Latin Borrowings

Latin borrowings :-  It is one such language that is influencing English language over the period of time.  About 70% of English words or phrase has derived from Latin.

The influence is so much that in English since, the old English period till modern English period, Latin has taken a place in compare to any other foreign language.

Let’s discuss the Latin borrowings in English according to the period;

Latin borrowings (in Old English period) :–   The Latin influence on English was heralded by England’s contact with Latin civilization, initially words associated with agriculture and war influenced the most and approximately 600 words were borrowed from Latin during this period only.

For example– words related to agriculture field and war was heavily borrowed in this period.

such as; camp (battle), segan (banner), pil (pointed sick, javeline), pytt (pit), mil (mile) milester (courtsman) etc.

except for the above mention fields, many words borrowed associated with different fields such as,

  • Trade fields- ceap (cheap, bargain), pund (pound), mynet (coin), sean (burden, load) etc.
  • Wine Trade fields– win (wine), must (new wine), eced (vinegar) flase (flask) etc.
  • Domestic fields– cytel (kettle), mise (table), scamol (bench, stool), cycone (kitchen), cup (cup) etc.

Besides these borrowings, in initial phase of old English, a few of Latin words entered in English language through Celtic transmission,

For example- the word ‘ceaster’ means ‘camp’ is a typical example of celtic transmission.

This word is a common designation in old English for a town or enclosed community. It forms a familiar place names such as, Dorchester, Manchester, Winchester and so on. Other words borrowed through Celtic, include port (harbor, gate, town), munt (mountain) and torr (tower, yock).

Not only this, but with the Christianizing of Britain in 597 AD begins another phase of Latin borrowings into English. Many new conceptions followed in the train of the new religion and there was a need for expressing these ideas for which the old language was inadequate. Thus, during this time a massive inflow of Latin words not only just enter but are both popular and learned.

For Example; the words like, alms, alter, angel, anthem, canon hymn, pope, psalm, relic etc.

Due to the tremendous influence of the Church over the domestic life of the people words relating to domestic use like clothing (cap, silk) and food (beet, lentil, millet, radish, oyster) etc. were introduced. Names of tress, plants, herbs like pine, balsam, lily, myrrh and the general word plant acquired Latin designation. Also, number of words related to education and learning such as; school, master, verse, grammatic (al) etc. were originated from Latin.

A fresh set of Latin words found its way in English with the Benedictine Reform which aimed at the general improvement of the cultural and religious ambiance of England. Words like; Antichrist, apostle, canticle, creed, prophet, sabbath synagogue etc. became evidence of this period.

Therefore, the Old English period end with the Britain Christianization of around 450 words of Latin into this period.

Latin borrowings (in Middle English) :–  Although many of the words that have been borrowed during this period, didn’t borrowed directly but came through French influence, there were certain words that were directly borrowed from Latin. In middle English period, a considerate amount of Latin words derived in English through translation of literary text,

For example; through Trevia’stranslation of the De Proprietatibus Rerun of Bartholomew Anglicus

The translation of the Vulgates Bible gave the English people words like generation, persecution and transmigration

During this period, words borrowed in the field of medicine, law, allegory, theology, science, literature etc.

For Exampleconspiracy, custody, frustrate, genius, infinite, intellect, limbo, pulpit, secular, scripture, testify etc.

Additionally, in 15th century, some unusual words were also borrowed by the poets and writers of this period, they actually attempted to add an innovation in English language.

For Example; words like, abusion, dispone, equipollent, tenebrous etc.

Latin borrowings (in modern period) :-  This period was the revival period of classical English learning  to the modern English in the 16th century that first swelled the numbers of words borrowed from Latin to overwhelming proportions.

Although, the number of middle English loans from Latin was difficult to estimate, as many of them were indirectly borrowed from French. Great mass of borrowings in early modern English came directly from Latin.

For Example- affidavit, agenda, alibi, animal, bonus, deficit, exit, extra, fact, maximum, memorandum, omnibus, propaganda, veto etc.

During the Renaissance, quite a number of French words were remodeled into closer resemblance with their Latin originals, for example; the father of English literature Geoffrey Chaucer uses the word descrive, the form describe makes its appearance only in the 16th century. Therefore, mainly the borrowings of words during this time entered in English through the medium of writing.

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