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UNIT 1. FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING



THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE FAMILY TREE

 

Ø 1) Read the text and draw the English language family tree.

English is a member of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The Indo-European family includes several major branches: Latin and the modern Romance languages, the Germanic languages, the Indo-Iranian languages (including Hindi and Sanskrit), the Slavic languages, the Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian (but not Estonian), the Celtic languages, and Greek.

The closest living relative of English is either Scots (spoken primarily in Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland) or Frisian (spoken by Frisian ethnic groups who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany). After those are other Germanic languages, namely the West Germanic languages like Dutch, Afrikaans, Low German, High German, and the North Germanic languages like Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese (a West Nordic or West Scandinavian language spoken in the Faeroe Islands and in Denmark).

 

Ø 2) Is Russian a relative of English? For whom is it easier to study English as a foreign language?

Ø 3) In Russia, the most popular foreign languages to study are English, German, French, and Spanish. Which of these languages would you choose to study after English?

 

 

THE ORIGINS OF ENGLISH

 

Ø 1) Find the answers to these questions in the text:

a)What language was used by the first inhabitants of the British Isles?

b)Who invaded the British Isles in the 5th and 6th centuries AD?

c)Who invaded the British Isles next and when did it happen?

d)Why are there so many Latin, Greek, French and German words in English?

e)When did the standardization of English begin?

f)Why has English become a global language?

Old English (500-1100 AD).The Anglo Saxons (West Germanic invaders) from Jutland and southern Denmark came to the British Isles in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. These invaders moved the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants into Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland, and left only a few Celtic words. Nowadays about half of the most commonly used words in modern English have Old English roots, for example be, water, and strong.



More words were adopted from Latin during the 200-year Roman occupation of England and Wales (55 BC - 150 A.D). The influence from Latin continued with missionaries from Rome who spread the Christian religion.

The Vikings also influenced English at that time, starting in 787 AD. Norse invasions, beginning around 850, brought many North Germanic words into the language, for example skirt, husband, wrong, to call, to take, they.

The Norman Conquest and Middle English (1100-1500).William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England and the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 AD. The Normans brought with them French habits and the French language.

For some years England was bilingual. The Norman rulers spoke French and the Anglo-Saxon peasants spoke Old English. The influence of the Normans can be illustrated by these words: French beef, veal, pork (eaten by the aristocracy) and Anglo-Saxon cow, calf, swine (tended by commoners). Many legal terms such as indict, jury, and verdict have French roots because the Normans ran the courts. Sometimes two different words with practically the same meaning survived into modern English, like French judgment and desire and Germanic doom and wish. Other times, French and Old English components combined to form a new word, as the French gentle and the Germanic man formed gentleman. French was the language of legislature, education, parliament debates and state correspondence. At the same time Latin was used in church activities and in science.



Gradually, English became a language with largely Latin based vocabulary and a simplified German grammatical system. This mixture of the three languages is known as Middle English. Gradually, English began to be used wider than other languages.

Early Modern English (1500-1800).The next wave of innovation in English came with the Renaissance. The revival of classical scholarship brought many classical Latin and Greek words into the language. During the age of Shakespeare, there were enormous developments in science, exploration, literature, and warfare. This brought thousands of new words into English.

The last major factor in the development of Modern English was the invention of the printing press. William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476. Publishing for ordinary people became a profitable enterprise, and works in English, as opposed to Latin, became more common. The printing press also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the first English dictionary was published in 1604.

The English explorers of the Elizabethan period and later were pirates, soldiers, sailors, and thieves. They were not the settlers, farmers, traders, and religious exiles who developed the British Empire.

In 1600, Queen Elizabeth I gave a charter to the East India Company to explore and begin trading in India. Through treaties and battles, the East India Company became the dominant power force in the region pushing out other settlers from France, Holland and other countries. The power of the East India Company gradually declined and was replaced by the BritishGovernment. British India included areas now called India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

The French, Spanish, Dutch and British had large settlements in North America. When the settlers established the United Slates of America, there were many who wanted French to be the official language of the USA. In Canada, although the British gained political power, both French and English are official languages.

The sugar-producing Caribbean islands were occupied by English, French, Dutch, and Spanish settlers. The infamous slave trade transported African slaves to the settlements in the Caribbean and in North and South America to provide labour in plantations growing sugar, cotton, and tobacco.

In 1788, a large number of English settlers landed in Australia. Soon after, settlers landed in New Zealand initially using it as a base for whaling expeditions in the Southern oceans but later for settlement and agriculture.

