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The Etymological Structure of English Vocabulary

II. French Affixes

I. Latin Affixes

Nouns The suffix -ion opinion, session, union
The suffix -tion relation, revolution, starvation, unification, temptation
Verbs The suffix -ate [eit] create, congratulate, appreciate
The suffix –ute [ju:t] attribute, contribute, distribute
The remnant ['remnent] –остаточный suffix -ct act, conduct, collect
The remnant suffix –d (e) divide, exclude, include
The prefix dis- disable, disagree
Adjectives The suffix -able detestable, curable
The suffix -ate [it] accurate, desperate, graduate
The suffix -ant constant, important
The suffix -ent absent, convenient, evident
The suffix -or major, minor, junior, senior
The suffix -al cordial, filial, fraternal, maternal
The suffix -ar solar, familiar
Nouns The suffix -ance arrogance, endurance
The suffix -ence consequence, intelligence, patience
The suffix -ment appointment, development, experiment
The suffix -age courage, marriage, passage, village
The suffix –ess actress, tigress, lioness, adventuress
Adjectives The suffix –ous curious, dangerous, serious
Verbs The prefix en- enable,enslave
The native element(words which were not borrowed from other languages but represent the original stock of this particular language) The borrowed element
I. Indo-European element II. Germanic element     III. English Proper element (not earlier than 5 th c. A.D.) I. Celtic (5 th –6 th c. A.D.) II. Latin 1st group: 1st c. B.C. 2nd group: 7 th c. A.D. 3rd group: the Renaissance period III. Scandinavian (8 th – 11 th c. A.D.)     IV. French 1. Norman borrowings: 11 th – 13 th. c. A.D. 2. Renaissance V. Greek (Renaissance) VI. Italian (Renaissance and later) VII. Spanish (Renaissance and later) VIII. German IX. Indian X. Russian And some other groups  

The table requires some explanations. Modern scientists estimate the percentage of borrowed words in the English vocabulary at 65-70 per cent. This anomaly is explained by the country’s eventful history and by its many international contacts.

The native element in English comprises a large number of high-frequency words like the articles, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, auxiliaries and words denoting everyday objects and ideas (child, water, go, come, eat, good, bad).

The grammatical structure is essentially Germanic, it remained unaffected by foreign influence.

Now let us turn to the first column of the table which represents the native element, the original stock of the English vocabulary. The column consists of three groups, only the third being dated: the words of this group appeared in the English vocabulary in the 5 th c. A.D. or later, that is after Germanic tribes migrated to the British Isles. As to the Indo-European and Germanic groups, they are so old that cannot be dated.

By the Indo-European element are meant words of roots common to all or most languages of the Indo-European group. English words of this group denote elementary notions without which no human communication would be possible. The following groups can be identified.

I. Family relations: father, mother, brother, son, daughter.

II. Parts of the human body: foot, nose, lip, heart.

III. Animals: cow, goose, swine.

IV. Plants: tree, birch, corn.

V. Times of day: day, night.

VI. Heavenly bodies: sun, moon, star.

VII. Numerous adjectives: red, new, glad, sad.

VIII. The numerals from one to hundred.

IX. Pronouns – personal (except they which is a Scandinavian borrowing); demonstrative.

X. Numerous verbs: be, stand, sit, eat, know.

The Germanic element represents words of roots common to all or most Germanic languages. Some of the main groups of Germanic words are the same as in the Indo-European element.

I. Parts of human body: hand, head, arm, finger, bone.

II. Animals: fox, bear, calf.

III. Plants: oak, fir, grass.

IV. Natural phenomena: rain, frost.

V. Seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer.

VI. Landscape features: sea, land.

VII. Human dwellings and furniture: house, room, bench.

VIII. Sea-going vessels: boat, ship.

IX. Adjectives: green, blue, grey, white, small, thick, high, old, good.

X. Verbs: see, hear, speak, tell, say, answer, make, give, drink.

Some words stand quite alone in the vocabulary systems of Indo-European languages. They are examples of English proper: bird, boy, girl, lord, lady, woman, always.


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