External Influences on English: From Its Beginnings to the Renaissance

ISBN : 9780199654260

D. Gary Miller
352 Pages
166 x 244 mm
Pub date
Aug 2012
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This book provides the fullest account ever published of the external influences on English during the first thousand years of its formation. In doing so it makes profound contributions to the history of English and of western culture more generally. English is a Germanic language but altogether different from the other languages of that family. Professor Miller shows how and why the Anglo-Saxons began to borrow and adapt words from Latin and Greek. He provides detailed case studies of the processes by which several hundred of them entered English. He also considers why several centuries later the process of importation was renewed and accelerated. He describes the effects of English contacts with the Celts, Vikings, and French, and the ways in which these altered the language's morphological and syntactic structure. He shows how loanwords from French, for example, not only increased the richness of English derivation but resulted in a complex competition between native and borrowed suffixes. Gary Miller combines historical, cultural, and linguistic perspectives. His scholarly, readable, and always fascinating account will be of enduring value to everyone interested in the history of English.


1. Introduction
2. Celtic, Roman, and Germanic Background
3. English: The Early Period
4. Early Loanwords From Greek and Latin
5. The Scandinavian Heritage of England
6. The French Input
7. Continuity and Revival of Classical Learning
8. External Linguistic Input to English
Special Phonetic Symbols
Primary Sources: Texts and Editions

About the author: 

Gary Miller is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Classics at the University of Florida. He received his PhD from Harvard in 1969, with a dissertation on Studies in Some Forms of the Genitive Singular in Indo-European. He is the author of some 45 articles on Indo-European, classical, and general linguistics. His books include Homer and the Ionian Epic Tradition (1982), Improvisation, Typology, Culture, and 'The New Orthodoxy': How 'Oral' is Homer? (1982), Complex Verb Formation (1993), Ancient Scripts and Phonological Knowledge (1994), Nonfinite Structures in Theory and Change (OUP 2002), Latin Suffixal Derivatives in English (OUP 2005), and Language Change and Linguistic Theory (2 vols, OUP 2010).

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