Рефераты. The History of English

my eyes: а great battle at Hastings, the English king Наrold is killed, the

English are defeated, the Norman invaders have won а victory. Тhe Normans

саmе frоm across the British Сhannеl, from the part of France called

Normandy. Тhеу conquered the English under the head of their leader, Duke

William, who later got the name of William the Conqueror. Тhе Normans

brought into Britain not оn1у their king, but their French language as

well. So it еxplаins why there are so many French words in the English


The successful Norman invasion of England in 1066 brought Britain into the

mainstream of western European culture. Previously most links had been with

Scandinavia. Only in Scotland did this link survive; the western isles

(until the thirteenth century) and the northern islands (until the

fifteenth century) remaining under the control of Scandinavian kings.

Throughout this period the English kings also ruled over areas of land on

the continent were often at war with the French kings in disputes over


Unlike the Germanic invasions, the Norman invasion was small-scale. There

was no such thing as a Norman area of settlement. Instead, the Norman

soldiers who had been a part of the invading army were given the ownership

of land – and of the people living on it. A strict feudal system was

imposed. Great nobles, or barons, were responsible directly to the king;

lesser lords, each owing a village, were directly responsible to a baron.

Under them were the peasants, tied by a strict system of mutual duties and

obligations to the local lord, and forbidden to travel without his

permission. The peasants were the English-speaking Saxons. The lords and

the barons were the French-speaking Normans. This was the beginning of the

English class system.

The existence of two words for the larger farm animals in modern English is

a result of the class divisions established by the Norman conquest. There

are the words for the living animals (e.g. cow, pig, sheep), which have

their origins in Anglo-Saxon, and the words for the meat from the animals

(e.g. beef, pork, mutton.), which have their origins in the French language

that the Normans brought to England. Only the Normans normally ate meat;

the poor Anglo-Saxon peasants did not!

The strong system of government which the Normans introduced meant that the

Anglo-Norman kingdom was easily the most powerful political force in

British Isles. Not surprisingly therefore, the authority of the English

monarch gradually extended to other parts of these islands in the next 250

years. But the end of the thirteenth century, a large part of eastern

Ireland was controlled by Anglo-Norman lords in the name of the English

king and the while of Wales was under his direct rule (at which time the

custom of naming the monarch’s eldest son the “Prince of Wales” began).

Scotland managed to remain politically independent in the medieval period,

but was obliged to fight occasional wars to do so.

II. Middle English. (1100-1500)

The English which was used from about 1100 to about 1500 is called Middle

English. The cultural story of this period is different. Two hundred and

fifty years after the Norman Conquest, it was a Germanic language (Middle

English) and not the Norman (French) language which had become the dominant

one in all classes of society of England. Furthermore, it was the Anglo-

Saxon concept of common law, and not Roman law, which formed the basis of

the legal system.

Despite English rule, northern and central Wales was never settled in great

numbers by Saxon or Norman. As a result the (Celtic) Welsh language and

culture remained strong. Eisteddfods, national festivals of Welsh song and

poetry, continued throughout the medieval period and still take place

today. The Anglo-Norman lords of eastern Ireland remained loyal to the

English king but, despite laws to the contrary, mostly adopted the Gaelic

language and customs.

The political independence of Scotland did not prevent a gradual switch to

the English language and customs in the lowland (southern) part of the

country. First, the Anglo-Saxon element here was strengthened by the

arrival of many Saxon aristocrats fleeing the Norman conquest of England.

Second, the Celtic kings saw that the adoption of an Anglo-Norman style of

government would strengthen royal power. By the end of this period a

cultural split had developed between the lowlands, where the way of life

and language was similar to that in England, and the highlands, where

(Celtic) Gaelic culture and language prevailed – and where, because of the

mountainous landscape, the authority of the king was hard to enforce.

It was in this period that Parliament began its gradual evolution into the

democratic body which is it today. The word “parliament”, which comes from

the French word parler (to speak), was first used in England in the

thirteenth century to describe an assembly of nobles called together by the

king. In 1295, the Model Parliament set the pattern for the future by

including elected representatives from urban and rural areas.

