pack of playing cards. ‘fiend’ meant ‘enemy’ but now ‘devil’. ‘silly meant ‘happily but now ‘foolish’.
Þ Association of some words changed and gave ideas. e.g. ‘bead’. It meant small globular object. In old English it meant a prayer’ but now it is related to object only. Unkempt , uncouth, bridal, god , thrill, etc. are such words.
Þ Geographically one world is interesting. ‘shire’ a suffix is added to many country places. ‘Shire’ is coming from a verb ‘to shear’ or ‘share’. The meaning is ‘to divide’. So one place is ‘
York shire’ means York was divided into many ‘ridings’ .(people
division): ‘ride’ comes from thriding’. York
has four ridings; west, east, north, and south.
Þ The English language not only began to go in the establishing way but also got development. It showed flexibility for adoption which really helped English to be a language of the country and world.