V. Forming national language (15-17 c.)

So, in the 16-th сent. the position of London dialect was the leading one. That’s why this dialect became the base of the national language. But there were some fields of life where this dialect wasn’t used. These fields were church and science. The problem of introducing London dialect in church sphere was settled by the king Henry VIII. Henry VIII was on bad terms with the pope Klement VII (Клементий). Henry VIII started introducing Protestantism in England. There was no much resistance to his innovations from the side of the people of Church. That’s why this reformation was done more or less peacefully. After introducing Protestantism all church texts were translated into English, even during religious services they began using English. As for English in scientific literature, it was difficult to introduce English in it (You know that scientific works were written in Latin). The fact was that there were no scientific terms (terminology) in English. These English scientific terms were formed from Latin words in such a way that the terms became more English but not Latin. The first attempt to write scientific works in English was done by sir Thomas Elyof ( the book “Governour”). In this book he transformed Latin scientific terms into English keeping the roots of the terms, and explained in details the meaning of the terms which he introduced.

Practical necessity to have scientific book and text-book written in English but not in Latin made Englishmen make the decision what language to  use  in science.

So in the 16 с. Latin was excluded from all spheres of language. By the end of the 16 с. English as the national language had been formed. But different dialects went on to exist. They still exist but in oral form.

The necessity to know what is “right” or “correct’ and what is “ not right” or ‘incorrect” in language was very strong at the end of the 16 сen. and at beginning at the 17 с. During that period the activity of orthoepists, grammatists and lexicographers was extensive. The orthoepists of the 16 с. were predecessors of phonetists. In the 16 с. there was no such section of linguistics as phonetics. Some phonetic phenomena were not clear for the orthoepists. They called digraphs (the combination of letters) diphthongs (combination of sounds). The most serious orthoepists of the 16 с. were Hart (Харт) “Orthography of English speech” (1580). William Bullokar (Буллокар), Charles Butler.

As for the grammar text-books, they were composed according to the idea of Latin grammar text-books. But even in the 18 с. there were two types of grammatists. Those who followed the tradition and those who had more advanced ideas and tried to clean the language from archaisms. The languages of Shakespeare and Chaucer were archaic even in that period. The best grammatists were R.Lowth “A short introduction to English Grammar” (1758); J.Priestley “The rudiments of English Grammar” (1761); Lindley Murray “English Grammar” (1795). The text-book by Lindley Murray “English Grammar” was a text book for many  generations of English people. It was republished more than 50 times without any corrections and 100 times with some corrections and changes.

As for lexicographers – they tried to fix the vocabulary. First dictionaries were bilingual (Latin English) (15 cent.) Later the dictionaries of difficult words, the dictionary of archaisms and borrowings appeared. The greatest event in the history of work which was connected with dictionaries was “A Dictionary of English Language” (by Samual Johnson - 1753).  in which the words are deduced from their originals and illustrated in their different signification by examples from the best writers. This dictionary was even more popular than Murray’s grammar. It was universal. Some writers of the 19 с. used it as a reference book.

So the standard of national English lang. was established at the end of 18 с. and at the beginning of 19 с. when academic and reference literature was composed.


VI. Spreading of English outside England. English in Scotland

Scotland was independent till 1707. The base for Scottish language was Nothumbrian dialect in Old English Period and Northern dialect in Middle English Period.

Robert Berns wrote his poem in Scottish (1759-1796). In the 14 с. Scottish language didn’t differ much from Northern dialect of English. But with the development of Scottish nation, this language acquired its peculiarities, so its possible to consider Scottish as a variant of English.

English in Ireland.

The native language of Ireland was Gaelic [geilik]. But English functioned in this country for many centuries. The result was that these two languages English and Irish are state languages.

English in USA

In 1606 English colony was formed in the south of Northern America. The colony “New England” was formed on the eastern coast of Northern America. This colony included 6 states. Later the population of “New England” increased, and among the immigrants were not only Englishmen, but Germen, the Dutch. When the colonists occupied all he territory of the Northern America, the USA declared itself as an independent state (1776). In the end of 18 с. there was another wave of immigrants (Irish, German) The 19 с. is the third wave immigrants (Italians, Slovenians). All these waves of immigrants had their influence on the vocabulary and language. The problem of language in the USA included two points of view. In 1816 J.Pickering published the dictionary “Collection of Words and Phrases which have been supposed to be peculiar to the United States of America”. In the dictionary he tried to fix the British standard in American language.

But Noah Webster didn’t follow English standard in American English. And in his dictionary (Webster) “An American dictionary” he fixed vocabulary, spelling and pronunciation of the language, which was spoken in USA. His position resulted in changes in spelling. Later two points of view existed:

a) the lang. of the USA – is an independent language;

b) the lang. of the USA – is a variant of English.                                                                                                                                                                                   

The changes which Webster fixed:

Spelling  our – or – labor, honor

                re – er center

                que – ck check

                ce – se defense

The fact that people who know British English can read and understand American English and vice versa proves that American English is not an independent language. It’s a variant of English.

Seminar 2

1. ME dialects. Existence of three languages.

2. Vocabulary of ME Period.

3. Rising of London dialect.

4. Book printing.

5. Forming national language

6. Spreading of English outside England

7. Development of literary standard.

Lecture 3

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