Many food names in English are French borrowings. After the Norman Conquest

under William the Conqueror (1066) French words began to enter the English

language increasing in number for more than tree centuries. Among them were

different names of dishes. The Norman barons brought to Britain their

professional cooks who showed to English their skill.

Learners of the English language notice that there is one name for a live

beast grazing in the field and another for the same beast when it is killed

and coked. The matter is that English peasants preserved Anglo-Saxon names

for the animals they used to bring to Norman castles to sell. But the

dishes made of the meat got French names. That is why now we have native

English names of animals: ox, cow, calf, sheep, swine, and French names of

meals from whose meat they are cooked: beef, veal, mutton, pork. (By the

way “lamb” is an exception, it is a native Anglo-Saxon word). A historian

writes that an English peasant who had spent a hard day tending his oxen,

calves, sheep and swine probably saw little enough of the beef, veal,

mutton and pork, which were gobbled at night by his Norman masters.

The French enriched English vocabulary with such food words as bacon,

sausage, gravy; then: toast, biscuit, cream, sugar. They taught the English

to have for dessert such fruits as: fig, grape, orange, lemon, pomegranate,

peach and the names of these fruits became known to the English due the

French. The English learned from them how to make pastry, tart, jelly,

treacle. From the French the English came to know about mustard and

vinegard. The English borrowed from the French verbs to describe various

culinary processes: to boil, to roast, to stew, to fry.

One famous English linguist exclaimed: “It is melancholy to think what the

English dinner would have been like, had there been no Norman Conquest!”

The period of Middle English is the time of the fast development of English

literature. The greatest poet of the 14th century was Geoffrey Chaucer. He

is often called the father of English poetry, although, as we know, there

were many English poets before him. As we should expect, the language had

changed a great deal in the seven hundred years since the time Beowulf and

it is much easier to read Chaucer than to read anything written in Old

English. Here are the opening lines of The Canterbury Tales (about 1387),

his greatest work:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures swote

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote

When April with his sweet showers has stuck to the roots the

dryness of March…

There are five main beats in each line, and the reader will notice that

rhyme has taken the place of Old English alliteration. Chaucer was a well-

educated man who read Latin, and studied French and Italian poetry; but he

was not interested only in books. He traveled and made good use of his

eyes; and the people whom he describes are just like living people.

The Canterbury Tales total altogether about 17,000 lines – about half of

Chaucer’s literary production. A party of pilgrims agree to tell stories to

pass the time on their journey from London to Canterbury with its great

church and the grave of Thomas a Becket. There are more than twenty of

these stories, mostly in verse, and in the stories we get to know the

pilgrims themselves. Most of them, like the merchant, the lawyer, the cook,

the sailor, the ploughman, and the miller, are ordinary people, but each of

them can be recognized as a real person with his or her own character. One

of the most enjoyable characters, for example, is the Wife of Bath. By the

time she tells her story we know her as a woman of very strong opinions who

believes firmly in marriage (she has had five husbands, one after the

other) and equally firmly in the need to manage husbands strictly. In her

story one of King Arthur’s knights must give within a year the correct

answer to the question “What do women love most?” in order to save his

life. An ugly old which knows the answer (“to rule”) and agrees to tell him

if he marries her. At last he agrees, and at the marriage she becomes young

again and beautiful.

A good deal of Middle English prose is religious. The Ancren Riwle teaches

proper rules of life for anchoresses (religious women) how they ought to

dress, what work they may do, when they ought not to speak, and so on. It

was probably written in the thirteenth century. Another work, The Form of

Perfect Living, was written by richard rolle with the same sort of aim. His

prose style has been highly praised, and his work is important in the

history of our prose.

john wycliffe, a priest, attacked many of the religious ideas of his time.

He was at Oxford, but had to leave because his attacks on the Church could

no longer be borne. One of his beliefs was that anyone who wanted to read

the Bible ought to be allowed to do so;

but how could this be done by uneducated people when the Bible was in

Latin? Some parts had indeed been put into Old English long ago, but

Wycliffe arranged the production of the whole Bible in English. He himself

translated part of it. There were two translations ! 1382 and 1388), of

which the second is the better.

