History & Structure of the English Language

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1. Tell me about the Great Vowel Shift.
The Great Vowel Shift is a noted historical change in the English language. If French has been the greatest influence to produce modern English, the Great Vowel Shift has been the second greatest. Because of the Great Vowel Shift, all the long vowels of late old English were transformed into short vowels with different qualities. In the Great Vowel Shift, long vowels “moved up” in their place of articulation that changed their “quality.”

2. In what ways was William’s victory at Hastings in 1066 significant for the English language?
William’s victory at Hastings in 1066 was significant for the English language because it established French as the language of the upper class. Anglo-Saxon became the language of an under class, because of this, there ceased to be a standard Anglo-Saxon. English was used amongst the lower and middle classes and was a mark of inferiority. English began to be used in business and trade. London’s middle class initiated the new standard.

3. Describe the sound changes in Grimm’s Law.
Grimm’s law noted a change in the consonant system of Indo-European, his law changed pre-Germanic into a distinctive Germanic. Grimm’s law described 3 changes in the language: Voice aspirated stops (VAS); Voiceless stops (VLS); and Voiced stops (VS). ChangeInitialChanged to

Voice Aspiriatedbh, dh, Jh, gh, gwhB, ∂, ∂, ∂w
Voicelessp, t, c, k, kwO, O, x, xw
VoicedB, d, F, g, gwp, t, k, kw
In the 1830s Jacob Grimm discovered that Germanic also fit the Indo-European pattern – provided you shift consonants by Grimm’s Law.

4. Name a few things that the Danish settlements in the midlands and the north added to English.
Before the Norman Conquest there was a long period of “Danish” influence in England. They spoke a Scandanavian language (north Germanic). This language was partly comprehensible to English speakers. This was around the year 900, about 100-150 years prior to the Norman invasion....
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