Topic 41 – The romanisation. The latin influence upon the english language. Loanwords and calques

Topic 41 – The romanisation. The latin influence upon the english language. Loanwords and calques



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. Before the Romans.

2.1.1. Prehistoric Britain.

2.1.2. The arrival of the Celts.

2.2. The beginning of the Roman Conquest.

2.2.1. Early Roman expeditions.

2.2.2. The Roman Conquest. The conquest of southern Britain. The conquest of northern Britain. The two Roman provinces.

2.3. The end of Romano Britain.

2.3.1. The decline of Roman influence.

2.3.2. The arrival of the Germanic people.


3.1. Loanwords and calques.

3.1.1. On defining the concept of borrowing.

3.1.2. On defining loanwords and calques.

3.2. The impact of romanisation.

3.3. Latin influence on the English language.

3.3.1. Latin influence in Old English. On the continent. In Britain. The Christianizing of Britain.

3.3.2. Latin influence in Middle English.

3.3.3. Latin influence in Modern English.

3.3.4. Latin influence up to now.





1.1. Aims of the unit.

The present unit, Unit 41, aims to provide a detailed account of the process of romanisation in Britain and examine to what extent we can talk about an influence of Latin on the English language on the basis of loanwords and calques, that is, the process of borrowing. So this study will deal with the cultural characteristics of the British Isles before and after the Romans. It is therefore an introductory review of the history of Romano Britain and the events which would condition the earliest development of the English language. Then this presentation will start by offering the most relevant bibliography in this field as a reference for the reader, and by presenting our study in five chapters, among which there are two central ones: the beginning and end of Roman Britain and its influence on the English language.

Chapter 2 introduces a historical and cultural background for the Roman conquest namely by reviewing all the events related to the beginning and end of Romano Britain. It is therefore an introductory review of the history of the romanisation of British culture and society and the events which would condition the earliest development of the English langua ge. So we shall approach the situation of Britain (1) before the arrival of the Romans, where we shall start by reviewing (a) prehistoric Britain and (b) the arrival of the Celts; (2) the beginnings of the Roman Conquest, where we shall review (a) early Roman expeditions to Britain and (b) the Roman Conquest as such, in three stages: (i) the conquest of southern Britain, (ii) the conquest of northern Britain, and (iii) the division of Britain into two province; and finally, (3) we shall comment on what happened towards the end of Romano Britain, by reviewing (a) the decline of Roman influence and (b) the arrival of the Germanic people in Britain.

Chapter 3 will focus on the influence of Latin on the English language on the basis of loanwords and calques. In this chapter, we shall analyse the impact of romanisation in Britain so as to get, more particularly, to which extent Latin influenced the development of English language in the following years and how this influence is present in the language, that is, the means of this transmission: (1) loanwords and calques under the label of borrowings. So we shall start by defining (a) the concept of ‘borrowing’, from which we get the definitions of (b) ‘loanwords’ and ‘calques’ as a result of languages in contact. Then, with these concepts in mind, we shall analyse (2) the impact of romanisation in Britain so as to get, more particularly, to which extent (3) Latin

influenced the development of English language in different periods up to now, thus (a) Old English

regarding (i) its influence on the continent, (ii) in Britain and (iii) during the Christianization of

Britain; (b) Middle English (c) Modern English and (d) up to now.

Chapter 4 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 5 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 6 will include all the bibliographical references used to develop this account of discourse analysis strategies.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

An influential introduction to the historical background of romanisation in Britain is based on relevant works of Asimov, La formación de Inglaterra (1990); Baugh & Cable , A History of the English Language (1993); Conde & Sánchez, An Introduction to the History of the English language-I: Old English (1996); and Leith, A Social History of English (1997).

Classic works on the influence of Latin on the English language regarding the process of borrowing, that is, by means of loanwords and calques, include, still indispensable, Haugen, The analysis of linguistic borrowing (1972); Nelson, The English language (1974); Algeo, Problems in the origins and development of the English language (1982); Algeo & Pyles, The origins and develop ment of the English language (1982); Bauer, English Word-Formation (1983); and Read, Assessing Vocabulary . (2000).

The background for educational implications is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by Canale, From Communicative Competence to Communicative Language Pedagogy (1983); Hymes, On communicative competence (1972); Tricia Hedge, Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom (2000); and Rivers, Teaching Foreign -Language Skills (1981).

In addition, the most complete record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2002); and the Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference (1998).



This chapter introduces a historical and cultural background for the Roman conquest namely by reviewing all the events related to the beginnin g and end of Romano Britain. It is therefore an introductory review of the history of the romanisation of British culture and society and the events which would condition the earliest development of the English language. So we shall approach the situation of Britain (1) before the arrival of the Romans, where we shall start by reviewing (a) prehistoric Britain and (b) the arrival of the Celts; (2) the beginnings of the Roman Conquest, where we shall review (a) early Roman expeditions to Britain and (b) the Roman Conquest as such, in three stages: (i) the conquest of southern Britain, (ii) the conquest of northern Britain, and (iii) the division of Britain into two province; and finally, (3) we shall comment on what happened towards the end of Romano Britain, by reviewing (a) the decline of Roman influence and (b) the arrival of the Germanic people in Britain.

2.1. Before the Romans.

2.1.1. Prehistoric Britain.

The formation of Britain dates back to 8.000 B.C. when “the North Sea broke through the channel and made an island of the original British peninsula. Archaelogy confirms that the earliest inhabitants of Britain might have come from the continent by c. 5000-4000 B.C.. Waves of immigrants from Europe must have kept crossing the Channel until 1500 B.C., when the Stone Age came to an end. All these earlier inhabitants of Britain may not have been Indoeuropean.” (Conde & Sánchez, 1996).

We know of the island’s early inhabitants from what they left behind on archaelogical findings (Clancton-on-Sea in Essex, Swanscombe in Kent). This thriving culture existed around 8.000 years ago in the misty, westwards islands the Romans were to call Britannia. As the climate improved, more people moved into Britain from the Continent, attracted by its forests, wild game, abundant rivers and fertile southern plains. Yet, one of the most important reasons was the relative isolation the island offered to its inhabitants: protection agains the fierce nomadic tribesmen that kept appearing out of the east.

The new age of settle ment took place around 4.500 B.C. in what we term the Neolithic Age. Very

early on, farming began to shape the landscape of Britain from virgin forests to ploughed fields.These people already developed sophisticated designs such as stone -axes, windmills and above all, megalithic monuments for burial purposes1. The Bronze Age brought about the manufacture of products made from metals (iron, bronze, gold) to make cauldrons and bowls, shields and helmets, weapons of war and farming tools. It was at this time that the Celtic peoples arrived in the islands we now call Britain.

2.1.2. The arrival of the Celts.

Shortly after 1200 B.C., a culture known as “Urnfield” developed and prospered in Central Europe, and soon adapted the iron-working culture known as “Hallstatt”, after a site in Austria. The Hallstatt people, who were skilled craftsmen (using iron, gold and bronze and producing fine burnished pottery), reached at some time the British Isles and their culture began to infiltrate those foggy, wet, but mineral-rich islands off the Continent.

This culture advanced their technology from their contact with Mediterraneans and developed into the culture of “La Tene”, which produced beautiful, handsomely-made and decorated articles, in addition to their beautifully wrought and highly superb mirrors, toilet articles, drinking vessels and personal jewellery of exquisite form and decoration. They became known around the middle of the fifth century B.C.. In fact, it was produced by the Celts, the first people in the islands of Britain whose culture and language still survive in many forms today. They were called ‘Keltoi’ by the Greeks, ‘Celtai’ by the Romans and “Celts” in present-day Britain.

So, by the time Julius Caesar invaded the island in 55 B.C., Celtic people had been in Britain for many centuries before. The Celts were spread over a huge territory in Europe long before the emergence in history of the Germanic peoples and, actually, they brought with them the Iron Age to Britain. Movement of Celtic people from the continent were possibly connected to the displacement of the Germanic people in Europe, and their clash with the Romans. Later, in 250 B.C., further waves of Celtic people came from Britanny and Belgium: they settled in the south and southwest of

clip_image001the island, hence they were also called Belgae.

1 The most famous is Stonehenge which is certainly the most visited and photographed of all the prehistoric monuments in Britain because of its construction and enormous complexity, which is still a mystery.

Before the beginning of the Christian era, Celtic languages were spoken over the greater part of

central and western Europe. The Celts in Britain used a language derived from a branch of Celtic known as either Bryth onic, which gave rise to Welsh, Cornish and Breton; or Goidelic, giving rise to Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx. However, as the vigor of the Celts declined under romanisation, their languages were supplanted by those of their conquerors. Then the Celtic language spoken in Gaul (Gaulish) gave way to the Latin spoken by the Roman conquerors, which was to develop into French.

Yet, despite the long occupation, the British Celts continued to speak their own language, though many of them, particularly those in the towns and cities who wanted to speak and write the language of their Roman rulers. Roman rule did not prevent the British Celts from using their own language, although they borrowed a good many words from Latin. But after the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes arrived, British Celtic (Brythonic) was more severely threatened. It survived, however, and produced a distinguished literature in the later Middle Ages, including the Mabinogion and

many Arthurian stories2 (Algeo & Pyles, 1982).

Finally, it is relevant to mention that the Celts introduced not only their language but also their religion, particularly that of the Druids, who were the guardians of traditions and learning. These religious figures were in charge of glorifying the pursuits of war, feasting and horsemanship, and also controlled the calendar, the planting of crops and honored local deities in religious festivals and rituals. This culture brought with them a sophisticated plough that revolutionised agriculture in the rich soils of their new land.

In addition, despite Julius Caesar described them as ‘savage barbarians’, their society was well- organized in urban settlements and the capitals of these tribal chiefs followed strict laws. It is also relevant to mention that they introduced coinage in Britain and conducted a lively trade with Rome

clip_image002and Gaul, including corn, livestock, metal and slaves.

2 “In recent years Welsh (Cymric) has been actively promoted for nationalistic reasons. Breton is the language of the descendants of those Britons who, around the time of the Anglo -Saxon invasion of their island and even somewhat before that time, crossed the Channel and settled in the Gaulish province of Armorica, naming their

new home for their old one- Brittany. Breton is thus more closely related to Welsh than to long -extinct

Gaulish. There have been no native speakers of Cornish, another Brythonic language, since the early nineteenth century. Efforts have been made to revive it: church services are sometimes conducted in Cornish, and the language is used in antiquarian re -creations of the Celtic Midsummer Eve rituals –but such efforts seem more sentimental than practical” (Algeo & Pyles, 1982:77).

2.2. The beginning of the Roman Conquest.

2.2.1. Early Roman expeditions.

As stated above, Celtic people had been in Britain for many centuries before Julius Caesar’s invasion in 55 B.C.. The subsequent occupation, not really begun in earnest until the time of the Emperor Claudius almost a century later (43 A.D.), who was to make Britain, that is, Britannia, a part of the Roman Empire. The reason which led the Romans to undertake the conquest of Britannia was the necessity to control trade across the Channel to crush rebellions in the Gaul and Britain.

A reasonable explanation for this situation is to be found before the first invasion in 55 B.C.. As stated above, Britain had a lively export trade with Gaul since many of Britain’s Celts came from this country, driven from their homelands by the Roman armies and Germanic tribes. Therefore, other types of relations were also established in terms of personal, friendship, language and culture afinity. In 71 B.C. Ariovisto, a Germanic warrior, invaded Gaul, defeated its inhabitants and continued defeating Gaul tribes for twelve years.

At first, the Romans saw him as an ally since they considered Gaul people to be their enemies. However, when Ariovisto proved too successful in his conquests, Julius Caesar decided to lead his armies to Gaul not only to defeat Ariovisto but also the Gaul tribes in 58 B.C.. His main aim was to exterminate the most representative figures between Celtic people, the druids, since they represented the power in their society and, in fact, he actually did exterminate them by cruel means.

These events meant an immediate menace to Britain because of two main reasons: first, trade would be directed to the south (Italy) and this would mean that Britain’s economy would decrease considerably; and second, the Roman armies represented a real menace when situated just across the Strait of Dover on (the north coast of France) since Julius Caesar kne w that Britain was rich in minerals, corn, and even more important, a new excuse to prove once again his political ambition.

In 56 B.C., a rebellion took place in Gaul against the Romans and Britain Celts supported their neighbours from the other side of the Channel by sending their most fierce warriors to fight Roman enemies . Eventually, the Romans defeated the Gaul people, but Julius Caesar found out about the Britons help, which meant that he had a political excuse to invade the island and extend the frontiers of the Roman Empire. However, at that moment he did not leave the Continent first, so as to avoid

any other rebellion in Gaul and second, because he did not know the area and feared to fail his

attack (Asimov, 1990).

So, the first Roman invasio n of the lands we now call the British Isles took place in 55 B.C. under the leadership of Julius Caesar. He returned one year later, but did not lead to any significant or permanent occupation, just an exploratory expedition. So, on the night of 25 August, Julius Caesar sailed with two legions (10,000 men) in 80 ships across the Strait of Dover and landed on the south- eastern coast, in Kent 3 . The expedition was a disaster and they failed on account of, first, the violent reaction of Celtic people and second, the bad weather and the difficulties of resisting the attack of the Britons. So, after nearly four weeks, Caesar decided to re-embark his army for France and return

the next year.

After this victory, the British Celts thought they had defeated Caesar and felt overpowered, so they attacked the Romans in Gaul. Caesar felt the need to march against Britain again but with a stronger army. He did not want to fail again. Therefore, in 54 B.C. he crossed the Channel once more but this time he was accompanied by a fleet of eight hundred ships, almost five legions (50,000 men) and 2,000 cavalry (men and horses). He landed in Kent unopposed, marched north and crossed the Thames, but they found strong opposition in the northern part of the river. It was defended by Casivelauno, a tribal chief who fought until he was betrayed by a rival tribe and had to surrender.

Hence, Caesar succeeded in establishing himself in the southeast of Britain by enacting tribute from the natives. However, after three months he returned to Gaul because the hostile Gauls were taking advantage of the absence of the legions. He left no army, so after the spring and summer in that year, the Britons were as free as before, so free that they would not be troubled again by Roman legions for nearly a hundred years. Yet, the Celts would not march against Gaul again since they had learnt how much power the symbol of the ‘eagles’ had.

Gaul was soon under the process of romanisation and became one of the warmest Roman provinces. The Celtic language and laws were to be replaced by the Roman ones, and Britain was separated from the Continent more than ever before, not only because of the Channel but also to strong

clip_image002[1]cultural differences.

3 Kent was inhabited by a Celtic tribe known as ‘Cantii’. In fact, Canterbury, the most famous city of Kent, means ‘the city of Cantii people’ (Asimov, 1990:24).

2.2.2. The Roman Conquest.

However, what happened in those one hundred years after Julius Caesar left Britain for the last time? The answer is a series of events that prepared the ground for the Roman Conquest (also known as ‘romanisation’), which took place when Rome managed to control Britain in every cultural and social aspect. This was a slow process which officially began in 43 A.D. and ended in

409 A.D.. According to Asimov (1990), Britannia, as the Romans called the island, established

again a flourishing trade with the new Gaul, which became part of the rich, civilised and organized

Roman Empire.

Despite the distance, both in geographical and cultural terms, the south-east part of Britannia had acquired Roman habits (as the Roman coinage) and it was considered to be under Roman influence. After the death of Julius Caesar, Augusto (Caesar’s nephew) occupied the throne under the name of

‘Imperator’ (which means ‘leader’). Neither Augusto nor the following emperor, Tiberio were really interested in crossing the Channel, but the next emperor, Calígula was just about to do it because of a political event which would be responsible for the Roman Conquest in Britannia.

Cunobelino was a powerful tribal chief in Britain who had a peaceful alliance with the Emperor Augustus. Yet, one of his sons, Adminio, betrayed his father and offered Rome the island in exchange of the throne. Emperor Caligula (who was said to be mad) found this proposition funny and sent an army to the west coast of Gaul, although he never crossed the Channel. In fact, it was the fourth emperor, Claudius, who actually carried out this adventure when Cunobelino died in 43

A.D. since Adminio and his brother were a perfect political excuse to invade Britain. The conquest of southern Britain.

So, in May 43 A.D. the Roman commander Aulus Plautius invaded Britain from Boulogne and this is considered to be the starting point of the real Roman Conquest of the British Isles. He followed the same route as Caesar did one hundred years before, but brought with him four legions and about

20,000 auxiliary troops. The Roman army landed on the Kent coast and defeated the Britons in a

series of skirmishes in the north part of the Thames. The Romans established a fort in that place as a

military base (which later became a city called Londinium, now known as London).

Then, they defeated a tribal chief called Caractaco at a place situated at seventy-five kilometres up north-east of Londinium called Camulodunum (known as Colchester, which means ‘colonial campsite’), but Caractaco escaped to Wales. In the early autumn, Emperor Claudius arrived with reinforcements (including elephants) and personally supervised the capture of Colchester. Claudius accepted the surrender of other eleven tribal kings, appointed Aulus Plautius as the first Governor of Britain, and returned to Rome.

Conflict between some British tribes and the Roman invaders continued, although other tribes, such as the Iceni (of modern East Anglia), Atrebates (modern Sussex) and Brigantes (of northern

‘England’), quickly accepted Roman influence and began to assimilate. By 47 A.D., the legions had penetrated as far south-west as Cornwall; as far west as Wales (where tribes under the leadership of Caractacus put up resistance but were defeated, and Caractaco was captured and taken to Rome in

51 A.D.); and as far north as the Humber. The Romans began constructing a system of military roads, founded Londinium (modern London) and built a crossing over the Thames (near the site of present London Bridge).

By 60 A.D., the frontier had been pushed further and more tribes had been taken under Roman

‘protection’. One of these tribes, the Iceni, was situated up north Colchester and was under the rule of a humble and good tribal leader, Prasutagus, who had good relations with Rome. Before dying, he left his heritage to Emperor Nero as a guarantee to protect his wife and daughters. However, when Prasutagus died, the Romans brutalised his kingdom and family. Prasutagus’s widow, Boudicca, resisted the officials and as punishment was flogged, and her daughters were raped.

Boudicca raised the Iceni in rebellion against Rome and was supported by other tribes such as the Trinovantes (from modern Essex). The rebellion began in Colchester, which was burnt to the ground and its Roman and British pro-Roman inhabitants slaughtered, and continued with the sacking of London (which was also burnt) and St Albans. The British tribes were defeated by the governor, Suetonius Paulinus, in a battle in the Midlands. Boudicca committed suicide shortly afterwards, and Paulinus punished both the rebel tribes and other neutral tribes. Once the rebellion finished, Rome adopted a more conciliatory attitude. The conquest of northern Britain.

In 69 A.D. Vespasianus was proclaimed emperor in Rome and he sent a numerous army to Britain under the rule of a Roman general, Julio Agripa. He helped secure the advance of the Roman legions in the island by the construction of roads and fortified forts in the north. Between 77 and 83

A.D. the new governor Agrícola was also important in the romanization of Britain since he completed the conquest up to the north part (after defeating the Brigantes tribe at York). He also campaigned against the Ordovices in Wales and the tribes of modern Scotland.

In 78 A.D., Agricola crossed the Menai Strait to take Anglesey (a notorious hideout for anti-Roman elements such as the druids), and massacred the islands inhabitants. These events were reported by Agricola’s son-in- law, Tacitus who was his biographer. From 79 to 80 A.D., Agricola consolidated Roman military control of today’s Scotland, south of the Forth-Clyde line, being the first Roman to consider building a string of forts across the country from west to east.

In 81 A.D., Domicianus, Vespasianus’s son, was proclaimed emperor but he did not share Agricola’s view of the conquest. Between 81 to 83 A.D., Agricola campaigned north of the Forth- Clyde line and in the end, he confronted the Caledonii (under Calgacus) at the Battle of Mons Graupius. Although the result was not decisive, Agricola was able to establish the most northerly legionary fortress of the Empire at Inchtuthill in Perthshire. The northern British tribes were unimpressed and were never fully taken under Roman dominion. In 84 A.D., Domicianus started then a mere defensive policy regarding the conquest.

The problems with northern tribes continued under the rule of Emperor Trajano. After several attempts to conquer today’s Scotland, the Romans withdrew in 105 A.D. and the northern frontier was still fixed at the Tyne -Solway line. However, the situatio n changed with the next emperor, Hadrian (76-138 A.D.) who, in 122 A.D. visited Britain and decided to build a physical frontier, called Hadrian’s Wall, which was completed in 139 A.D. This stone wall was seventy-five miles long (about 120 kilometres), two to three metres thick and five metres high. It covered a line from east to west from today’s Carlisle to the modern Newcastle (160 km down from Vespasianus limits).

It was specially built to separate the Roman province from the barbarian land to the north but undoubtedly it also served as a powerful visual symbol of the might of Rome. The wall had castellated defences on both sides and eighty mile -castles and forts were built along, garrisoned by

auxiliary troops. At first, the Northern tribes continued to rebel, and there was the need to refortify

it numerous times, but later on the south limit of Britannia could enjoy a time of peace.

Yet, a further attempt to reach the north was made in 142 A.D. on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius, Hadrian’s successor. He built a second wall (142-144 A.D.), called Antonine’s Wall, across the narrowest neck of land between the Forth and the Clyde, but this time it was not as solid as Hadrian’s one since it was made of turf, stone and wood. The Antonine Wall was thirty-seven miles long, four metres wide and fronted by a ditch approximately twelve metres in width. It also had forts and fortlets on the same pattern as Hadrian’s Wall but was occupied only for a short time. Yet, it was too far to be defended and too difficult to maintain, so by 160 A.D., the Romans had to abandon it. The two provinces of Britain.

In subsequent years, the murder of Emperor Comodo (192 A.D.) made the Roman Empire enter a series of civil wars, and it was a political chaos. As all the attention was focused now on the Continent, the north tribes of Britain had free way towards the south and both walls were destroyed. These tribes were called ‘picts’ and had Celtic origins. Moreover, the north part of Britain was also invaded by Irish tribes, which were called ‘scots’. The last attempt to restore the two Roman walls in Britain was made by Septimus Severus and his sons, who went to Britannia in 209 to fight these tribes. Yet, Antonine’s Wall was abandoned forever and Hadrian’s Wall was restored and established as the definite frontier. Severo was the first emperor who died in Britain (in York in 211


So, by 216 A.D., Britain had been divided into two provinces, largely as an administrative measure. The one in the south was called ‘Britannia Superior’, which comprised south and west and had two legions based at Caerleon and Chester. On the other hand, the one in the north was called ‘Britannia Inferior’, and had one legion at York, and auxiliary troops in forts and on Hadrian’s Wall. In the south, there followed a period of relative peace in Britain until c.300 since rebellions were focused up in the north of the island. Emperor Septimus Severus undertook the most costly military campaign against today’s Scotland since Agricola. Howeve r, despite limited initial success, the Romans were again forced to withdraw their forces after a short period.

2.3. The end of Roman Britain.

As stated above, Hadrian and Antonine’s Walls were not enough to prevent the attacks of Picts and Scots “from crossing the northern border and destroying both the Roman headquarters and the peaceful existence of the Celtic client kingdoms” (Camilo & Sánchez, 1996:28). When the Celtic tribes got the independence, this event accelerated the political and economic decline of the Roman Empire.

2.3.1. The decline of Roman influence.

Between 260 and 274, Britain became known as the Gallic Empire when Roman General Postumus rebelled and set up his own small empire in Britain and Gaul. This was partly in response to the emperor’s failure to defend these provinces against raids by the Germanic tribes of the Franks and Saxons. Postumus was murdered by his troops in 268 A.D., but the Gallic Empire lasted until 274

A.D., when its third emperor, Tetricus, made a deal with the Roman Emperor Aurelian and surrendered it back into his hands.

This political inestability ended in 284 A.D. when the general Dioclecianus was proclaimed emperor, and he decided to divide the Empire into two parts, and therefore, ruled by two different emperors. In 293 A.D., the new Emperor of the West was Constantius, a married man with a son called Constantine. However, so as to get to the throne, he had to marry another woman, the step- daughter of the Emperor of the East.

By this time, Christian people were persecuted throughout all the Roman Empire, except in the West part. Although Constantius was not a Christian, he was a tolerant man and he just ignored Dioclecianus’s claim. When Constantius died in York on 25th July 306 A.D., his troops immediately declared his son Constantine Emperor in his place. Constantine went on from there to conquer the whole Roman Empire, defeating his main rival, Maxentius, at the Milvian Bridge in

312 A.D. Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire, and his new capital, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) was founded as a Christian city in 324 A.D.

However, during the fourth century A.D., the Roman Empire was threatened by continuous invasions of Saxons, Picti and Scoti. In 367 A.D. there was a concerted land and sea invasion of the

British province by the Picti (Picts) of Northern Britain, the Irish, Scoti (also from Ireland),

Attacotti (reputedly a cannibal, and probably an island, tribe), and some Saxons. Hadrian’s Wall was overrun and Emperor Valentinus sent his most powerful general, Theodosius, with the purpose of restoring administration. An amnesty was announced for the army deserters who were roaming the country, and the frontiers refortified.

However, following the death of Theodosius (395 A.D.), the West part of the Roman Empire started to decline. The invasions continued both in Britain and on the Continent by 400 A.D. In Britain, three non-Roman kingdoms were established north of Hadrian’s Wall: Strathclyde (south central Scotland), Gododdin (modern Lothian) and Galloway, and the south-east Britain continued to prosper. Yet, on the Continent Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons and Jutes c.390) invaded Italy and the Roman legions in Britain had to leave to Gaul in 407 A.D.

Further attacks from the Germanic people on the continent, including the sack of Rome in 410 A.D., led to the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain. Nearly four centuries and a half after Julius Caesar landed in Kent, the last Roman legions left Britain so as not to never return.

2.3.2. The arrival of the Germanic people.

The Angles (from Schleswig-Holstein), Saxons and Jutes (from Jutland) invaded and settled extensively in southern and central Britain from the late fourth century onwards. The Romano- British aristocracy had employed some as mercenaries; some came in search of land as invaders. Vortigern, a leader of the Britons in the post-Roman period is thought to have invited two Saxon warriors and their troops into Britain to act as a mercenary force but his Saxon allies revolted, joining the invaders and setting up their own rule in Kent.

Between 420 and 430 A.D. there was an economic crisis which led to the collapse of money economy in the British Isles. Under Vortigern’s rule the crisis was accentuated by the al ck of coordination among the local chieftains, economic problems and the repeated attacks of the norther Picts, Scots and Caledonians. The latter seems to be the reason why continental Germanic people were invited to settle in Britain (Conde & Sánchez, 1996). These Germanic peoples continued to arrive throughout the fifth and sixth centuries, forming the South Saxon Kingdom (or Sussex), the West Saxon kingdom (or Wessex), and the East Saxon kingdom (or Essex). But this another story.


In this chapter, we shall analyse the impact of romanisation in Britain so as to get, more particularly, to which extent Latin influenced the development of English language in the following years and how this inf luence is present in the language, that is, the means of this transmission: (1) loanwords and calques under the label of borrowings. So we shall start by defining (a) the concept of ‘borrowing’, from which we get the definitions of (b) ‘ loanwords’ and ‘calques’ as a result of languages in contact.

Then, with these concepts in mind, we shall analyse (2) the impact of romanisation in Britain so as to get, more particularly, to which extent (3) Latin influenced the development of English language in different periods up to now, thus (a) Old English regarding (i) its influence on the continent, (ii) in Britain and (iii) during the Christianization of Britain; (b) Middle English (c) Modern English and (d) up to now.

3.1. Loanwords and calques.

3.1.1. On defining the concept of borrowing.

According to Nelson (1974), “the demands for new meanings which are made by changes in the physical and cultural environment are frequently met by extension or transfer of the meanings of already existing words”. But new words are ofte n needed and they come from many sources, such as prefixation, suffixation, derivational processes as well as other minor devices in word-formation among which we find the concept of ‘borrowing’.

Therefore, the traditional literature basically distinguishes three main types of name -giving: (a) taking an already existing word and applying it to a new referent (semantic change); (b) creating a new word with the material offered by the speaker’s language (word formation: prefixation, suffixation, derivational processes); and (c) adopting linguistic material from another language (borrowing, loan). This latter has been the most important source of new words in English.

So, ‘borrowing’ refers to the incorporation of foreign features into the native language by the speakers of that language. Note that the native language is maintained but is changed somewhat by

the addition of the incorporated features. Haugen defines borrowing as “the attempted reproduction

in one language of patterns previously found in another” (1972:81). It is then an “attempted” reproduction because making a perfect reproduction from a language with a different system is impossible.

The term ‘borrowing’ is used in comparative and historical linguistics to refer to linguistic forms which have been taken over by one language or dialect from another due to social and cultural needs. So extensive has it been that by far the greatest part of the present-day English vocabulary is made up of borrowed rather than native words.

We can talk about “reproduction” because of the impossibility of directly transferring a feature in one system over to another system. Reproduction rather refers to the creation of a new form in the recipient language on the model of a form in the source language. In other words, if a speaker of language A reproduces the new linguistic patterns, not in the context of the language in which he or she learned them, but in the context of language B, he or she may be said to have “borrowed” them from language A to language B.

Apart from the very general distinction between ‘necessity borrowing’ and ‘luxury borrowing’, there are two frequently named motives for the adoption of linguistic material from another language, thus the “need to designate new things” and the “prestige” involved in these terms. In addition, the following aspects have been also mentioned as main causes for lexical borrowing: the need to differenciate special nuances of meaning, the need to play with words, the feeling of insufficiently differenciated conceptual fields, the creation of a specific conceptual field, the political or cultural dominion of one people by another, the bilingual character of a society and the lack of lexicographical means, among others.

Finally, Haugen (1972) distinguishes two types of borrowing, namely importation and substitution. If the borrowing were similar enough to the model of language A so that native speakers would accept it as their own, the borrowing speaker may be said to have imported the model into his or her language. But if the reproduction of the model is not so adequate, then a substitution is taking place.

3.1.2. On defining loanwords and calques .

Hence, the concept of borrowing is defined then as ‘a process which adopt linguistic material from another language ’ which is realized by means of ‘loanwords’ and ‘calques’. Note that the terms

‘borrowing’ and ‘loan’ refer to the same concept (in opposition to the term ‘borrowing’ as a process) as in ‘restaurant, chagrin, fiancé, café’. Haugen regards loanwords as “homophonous extensions, in which the phonemic replica was not made phoneme -by-phoneme, but was mutated by influence of phonemically similar morphemes (Haugen, 1956:764).

On the other hand, the term ‘calque’ comes from French ‘calquer’ and refers to a type of borrowing where the morphemic constituents of the borrowed word or expression are translated item by item into equivalent morphemes in the new language (i.e. godspell from Lat. Evangelium; headfather from Lat. Patriarch).

Following Haugen (1972), the classical version for lexical borrowings distinguishes loans taken from (a) importation ( (b) partial substitution and (c) substitution.

Within importation we may classify two types: a borrowed word which can be unassimilated from a foreign word (i.e. café, fiancé, envelope) or assimilated (i.e. music, whiskey). So we may further distinguish between the terms ‘foreign word’ (German

‘Fremdwort’) and loanword (German ‘Lehnwort’) where the main criterion for the

separation is supposed to be the degree of integration.

Regarding partial substitution, we find loan blends, which are hybrid composites where one word is borrow ed and another one substituted (i.e. Saturday, from OE Saturdes daeg). Regarding substitution, we find

o ‘loan formations’, also called, loan translations, of the elements of the foreign

words, for instance, ‘Monday’ from ‘Lunae dies’, or from French ‘gratte-ciel’ to

Spanish ‘rascacielos’.

o Also, loan meaning or loan creations, where we find a coinage independent of a foreign word, but created out of the des ire to replace a foreign word (i.e. English

‘fear’ vs. Lat. ‘trepidation’).

o And pseudo loans, which are indigenous word to which the meaning of the foreign

word is transferred, for instance, OE cniht ‘servant + disciple of Jesus’ gives Latin

‘discipulus’, meaning student of disciple of Jesus.

It is obvious that the most typical as well as the most numerous class of words introduced by the new culture would have to do with that culture and the details of its external organization. Words are generally taken over by one language from another in answer to a definite need. They are adopted because they express ideas that are new or because they are so intimately associated with an object or a concept that acceptance of the thing involves acceptance also of the word (Baugh & Cable, 1993:84).

As seen, the adoption of new habits of life implied a change in society, religion, customs, food, leisure, education and, especially, in language, too. Latin, being the language of the Roman Empire, had already influenced the language of the earlier inhabitants of the island for two main reasons: first, because the nearly four centuries of romanisation on the British Isles and, second, because in the Middle Ages Latin was considered as the language of cultural transmission and a high cultivated level. So, Latin loanwords reflected the superior material culture of the Roman Empire, which had spread across Europe: street, wall, cnadle, chalk, inch, pound, port, camp. Germanic tribes even before they set foot in Britain. Still today, English shows certain effects, especially additions to its vocabulary, and the nature of these contacts and the changes that were effected by them will form the subject of this section.

3.2. The impact of romanisation in Britain.

The impact of romanisation was to be noticed all over Britain at all levels, that is, social, economic, political, personal, cultural, and educational, among others. In general, the process of romanization implied a strong cultural change which was to be adopted and admired by the earlier inhabitants of the island. Following Baugh & Cable (1993:44), Romans left the legacy of their way of living in such a variety of issues. For instance,

the construction of four main highways “from London to the north, the northwest, the west, and the southwest, while a fifth cut across the island from Lincoln to the Severn”; and

numerous lesser roads so as to connect important military or civil centers. Also, they left a

fine system of navigable inland waterways which enabled cargoes to move inland, a complex system of natural rivers and canals, which still exist.

the architectural style in a score of small cities and more than a hundred towns, with their

Roman houses, baths, temples and occasional theatres:

o “The houses were equipped with heating apparatus and water supply, their floors were paved in mosaic, and their walls were of painted stucco, all as in their Italian counterparts” (Baugh & Cable, 1993:44).

o Every town had its bath complex, as did inns and almost all the houses. Public baths and those outside army forts were the Roman equivalent of modern leisure centres. Also, although a rare facility, they built outdoor swimming- pools.

o They also built temples, and occasional theatres. Moreover, many towns boasted an amphitheatre, usully built in the outskirts of the city. Games were held there for religious and military purposes, particularly on the emperor’s birthday.

Regarding the Roman dress, their clothes were made of home-spun wool. A man would wear a simply cut tunic which also served as nightshirt. If he were on official business, he would wear the famous ‘toga’ over the tunic, but if not he would put on a long overtunic held in by a belt and, in cold weather a cloak. Dealing with footwear, they usually wore leather sandals on bare feet and boots in cold weather.

On the other hand, a woman would be assisted by a servant since she had to take care of her appearance. She would use cosmetic paste, wore and ankle – length tunic covered by a shorter one or a kind of toga with coloured sandals. Their dress’ colour would denote her social status as well as their jewellery.

Regarding ornaments, they liked wearing pieces of Celtic or Roman-style furniture and jewellery. This latter would denote their social status.

Roman pottery and glassware seem to have been in general use.

In terms of food, they grew their own grain for the staple diet of bread and porridge. Also, the romanized and urbanized middle and upper classes would eat a wide variety of food. Thus, the main meal of the day was selected from a wide range of meat, fruit and vegetables to be eaten in the evening while drinking good wine. They already had wine shops and restaurants to enjoy social life. In addition, they introduced a wide range of fruit and vegetables, such as cherries, grapes, figs, mulberries, raisins, radishes, peas, broad beans and celery, which implied a varied and healthy diet.

Moreover, Romans were keen on games. Gambling was present in Romanized society and

in the army, among which dice was the commonest game. The family used to play games similar to draughts and chess with pieces made of bone or pottery, and would play the lyre and cithera for musical entertainment. Also, chariot racing, like horse-racing today, and the entertainment world of gladiators in the Roman circus.

In terms of religion, Romans were driven by superstition and worshipped both their own and other people’s deities.

Yet, the biggest impact of the Roman Conquest in Britain was its influence on the English language.

3.3. Latin influence on the English language.

As seen, the adoption of new habits of life implied a change in society, religion, customs, food, leisure, education and, especially, in language, too. Latin, being the language of the Roman Empire, had already influenced the language of the earlier inhabitants of the island for two main reasons: first, because of the nearly four centuries of romanisation on the British Isles and, second, because in the Middle Ages Latin was considered as the language of cultural transmission and a high cultivated level. Latin had already influenced the language of Germanic tribes even before they set foot in Britain, and even today we can feel its influence on specialized language (i.e. medicine, name of school projects, etc).

The language we know nowadays as English is not merely the product of different dialects, but the product of a wide range of elements which entered into it in the course of more than two thousand years. For our purposes, in the first seven hundred years of its existence in England it was brought into contact with at least three other languages, the languages of the Celts, the Romans, and the Scandinavians, followed by the Germanic tribes. Yet, we shall offer an account of the Latin influence on the English language in different periods, thus Old English regarding (i) its influence on the continent, (ii) in Britain and (iii) during the Christianization of Britain. , Middle English and Modern English.

3.3.1. Latin influence in Old English. On the continent.

Before the Romans settled in Britain, the first Latin words found their way into the English language through the early contact between the Romans and the Germanic tribes on the continent. The extensive intercourse between these two peoples justified the exchanging of words from one language to the other (i.e. several hundred Latin words found in the various Germanic dialects). These Latin words are found in all social ranks and classes, from slaves to the commanders of important Roman military divisions. Yet, although they were scattered throughout the empire, they were naturally most numerous along the northern frontier, on the border of Germanic frontiers.

This type of intercourses (i.e. military, trade) increased when, after the conquest of Gaul by Caesar, Roman merchants found their way into all parts of the Germanic territory. This made possible the transference of Latin words from one tribe into another (even into Scandinavia) and the adopted words (which are called ‘loanwords’) indicated the new conceptions that the Germa nic peoples acquired from the contact with the Roman civilization.

For instance, Germanic tribes focused on agriculture and war, so Latin words reflected this reality. Among the most common borrowings, we highlight those related to military affairs (i.e. mil ‘mile’, camp ‘battle’, segn ‘banner’), trade (i.e. sacc ‘sack’, ceap ‘cheap’, mangunghus ‘shop’, seam

‘boan’, mynet ‘coin’, win ‘wine’, eced ‘vinegar’, flasce ‘flask, bottle’), domestic life (i.e. cytel

‘kettle’, mese ‘table’, teped ‘carpet’, sigel ‘brooch’), food (i.e. ciese ‘cheese’, pipor ‘pepper’, senep

‘mustard’, butere ‘butter’), building arts (i.e. cealc ‘chalk’, copor ‘copper’, tigele ‘tile’), and miscellaneous (i.e. pawa ‘peacock’, casere ‘emperor’, Saeternesdaeg ‘Saturday’). In Britain.

Following Baugh & Cable (1993:44), the evidences of Romanization are widespread all over Britain since “a great number of inscriptions have been found,”. All of them are written in Latin and there is no doubt that they proceed from the military and official class since, being in the nature of public records, were therefore in the official language. Yet, they do not in themselves indicate a widespread use of Latin by the native population.

It is believed that the influence that Celtic language exerted on Old English limited in like manner

the Latin influence that sprang from the period of Roman occupation. Moreover Baugh & Cable (1993:79) add that Latin did not replace the Celtic language in Britain as it did in Gaul, since its use was probably confined to members of the upper classes and some inhabitants of the cities and towns by native Britons. Therefore, there was no opportunity for direct contact between Latin and Old English in England, and such Latin words would have found their way into English through Celtic transmission. In fact, the Celts had used a wide range of Latin words (over 600) but the relations between the Celts and the natives were such that these words were not passed on.

Tacitus tells us that in the time of Agricola the Britons, who had hitherto shown only hostility to the language of their conquerors, now became eager to speak it. At about the same time, a Greek teacher from Asia Minor was teaching in Britain, and by A.D. 96 the poet Martial as able to boast that his works were read even in this far-off island” (Baugh & Cable, 1993:45). They add that “on the whole, there were certainly many people in Roman Britain who habitually spoke Latin or upon occasion could use it. But its use was not sufficiently widespread to cause it to survive, as the Celtic language did. Its use probably began to decline after 410 A.D., the approximate date at which the last of the Roman legions were officially withdrawn from the island” (Baugh & Cable, 1993:45). The Christianizing of Britain.

According to Baugh & Cable (1993:80), “the greatest influence of Latin upon Old English was occasioned by the conversion of Britain to Roman Christianity beginning in AD 597. Latin was also the language of Christianity, and when St Augustine arrived in Britain in AD 597 to christianise the nation, terms in religion were borrowed, thus ‘pope, bishop, monk, nun, cleric, demon, disciple, mass, priest, shrine’. Christianity also brought with it learning and therefore, vocabulary related to it: ‘circul, not, paper, scol (school), epistol’.

The religion was far from new in the island, because Irish monks had been preaching the gospel in the north since the founding of the monastery of Iona by Columba in AD 563. Yet, 597 marks the beginning of a systematic atte mpt on the part of Rome to convert the inhabitants and make England a Christian country, which lasted for more than 500 years. This was a difficult task since the problem was not so much to substitute one ritual for another as to change the philosophy of a nation.

On the one hand, the religion that the Anglo-Saxon and the Germanic tribes were often in contrast

to the teachings of the New Testament. Whereas Germanic philosophy exalted physical courage, independence and loyalty to one’s family or leader, Christianity preached meekness, humility, and patience under suffering. The introduction of Christianity meant the close of the Old English period and many new conceptions that followed the new religion. Latin borrowings in this period are to be divided into two groups since words are more or less equal in size but quite different in character.

Following Baugh & Cable (1993:83), the first group “represents words whose phonetic form shows that they were borrowed early and whose early adoption is attested also by the fact that they had found their way into literature” whereas “the other contains words of a more learned character first recorded in the tenth and eleventh centuries” which owed their introduction to the clear religious revival that accompanied the Benedictine Reform.

The flourishing state of the church resulted on the influence of Latin upon the English language, which rose and fell with the fortunes of religious matters and the state of learning, so intimately connected. As a result of a new focus on literary activity, a new series of Latin importations took place as a way of representing the movement. Thus, in religious terms: alb, antiphoner, apostle, cntor, cell, collect, dalmatic, demon, font, idol, nocturn, prime, prophet, and synagogue, among others; everyday life: accent, brief, decline, history, paper, pumice, quatern, terminus and title ; plant names: celandine, cucumber, gigner, lovage, periwinkle, petersili (parsley); trees: cedar, cypress, fig, laurel and magdala (almond); medical terms: cancer, paralysis, scrofula, plaster ; animal kinds: aspide, camel, lamprey, scorpion, tiger.

3.3.2. Latin influence in Middle English.

The Middle English period (1150- 1500) was particularly marked by important changes in the English language. Some of them were the result of the Norman Conquest and the consequences of that event and others were a continuation of tendencies that had begun in Old English. In grammar, English was reduced from being an inflected language to an extremely analytic one. Similarly , the field of vocabulary lost a large part of the Old English word-stock and the addition of thousands of words from French and Latin. But why did they still use Latin after so many years?

Obviously, the new French-speaking nobility used French to supply deficiencies in the English

vocabulary (which was removed to the low social classes) and borrowed a large number of words from Latin. Latin borrowings gained admission through written means, since we must not forget that Latin was a spoken language among ecclesiastics and therefore, men of learning. In fact, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries proved quite prolific when, in 1384, the Bible was translated by John Wycliffe and he used more than a thousand Latin words which were completely unknown in English.

In general, we may find terms related to law (i.e. conspiracy, custody, contempt, homicide, legal, lucrative, malefactor, notary, prosecute, scrutiny, subjugate, testify), medicine (i.e. immune, inferior, medicine, recipe, prevent, rational, ulcer), theology (i.e. allegory, genius, incarnate, infinite, intellect, limbo, missal, rosary, supplicate), science (i.e. incubus, juniper, mechanical, lunatic, rational, suparabundance, zenith), literature (i.e. history, include, index, innumerable, ornate, popular, script), among others. As we can see, we may notice several with endings like – able, – ible,, -ent, -al, -ous, – ive which became familiar in English and are of Latin origin. But in many cases Latin words were being borrowed by French at the same time, and the adoption of a word in English may often have been due to the impact of both languages (Baugh & Cable,


3.3.3. Latin influence in Modern English.

The period of Modern English, whose beginning is conveniently placed at 1500, is namely represented by the Reinassance (1500-1650), a movement which brought with it new conditions that previously had not existed in the Middle Ages, for instance, the printing press, the rapid spread of popular education, the increased communication and means of communication, the growth of specialized knowledge, and the emergence of various forms of self-consciousness about language. This meant an increasing interest in the fields of science, medicine and arts.

Hence, the invention of the printing press brought with it a far-reaching influence on all the vernacular languages of Europe. Printing made such rapid progress that a scant century later it was observed that manuscript books were seldom to be seen and almost never used, and the majority of them were in Latin. The result was a renewed interest in new publications so as to bring books,

which had formerly been the expensive luxury of the few, within the reach of many. Then there was

a great interest in the classical literatures and, therefore, in classical languages: Latin and Greek.

By that time, English had developed from what it formerly was in Old English and had a remarkable recovery. From this time on the course of its history it ran in many ways parallel with that of the other important European languages. According to Baugh & Cable (1993:198), “in the sixteenth century the modern languages faced three great problems: (1) recognition in the fields where Latin had for centuries been supreme, (2) the establishment of a more uniform orthography, and (3) the enrichment of the vocabulary in English so as to meet the demands of the period.

So, although English had attained a firm position as the language of popular literature, there was a strong tradition which strengthened the use use of Latin in all the fields of knowledge by the revival of learning in that period. Latin and Greek were not only the key to the world’s knowledge but also the languages in which much highly esteemed poetry, oratory, and philosophy were to be read. And Latin had the advantage of universal currency since all the educated all over Europe could freely communicate with it, both in speech and writing, in a common idiom.

As Baugh & Cable state (1993:199), “scholars felt their superiority to the less educated and were jealous of a prerogative that belonged to them alone. The defenders of the classical tradition were at no loss for arguments in support of their position. Hence it was feared that the study of classical languages, and even learning itself, would suffer if the use of the vernaculars were carried too far”. The revival of learning revealed how rich was the store of knowledge and experience preserved from the civilizations of Greece and Rome. So, if the academicians, the diplomats, the men of affairs were to get profit from it , they had to express in the language that everybody read.

The demand was meet soon and translations poured from the press in the course of the sixteenth century. Yet, as we approach the end of the sixteenth century we see that English slowly won recognition as a language of serious thought, as a note of patriotic feeling in the attitude of many people. The wholesale borrowing of words from other languages (in particular Greek and Latin) was not met with universal favor. The opposition to inkhorn terms had its peak in the middle of the sixteenth century.However, this objection to new words was approved by many people who stood for ‘an enrichment of our native tongue’ (Dryden, Aeneid , 1697).

Many of these borrowings or inkhorn terms are in such common use today that it is difficult for us

to realize that to the Elizabethan they were so strange and hard as to be a subject of controversy (i.e. the word ‘encyclopedia’ filled a need in English and it has lived on). In the Renaissance the renewed study of Greek le d to the introduction of some Greek words at first hand (i.e. acme, anonymous, catastrophe, heterodox, lexicon, ostracize, polemic, thermometer, and tonic); other were acquired by Latin from Greek (i.e. anachronism, atmosphere, autograph); others were adde d (i.e. antipathy, antithesis, chaos, chronology, crisis, emphasis, pneumonia, skeleton).

So, as we can see, some words which entered the language at that time retained their original Latin form (i.e. ‘climax, appendix, epitome, exterior, axis’) whereas others underwent changes by the simple process of cutting off the Latin ending (i.e. conjectural from ‘conjectural- is’, consult from

‘consult-are’, exotic from ‘exotic -us’). Many words borrowed from Latin at that time end in –us , –

al (adjectives), –ate (ve rbs), -tas, –ty, -ance, -ence, -ancy, -ency (nouns), and so on. In the Renaissance the words which were not learned words needed of learned people to become known. In fact, the Latin words that form such an important element of English vocabulary have generally entered the language through the medium of writing, under the work of churchment and scholars.

3.3.4. Latin influence up to now.

Yet, it is difficult to say whether the Latin loanwords which came in the Modern English period were direct borrowings from Latin or had come in through French since, after all, Latin was also the language of learning among the French. But what happens nowadays? Do Latin loanwords still refer to a kind of learned language? In fact, one great motivation for the borrowings is the change in social order and specialized language, where scientific and philosophical empiricism in particular is valued since many of the new words are academic in nature (i.e. apparatus, caveat, corpuscle, compendium, equilibrium, equinox, formula, inertia, incubate, momentum, molecule, pendulum, premium, stimulus, subtract, vaccinate, vacuum). This resulted and still results in the distinction between learned and popular vocabulary in English.


The influence of Latin on the English language may be approached in the teaching of languages from several perspectives. First, because of the nature of loanwords, we deal with lexis and its morphology, from which we may examine word formation and its processes (borrowing is one of them); second, we may deal with lexical semantics, that is, the relationship among word meanings between words at a paradigmatic level, and therefore with the fairly traditional concepts of homonymy, synonymy, and antonymy; third, sociology, since the choice of semantic meaning implies social and cultural relationships dealing with power and status; fourth, a historical approach to the development of events that brings the influence of Latin words up to nowadays.

As we can see, the Latin influence may be approached in linguistic terms (morphology and lexis) and also from a cross-curricular perspective (Sociology, History, English and Spanish Language ). Spanish students are expected to know about the Roman Empire and its influence in Europe since they are acquainted with these events in the history of Spain. Moreover, students are also required to know about the culture and history of the foreign language they are studying. So, Latin influence is easily approached by means of lexical analysis through loanwords since they are the result of a mixing of cultures which once took place in England, in particular the three-fold distinction which took place after the Norman Conquest between French, Latin and English so as to differenciate social status.

So, first, on examining the role of words as a linguistic sign, we deal with the traditional concepts of homonymy, synonymy, and antonymy. These concepts are mainly studied from two branches of linguistics: etymology, on the origin of words, and semantics, on the study of meaning of words. These concepts would also need to be formulated somewhat differently in relation to particular theories of phonology, syntax and morphology from a rather traditional view of the grammatical and lexical structure of languages. We should also include the concepts of false friends and lexical creativity in order to study and classify all posible lexical relations into sense-relations in paradigmatic terms.

Linguistically speaking, the role of vocabulary in the acquisition of a second language has often dealt with only incidentally in the preparation of class material since most attention was paid to other aspects of language, such as grammar, phonology, and discourse analysis. After a lengthy period of being preoc cupied with the development of grammatical competence, language teachers

and applied linguistic researchers now generally recognise the importance of vocabulary learning

and are exploring ways of promoting it more effectively.

Yet we must not forget that lexical knowledge is central to communicative competence and to the acquisition of a second language since no grammar or other type of linguistic knowledge can be employed in communication or discourse without the mediation of vocabulary (Read, 2000). Whe n Hymes (1972) brought about the notion of communicative competence, he neglected Chomsky’s approach by stating that native speakers knew more than just grammatical competence. With a tradition on sociolinguistics, he had a broader view of the term which included not only grammatical competence, but also sociolinguistic and contextual competence, that is, the underlying knowledge a speaker has of the rules of grammar including phonology, orthography, syntax, lexicon, and semantics, and the rules for their use in socially appropriate circumstances.

Students are expected to learn about the influence of Latin, not only from a linguistic approach but also from a social point of view, since the semantic choice between words tends to emphasize the importance of different groups of users. For instance, the exposure to Latin has been sustained throughout much of the recorded history of English, and it is this that helps give the language its European flavour, in that many of our words are quickly recognisable to speakers of French, Italian and Spanish.

This exposure has been pervasive enough to give rise to some popular notions and stereotypes about parts of the English lexicon. Speaking in words of one syllable appeals to the Anglo- Saxon element (monosyllabic quality, the loss of inflections); talking like a book, to the more learned, polysyllabic quality derived from the Romance languages as French. In fact, these associations have an important stylistic trait in the language we know today since French loanwords are common in domains associated with power and prestige (i.e. French ‘request’ and Latin ‘interrogare’) rather than the Anglo-Saxon ‘ask’.

This section is aimed to look at present-day approaches on the use of vocabulary from an educational approach, and therefore, within the framework of a classroom setting. This type of formal instruction in language teaching addresses the role played by our current educational system, L.O.G.S.E., in providing our students the foundations for a knowledge of vocabulary and word- formation processes. The Spanish Educational System (B.O.E. 2002) states that there is a need for learning a foreign language in order to communicate with other European countries, and a need for

emphasizing the role of a foreign language which gets relevance as a multilingual and multicultural


Within this context, students are expected to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals (i.e. learned language vs. colloquial one) within specific contexts (i.e. different social status). The European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System within the framework of the Educational Reform, envisages vocabulary knowledge of second language learners within the four skills (writing, reading, listen ing, and speaking) as both necessary and reasonably straightforward since words are the basic building blocks of language. When it comes to verbal skills, lexis is somewhat easier because much less is required for listening and speaking than for reading and writing.

Our goal as teachers is to highlight a number of key principles, such as to build a large sight vocabulary, to integrate new words (Modern English) with old (Latin words), to provide a number of encounters with a word, to promote a deep level of processing, to make new words ‘real’ by connecting them to the student’s world in some say, and above all, to use a variety of techniques in word-formation to encourage independent learning strategies. In fact, vocabulary acquisition is an incremental process, and teachers must concentrate not only on introducing new words, but also on enhancing learners’ knowledge of previously presented historical events.


This study has looked at the influence of Latin on the English language through the recorded history of the English language in the British Isles and also, how this influence was to be realized by means of loanwords (borrowings and calques). Historically speaking, although Britain was methodically brought into the Roman world in the years after 43 AD, the process was not always peaceful and saw sustained military conflicts with traditional tribal warbands. Roman civilisation slowly supplanted indigenous ways of life and flourished in new military and urban centres as well as in the wider countryside.

We have analysed how the process of ‘Romanisation’ controlled Britain in every aspect of culture and society , and still does in our present society. Thus , Roman style influenced architecture, dress,

enterta inment and religion, and also how many towns were built to house military and

administrative personnel, including Corinium (Cirencester), Camulodunum (Colchester), Verulamium (St Albans), Lindum (Lincoln) and Londinium (London). Moreover, two major improvements were in the areas of communication and sanitation: many new roads were built and waterways improved, and the building of drains and bathhouses encouraged improved hygiene. In addition, medical practice also altered, with the result that there was raised life expectancy, meaning a growth in the population (which continued until its peak at the end of the third century).

On the other hand, regarding linguistic consequences, we may affirm that Latin loanwords establish a relative similarity between the two languages, Spanish and English (L1 and L2 respectively) that may be useful for learning English. It must be borne in mind that an adult Spanish student generally perceives that there is a great distance from Spanish to English, but a realization of how many words there are in common betw een current Spanish and English can offer a learner a ‘bridge’ to the new language.

Spanish are taught in their schools that their language has a large number of internationalisms, but there is an even larger ‘bridge’ between Spanish and English than many learners realize. It’s useful for teachers as well, to recognize that this perceived distance between Spanish and English is not as great as the main difficulties in speaking which might lead them to believe. A study of lexical items (Latin loanwords) shows that these two distant descendents of Indo-European have certain historical influences in common; they especially have in common a number of procedures for acquiring and forming new words (Latin endings in –us, -um). With this information, teachers can help students lessen their fear of this perceived distance.

In the Spanish curriculum (B.O.E. 2002), the study of vocabulary, has been considered an important element of language teaching, and also word- meaning devices. After all, the importance of vocabulary cannot be understated since you cannot communicate without it. The popularity of the communicative method has left the ