An Elementary Historical New English Grammar

An Elementary Historical New English Grammar

An Elementary Historical New English Grammar

An Elementary Historical New English Grammar

Excerpt

What may reasonably be termed a standard literary language has existed in England since the early part of the fifteenth century, that is, some time before the end of the ME. period. This was chiefly brought about through the spread and influence of the London literary language and the gradual disappearance of the local dialect element from the literature of the period, but colloquial speech continued to be influenced by the dialects long after the dialect element had practically disappeared from literature.

§ 2. NE. embraces that period of the English language which extends from about 1500 to the present day. The division of a language into fixed periods must of necessity be more or less arbitrary. What are given as the characteristics of one period have generally had their beginnings in the previous period, and it is impossible to say with perfect accuracy when one period begins and another ends. And just as it is impossible to fix the precise date at which one period of a language ends and another begins, so also it is not possible to do more than fix approximately the date at which any particular sound-change took place, because in most language, and more especially in English, the changes in orthography have not kept pace with the changes in sound.

§ 3. The present standard language is regularly developed from the ME. East Midland group of dialects, especially the dialect of London and its environs. Although the present standard language is not quite free from dialect forms from other dialects, it is remarkable how few such forms have . . .

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