e-book Roots of English

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We do now! Roots of English is an introduction to English, designed for students in grades six through eight, but it is also a great test prep program for older students planning on taking any test with a vocabulary section. Most of the Latin roots covered in this book correspond to the Latina Christiana I vocabulary set. The course also introduces Greek roots commonly found in English words.

Their meanings are more nuanced, more specialized.

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In order to acquire these words and learn how to use them appropriately, a young student needs to understand the meanings of their roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Roots of English presents careful analysis of these word elements so that the student learns not only the modern meanings of the words but also their underlying, ancient meanings. Context exercises and periodic quizzes help the student learn the correct and appropriate uses of these words. Latin Supplements.

Ellsworth, Blanche and John A. English Simplified. New York: Pearson Education, ISBN: Mulvey, Dan. Grammar the Easy Way. Hauppauge, N. Ramage, John D. Bean, and June Johnson. Rozakis, Laurie E. New York: Scholastic, Shertzer, Margaret. Elements of Grammar , The. New York: MacMillian Publishing, Other forms which became fixed at this time are op cit.

There were also those who asserted that any attempt to set down hard rules for English use was doomed to failure. Joseph Priestly noted op cit. In modern and living languages, it is absurd to pretend to set up the compositions of any person or persons whatsoever as the standard of writing, or their conversation as the invariable rule of speaking. With respect to custom, laws, and every thing that is changeable, the body of a people, who, in this respect, cannot but be free, will certainly assert their liberty, in making what innovations they judge to be expedient and useful.

The general prevailing custom, whatever it happen to be, can be the only standard for the time that it prevails. However, it is certainly true that the rules above and many more persist to this day and are reasserted in grammars and handbooks of use and written into computer grammar-checking programs.

That they are simply the reflection of the views of a few influential people and not based on what people actually said and wrote is often not mentioned. As Defoe pointed out, throughout its history, even from the earliest times of Old English, the language has been subject to influences from, especially, Latin through the influence of Christianity and the role of Latin as the scientific, diplomatic and religious lingua franca , Norman French through the imposition of a French-speaking aristocracy after the conquest in , Greek through the influence of science and religion and much later other languages indigenous to the British colonies.

At various times in history, other languages contributed, notably Dutch for maritime matters, German for military ones and Italian for musical terms. The outcome is a language essentially Germanic in structure but with a huge range of lexical influences. Roughly, for the lexicon, the picture is:. We saw above that there has been a general tendency in English towards the simplification of many grammatical categories which were once important, especially the loss of inflexions on adjectives, verbs, and case endings on a range of items. A phenomenon not confined to any particular period in the development of English is one which has been documented in a huge range of languages.

It is usually referred to as grammaticalisation but it may be called grammartisation or grammatication, too. Briefly, it describes a process in which a lexical word which carries meaning and may stand alone is converted into a function word which operates at the level of grammar. There is a trend, in English and many other languages for the meaning of some lexical words to be bleached out so that the original meaning is lost and only the grammatical function remains.

30 Common English Word Roots from Greek and Latin

Some examples will suffice to see the process in action:. Here is a summary timeline with some major events and publications. The determining dates between the forms of English are approximate and authorities differ. Issues 5. Others will have no such easy access to the grammar or the lexicon of Modern English. There are obvious consequences arising from that, too. ELT Concourse teacher training. The roots of English Lots of people have made successful academic careers out of the study of the history of English.

Why is this important? The language family English is an Indo-European language. Here's the map of the presumed expansion of PIE from its homeland: Source: Wikipedia Indo-European languages include many now spoken in the south and east of that area, which include Farsi, Sanskrit now extinct but influential , Hindi, Punjabi and many others, but we are concerned here with the development of English so we'll focus on the western groups of languages.

Shortly afterwards, migrations from the continent, not always peacefully intended or received, began: Angles from whose name the word for the language is derived from Central Denmark who settled in Northern and Eastern England Saxons from Northern Germany who settled in Southern England Jutes from Northern Denmark who settled in South-East England These migrants brought with them a set of closely related and highly inflected languages which formed the basis of Old English.

The really big change in English The history of English, conventionally divided into three periods Old, Middle and Early Modern , is one of the gradual loss of inflexion, gender and case and a slow transition to an uninflected and simplified structure. Here is an example to make things clear er : In Modern German, the past form of go has the root ging from the infinitive gehen. The - st ending on the verb shows: It is singular It is familiar rather than polite It is in the second person The - st ending on a verb form will be familiar to anyone who has read the King James Bible or Shakespeare's plays because both use the ending to denote the second person singular familiar form of the verb.

