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Этимологическая характеристика английского словаря. Исконные и заимствованные слова. Критерии заимствования

The English word-stock is characterized by great heterogeneity. Why? The inhabitants of the British Isles came into contact with different people and these contacts were naturally reflected in the language. Social, political and many other factors outside the language are usually called extra-linguistic factors. Several waves of invasions, the introduction of Christianity in the early days, the colonial policy of the English Empire in later days, (all these extra-linguistic factors) account for the great number of borrowed words in English. As a result the English word-stock comprises a great number of words borrowed from almost all the languages of the world. It is commonly believed that the total number of so-called native words does not exceed 30% of all the vocabulary units in Modern English, 70% being borrowed from Latin, Greek, French and other languages.

In linguistic literature the term "native" is applied to words which belong to the original English word-stock known from the earliest manuscripts of the Old-English period - these manuscripts were few and the term is also applied to words whose origin cannot be traced to any other language - path, boy. It must be mentioned, however, that the term “native” is applied not only to the oldest Anglo-Saxon layer but also to words coined later by means of various processes working in English from native material.

Words of native origin

Words of native origin consist for the most part of very ancient elements Indo-European, Germanic and English proper. The bulk of the Old English wordstock has been preserved, although some words have passed out of existence.

1. Almost all Indo-European words belong to very important groups. The auxiliary verb to be, some pronouns, most conjunctions, numerals (1,2,3,4 etc.). Notional words denote part of the body (arm, eye, foot), terms of kinship, phenomena of nature (sun, moon, stone, tree), verbs - sit, stand; adjectives -red, white, etc.

2. Common Germanic words are even more numerous, they have parallels in German, Dutch, Icelandic, etc.: summer, winter, house, shall-will, must, verbsmake, see.

3. English words proper. They are polysemantic - hand, man, go; their combinatory power is great, hand enters more than 100 Ph. Units. They give rise to large word-families: hand - handy, handful, handicraft, handiwork; they are rootwords (even monosyllabic); they are frequently used. They constitute no less than 80% of the 500 most frequent words.

Note: If listed in a dictionary they constitute only 30% of the word-stock. In actual speech the proportion of native words to borrowed words is quite different, Native words predominate in speech, because in actual speech we take into account all repetitions. Mostly repeated are: articles, prepositions, conjunctions, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs. 50 native words cover more than half our needs.

Borrowed words

Borrowed words (or loan words) - are words the origin of which can be traced to some other language outside English irrespective of the period of adoption.

1. Not only words, but word-building affixes may be borrowed, likeable, -ment, etc.

2. Distinction should be made btw true borrowings (or borrowings proper) and words made up of morphemes borrowed from Latin and Greek - like telephone, television. Such words were never part of these languages.

One more point. If we compare they, take, wine, table, sky and such words as chateau, raja, garage, blitzkrieg we shall observe a great difference. In the first place you don't feel that they are borrowed, in the second place they seem foreign to English. Both groups are borrowed words. The first were borrowed long ago and have completely assimilated in English. The words of the second group retain the foreign features and are called foreign words or barbarisms.

We must not confuse the immediate source of borrowing and the origin of this or that word.

The immediate source of borrowing is usually known and reflects actual contacts (economic or cultural) btw people. This extra-linguistic factor helps to master the history of this or that nation. For example, the word table appeared in English through French - which is the immediate source of borrowing, but its origin is Latin - tabula; ink was borrowed from French, but may be traced to Latin, then Greek (kaio), and perhaps some other languages; school - the immediate source of borrowing - Latin, the origin - Greek, Russian школа - also from Greek.

In dictionaries these notions are sometimes confused, though as a rule a whole chain of words is represented. And one more thing. The way this or that word was borrowed:

1. through speech (by immediate contacts between the peoples)

2. through written speech (by indirect contact, through books).

Oral borrowing took place chiefly in the early periods of history (trough trade with Roman merchants, f.ex. wine, cheese, butter, pepper). Written borrowings preserve their spelling: communique - French), sometimes pronunciation. They are often rather long and literary.

Borrowed words:

§ Latin borrowings

The earliest borrowings from Latin are: wine - vinum (the Germanic tribes could not make wine and bought it from the Romans); pound - pondo, inch - uncia. In Britain the Romans built good roads which they called strata via - street. The word wall also belongs here. With introduction of Christianity in the 7 c. many religious terms appeared in English: bishop, monk, priest, candle; monasterium - minster (Westminster — западный монастырь), school was borrowed at the same time. The second influx of Latin borrowings was observed during the Renaissance (15-16 cc.). Numerous translations of ancient authors called forth a number of bookish words (verbs with the suffix -ate - create, accommodate, illustrate, participate; verbs, ending in -ct - act, elect, direct, protect; -ute - constitute, distribute; adjectives in -ent/-ant - decent, evident, important, private.

§ Scandinavian borrowings

began to penetrate into the everyday language beginning with the 9 century. Their role was great in reduction of endings: husband-husbonda; appearing of sound [g]: egg - native eyeyrenяйцо — яйца); the combination of letters sk changed into [ ʃ ] in OE. Now all words beginning with these sounds must be borrowings: shirt, skirt, skill, sky, but not necessarily Sc scheme (Greek); some words beginning with [g] - give, get, gate.

