About 1200 B.C., a collection of tribes known in history as the Celts
spread throughout western Europe – on the territories of the
contemporary countries Britain, Ireland, France and Spain. The
existence of the Celts was first documented in the seventh or eighth
century B.C. The name Celts comes from the ancient Greeks, the
Romans called them Gauls, meaning barbarians.
There were several tribes that made up the larger population of the
Celtic people, among them the Gauls and the Britons, who spread
over the British Isles between about 500 and 100 B.C.
The Celts were warriors, living for the glories of battle
and plunder. They shared a similar language, religious
beliefs, traditions and culture.
Although the Celts did not have their own written
language, many inscriptions in the Celtic language have
been found, written in the Latin and Greek alphabets.
The Celts’ legacy remains most prominent in Ireland and Great
Britain, where traces of their language and culture are still
In Wales, the native tongue – Welsh – is a Celtic language, and it
is still widely spoken in the region. In Cornwall – the
westernmost county in England, some (although very few) speak
Cornish, which is similar to Welsh and Breton. In Scotland, the
Celtic language – Scots Gaelic is still spoken, although by a
In 55 and 54 BC the Roman legions under the command
of Julius Caesar invaded the British Isles. The Romans
succeeded in winning several battles establishing
themselves as a military force in Britain.
But soon the Romans had to leave Britain to put down the
rebellion in their province Gaul. The Roman Army
returned to Britain in 43 AD when the Emperor Claudius
ordered a new invasion.
After a number of wars between the Celtic tribes and the
Romans these two opposing peoples came into peaceful
contact. Trade was carried on, and the Celtic people gain
knowledge of new and useful things. Faced with new
concepts, the Celts used Latin words and introduced
them into their language. The Celtic languages gained a
considerable number of new words and were thus
For nearly four centuries Britain remained part of the
Roman Empire. In 395, the Roman Empire split into the
Western and Eastern Roman Empire. The power of the
Romans on the outskirts became increasingly weaker,
and in 407 they were forced to leave Britain in order to
defend their metropolis from the onslaught of the
Germanic tribes, who were aggressively advancing on
As the Romans left the British Isles in the 5th century
A.D., the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes –
the most numerous amongst them) invaded the British
The Celts desperately defended their lands against the
invaders, but they were no match for the militaryminded Teutons and gradually yielded most of their
territory. They retreated to the North and South-West
(modern Scotland, Wales and Cornwall).
The invaders, having achieved a position of political and
social dominance, intermixed with the Celts in the
language and material culture, and intermarried greatly.
From the mid 5th to the early 7th centuries they
established Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the south and
east of Britain.
The Germanic tribes spoke different dialects of
Germanic language. Their language is known as Old
Quite a number of Latin words were adopted along with
their Latin meanings by Old English through the Celtic
language. These words became the earliest group of
borrowings in the English language.
According to the semantic principle, the Latin
borrowings of the Celts can be divided into several
groups associated with the following: construction
activities, agriculture and agricultural products, plants
and planting, trade, houseware, toponyms (place
Words associated with construction activities:
street (Lat. strata);
mile (Lat. millia);
wall (Lat. vallum ) ;
port (Lat. portus ) ;
сhalk (Lat. calx /мел, известняк)
castle (Lat. castra).
Words associated with agriculture and agricultral
wine (Lat. vinum) ;
butter (Lat. butyrum);
chees (Lat. сaseus);
cherry (Lat. cerasum);
pear (Lat. pirum);
plum (Lat. prunus);
Words associated with agriculture and agricultral
pea (Lat. pisum);
beet (Lat. beta);
pepper (Lat. piper);
mint (Lat. menta);
plant (Lat planta);
carrot (Lat. carota).
Words associated with trade:
cheap (Lat. caupones);
mint (Lat. moneta /монетный двор);
pound (Lat. pondо);
inch (Lat. uncia);
gem (Lat. gemma /драгоценный камень).
Words associated with houshold:
Chest (Lat. cista);
kettle (Lat. catillus);
kitchen (Lat. coquina);
mill (Lat. molina);
pillow (Lat. pulvinus);
dish (Lat. discus).
Caster / cester / chester (лат.) военный лагерь,
Gloucester [ˈɡlɔstə ]
The Latin impact on the OE vocabulary was not restricted to
borrowing of words. There was another aspect of Latin
influence – the so-called translation-loans – words and
phrases created on the pattern of Latin words. They were not
taken into the English vocabulary in the Latin phonemic
shape, but underwent the process of translation.
The earliest instances of translation-loans are names of the
days of the week found not only in OE but also in other
Examples of loan borrowings:
Monday (Lat. Lunae dies)
Tuesday (Lat. Martis dies – германский бог Тuy
приравнивался к римскому Марсу);
Wednesday (Lat. Mercuri dies – германский бог Один
приравнивался к римскому Меркурию);
Examples of loan borrowings:
Thursday (Lat. Iovis dies – германский бог Top
приравнивался к Юпитеру);
Friday (Lat. Veneris dies – германская богиня Fria –
Sunday (Lat. Solis dies);
Saturday (Lat. Saturni dies ).
