The Art Of English Essay

1460 words - 6 pages

Part 1

Explain the meaning of the following terms, using examples from the module materials and any relevant examples of your own.


A morpheme is defined as the smallest meaning-bearing unit of language. There are two types of morphemes: bound and free. A free morpheme can stand as a word in its own right, whereas a bound morpheme cannot stand alone and must be added to another unit to acquire meaning ; a bound morpheme can either be added as a suffix or prefix and must be accompanied by a hyphen to show that it must be linked to another morpheme. For example, the word ‘sincerely’ is made up of the free morpheme ‘sincere’ ,and the bound morpeme –ly. In this ...view middle of the document...

86). This along with the introduction of the first ever dictionary written by Dr. Samuel Johnson, was influential in establishing a standard form of spelling.

Words: 154

Part 2

‘Some linguists argue that the language of the Anglo-Saxons was the ‘’same language’’ as Modern English’. Using this quotation as your starting point, discuss the linguistic arguments for and against regarding Old English and Modern English as the ‘’same language’’. Illustrate your answer with relevant arguments and examples from the module materials.

The English language first appeared in England in the fifth century AD, following the Anglo-Saxon invasions, and has been influenced by other settlers over the centuries. Tracing the history of contact between English and other languages, records have indicated that an identifiable language, now known as Old English, had evolved which closely resembled Germanic languages specifically Old Frisian, following the migration of certain Germanic tribes; it has been argued that Modern English can be traced back to the same Germanic family of languages, (The Adventures of English, Ep.1, Ch. 2) as some linguists have debated that there is a continuous development from Old to Modern English; indeed the term ‘Old English’ rather than ‘Anglo-Saxon’, perhaps reveals that scholars and linguists wanted to emphasise the continuity between their language and Modern English. To illustrate this I will examine the linguistic evidence, including its morphological structure, vocabulary and orthography, as well as the influence of various settlers over the centuries.

According to Bede, different varieties of English were developed and spoken by each tribe of settlers, which were derived from their area of origin on the European mainland. However, some language scholars, such as DeCamp, have argued that these distinctive dialects were forged in England (Leith, 2007, p.45). Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, however, provides internal evidence about the dialect of Old English, as well as evidence of morphological structure, spelling and grammar. Looking at the story of the poet Caedmon, a story told by the Anglo-Saxons themselves, the text’s linguistic features reveal some continuity between the old and modern form of English. The Anglo-Saxon’s conversion to Christianity brought renewed contact with Latin and the introduction of literacy using the Roman alphabet (Leith, 2007, p.55). This continuity may have been obscured by changes in spelling which took place when extra letters were introduced to the Roman alphabet, each with a special name, to denote some sounds not found in Latin; two such letters were thorn þ, used for the sound ‘th’ as in the word thick, and ash @ used for the vowel sound ‘a’ in words such as tap. These spelling patterns can help us predict what Old English might have sounded like, as many scholars believe that Old English spelling is a closer representation of pronunciation than is...

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