It is surprising that Wycliffe was not burnt alive for his attacks on

religious practices. After he was dead and buried, his bones were dug up

again and thrown into a stream which flows into the River Avon (which

itself flows into the River Severn):

The Avon to the Severn runs,

The Severn to the sea,

And Wycliffe's dust shall spread abroad,

Wide as the waters be.

An important Middle English prose work, Morte D'Arthur [= Arthur's Death],

was written by sir thomas malory. Even for the violent years just before

and during the Wars of the Roses, Malory was a violent character. He was

several times in prison, and it has been suggested that he wrote at least

part of Morte D'Arthur there to pass the time.

Malory wrote eight separate tales of King Arthur and his knights but when

Caxton printed the book in 1485 (after Malory's death) he joined them into

one long story. Caxton's was the only copy of Malory's work that we had

until, quite recently f1933-4;. a handwritten copy of it was found in

Winchester College.

The stories of Arthur and his knights have attracted many British and other

writers. Arthur is a shadowy figure of the past. but probably really lived.

Many tales gathered round him and his knights. One of the main subjects was

the search for the cup used by Christ at the East Supper. (This cup is

known as The Holy Grail. Another subject was Arthur's battles against his

enemies, including the Romans. Malory's fine prose can tell a direct story

well, but can also express deep feelings in musical sentences. Here is part

of the book in modern form. King Arthur is badly wounded:

Then Sir Bedivere took the king on his back and so went with him to the

water's edge. And when they were there. close by the bank, there came a

little ship with many beautiful ladies in it; and among them all there was

a queen. And they all had black head-dresses, and all wept and cried when

they saw King Arthur.

III. Modern English (1500-to the present day)

By the beginning of 20th century, Britain was no longer the world's richest

country. Perhaps this caused Victorian confidence in gradual reform to

weaken. Whatever the reason, the first twenty years of the century were a

period of extremism in Britain. The Suffragettes, women demanding the right

to vote, were prepared both to damage property and to die for their

beliefs; the problem of Ulster in the north of Ireland led to a situation

in which some sections of the army appeared ready to disobey the

government; and the government's introduction of new types and levels of

taxation was opposed so absolutely by the House of Lords that even

Parliament, the foundation of the political system, seemed to have an

uncertain future in its traditional form. But by the end of the First World

War, two of these issues had been resolved to most people's satisfaction

(the Irish problem remained) and the rather un-British climate of extremism

died out.

The significant changes that have taken place in this century are dealt

with elsewhere in this book. Just one thing should be noted here. It was

from the beginning of this century that the urban working class (the

majority of the population) finally began to make its voice heard. In

Parliament, the Labour party gradually replaced the Liberals (the

'descendants' of the Whigs) as the main opposition to the Conservatives

(the 'descendants' of the Tories). In addition, trade unions managed to

organize themselves. In 1926, they were powerful enough to hold a General

Strike, and from the 1930s until the 1980s the Trades Union Congress (see

chapter 14) was probably the single most powerful political force outside

the institutions of government and Parliament.

From about 1600, explorers, adventurers, settlers and soldiers went out

from Britain to found settlements and colonies overseas. They took the

English language with them. At the height of their power, during the 19th

century, the British could claim that the sun never set on their Empire.

Today almost all the countries of the old Empire have become independent.

However, most of them are now members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and

English continues to be an important language for them.

After the Second World War the United States became what Britain had been

in the 19th century: politically and economically one of the most powerful

nations in the world. As its power spread, so the English language spread.

Five hundred years ago they didn't speak English in North America. The

American Indians had their own languages. So did the Inuit (often called

'Eskimos') and Aleuts in Canada. So did the Aborigines in Australia, and

the Maoris in New Zealand.

The English arrived and set up their colonies. And then other people came

from all over the world, bringing many different languages and cultures.

