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History of the English Language I

Class at Faculty of Arts |


Winter Semester - Topics

1. Change and variation in Language. Basic Chronology.

2. Sources, electronic and other: a practical introduction.

3. Framework of change in the history of English: linguistic typology.

4. Before Old English: the Germanic Background of English.

5. Old English Morphology. English word-structure across time.

6. Old English Syntax.

7. Old English Vocabulary and Word-Formation.

8. External history of Middle English: a survey.

9. Middle English Lexis and word-Formation.

10. Middle English Morphology.

11. Middle English Syntax.

12. Middle-English Word-Formation.

13. Middle English Writing and Spelling. Summer semester - Topics

1. Early Modern English: an introduction.

2. Early Modern English: language in the community.

3. Early Modern English: borrowing and word-formation.

4. Early Modern English: morphology.

5. Early Modern English: syntactic structures.

6. Early Modern English: changes in pronunciation.

7. Sound change: an introduction.

8. Morphological change: an introduction.

9. Syntactic change: an introduction.

10. Lexical and semantic change: an introduction. Language contact and linguistic change.


The course seeks to present the English language both as a dynamic organism with a structural history of its own and a mirror reflecting much of the past of its speakers. Individual topics trace the origin and development of forms and functions which eventually gave rise to Modern English. the aim of the course is threefold:1. to provide a diachronic background to the synchronic study of Present-Day English by examining its origins and its changing structure over time; 2. to explain, using evidence from the history of English, basic principles of language change; 3. to outline the nature of Old (700-1100), Middle (1100-1500) and Early Modern English (1500-1800) as reflected in relevant texts of each period, respectively.The language of each historical period is discussed in terms of 1. sociolinguistic background (language and community); 2. sound and spelling; 3. morphology; 4. syntax; 5. structure of lexis and word-formation.

The summer semester develops and presupposes the knowledge of the topics dealt with in the winter semester.