Old English and Standardisation

Old English, Variety (linguistics), Linguistics

Assignment 1

Question Part 1

Explain the meaning of the following terms, using examples from the U211 materials and any relevant examples of your own: Old English

Old English appeared in the 5th century, with the Anglo-Saxon invasions and their native Germanic tongue. At the time, the prevalent language was Latin, however, “Native Britons will have continued to speak Celtic at home but the increasing number of mixed marriages will have added to the number of families speaking Latin”, (Allason-Jones, 1989, in Graddol et al, 1996 p.40).

To confuse matters in language research further, the Vikings invaded, bringing an Old Norse influence upon an already evolving language. Interestingly, my surname of Jackson is Scandinavian (following the –son rule) and my place of birth, Darlington, is originally a Saxon settlement named Dearthington. A good example of the differences in inherited language.

Although there is proof of continuity of the spoken language into Modern English, texts did not adhere to specific rules or word order and inflections (suffixes of different sorts, which could have a number of different meanings) became an identifiable use to adapt words to grammatical context.

“The loss of inflections was a profound grammatical change which distinguishes Old English from modern English” (Graddol et al. 1996, p.60)

Standardisation occurred between the 15th and 19th century, its aim was to unify a nation through creating rules around written and spoken language with agreed terms of usage.

The four processes involved in standardisation, are the selection of which language will be used, (especially in a country where many tribal dialects may exist and everybody needs to be treated fairly to avoid conflict), then elaboration of grammatical structures and vocabulary within the language. Next would be codification which would reduce language variations and potential misinterpretation and increase communication levels, the...
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