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English Other Germanic languages Romance languages
give G geben
Sw gίνα –
peace G Frieden Fr paix
(OE frið1) Sw fred L pace
Dutch vrede It pace
army G Heer Fr armee
(OE here1) Sw har It armata
The first word – give – is of native, Germanic origin, which is confirmed by the parallels from other Germanic tongues; the other words – peace and army – are borrowings from Romance languages (note that in OE the respective words were Germanic.) In present-day English the proportion of Romance roots is higher than that of native roots. The history of English will say when and how these borrowings were made and will thus account for the composition of the modem vocabulary.
As far as grammar is concerned, it can only be noted at this stage that the history of the language will supply explanations both
1Old English (OE) is the name given to the English language between c.450 and 1100 A.D.
for the general, regular features of the grammatical structure and for its specific peculiarities and exceptions. It will explain why English has so few inflections; how its "analytical" structure arose – with an abundance of compound forms and a fixed word order; why modal verbs, unlike other verbs, take no ending -s in the 3rd p. sg.; why some nouns add -en or change the root-vowel in the plural instead of adding -s (e.g. oxen, feet) and so on and so forth.
Another important aim of this course is of a more theoretical nature. While tracing the evolution of the English language through time, the student will be confronted with a number of theoretical questions such as the relationship between statics and dynamics in language, the role of linguistic and extralinguistic factors, the interdependence of different processes in language history. These problems may be considered on a theoretical plane within the scope of general linguistics. In describing the evolution of English, they will be discussed in respect of concrete linguistic facts, which will ensure a better understanding of these facts and will demonstrate the application of general principles to language material.
One more aim of this course is to provide the student of English with a wider philological outlook. The history of the English language shows the place of English in the linguistic world; it reveals its ties and contacts with other related and unrelated tongues.