Greek Influence on English Language

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Greek Influence on English Language

By | November 2012
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Indirect and direct borrowings
Since the living Greek and English languages were not in direct contact until modern times, borrowings were necessarily indirect, coming either through Latin (through texts or various vernaculars), or from Ancient Greek texts, not the living language. Some Greek words were borrowed into Latin and its descendants, the Romance languages. English often received these words from French. Their phonetic and orthographic form has sometimes changed considerably. For instance, place was borrowed both by Old English and by French from Latin platea, itself borrowed from Greek πλατεία (οδός) 'broad (street)'; the Italian piazza and Spanish plaza have the same origin, and have been borrowed into English in parallel. The word olive comes through the Romance from the Latin word olīva, which in turn comes from the Greekἐλαίϝᾱ (elaíwā).[1][2] A later Greek word, βούτυρον (bouturon)[3] becomes Latin butyrum and eventually English butter. A large group of early borrowings, again transmitted first through Latin, then through various vernaculars, comes from Christian vocabulary: bishop < ἐπίσκοπος (epískopos 'overseer'), priest < πρεσβύτερος (presbýteros 'elder'), and church < ? κυριακόν (kyriakón).[4] In some cases, the orthography of these words was later changed to reflect the Greek spelling: e.g. quire was respelled as choir in the 17th century. Many more words were borrowed by scholars writing in post-classical Latin. Some words were borrowed in essentially their original meaning, often transmitted through classical Latin: physics,iambic, eta, necromancy. A few result from scribal errors: encyclopedia < ἐγκύκλιος παιδεία 'the circle of learning', not a compound in Greek; acne (skin condition) < erroneous ἀκνή < ἀκμή 'high point, acme'. Others were borrowed unchanged as technical terms, but with specific, novel meanings: telescope < τηλεσκόπος 'far-seeing' refers to an optical...
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