The USA has the biggest mixture of all: it is often called a 'melting pot'

of cultures. In 1619 a small ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, with

twenty slaves from Africa. For over two hundred years, the Americans

imported, bought and sold African slaves. Today there are over 29 million

black Americans living in the USA.

In 1848 the population of the United States was still very small. Then two

important things happened: they discovered gold in California and a new

law, the Homestead Act, gave free land to farmers. Suddenly millions of

immigrants came to America, 'The Land of Opportunity'.

At first they were English, Irish, German and Scandinavian. Then Italians,

Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Russians and Poles came. Most immigrants came

because economic conditions at home were bad. But there were also other

problems in Europe. About three million Jews came to the USA between 1880

and 1910 because of religious persecution in Russia and other countries.

Today the USA is still much richer than most of its neighbors. Its most

recent new citizens are many Spanish-speaking people from Puerto Rico,

Mexico and South America.

The population of Britain is only about 58 million. But throughout the

world English is spoken by over 700 million people.

About 350 million people speak English as their first language in 12

countries such as Britain, the USA. Canada Australia. New Zealand. South


About 300 million use English as a second or official language in over 60

countries, for example, in India. They usually use it when doing business,

or when completing official documents and forms.

It is estimated that at least 100 million people throughout the world use

English fluently as a foreign language.

There are over 3.000 languages in the world. So why has English become so

widely spoken?

Today the English language is almost the same all over the world. You can

tell a person's nationality from their accent - Australian, Scottish,

Canadian and so on. But the words are more or less international.

It's strange that the differences in Britain itself are greater than those

between Britain and other English-speaking countries. For a Londoner, it's

easy to understand an American, but quite difficult to understand the

dialect of Newcastle in the North of England!

But not many people speak dialects in Britain these days. A hundred years

ago (before radio and television) all ordinary working people did. In Emily

Bronte's book Wuthering Heights the old man Joseph speaks Yorkshire


“Take these in tuh t'maister, lad. Un' bide theare. Aw's gang up tuh my awn

rahm.” (Take these in to the master, boy. And stay there. I'm going up to

my own room.)

Don't worry. Joseph doesn't say very much in the book - the rest is in

normal English!

In a country like New Zealand, English is the first language. In fact it’s

the only language for most people. About 100,000 Maoris have their own

language, but they also speak English. Most of this book is about countries

where English is the first language – Canada, Ireland, the USA and so on.

But in more than sixty other countries English is a second language. The

government, business and universities use it. Some of the people, but not

all, speak it well and use it for certain parts of their lives.

IV. Conclusion.

I enjoy learning English, it is really great' I like to learn new words, to

look up in the dictionary their meanings. English grammar is difficult, but

I try hard to understand it, to learn the rules, to put them into practice.

I think it is very interesting to read English books, newspapers,

magazines. I came to know a lot of exciting facts and new things. It is

like a new world where you can enter if you know the language.

English folklore is very rich. I believe, it is good to know English

proverbs and tongue-twisters, English rhymes and limericks. English sayings

and songs.

When you learn tongue-twisters, it helps you to improve your


I know quite a number of them. Here is a good one:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper:

A peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked:

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper

Where's the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked!

This one is my favorite:

A thatcher of Thatchwood went to Thatchet a-thatching

Did a thatcher of Thatchwood go to Thatchet a-thatching?

If a thatchcr of Thatchwood went to Thatchet a-thatching

Where's the thatching the thatcher of Thatchwood has thatched?

While writing my research paper report I had to read a lot of books on

English History I came to know a lot of English folk songs, they are simple

and nice. Some of them help me to learn words. Solomon Grundy is a folk

song it helps you to remember the days of the week. It is a sad song/ but 1

the same it’s funny too.

Solomon Grundy

Born on Monday

Christened on Tuesday

Married on Wednesday

Ill on Thursday

Worse on Friday

Died on Saturday

Buried on Sunday

This is the end

Of poor old Solomon Grundy.

English proverbs are useful in many situations. Here are a few examples.

When there's a will, there's a way. Or: All’s well that ends well. No sweet

without sweat. Lend money and lose a friend. East or West, home is best.

