Change and Development in the English Language

Topics: English language, Vowel, Inflection Pages: 3 (1101 words) Published: November 11, 2010
Collins English Dictionary defines the number five as ‘…the cardinal number that is the sum of four and one’ and it can be represented numerically as ‘5’ and ‘V’ in roman numerals. The number five can be used in many ways for instance, in Mathematics and in everyday use to express quantity (noun). Five can also be used as an adjective, for instance in the sentence “I usually get off work at five” (616). In an Anglophone context five can be used as a phrasal word and a compounding word as well. According to The Dictionary of Jamaican English, five is used ‘in boys’ games’, at which ‘entitles one to five seconds’ immunity from being caught.’ Five in that dictionary is also used as a compound word as in ‘five-finger’ and a phrasal sentence ‘five o’clock bush’ (181). In the Anglophone country like Trinidad and Tobago, five is used as a noun as well as an adjective, and its pronunciation in a Trinidadian context would be [faɪv]. Five [faiv] is known to be an adaptation of the Old English fif and Proto-Germanic *fimfe, which ultimately derived from the Proto Indo-European *penkʷe. It is also said to be related to ‘Old Norse *finun ‘five’ and Gothic *fimf’ (Collins English Dictionary, 616). In Old English, five is phonetically transcribed as [fi:v] where the vowel is a long vowel [i:]. There were little transformations in the word five as none of the consonants were affected. Some of the long vowel sounds however in Old English that were not affected, preserved their original quality in Middle English, for example in the word five, Old English fif [fi:v] to Middle English fif [fiv]. Another example of this would be the Modern English word house, [hŭs], where both the Old English and Middle English spellings for this word are the same. The vowel changes did not stop there as Middle English sounds were going through continuous changes again. During this period, the Great Vowel Shift had come about.

The Middle English to Modern English transformation of vowels can be...
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