Plan


Lecture Classes 1-2: Old English Phonetics

Historical background.

Pre-Germanic Britain. Celts. Branches of Celtic languages.

Germanic settlement in Britain.

Historical events between 5th and 11th centuries.

The linguistic situation in Britain before and after the Germanic settlement.

Old English (OE) dialects.

OE written records.

Runic inscriptions

OE manuscripts. OE poetry. OE prose.

OE Alphabet and Pronunciation. Word Stress in OE.

Changes of stressed vowels in Early OE. Development of Monophthongs and Diphthongs in OE.

Breaking and Diphthongization.

Palatal Mutation. Changes of Unstressed Vowels in Early OE.

OE Consonants.

Treatment of fricatives. Hardening.

Rhotacism.

Voicing and devoicing.

West Germanic Gemination of Consonants. Velar Consonants in Early OE. Loss of consonants in some positions.

Lecture Classes 3-4: Old English grammar.

The Noun in OE

Grammatical categories of the noun. The use of cases.

Morphological classification of nouns. Declensions.

The Pronoun in OE.

Personal pronouns. Declension of personal pronouns.

Demonstrative pronouns. Declension of demonstrative pronouns.

Other classes of Pronouns.

The Adjective.

Grammatical categories.

Weak and strong declension.

Degrees of Comparison.

The Verb.

Grammatical categories of the Finite Verb.

Conjugation of Verbs in OE.

Morphological Classification of Verbs. Strong Verbs.

Morphological Classification of Verbs. Weak Verbs. Minor Groups of Verbs.

Grammatical categories of the Verbal.

The Infinitive

The Participle

Syntax.

The Simple Sentence

Compound and Complex Sentences

Word Order

Lecture Classes 5-6: Development of the Grammatical System (11th-18th centuries)

The Noun

Decay of Noun declensions

Grammatical Categories of the Noun

The Pronoun

Personal and Possessive Pronouns

Demonstrative Pronouns. Development of Articles

Other Classes of Pronouns

The Adjective

Decay of Declensions and Grammatical Categories

Degrees of Comparison

The Verb

Simplifying Changes of the Verb Conjugation

Verbals. The Infinitive and the Participle.

Development of the Gerund.

Changes in the Morphological Classes of Verbs

Strong Verbs

Weak Verbs

Minor groups of Verbs

Growth of New Forms within the Existing Grammatical Categories

The Future Tense

New Forms of the Subjunctive Mood

Interrogative and Negatives Forms with do

Development of New Grammatical Categories

Passive Forms. Category of Voice

Perfect Forms. Category of Time-Correlation

Continuous Forms. Category of Aspect


Lecture 1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH


Pre-Roman Britain


Man lived in what we now call the British Isles long before it broke away from the continent of Europe, long before the great seas covered the land bridge that is now known as the English Channel, that body of water that protected this island for so long, and that by its very nature, was to keep it out of the maelstrom that became medieval Europe. Thus England's peculiar character as an island nation came about through its very isolation. Early man came, settled, farmed and built. His remains tell us much about his lifestyle and his habits. Of course, the land was not then known as England, nor would it be until long after the Romans had departed.

We know of the island's early inhabitants from what they left behind on such sites as Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, and Swanscombe in Kent, gravel pits, the exploration of which opened up a whole new way of seeing our ancient ancestors dating back to the lower Paleolithic (early Stone Age). Here were deposited not only fine tools made of flint, including hand-axes, but also a fossilized skull of a young woman as well as bones of elephants, rhinoceroses, cave-bears, lions, horses, deer, giant oxen, wolves and hares. From the remains, we can assume that man lived at the same time as these animals which have long disappeared from the English landscape.

So we know that a thriving culture existed around 8,000 years ago in the misty, westward islands the Romans were to call Britannia, though some have suggested the occupation was only seasonal, due to the still-cold climate of the glacial period which was slowly coming to an end. As the climate improved, there seems to have been an increase in the number of people moving into Britain from the Continent. They were attracted by its forests, its wild game, abundant rivers and fertile southern plains. An added attraction was its relative isolation, giving protection against the fierce nomadic tribesmen that kept appearing out of the east, forever searching for new hunting grounds and perhaps, people to subjugate and enslave.

