FOREIGN LANGUAGE INFLUENCE ON ENGLISH

The fact. English is not a pure language is accepted by everyone. It has borrowed many words from different foreign languages and it enriched the English vocabulary. The words borrowed from other languages are known as loan words. According to F T Wood a foreign languages influenced English in three ways. First is by the foreign invaders, who settled in England brought in their words like Scandinavian words after Scandinavian invasion. Next is by foreign contacts through trade, voyages, explorations etc. The example of words borrowed by trade are Italian and Spanish words.And the third one is through scholarship, learning and culture like the Latin and Greek words borrowed during Renaissance. Apart from these ways, various reasons like religious and political movements,colonial invasion also influenced English language. This paper deals with the influence of seven languages on English. They are Celtic, French, Latin, Greek, Norman, Dutch and Spanish. Celtic influence is the first one. The Celts are believed to have been arriving in 600 BC.

The Celtic people who invaded Britain are believed to have integrated with the people who previously inhabited the island. The land that remained dominantly Celtic are divided linguistically into two – Gaelic or Goidelic and Brythonic. The Goidelic languages are Irish, Highland Scottish and Manx. Brythonic is made up of Welsh, Cornish and Briton , of these Welsh is the one to survive most strongly in the present day. Words borrowed from Gaelic are “slogan” which was used in Gaelic as “slaugh- gharim” means “battle cry”. “Bog” is another example from Gaelic “bogach” meaning “soft” and “moist”. Some other examples are trousers, beat, clan, smashing, pet etc. Examples of words borrowed from Welsh vocabulary is “Penguin” from welsh “pen guyn” meaning white head. Celtic influence on English is apparent through the place names. The language of Celts was referred to as the British the language of the Brithons the native inhabitants of the land. Surviving names are Thames and Yare names of river and names of Roman town like
London, York and Lincoln.


The words borrowed from French constitutes twenty nine percentage of English language. The French influence can be categorized into lexical, morphological, orthographic and miscellaneous. According to Albert c Baugh and Thomas Cable the influence “. . . began slowly and continued with varying tempo for a long time”. The French influence began with the Norman conquest. There are different categories of borrowed words. They are related to Government and social class like “revenue”,”authority”, “duke”, words related to Church like “religion”, “sermon” “prayer” related to Law “justice”, “crime”, “jury”, “pardon” War related “army”, “battle”, Fashion related “gown”, “ frock”, etc Food related “feast” , “plate”, “fry” and Learning related “ paper”, “preface” “logic” etc. Next borrowing is the food pairs. In many cases French word might have existed with a German word. In this the two words use in different senses. In such pairs the first English word is about the living animal in a farm and the French word signifies the meat of the animal, as in the case of cow and beef, sheep and mutton. Next french influence in lexical level is doublets. Doublets are the same word borrowed twice, one from Norman dialect and another from Parisian dialect, like catch v/s chase, warranty v/s guarantee, etc. On a morphological level french influence had a great impact on English. The decline in the use of English singular pronouns like “thou’ and “ thee” and replacement with “ ye” and “you” have been linked to the parallel French use of “vous” in formal settings. The use of “s” to plurals in English is also attributed to French influence. Possessive phrases such as the use of “ ’s ” , constructions that places adjectives after the noun like “attorney general”, and use of certain prefixes and suffix morphemes like pre, -ous, -ily, -tion are also the result of french influence. In orthographic category the used of “qu” instead of “cw”, “gh” instead of “h”, “ou” instead of “u” are examples of french influence. The doubling of vowels tho represent long vowel sounds like “see” , doubling of consonants after short vowels like “sitting” amd more use of ‘k’, ‘z’, ‘y’ are in this category. Normans had a strong influence on English personal names. English names such as Alfred, Harold, Godwin and Athelstan largely fell out of fashion and replaced by names like John, Peter, Simon, William, Richard and Henry.

Latin influence is considered the earliest of all the influence on English. First Latin influence on English language was when England contacted with the Roman Civilization The Latin words borrowed during this phase belongs to agriculture, war and domestic life. The loan words are wine, mint, mill, kitchen, cup, dish, pepper, cheese, butter, milk etc. There are place names came during this phase like places ending with ceaster like Lancaster, Gloucester, Winchester, Manchester etc. Next phase of influence happened with the introduction of Christianity. The introduction of Christianity was on 59AD . The loan words came during this time is related to new conceptions, religion, and faith. Words related to education,plant, domestic life were also borrowed. The words are Angel, anthem, hymn, minister, monk, disciple, silk, pea, pine, poppy, beet, pine, grammar, master,grammar, lobster etc. In the middle English period Latin came through translation of holy bible. Words related to law (conspiracy, custody, legal, prosecute), theology (scripture, incarnate,limbo), literature (allegory, genius,intellect,prosody) and science (mechanical,solar,zenith) came during this phase. In the 15 th century during Renaissance great revival of learning influenced English immensely. The words borrowed during this phase are Nouns,Adjectives and verb. Examples for nouns are radius,allusion, circus, atmosphere, bonus etc, Adjectives are appropriate, domestic, perfect etc and Verbs are assassinate, benefit, affidavit, exit etc. As a result of Latin influence, native nouns had got Latin adjectives like paternal for father, maternal for mother, royal for king etc.

Greek language influenced English immensely. Even before Renaissance English language contained a few Greek words, like geography, theology, logic through Latin. But most of Greek words passed into English during Renaissance period. Revival of Greek learning in Western Europe at the beginning of sixteenth century was the reason for borrowing from Greek. Examples for such words are irony, alphabet, drama, elegy etc. The Greek words borrowed during seventeenth century are orchestra, pandemonium, museum,clinic etc. Bathos and philander are the examples of words borrowed during eighteenth century. During nineteenth and twentieth century scientific and technical terms came from German.Those words are psychology, neurology, oxygen, halogen, telephone, microscope etc.The modern medical science is full of Greek terms because of the works of Hypocrites. Greek also contributed some suffixes and prefixes like anti-, di-, hyper-, poly-.

Norman contribution is one of the major influences on English language. Normans came into England during 1066AD . The words borrowed from Norman French can be grouped into several types like legal terms( adultery, slander), military words( surrender, occupy), names of meats( bacon) royal court ( chivalry, majesty). The use of legal and military terms are because of the influence of William the Conquerors works. Other examples of Norman loan words are accuse, archer, assault, curfew, fashion, judge, marriage etc. Dutch had a great influence in English during renaissance period and through commerce. In the renaissance period many loan words from low German from which we have dutch, Flemish and the dialects of Northern Germany came to England. These regions had close commercial contacts with England ever since the Norman conquest and many of the loan words are related to sea faring and trade. Examples are skipper, clock, cruise, smuggle, trek, smack etc.

During the middle English period quite a number of words borrowed from Spanish. Most of the Spanish words came through trade, commerce and war. Examples for such words are armada, cargo, spade, siesta, cocoa, potato, cafeteria etc. The bulk of Spanish words came into English from the middle of sixteenth century to the middle seventeenth century. These are some examples of words borrowed to English from foreign language and their influences. While analyzing these contributions, it can be concluded that , these words and usages enriched the English vocabulary.

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