Through their numerous contacts with the defeated
Celts, the Anglo-Saxons assimilated a number of native
Examples of native Celtic borrowings
in the English language:
bald, down, druid, bard, cradle, bucket, car, slogan,
goal, cradle, bard, flannel, truant, сlan, glen, loch, veel,
bog, shamrock, tory, bin, brat, brock, whiskey.
Especially numerous among the Celtic borrowings were
place names, names of rivers, bills, etc.
The Germanic tribes occupied the land, but the names of
many parts and features of their territory remained
The names of the rivers Avon, Exe [ˈɛks] Esk, Usk [ʌsk],
originate from the Celtic words meaning river and water.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in England. Element Ben
is a Celtic word meaning mountain.
Caerleon [kərˈliːən] is the village located on the bank of the
river Usk in South Wales. The name originates from the
Celtic word meaning Fort of Lleon – camp of the Celtic
King Lleon the Mighty.
The name of the English capital London originates from the
Celtic words Llyn and dun (Llyn means river, dun means a
fortified hill). The meaning of the whole name is fortress on
the hill over the river.
Aberdeen is Scotland’s third most populous city. Element
“Aber” is a Celtic word meaning “place where two rivers /
Carlisle [kɑrˈlaɪl] is the largest city of the county Cumbria
in North West England. The name originates from the Celtic
word meaning the fortified place belonging to Luel.
The end of the 6th c. and the beginning of the 7th c. 7th A.
D. was significant for the spread of Christianity in the
The spread of Christianity was accompanied by a new
period of Latin borrowings because Latin was the
official language of the Christian church.
priest ( Lat. presbyter);
monk (Lat. monachus);
nun (Lat. nonna);
candle (Lat. candela);
bishop (Lat. episcopus);
clerk (Lat. clericus);
pope (Lat. papa).
angel ( Lat. angelus from Greek aggelos )
church ( Lat. суrice from Greek kuriakon / господний);
devil (Lat. diabulus from Greek diabolos).
The first schools in Britain were church schools and the first
teachers were priests and monks.
It was quite natural that a number of educational terms were
borrowed by Old English from Latin.
school (Lat. schola, of Greek origin),
scholar (Lat. scholaris),
magister (Lat. magister).
There are some place names in Britain that contain the
Latin elements associated with the period of
For example, the place names Chew Magna (a village
in the county of Somerset) and Wigston Magna (a town
in Leicestershire) contain the Latin element Magna
Since the 8th c. the British Isles were invaded by the sea
rovers from Scandinavia, first by Danes, later – by
During the 9th-10th centuries, Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
had to struggle with the Scandinavians with varying
In the 70s of the 9th century, Scandinavian army
captured more than half of England.
However, King Alfred the Great managed to unite the
Anglo-Saxons and prevented the complete takeover of
the country. The Scandinavians were pushed northward.
By the end of the 9th century, the territory seized by the
Scandinavians was recognized as Danish territory –
During the reign of the Danish king Knut and his sons, there was
a temporary union of England with Denmark into one state (10161042) which led to closer contacts and mutual influence of the
English and Scandinavians. The new settlers and the AngloSaxons intermarried and intermixed.
As the result, the Scandinavians were absorbed into the local
population both ethnically and linguistically.
By 1042, Danish rule in England ended, the Danes and the British
merged into one people.
The Scandinavian impact on the development of the
English language was profound.
One of the proofs of the Scandinavian influence on the
English language is a great number of place names
containing Scandinavian elements.
Altogether more than 1,400 English villages and towns
bear names of Scandinavian origin. This is the linguistic
witness of the Scandinavian conquest of the British Isles
in the 8th – 9th centuries A.D.
Some city names in Britain contain the element “by” which is of
Scandinavian origin meaning “settlement”, for example: Grimsby,
Derby [darbi], Rugby.
The Scandinavian word “thorp” meaning ‘village’ is a part of
such place names as Mablethorpe (a small seaside town),
Woodthorpe (a suburban area), Cleethorpe (a seaside resort
seaside resort), Scunthorpe (an industrial town in North
Lincolnshire, England) etc.
There were several tendencies in Scandinavian
influence on the English language.
1. A large number of Scandinavian words was
borrowed by the English language:
husband < Sc. hus + bondi / хозяин дома
window < Sc. vind+auga / глазок для ветра
fellow < Sc. < fē + laʒi / товарищ, пайщик
law < Sc. laʒu
wrong < Sc. wrangr
ugly < Sc. yggligr.
Some of the words of this group are easily recognisable
as Scandinavian borrowings by the initial skcombination: sky, skill, skin, ski, skirt.
words of everyday use:
rake, scare, sly, weak, happy, knife, awkward, drown,
life, dirt, etc.
2. Some English words changed their meanings under
the influence of Scandinavian words of the same
the O. E. bread with the meaning piece acquired its
modern meaning by association with the Scandinavian
The O.E. dream meaning joy changed its meaning under
the influence of the Scandinavian draumr / 1.