The Celts in Britain used a language derived from a branch of Celtic known as either Brythonic, which gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton; or Goidelic, giving rise to Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx. Along with their languages, the Celts brought their religion to Britain, particularly that of the Druids, the guardians of traditions and learning. The Druids glorified the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship. They controlled the calendar and the planting of crops and presided over the religious festivals and rituals that honored local deities.

Many of Britain's Celts came from Gaul, driven from their homelands by the Roman armies and Germanic tribes. These were the Belgae, who arrived in great numbers and settled in the southeast around 75 BC. They brought with them a sophisticated plough that revolutionized agriculture in the rich, heavy soils of their new lands. Their society was well-organized in urban settlements, the capitals of the tribal chiefs. Their crafts were highly developed; bronze urns, bowls and torques illustrate their metalworking skills. They also introduced coinage to Britain and conducted a lively export trade with Rome and Gaul, including corn, livestock, metals and slaves.

Of the Celtic lands on the mainland of Britain, Wales and Scotland have received extensive coverage in the pages of Britannia. The largest non-Celtic area, at least linguistically, is now known as England, and it is here that the Roman influence is most strongly felt. It was here that the armies of Rome came to stay, to farm, to mine, to build roads, small cities, and to prosper, but mostly to govern.


The Roman Period


The first Roman invasion of the lands we now call the British Isles took place in 55 B.C. under war leader Julius Caesar, who returned one year later, but these probings did not lead to any significant or permanent occupation. He had some interesting, if biased comments concerning the natives: "All the Britons," he wrote, "paint themselves with woad, which gives their skin a bluish color and makes them look very dreadful in battle." It was not until a hundred years later that permanent settlement of the grain-rich eastern territories began in earnest.

In the year 43 A.D. an expedition was ordered against Britain by the Emperor Claudius, who showed he meant business by sending his general, Aulus Plautius, and an army of 40,000 men. Only three months after Plautius's troops landed on Britain's shores, the Emperor Claudius felt it was safe enough to visit his new province. Establishing their bases in what is now Kent, through a series of battles involving greater discipline, a great element of luck, and general lack of co-ordination between the leaders of the various Celtic tribes, the Romans subdued much of Britain in the short space of forty years. They were to remain for nearly 400 years. The great number of prosperous villas that have been excavated in the southeast and southwest testify to the rapidity by which Britain became Romanized, for they functioned as centers of a settled, peaceful and urban life.

The highlands and moorlands of the northern and western regions, present-day Scotland and Wales, were not as easily settled, nor did the Romans particularly wish to settle in these agriculturally poorer, harsh landscapes. They remained the frontier -- areas where military garrisons were strategically placed to guard the extremities of the Empire. The stubborn resistance of tribes in Wales meant that two out of three Roman legions in Britain were stationed on its borders, at Chester and Caerwent.

Major defensive works further north attest to the fierceness of the Pictish and Celtic tribes, Hadrian's Wall in particular reminds us of the need for a peaceful and stable frontier. Built when Hadrian had abandoned his plan of world conquest, settling for a permanent frontier to "divide Rome from the barbarians," the seventy-two mile long wall connecting the Tyne to the Solway was built and rebuilt, garrisoned and re-garrisoned many times, strengthened by stone-built forts as one mile intervals.

For Imperial Rome, the island of Britain was a western breadbasket. Caesar had taken armies there to punish those who were aiding the Gauls on the Continent in their fight to stay free of Roman influence. Claudius invaded to give himself prestige, and his subjugation of eleven British tribes gave him a splendid triumph. Vespasian was a legion commander in Britain before he became Emperor, but it was Agricola who gave us most notice of the heroic struggle of the native Britons through his biographer Tacitus. From him, we get the unforgettable picture of the druids, "ranged in order, with their hands uplifted, invoking the gods and pouring forth horrible imprecations." Agricola also won the decisive victory of Mons Graupius in present-day Scotland in 84 A.D. over Calgacus "the swordsman," that carried Roman arms farther west and north than they had ever before ventured. They called their newly-conquered northern territory Caledonia.


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