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Grammatical Assimilation

Usually as soon as words from other languages were introduced into English they lost their former grammatical categories and paradigms and acquired hew grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with other English words, as in

им. спутник --- Com. sing. Sputnik

род. спутника --- Poss. sing. Sputnik’s

дат. спутнику --- Com. pl. Sputniks

вин. спутник --- Poss. pl. Sputniks’

тв. спутником

предл. о спутнике

However, there are some words in Modern English that have for centuries retained their foreign inflexions. Thus a considerable group of borrowed nouns, all of them terms or literary words adopted in the 16th century or later, have preserved their original plural inflexion to this day, e.g. phenomenon (L.) — phenomena;addendum (L.) — addenda; parenthesis (Gr.) — parentheses. Other borrowings of the same period have two plural forms — the native and the foreign, e.g.vacuum (L.) — vacua, vacuums; virtuoso (It.) — virtuosi, virtuosos.

All borrowings that were composite in structure in their native lan-guage appeared in English as indivisible simple words, unless there were already words with the same morphemes in it, e.g. in the word saunter the French infinitive inflexion -er is retained (cf. OFr. s'aunter), but it has changed its quality, it is preserved in all the other grammatical forms of the word (cf. saunters, sauntered, sauntering), which means that it has become part of the stem in English. The French reflexive pronoun s- has become fixed as an inseparable element of the word. The former Italian diminishing suffixes -etto, -otta, -ello(a), -cello in the wordsballot, stiletto, umbrella cannot be distinguished without special historical analysis, unless one knows the Italian language. The composite nature of the wordportfolio is not seen either (cf. It. portafogli <— porta — imperative of ‘carry’ + fogli — ’sheets of paper’). This loss of morphological seams in borrowings may be termed simplification by analogy with a similar process in native words.

It must be borne in mind that when there appears in a language a group of borrowed words built on the same pattern or containing the same morphemes, the morphological structure of the words becomes apparent and in the course of time their word-building elements can be employed to form new words. Thus the word bolshevik was at first indivisible in English, which is seen from the forms bolshevikism, bolshevikise, bolshevikian entered by some dictionaries. Later on the word came to be divided into the morphological elements bolshevik. The new morphological division can be accounted for by the existence of a number of words containing these elements (bolshevism, bolshevist, bolshevise; sputnik, udarnik, menshevik). Sometimes in borrowed words foreign affixes are replaced by those available in the English language, e.g. the inflexion -us in Latin adjectives was replaced in English with the suffixes -ous or -al: L. barbarus —> E.barbarous; L. botanicus —> E. botanical; L. balneus —> E. balneal.

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