Second Layer

  1. Division of the sentence: principal vs secondary parts
  2. Second Layer

The second layer consists of words which directly or indirectly belong to the sphere of religion and church. When Christianity was introduced in England, the Latin language came to be used as language of the church. At this time a certain number of Latin words were taken over into English: biscop bishop from Latin episcopus, Greek episkopos-, cleric church man from Latin clericus, Greek klerikos-, apostol apostle from Latin apostolus, Greek aposto- los; deofol devil from Latin diabolus, Greek diabolos-, msesse mass from Latin missa, munuc monk from Latin monachus, Greek mo- nachos-, magister teacher from Latin magister; scrifan prescribe from Latin scribere. Some Latin loan-words yielded derivatives: biscophad bishopric, biscepun5 becoming a bishop, scrift shrift.

Under Latin influence some native English words acquired new meanings: thus, the substantive eastron, which originally denoted a heathen spring holiday, acquired the meaning Easter. Some new terms were created on the pattern of Latin words, e.g. 5ddspell gospel (literally good news), prenes Trinity.



It is customary to divide the time in which English was in contact with French into two periods, 1) Anglo-Norman and 2) Central French.

After this there is little or no direct influence of French on English but the language remained fashionable and the practice of borrowing words from the continental language continued well into the 15th century. The Central French period (during which influence from the region around Paris dominated) can be taken to cease gradually with the introduction of printing at the end of the 15th century and the general resurgence in interest and status of English.

The difference between Anglo-Norman and Central French loans in English is to be seen in famous pairs of words like catch and chase, both of which go back originally to Latin captiare, which itself furnished English with the later loan capture. The main differences between Anglo-Norman and Central French are outline in the tables below.

Anglo-Norman Central French
/k/ /tʃ/
cattle /k-/ chattels /tʃ/
pocket /-k-/ poach /tʃ/
/tʃ/ /s/
catch /-tʃ/ chase /-s/
launch /-ntʃ/ lance /-ns/
pinch /-ntʃ/ pincers /-ns-/



The general split is between colloquial native words and more formal Romance terms and can be seen clearly in word pairs like forgive and pardon. Other examples are begin : commence; hearty :cordial; happiness : felicity; help : aid; hide : conceal; meal : repast (only literary nowadays).


The areas of the English lexicon in which the influence of French was to be felt reflect the spheres of life in which the French predominated in the early Middle English period. The following lists are intended to give a brief impression of the richness of the this Romance influence on the Germanic stock of English vocabulary.

Geography: country; coast; river; valley; lake; mountain; frontier; border; city; hamlet; village.

Terms referring to sections of the community: peasantry; people; subjects; burgesses; nobility.

Terms for administration and administrators: sovereign; crown; sceptre; ruler; power; policy.

Legal terms: justice; privilege; statute; ordinance; judge; chief; crime; fraud; trespass; transgression.

Military terms: peace; war; armour; artillery; fortress; host; army; warrior; archer; soldier; chief.

Ecclesiastical terms: charity; chastity; chaplan; abbot; abbess; dean; friar; confessor; person/parson;

Terms for emotional states: ease; disease; joy; delight; felicity; grief; despair; distress; courage; folly.

Trades and crafts: barber; carpenter; draper; forester; merchant;spicer; painter; tailor; victualler.

Clothing and ornamentation: blouse; chemise; cloak; coat; frock; garment; gown; robe; veil; cotton.

Food and cooking: boil; fry; roast; mince; dine; appetite; flour; sugar; bacon; veal; sausage; salad.

Assorted loanwords: age; affair; action; air; baggage; beauty; branch; cage; cable; cattle; chance.



The Celtic languages are a group of languages in the Indo-European family. The Germanic group, which contains Norse, Swedish, Dutch, German and English, is another branch of the Indo-European family tree, while the Romance group, (now often called Italic) which includes the languages Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian French, and Romanian, is a third branch of the I.E. tree.

Celtic languages had but a marginal influence on the English vocabulary. Among Celtic loan-words we may mention d ii n (MnE down) dune, dun dun, binn bin.

Some Celtic elements have been preserved in geographical names: Gaelic amhuin river in Avon, Euan; Gaelic cothair fortress in Carnarvon; Gaelic uisge water in Exe, Usk, Esk\ dun, dam hill in Dumbarton, Dumfries, Dunedin-, llan church in Llandaff, Llandovery, Llandudno-, coil forest in Kilbrook, Killiemore-, kil church in Kilbride, Kilmacolm-, Ceann cape in Kebadre, Kingussie-, inis island in Innisfail-, inbher mountain in Inverness, Inverurie-, bail house in Ballantrae, Ballyshannon.

On the whole, the percentage of loan-words in OE was very insignificant, as compared with later periods.


Semantic borrowings are such units when a new meaning of the unit existing in the language is borrowed. It can happen when we have two relative languages which have common words with different meanings, e.g. there are semantic borrowings between Scandinavian and English, such as the meaning to live for the word to dwell which in Old English had the meaning to wander. Or else the meaning , for the word gift which in Old English had the meaning .

Since the 8th c. the British Isles were ravaged by sea rovers from Scandinavia, the new settlers and the English intermarried and intermixed; they lived close together and did not differ either in social rank or in the level of culture and customs. In the areas of the heaviest settlement the Scandinavians outnumbered the Anglo-Saxon population, which is attested by geographical names. Altogether more than 1,400 English villages and towns bear names of Scandinavian origin (with the element thorp meaning village, e.g. Woodthorp). Eventually the Scandinavians were absorbed into the local population both ethnically and linguistically. They merged with the society around them, but the impact on the linguistic situation and on the further development of the English language was quite profound.

The increased regional differences of English in the 11th and 12th c. must partly be attributed to the Scandinavian influence. Due to the contacts and mixture with O Scand, the Northern dialects had acquired lasting and sometimes indelible Scandinavian features. In later ages the Scandinavian element passed into other regions. The incorporation of the Scandinavian element in the London dialect and Standard English was brought about by the changing linguistic situation in England: the mixture of the dialects and the growing linguistic unification.

Borrowings non-assimilated phonetically. Here belong words with the initial sounds /v/ and /z/, e.g. voice, zero. In native words these voiced consonants are used only in the intervocal position as allophones of sounds /f/ and /s/ (loss - lose, life - live ). Some Scandinavian borrowings have consonants and combinations of consonants which were not palatalized, e.g. /sk/ in the words: sky, skate, ski etc (in native words we have the palatalized sounds denoted by the digraph sh, e.g. shirt); sounds /k/ and /g/ before front vowels are not palatalized e.g. girl, get, give, kid, kill, kettle. In native words we have palatalization , e.g. German, child.



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