§ French borrowings

Terms denoting ruling of the state — government, council, parliament, estate, statesman, power, country, people; court terms - court, justice, judge, accuse, plead, execute, crime, prison; army - army, soldier, sergeant, captain, admiral, war, battle, enemy; science, education - science, lesson, library, pen, pencil, pupil.

§ Borrowings from other languages

§ Italian borrowings - words of art and literature: sonnato, piano, opera.

§ Spanish - comrade, guerrilla.

§ Some words were borrowed into English through the language of American Indians: tomato, potato, tobacco.

§ Russian loan words are translation loans - collective farm, commintern, self-criticism, five-year-plan, sputnik, lunik.

The English language experiences great affect of foreign languages.

Some basic assumptions /Ginzburg/

The most characteristic feature of English is usually said to be its mixed character. Many linguists consider foreign influence, especially that of French, to be the most important factor in the history of English. This wide-spread viewpoint is supported only by the evidence of the English word-stock, as its grammar and phonetic system are very stable and not easily influenced by other languages. While it is altogether wrong to speak of the mixed character of the language as a whole, the composite nature of the English vocabulary cannot be denied. To comprehend the nature of the English vocabulary and its historical development it is necessary to examine the etymology of its different layers, the historical causes of their appearance, their volume and role and the comparative importance of native and borrowed elements in replenishing the English vocabulary. Before embarking upon a description of the English word-stock from this point of view we must make special mention of some terms.

§ 1. In linguistic literature the term native is conventionally used to denote words of Anglo-Saxon origin brought to the British Isles from the continent in the 5th century by the Germanic tribes — the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. Practically, however, the term is often applied to words whose origin cannot be traced to any other language. Thus, the word path is classified as native just because its origin has not yet been established with any degree of certainty. It is possible to conjecture that further progress of linguistic science may throw some light upon its origin and it may prove to have been borrowed at some earlier period. It is for this reason that Professor A. I. Smirnitsky relying on the earliest manuscripts of the English language available suggested another interpretation of the term native — as words which may be presumed to have existed in the English word-stock of the 7th century. This interpretation may have somewhat more reliable criteria behind it, but it seems to have the same drawback — both viewpoints present the native element in English as static.

§ 2. The term borrowing is used in linguistics to denote the process of adopting words from other languages and also the result of this process, the language material itself. It has already been stated that not only words, but also word-building affixes were borrowed into English (as is the case with -able, -ment, -ity, etc.).1 It must be mentioned that some word-groups, too, were borrowed in their foreign form (e.g. coup d'état, vis-á-vis).

In its second meaning the term borrowing is sometimes used in a wider sense. It is extended onto the so-called translation-loans (or loan-translations) and semantic borrowing. Translation-loans are words and expressions formed 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 <— L. lingua materna; it goes without saying <— Fr. cela va sans dire; wall newspaper < Russ. стенгазета). Semantic borrowing is the appearance of a new meaning due to the influence of a related word in another language (e.g. the word propaganda and reaction acquired their political meanings under the influence of French, deviation and bureau entered political vocabulary, as in right and left deviations, Political bureau, under the influence of Russian). Further on we shall use the term bоrrоwing in its second meaning, as a borrowing proper or a word taken over in its material form. Distinction should be made between true borrowings and words formed out of morphemes borrowed from Latin and Greek, e.g. telephone, phonogram. Such words were never part of Latin or Greek and they do not reflect any contacts with the peoples speaking those languages. It is of importance to note that the term borrowing belongs to diachronic description of the word-stock. Thus the words wine, cheap, pound introduced by the Romans into all Germanic dialects long before the Angles and the Saxons settled on the British Isles, and such late Latin loans as alibi, memorandum, stratum may all be referred to borrowings from the same language in describing their origin, though in modern English they constitute distinctly different groups of words.

§ 3. There is also certain confusion between the terms source of borrowings and origin of the word. This confusion may be seen in contradictory marking of one and the same word as, say, a French borrowing in one dictionary and Latin borrowing in another. It is suggested here that the term source of borrowing should be applied to the language from which this or that particular word was taken into English. So when describing words as Latin, French or Scandinavian borrowings we point out their source but not their origin. The term origin оf the word should be applied to the language the word may be traced to. Thus, the French borrowing table is Latin by origin (L. tabula), the Latin borrowing school came into Latin from the Greek language (Gr. schole), so it may be described as Greek by origin. It should be remembered, however, that whereas the immediate source of borrowing is as a rule known and can be stated with some certainty, the actual origin of the word may be rather doubtful. For example, the word ink was borrowed from Old French, but it may be traced back to Latin and still further to Greek (cf. Gr. kaio-), and it is quite possible that it was borrowed into Greek from some other language. The immediate source of borrowing is naturally of greater importance for language students because it reveals the extra-linguistic factors responsible for the act of borrowing, and also because the borrowed words bear, as a rule, the imprint of the sound and graphic form, the morphological and semantic structure characteristic of the language they were borrowed from.


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