DOI: 10.18413/2313-8912-2020-6-3-0-10

Old English-Latin Language Contacts (a case of Ælfric’s Grammar)

This study is devoted to Old English-Latin language contacts that took place at the turn of the 10th and 11th c. and were reflected in several written records of that period, in particular, in Ælfric’s Grammar translated from Latin into Old English. Due to the importance that the problem of language contacts and language change is gaining in modern linguistics, the study seems to be quite relevant.

The paper focuses on the metalanguage of Ælfric’s “Grammar” viewed structurally and semantically, on the one hand, and sociolinguistically, on the other. The structural and semantic analysis of Ælfric’s terminology allows to single out in it Latin insertions (code-switches), semantic and morpheme-for-morpheme translations created by Ælfric and periphrastic expressions. The wide use of these terms, their simplicity and transparence have made the “Grammar” an outstanding sample of Old English scientific prose.

The sociolinguistic approach to the “Grammar” is based on the theory of W. Labov who distinguishes “change from above” and “change from below”. Subjecting Ælfric’s Grammar to a detailed analysis as for its correlation with the original text, spread in the cultural milieu, and peculiarities of its terminology, we conclude that this work manifests some features of “change from above”, thus influencing the English language and the culture of England.

The results of the research allow us to claim that a translation displaying widespread use of occasional word formation and code switching can serve as a sufficient witness of language change.

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