The origin and history of the English language

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Министерство образования Республики Беларусь Учреждение образования «Гомельский государственный университет им. Ф. Скорины» Филологический факультет Курсовая работа THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Исполнитель: Студентка группы К-52 Ловренчук Т.Е. Гомель 2007 Содержание Introduction 1. Origin of English language 2. History of English language 3. English literature Conclusion Literature Introduction In order that we may set a just value upon the literary labours of those who, in former times, gave particular attention to the culture of the English language, and that

we may the better judge of the credibility of modern pretensions to further improvements, it seems necessary that we should know something of the course of events through which its acknowledged melioration in earlier days took place. For, in this case, the extent of a man's knowledge is the strength of his argument. As Bacon quotes Aristotle, "Qui respiciunt ad pauca, de facili pronunciant." He that takes a narrow view, easily makes up his mind. But what is any opinion worth, if further knowledge of facts can confute it? Whatsoever is successively varied, or has such a manner of existence as time can affect, must have had both an origin and a progress; and may have also its particular history, if the opportunity for writing it be not neglected. But such is the levity of

mankind, that things of great moment are often left without memorial, while the hand of Literature is busy to beguile the world with trifles or with fictions, with fancies or with lies. The rude and cursory languages of barbarous nations, till the genius of Grammar arise to their rescue, are among those transitory things which unsparing time is ever hurrying away, irrecoverably, to oblivion. Tradition knows not what they were; for of their changes she takes no account. Philosophy tells us, they are resolved into the variable, fleeting breath of the successive generations of those by whom they were spoken; whose kindred fate it was, to pass away unnoticed and nameless, lost in the elements from which they sprung. Upon the history of the English language, darkness thickens as we

tread back the course of time. The subject of our inquiry becomes, at every step, more difficult and less worthy. We have now a tract of English literature, both extensive and luminous; and though many modern writers, and no few even of our writers on grammar, are comparatively very deficient in style, it is safe to affirm that the English language in general has never been written or spoken with more propriety and elegance, than it is at the present day. Modern English we read with facility; and that which was good two centuries ago, though considerably antiquated, is still easily understood. The best way, therefore, to gain a practical knowledge of the changes which our language has undergone, is, to read some of our older authors in retrograde order, till the style employed at

times more and more remote, becomes in some degree familiar. Pursued in this manner, the study will be less difficult, and the labour of the curious inquirer, which may be suspended or resumed at pleasure, will be better repaid, than if he proceed in the order of history, and attempt at first the Saxon remains. 1. Origin of English language The value of a language as an object of study, depends chiefly on the character of the books which it contains; and, secondarily, on its connexion with others more worthy to be thoroughly known. In this instance, there are several circumstances which are calculated soon to discourage research. As our language took its rise during the barbarism of the dark ages, the books through which its early history must be traced, are not only few and