мечтать, 2. видеть сон
3. Some Scandinavian words supplemented the
meaning of English words, for example:
in Old English, the verb cenan meant to notify,
announce, and the meaning of know" came under the
influence of the Scandinavian kenna / to teach, to
4. Some English words were replaced by the
O.E. niman → Sc. taka → M.E. take;
O.E. weorpan → Sc. kasta → M.E. cast;
O.E. pronouns 3-d person plural hi, heo, he → Sc. they.
5. Some English words of everyday use were replaced by the
Scandinavian words, but remained in the English language as
less common words.
As the result, synonymic pairs appeared, in which the
Scandinavian words entered the everyday use, whereas English
words acquired a narrower meaning, gradually becaming
stylistically marked - they entered the layer of the literary style,
for example: Sc. sky / облако replaced O.E. heofon → M.E.
heaven (literary style).
6. Borrowings from the Scandinavian languages led to
the formation of Scandinavian-English etymological
doublets (both etymologically parallel lexical units
were preserved - the Scandinavian and English words).
Etymological doublets are words that etymologically go
back to the same stem, but have acquired different
meanings, pronunciation and spelling.
Examples of etymological doublets:
shirt – skirt (originate from the word denoting one and
the same article of clothing. Difference between the
Scandinavian and English forms led to the semantic
road /дорога, путь– raid / налет, набег, рейд (both
words originate from O.E.ridan / ехать верхом).
In the 11th century England was occupied by the
Normans led by Duke William II of Nomandy, later
named as William the Conqueror.
In 1066, in the famous Battle of Hastings the English
were defeated by the Normans.
The eventful epoch in the history of England began. The
epoch is eventful not only in national, social, political
and human terms, but also in linguistic terms.
The impact of the Norman invasion on the English
vocabulary during two-hundred-years period was
immense: French words from the Norman dialect
penetrated every aspect of social life.
England became a bi-lingual country – the upper society
(the Normans and some of the English nobility) spoke
Norman French, the lower classes (the English
population ) spoke English.
duke / герцог, prince / принц;
Administrative words: state, government, parliament, council,
Legal terms: court, judge, justice, crime, prison.
Military terms: army, war, soldier, officer, battle, enemy.
Educational terms: pupil, lesson, library, science, pen, pencil.
Everyday life: table, plate, saucer, dinner, supper, river, autumn,
English language. The sign of assimilation is the stress on
the first syllable as in most native English words:
prison < prisun; feast < feste; pleasure < plesir;
leisure < leysir; dinner, supper < soper, paint < peintre;
butcher < bocher; charity < charitee;
prey < preyen / молиться; preyere / молитва.
the formation of Scandinavian-English etymological
catch / ловить – chase / преследовать;
cattle /скот – chattels /движимое имущество;
сanal / канал (искусственный) – chanal/ канал
begin – commence;
life – existence;
tongue – language язык;
look – regard;
ship – vessel.
In England, as in all European countries, the Renaissance period
was marked by significant developments in science, art and
culture and, also, by a revival of interest in the ancient
civilisations of Greece and Rome and their languages.
Hence, there occurred a considerable number of Latin and Greek
borrowings. In contrast to the earliest Latin borrowings (1st с. В.
С.), the Renaissance ones were mostly abstract words (e. g.
major, minor, filial, moderate, intelligent, permanent, to elect, to
There were numerous borrowings of scientific and
artistic terms (many of them were borrowed into
English from Latin and had earlier come into Latin from
Greek): datum, status, phenomenon, philosophy,
method, music, atom, cycle, ethics, esthete, theatre, etc.
(Latin – the source of borrowings, Greek – the origin).
The Renaissance was a period of extensive cultural
contacts between the European states. Therefore, quite a
number of new words also entered the English
vocabulary from other European languages.
The most significant were French borrowings – this
time they came from the Parisian dialect of French and
are known as Parisian borrowings: regime, routine,
police, machine, ballet, matinee, scene, technique,
Italian also contributed a considerable number of words
to English, e. g.:
piano, violin, opera, alarm, colonel.
It is often the case that a word is borrowed by several languages,
and not just by one. Such words usually convey concepts which
are significant in the field of communication.
Many of them are of Latin and Greek origin. Most names of
sciences are international, e. g. philosophy, mathematics, physics,
chemistry, biology, medicine, linguistics, lexicology.
There are also numerous terms of art in this group: music,
theatre, drama, tragedy, comedy, artist, primadonna.
Political terms frequently occur in the international group
politics, policy, revolution, progress, democracy,
20th c. scientific and technological advances brought a
great number of new international words:
atomic, antibiotic, radio, television, sputnik.
Sputnik is a Russian borrowing which became an
international word) in 1961, immediately after the first
space flight by Yury Gagarin.
The English language also contributed a considerable
number of international words to world languages.
Among them the sports terms occupy a prominent
position: football, volley-ball, baseball, hockey, cricket,
rugby, tennis, golf, etc.
Fruits and foodstuffs imported from exotic countries
often transport their names too.
Being simultaneously imported to many countries, their
names become international: coffee, cocoa, chocolate,
coca-cola, banana, mango, avocado, grapefruit.