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Lecture 9 – Word stock of Old and Middle English


1. Word stock of Old English.

2. Ways of developing the vocabulary.

3. Rise of English language.

4. London dialect.

 

1. According to some rough counts OE vocabulary had between 23 000 and 24 000 lexical units. About only 15% of them survived in Modern English. The OE vocabulary is mainly homogeneous. Loan-words are an insignificant part of it. Among native words we can distinguish the following layers:

1. Common Indo-European words, which were inherited from the Indo-European parent language. For example:

Semantic fields:

family relations (father, mother, daughter, brother, etc. (except aunt, uncle – words of the Germanic origin));

parts of human body (eye, nose, heart, arm, etc.);

natural phenomena, plants, animals (tree, cow, water, sun, wind, etc.).

Parts of speech:

nouns (eye, brother, etc.);

verbs (basic activities) (to be, can, may, to know, to eat, to stand, to sit, etc.);

adjectives (essential qualities) (new, full, red, right, young, long, etc.);

pronouns (personal and demonstrative) (I, my, this, that, those, these, etc.);

numerals (most of them) (1-10, 100, 1000, etc.);

prepositions (for, at, of, to, etc.).

2. Common Germanic words – the part of the vocabulary that was shared by most Germanic languages. These words never occurred outside the Germanic group of languages. This layer was smaller than the IE layer.

Semantic fields:

nature, plants, animals (earth, fox, sheep, sand, etc.);

sea (starve, sea, etc.);

everyday life (hand, sing, find, make, etc.).

Parts of speech:

nouns (horse, rain, ship, bridge, life, hunger, ground, death, winter, evil, etc.);

verbs (to like, to drink, to bake, to buy, to find, to fall, to fly, to make, etc.);

adjectives (broad, sick, true, dead, deaf, open, clean, bitter, etc.);

pronouns (such, self, all, etc.);

adverbs (often, again, forward, near, etc.).

3. Specifically English words, not found in any other language. They are very few and are mainly derivatives and compounds (e.g. fisher, understand, woman, etc.).

2. The OE vocabulary, like that of any other language, develops in two ways: (1) by forming new words from elements existing in the language, (2) by taking over words from other languages. In OE the first of these is by far more important.

Word-building.There are three main types of word- building in OE:

1. Morphological word-building that is creating new words by means of morphological elements.

2. Syntactical word-building that is building new words from syntactical groups.

3. Semantic word-building that is building new words by using existing words in new meanings.



Morphological word-building is subdivided into two types: affixation (suffixes and prefixes) and composition.

Suffixes play a rather important part in OE. We shall consider OE suffixes, grouping them according to the parts of speech which they derive:

- Substantive suffixes.

• Suffixes of agent nouns (-ere(fiscere ‘fisher’), -areis(laisareis ‘teacher’), (-end(frēond (friend)), -estre(feminine) (bæcestre (female baker)),- in3 (cynin3 ‘king’);

• Suffixes of abstract nouns (-þ, -uþ, -oþ (trëowþ ‘truth’, fiscoþ ‘fishing’), -un3, -in3 (rædin3 ‘reading’), -t(OE siht (sight)), -þu(OE lengþu length), -nes/nis(beorhtnes brightness, blindnis blindness), etc.);

- Adjectival suffixes. (-en (3ylden ‘golden’), -i3(hāli3 holy), -isc(folcisc popular), -ede(hōcede hooked), -sum(OE lan3sum lasting) etc.);

- Verb suffixes. -læc-(nëälæcan approach), -ett-(bliccettan sparkle).

The most important feature of OE suffixation is the growth of new suffixes from root-morpheme.

1. New suffixes derived from noun root-morphemes (-dōm (frēodōm freedom), -hād (cīldhā childhood), -lāc (wedlāc wedlock), -scipe (frēondscipe frendship);

2. New suffixes derived from adjective root-morphemes (-lic (woruldlic worldly), -full (carfull careful), -lēas (slǽplēas sleepless).

<== предыдущая лекция | следующая лекция ==>
Lecture 8 – Middle English Period | Prefixes

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