English jokes are very funny. They often laugh at nationalities of the

British Isles. Here is a typical one. “An Englishman, a Scotsman and an

Irishman were alone on a desert island.” One day the Englishman found an

old bottle. He broke it and out came a genie. The genie said: “I'll give

you and your friends three wishes. But choose well, because you may have

only one wish each” “My wish is quite simple”, - said the Englishman, -

“I wish to be taken home”. “Your wish is my command”, - said the genie,

and the Englishman disappeared. “Yes, I'd like the same”, - said the

Scotsman. And in a minute he was at home as well. Then the genie turned to

the Irishman. “And what about you? What's your wish?” The Irishman

thought a little and then said: “I'm very lonely without my friends. I

wish they were back here with me.”

English literature has very rich traditions. English poetry is well known

in the world best Russian poets translated English poetry into Russian. But

of course, when you study English it's a pleasure to learn English poems in

the original. My favorite poem is “If by R. Kipling. I think, he gives

very good advice for the young people in this poem.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are loosing theirs and blaming it on you*

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or being hated, don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master:

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same.

You can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build them up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginning

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the will which says to them; “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, out non much;

If you can *ill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Yes, to learn English is such a fun, indeed!!!

List of Literature

1. Speak Out 3/2001 – pages 2-4 Издательство «ГЛОССА».

2. Борисов В.С., Борисова Л.М. «Английский не для всех»

3. Mark Farrell «The World Of English» England Longman 1995.

4. James O’Driscoll «Britain» Oxford University England Press 1995.

5. «Treasures Of Historical English» Борисова Л.М.

6. «History And Mystery Of The English Words» Борисова Л.М.

7. G.C. Thorney «An Outline Of English Literature» England Longman 1984.


|OE |Gothic |Description; Position; |Examples |

| | |Pronunciation | |

|a |a |Short back vowel; Mainly in open |macian (to |

| | |syllables, when the following one|make), habban |

| | |contains a back vowel; English |(to have) |

| | |cup | |

|б |ai |Long back [a] vowel; In any kind |stбn (a stone),|

| | |of syllables; English star |hбtan (to call)|

|ж |a |Short back vowel; Met mainly in |dжg (a day), |

| | |closed syllables, or in open |wжter (water) |

| | |ones, if the next syllable | |

| | |contains a front vowel; English | |

| | |bad | |

|ж ' |й, б |Long back vowel; as Gothic й |stж ' lon |

| | |found only in some verbal forms, |(stolen), hж ' |

| | |as Gothic б is the result of the |lan (to cure) |

| | |so - called i - mutation; German | |

| | |za "hlen | |

|e |i, ai, a|Short front vowel; as Gothic i, |sengean (to |

| | |ai noticed only in some |sing) |

| | |infinitives, otherwise is result | |

| | |of the mutation of i; English bed| |

|й |у |Long front [e] vowel; resulted |dйman (to |

| | |from the i - mutation of у; |judge) |

| | |German Meer | |

|i |i, ie |Short front vowel; can be either |bindan (to |

| | |stable or unstable, the unstable |bind), niht - |

| | |sound can interchange with ie and|nyht (a night) |

| | |y; English still | |

|н |ie |Long front [i] vowel; also stable|wrнtan (to |

| | |and unstable (mutating to э); |write), hн - hэ|

| | |English steal |(they) |

|o |u, au |Short back vowel; English cost |coren (chosen) |

|у |o |Long back [o] vowel; English |scуc (divided) |

| | |store | |

|u |u, au |Short back vowel; used only when |curon (they |

| | |the next syllable contains |chose) |

| | |another back vowel; English book | |

|ъ |ъ |Long back [u] vowel; English |lъcan (to look)|

| | |stool | |

|y |u |Short front vowel; i - mutation |gylden (golden)|

| | |of u; German fu" nf | |

|э |ъ |Long front [y] vowel; i - |mэs (mice) |

| | |mutation of ъ, German glu "hen | |

|a. |o |A special short sound met only |monn (a man) |

| | |before nasals in closed syllables| |

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