Grow Your Vocabulary by Learning Root Words

Old English Old English can be dated to around the 5th to the 11th centuries and is almost impossible to understand for modern English speakers without a good deal of study. Original text Translation Anno Her Martianus and Valentinus onfengon rice, and ricsodon seofon winter. Anno In this year Martianus and Valentinus succeeded to kingship, and ruled seven years. And in their days Hengest and Horsa, invited by Vortigern, king of Britons, came to Britain at the place which is called Ebbsfleet, first as a help to Britons, but they afterwards fought against them.

Celtic influences Even today, Celtic influences on English have been underestimated or dismissed as sporadic and peripheral and there is no doubt that compared, say, to the influences of Norman French, considered next, the contribution of Celtic languages to Modern English is small, although it is not at all negligible. In fact, there were two phases of influence: When invaders from Europe arrived in the 5th century and for some time later, many Celts were forced to emigrate to the western and northern fringes of Britain where the influence of Celtic languages is still strong Welsh, Scots Gaelic and, to some extent, Cornish and Manx, for example.

The large numbers of place names which survive from those times is still evident but many words dating from this period have clear Celtic origins from Irish, Welsh or Scots, mostly. Among them are probably: ass beak ben bard cadge cog crag doe flannel slob trousers twig During the 16th to 19th centuries when many Celtic speakers moved into cities in England, especially but not exclusively, to London.

Some of the words cited above may have first appeared at this time written records are unreliable guides but it has been argued that some peculiarities of English grammar certainly date from this time and that it is no coincidence that these peculiarities also appear in Celtic languages. Most other European languages make do with a single verb form to denote the simple and progressive aspects in English. Some Slavic languages do distinguish between the two aspects but they are unlikely to be the source of much influence on the development of English. Even Basque, a non-Indo-European language makes no distinction the two phrases both translate as banoa.

However, Celtic languages all make a distinction between three aspects of the verb which may be translated as I go, I am going and I habitually go. Celtic languages may, in fact, be the sole source of this innovation but they are almost certainly a reinforcing factor at the very least. The Conquest A date every British school child is familiar with if they are familiar with any at all is , the year of the Norman Conquest of England.

Predominately, the words introduced from French around 10, of them occur in the following areas although almost no area was untouched : Warfare: e. The church: service, miracle, saint, sacrifice, clergy etc. Hunting: forest, quarry, falcon, retrieve etc. Architecture and houses: carpet, wardrobe, chair, table, joist, arch etc. Food: mutton, pork, gammon, onion, peach, cream etc.

The roots of English

Middle English Middle English describes the language spoken from the 11th to the end of the 15th centuries. Owr obsequyouse seruyce to hym xulde be aplyede, Where he was lorde of all Mercy: The founder and beginner of our first creation among us sinful wretches he deserves to be magnified that for our disobedience he had no indignation to send his own son to be torn and crucified. Our obsequious service should to him be applied, where he was lord of all Early Modern English Early Modern English is the language of Shakespeare and covers the period from the late 15th to the end of the 17th centuries.

Here is a comparison of the same texts from the bible in its new translation completed in and one of Shakespeare's original texts with a Modern English translation: King James Bible Modern English Bible From John, Chapter 10, Verse 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy.

  • Latin Prefixes.
  • ELT Concourse: the roots of English.
  • Madame Mephisto!
  • Root Words & Prefixes: Quick Reference.
  • The Roots of the British, 1000BC - 1000AD.
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  • A Million Tomorrows...Memories of the Class of 64.

I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Shakespeare's original text A Modern English translation From Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5 Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. The days creep slowly along until the end of time.

Out, out, brief candle. Life is nothing more than an illusion. Life is a story told by an idiot, full of noise and emotional disturbance but devoid of meaning.


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You can probably see why many people profoundly dislike the modern versions. Some examples here are enough: nouns Old English inflexions for case had already been lost by this period but inflexion for number is another matter. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there is a slow transition from Old English plural forms, often involving changes to central vowels or the addition of the - en suffix to the noun, in favour of the now almost ubiquitous - s or - es endings.

There are still some surviving examples as in, e. It was only later that scholars decreed the combination of the - est ending and the word more to be substandard. Sie , tu vs.

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  4. This period also sees the formulation of the gender neutral its possessive determiner whereas previous usage reserved he and she for nouns as in, for example, the sun starts to spread his warmth or the moon shines her beams. The use of it's instead of its , now considered a mark of illiteracy, was common until the beginning of the nineteenth century, incidentally.

    Similarly, the previous use of the negative as in, e. The older forms persist in Modern English with modal and other auxiliary verbs Must you? I must not etc. The third-person singular ending in Modern English is - s or - es but this form was only common in northern English dialects with the more familiar - eth ending being dominant in the south. Within the transition from Early Modern to Modern English the - s endings came to predominate. Shakespeare, writing in the middle of this period, used both endings interchangeably.

    Old English distinguished, as does Modern German, between strong and weak verbs and the irregular verbs on classroom charts list the surviving older forms.