Middle English

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LECTURE 3
MIDDLE ENGLISH
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
List of principal questions:
1.Outer history
Scandinavian Invasion
Norman Conquest
Formation of the English national language
2.Inner history
Phonetics
Grammar
Word-stock
1. Outer history
LI. Scandinavian Invasion
The end of the Old English period and the beginning of Middle English is marked by two outstanding political events — the Scandinavian invasion and the Norman conquest.
It is impossible to state the exact date of the Scandinavian invasion as it was a long process embracing over two centuries, the first inroads of the Scandinavian Vikings having began as far back as the end of the 8th century. Various Scandinavian adventurers at the head of their troops came to England wave after wave, although the English offered the invaders a stubborn resistance. At first the invaders fought with the natives, robbed and plundered the country, but later they began to settle on the lands they had managed to conquer. The part of England which suffered more from the invasion was the North-Eastern part of the country. From that part the invaders trying to conquer the whole of the country gradually proceeded to the South-West.

The kingdom that was the strongest among many existing in Britain at that time and that could consequently withstand the invasion more successfully than any other was the Wessex kingdom, especially under the rule of King Alfred the Great. King Alfred the Great was so powerful and successful in his struggle against the invaders that hostilities ceased for a time and a peace treaty was concluded — the Treaty of Wedmore, in accordance with which the territory of the country was subdivided into two parts: the south-western part remained English under the rule of King Alfred and the north-eastern part was to be Scandinavian. That part was referred to as Danela or Danelaw, i.e. the territory which was under the rale of Scandinavians, or "Danes".

The Scandinavians in England remained very strong through centuries, and at the beginning of the II"1 century, namely in the period between 1016 and 1042 the whole of England came under the Scandinavian rule — the conquest was completed and the Danish king was seated on the English throne. Although in 1042 England was back under English power, the English king who came to the throne — Edward the Confessor — was to be the last English king for more than three centuries.

The Scandinavian invasion and the subsequent settlement of the Scandinavian on the territory of England, the constant contacts and intermixture of the English and the Scandinavians brought about many changes in different spheres of the English language: word-stock, grammar and phonetics. The influence of Scandinavian dialects was especially felt in the North and East parts of England, where mass settlement of the invaders and intermarriages with the local population were especially common. The relative ease of the mutual penetration of the languages was conditioned by the circumstances of the Anglo-Scandinavian contacts, i.e.:

a)There existed no political or social barriers between the English and the Scandinavians, the latter not having formed the ruling class of the society but living on an equal footing with the English

b)There were no cultural barriers between the two people as they were approximately the same in their culture, habits and customs due to their common origin, both of the nations being Germanic.

c) The language difference was not so strong as to make their mutual understanding impossible, as their speech developed from the same source — Common Germanic, and the words composing the basic word-stock of both the languages were the same, and the grammar systems similar in essence. understanding impossible, as their speech developed from the same source — Common Germanic, and the words composing the basic word-stock of both the languages were the same, and the grammar systems similar in essence....
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