The Development of English Grammar Category:
Crimean Gothic Other Germanic languages with which Old Norse still retained some mutual intelligibility Vikings from modern-day Norway and Denmark began to raid parts of Britain from the late 8th century onward. Inhowever, a major invasion was launched by what the Anglo-Saxons called the Great Heathen Armywhich eventually brought large parts of northern and eastern England the Danelaw under Scandinavian control.
Most of these areas were retaken by the English under Edward the Elder in the early 10th century, although York and Northumbria were not permanently regained until the death of Eric Bloodaxe in The Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians thus spoke related languages from different branches West and North of the Germanic family; many of their lexical roots were the same or similar, although their grammatical systems were more divergent.
Probably significant numbers of Norse speakers settled in the Danelaw during the period of Scandinavian control. Many place-names in those areas are of Scandinavian provenance those ending in -by, for example ; it is believed that the settlers often established new communities in places that had not previously been developed by the Anglo-Saxons.
The extensive contact between Old English and Old Norse speakers, including the possibility of intermarriage that resulted from the acceptance of Christianity by the Danes in undoubtedly influenced the varieties of those languages spoken in the areas of contact.
Some scholars even believe that Old English and Old Norse underwent a kind of fusion and that the resulting English language might be described as a mixed language or creole.
During the rule of Cnut and other Danish kings in the first half of the 11th century, a kind of diglossia may have come about, with the West Saxon literary language existing alongside the Norse-influenced Midland dialect of English, which could have served as a koine or spoken lingua franca.
When Danish rule ended, and particularly after the Norman Conquestthe status of the minority Norse language presumably declined relative to that of English, and its remaining speakers assimilated to English in a Declining grammar and other essays on the english vocabulary involving language shift and language death.
The widespread bilingualism that must have existed during the process possibly contributed to the rate of borrowings from Norse into English. The borrowing of words of this type was stimulated by Scandinavian rule in the Danelaw and during the later reign of Cnut.
However, most surviving Old English texts are based on the West Saxon standard that developed outside the Danelaw; it is not clear to what extent Norse influenced the forms of the language spoken in eastern and northern England at that time.
Later texts from the Middle English era, now based on an eastern Midland rather than a Wessex standard, reflect the significant impact that Norse had on the language.
In all, English borrowed about words from Old Norseseveral hundred surviving in Modern English. Norse influence is also believed to have reinforced the adoption of the plural copular verb form are rather than alternative Old English forms like sind.
It is also considered to have stimulated and accelerated the morphological simplification found in Middle English, such as the loss of grammatical gender and explicitly marked case except in pronouns. The spread of phrasal verbs in English is another grammatical development to which Norse may have contributed although here a possible Celtic influence is also noted.
Middle English Middle English is the form of English spoken roughly from the time of the Norman Conquest in until the end of the 15th century. Merchants and lower-ranked nobles were often bilingual in Anglo-Norman and English, whilst English continued to be the language of the common people.
Even after the decline of Norman, standard French retained the status of a formal or prestige languageand about 10, French and Norman loan words entered Middle English, particularly terms associated with government, church, law, the military, fashion, and food  see English language word origins and List of English words of French origin.
The strong influence of Old Norse on English described in the previous section also becomes apparent during this period. The impact of the native British Celtic languages that English continued to displace is generally held to be much smaller, although some attribute such analytic verb forms as the continuous aspect "to be doing" or "to have been doing" to Celtic influence.
English literature began to reappear afterwhen a changing political climate and the decline in Anglo-Norman made it more respectable. The Provisions of Oxfordreleased inwas the first English government document to be published in the English language after the Norman Conquest. The Pleading in English Act made English the only language in which court proceedings could be held, though the official record remained in Latin.
Anglo-Norman remained in use in limited circles somewhat longer, but it had ceased to be a living language.
Official documents began to be produced regularly in English during the 15th century. Geoffrey Chaucerwho lived in the late 14th century, is the most famous writer from the Middle English period, and The Canterbury Tales is his best-known work.
The English language changed enormously during the Middle English period, both in vocabulary and pronunciation, and in grammar. While Old English is a heavily inflected language syntheticthe use of grammatical endings diminished in Middle English analytic.
Grammar distinctions were lost as many noun and adjective endings were levelled to -e. The older plural noun marker -en retained in a few cases such as children and oxen largely gave way to -s, and grammatical gender was discarded. Early Modern English[ edit ] Main article: Early Modern English English underwent extensive sound changes during the 15th century, while its spelling conventions remained largely constant.
Modern English is often dated from the Great Vowel Shiftwhich took place mainly during the 15th century. The language was further transformed by the spread of a standardized London-based dialect in government and administration and by the standardizing effect of printing, which also tended to regularize capitalization.
As a result, the language acquired self-conscious terms such as "accent" and "dialect". By the time of William Shakespeare mid 16th - early 17th century the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English.
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