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Words of native origin

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Assimilation of borrowings. Etymological doublets

The foreign component in the English vocabulary

Etymological peculiarities of the English vocabulary. Words of native origin.




6.1. Etymological peculiarities of the English vocabulary. Words of native origin.Etymologically the vocabulary of the English language is far from being homogeneous. It consists of two layers – the native stock and the borrowed stock of words. Native words comprise only 30% of the total number of words in the English vocabulary but the native words form the bulk of the most frequent words actually used in speech and writing. The native element in English embraces a large number of high-frequency words like the articles, prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions, auxiliaries, and, also words denoting everyday objects and ideas. Words belonging to the subclasses of the native word-stock are for the most part characterized by a significant range of lexical and grammatical valency, high frequency value and a developed polysemy; they are monosyllabic, show a great word-building potential and enter a number of set expressions. Furthermore, the grammatical structure is essentially Germanic having remained unaffected by foreign influence.

A native word is a word which belongs to the original English stock (native element), as known from the earliest available manuscripts of the Old English period. A loan word, borrowed wordor borrowing is a word taken over from another language and modified in phonemic shape, spelling, paradigm or meaning according to the standards of the English language.

Native words are subdivided by diachronic linguists into those of the Indo-European core stock and those of Common Germanic origin, i.e. of words having parallels in German, Norwegian, Dutch, Icelandic, etc., but none in Russian, French, and Ukrainian.

By the Indo-European elementare meant words of roots common to all or most languages of the Indo-European group. The words having cognates (words of the same etymological root, of common origin) in the vocabularies of different Indo-European languages form the oldest layer and denote elementary concepts without which no human communication would be possible. The following groups can be identified. a) family relations / kinship terms: father, mother, brother, son, daughter, widow; b) parts of the human body: foot, nose, heart, knee, breast, heel, elbow; c) animals, birds, fish, insects: cow, swine, donkey, goose, bat, bee, calf, bull, raven, sheep, wolf; d) plants: tree, birch, corn, barley, wheat, willow, walnut, garlic, oak, lime, grass; e) time of day: day, night; f) heavenly bodies and names of natural phenomena: sun, moon, star, snow, rain, wind; g) numerous adjectives denoting common qualities and properties: red, new, glad, sad, cool, dark, sweet, young, light, long, broad; h) The numerals from one to a hundred; i). pronouns – personal (except they which is a Scandinavian borrowing); demonstrative; j) numerous verbs: be, stand, sit, eat, know; k) some place names: marsh, meadow, hill, land, acre, cliff; l) names of things of everyday life, instruments, clothes, buildings (nail, needle, rake roof, hammer, yard, box, boat, hat, jar, knife, spoon, shed, shelter etc.)

The Germanic elementrepresents 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 (cf.: Star: Germ. Stern, Lat. Stella, Gr. aster; Sad: Germ, satt, Lat. satis, Snscr. sa-; Stand: Germ, stehen, Lat. stare, R. cmosimb, Snscr. st ha-.

Here are some examples of English proper words. These words stand quite alone in the vocabulary system of Indo-European languages: bird, boy, girl, lord, lady, woman, daisy, always.

6.2. The foreign component in the English vocabulary.No language is so composite and varied in vocabulary terms as English. In its 15 century history recorded in its manuscripts English happened to com in long and close contact with a number of foreign languages. As a result, many foreign words were borrowed by English.

The term source of borrowing should be distinguished from the term origin of borrowing. The former should be applied to the language from which the loan word was taken into English. The latter, on the other hand, refers to the language to which the word may be traced (e.g. paper ‹ Fr papier ‹ Lat papyrus ‹ Gr papyrus has French as its source of borrowing and Greek as its origin).

Sometimes the word borrowingis used in a wider sense, being extended onto the so-called translation-loans (or calques) and semantic borrowings.

Translation-loansare words and expressions made from the material available in the language after the patterns characteristic of the given language, but under the influence of some foreign words and expressions (e.g. mother tongue ‹ lingua maternal (Latin); wall newspaper ‹ стенгазета (Russian); the fair sex ‹ la beau sexe (French), etc.)

Semantic borrowing is the appearance of a new meaning due to the influence of a related word in another language (e.g. the word bureau entered the political vocabulary, as in Political bureau, under the influence of Russian)

A special distinction should be made between true borrowings and words formed from Latin and Greek (e.g. telephone, phonogram, which were never part of Latin or Greek and they do not reflect any contacts with speakers of those languages.

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PRACTICE 5 | The Etymological Structure of English Vocabulary

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