None Essay

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History of English - a brief introduction Raymond Hickey English Linguistics University of Duisburg and Essen Why should one take part in a seminar on The History of English? 1) In general, to find out about where English came from, how it developed and how it came to have its present form. This also includes learning about the relationship of English to its Germanic neighbours and to other European languages. 2) Specifically, to learn more about the different linguistic levels of the English language in their historical dimensions. This includes the following areas. a) How was the spelling of English devised, what principles governed it originally? This helps in trying to grasp the inconsistencies which have arisen in the five centuries since the orthography was developed and so helps one to remember spellings easier. b) How did the current pronunciation norm (Received Pronunciation) develop in England and how does it relate to vernacular forms of English, such as Cockney (the city dialect of London)? c) Why is the grammar of English the way it is? Why are there few endings compared to German and why is the syntax (use of prepositions or verbal forms) relatively difficult. d) How did the vocabulary of English gain its present form? Why is there a stylistic division in the lexicon of the language with different layers corresponding to different degrees of formality? 3) How have different varieties of English arisen outside of England? What were the pathways along overseas forms of English developed in the colonial period? 4) To learn about the techniques of historical linguistics, how does one reconstruct previous stages of a language, how does one compare languages, what assumptions are legitimate about diachronic stages of a language. 5) To understand more about the phenomenon of language change and ultimately to gain insights into the structure of language

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