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THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

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English is a Germanic Language of the Indo-European family.

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now the most widely used language in the world. It is spoken as a first language by the majority populations of several sovereign states, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations. It is the third-most-common native language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It is widely learned as a second language and is an official language of the European Union, many Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many world organisations.

English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland. Following the extensive influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 17th century to the mid-20th century, through the British Empire, and also of the United States since the mid-20th century, it has been widely propagated around the world, becoming the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions.

Historically, English originated from the fusion of closely related dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic settlers (Anglo-Saxons) by the 5th century – with the word English being derived from the name of the Angles, and ultimately from their ancestral region of Angeln (in what is now Schleswig-Holstein). A significant number of English words are constructed on the basis of roots from Latin, because Latin in some form was the lingua franca of the Christian Church and of European intellectual life. The language was further influenced by the Old Norse language because of Viking invasions in the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century gave rise to heavy borrowings from Norman-French, and vocabulary and spelling conventions began to give the appearance of a close relationship with Romance languages to what had then become Middle English. The Great Vowel Shift that began in the south of England in the 15th century is one of the historical events that mark the emergence of Modern English from Middle English.



Owing to the assimilation of words from many other languages throughout history, modern English contains a very large vocabulary, with complex and irregular spelling, particularly of vowels. Modern English has not only assimilated words from other European languages, but from all over the world. The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical, scientific, and slang terms.

Modern English, sometimes described as the first global lingua franca, is the dominant language or in some instances even the required international language of communications, science, information technology, business, seafaring, aviation, entertainment, radio and diplomacy. Its spread beyond the British Isles began with the growth of the British Empire, and by the late 19th century its reach was truly global. Following British colonisation from the 16th to 19th centuries, it became the dominant language in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The growing economic and cultural influence of the US and its status as a global superpower since World War II have significantly accelerated the language's spread across the planet. English replaced German as the dominant language of science Nobel Prize laureates during the second half of the 20th century. English equalled and may have surpassed French as the dominant language of diplomacy during the last half of the 19th century.

A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields, occupations and professions such as medicine and computing; as a consequence over a billion people speak English to at least a basic level. It is one of six official languages of the United Nations.

 

Vocabulary Notes

majority – більшість

Commonwealth countries – країни Британської співдружності націй

lingua franca – змішана мова з романських, грецьких і східних елементів

fusion – злиття, змішування

settlers – поселенці

invasions – набіги, вторгнення

the Norman conquest – нормандські завоювання

borrowings – запозичення

the Great Vowel Shift – великий зсув голосних

seafaring – мореплавання

E x e r c i s e s

I. Answer the questions:

1. Why I is the world language?

2. What is lingua franca?

3. In what countries is English spoken?

4. What do you know about Old English?

5. What is the Great Vowel Shift?

6. Why is it important to study English?

II. Say what statements are false and what are true; correct the false ones:

1. English is a North Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England.

2. English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland.

3. English originated from the fusion of closely related dialects.

4. A significant number of English words are constructed on the basis of roots from French.

5. The Norman conquest of England in the 15th century gave rise to heavy borrowings from Norman-French.

6. The Great Consonant Shift began in the south of England in the 15th century.

7. A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields, occupations and professions such as medicine and computing, etc.

III. Translate the following quotations into Ukrainian:

1. I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog.

Emperor Charles V.

2. Those who know no foreign language knows nothing of their mother tongue.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

3. Language is the skin of the soul.

Fernando Lazaro Carreter.

4. How many languages you know – that many times you are a person.

Pavlo Tychyna.

5. England and America are two countries divided by a common language.

George Bernard Shaw.

6. Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of creativity of thousands of generations.

Edward Sapir.


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