Late-Modern English (1800-Present).During the 19th century European countries expanded their colonies in Africa. Germany, France, Britain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain all had colonies in different parts of Africa.

In North America, Australia, and New Zealand, the British colonists either eliminated or subdued the local indigenous populations taking their land and imposing British control.

Initially, the English settlers in India and Africa were eager to trade, to steal gold, diamonds and timber, and to exploit the land. As the farmers became administrators, they began to see the need to teach English in order to educate the local population and impose a legal system. Many of the basic teaching English as a second language methodologies which are still used today were first developed in British India and Africa. Gradually, the British Empire became an enormous English language classroom.

The principal distinction between Early- and Late-Modern English is vocabulary. Pronunciation, grammar, and spelling are largely the same, but Late-Modern English has many more words. These words are the result of two historical factors. The first is the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the technological society. Words like oxygen, protein, nuclear, and vaccine were created from Latin and Greek roots. English roots were used for such terms as horsepower, airplane, and typewriter. Neologisms appear nowadays, too, especially in electronics and computers. Byte, cyber-, bios, hard-drive, and microchip are good examples.

The second factor was the British Empire. Britain ruled one quarter of the Earths surface, and English adopted many foreign words, for example pundit, shampoo, pajamas, and juggernaut from Hindi, sauna from Finnish, tycoon from Japanese, machine, ballet, bouquet, and buffet from French, opera, duet, violin, studio, spaghetti, and bankrupt from Italian, cigar, hurricane, mosquito, potato, and tobacco from Spanish and many more.

The British Empire was a maritime empire, and the influence of nautical terms on the English language has been great. Words and phrases like three sheets to the wind and scuttlebutt have their origins onboard ships.

English around the world in 1900.Queen Victoria (who ruled from 1837-1901) was the ruler of the largest Empire the world had ever seen. In 1900 Britain had completed its takeover of Southern Africa. Products from British factories were being sold all over the world. An English-speaking merchant class and administrative class were gradually being developed in the colonies.

New Zealand fought for independence throughout Queen Victorias reign. Australia became independent in 1901 but retained Queen Victoria as Head of State. Canada was also independent but retained the British monarch as Head of State.

The defeat of Germany in the First World War further expanded the British Empire with some German colonies coming under British control.

In Britain, the establishment of the BBC radio in 1922 helped Southern British English to become understandable in all the regions of the country.

In the 1930s, the British Council started teaching and promoting British English around the world. In the same period, the BBC Empire Service started broadcasting radio news, music and other programmes in English and other languages.

When the first talking pictures arrived in Britain from America, people heard American accents for the first time. They had great difficulty in understanding the dialogue.

During the Second World War, many American soldiers were stationed in Britain and the British learned to understand the Yankee accent.

After the end of the war, the British Empire began to become independent. British India was partitioned in 1947 forming India and the two parts of Pakistan. These countries became self-governing but retained important strategic and trading links with Britain as well as close links to the English language.

The military influence on the language during the latter half of the 20th century has been great. Blockbuster, nose dive, camouflage, radar, roadblock, spearhead, and landing strip are all military terms that made their way into standard English.

English around the world in 1950.Through the 1950s and 1960s, more and more ex-colonies were becoming independent, often after savage and brutal conflicts. However, the newly independent countries retained strategic, cultural and trading links with Britain. The English language was an important part of the trading, cultural, academic and professional links.

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 and her coronation was watched on new television sets. The original BBC television service had started in London in 1936 but was closed through the war years. It was reopened in 1948 but the coronation was the stimulus for many people to buy their first television set.

In the 1950s Hollywood and Elvis Presley were teaching the world to understand American English. In the 1960s, the Beatles introduced the world to Liverpudlian English.

At the end of the 1980s viewers in many countries had satellite television which assisted the spread of English through Eastern Europe and around the world. Initially, this was just CNN. Although many language learners could read English quite well, listening to authentic American accents was new.

English around the world in 2000.The Internet which was developed in the 1990s was also a powerful force for the English language development. Now English is gradually becoming the lingua franca of Europe and we can be sure that in our lifetimes, and the lifetimes of our children, a communicative ability in English is going to be a very important asset.

 

Ø 2) Give examples of words borrowed by English from other languages.

Ø 3) Give examples of English words which are now international.

Ø 4) Simplify the text and talk about the history of the English language.

 

 


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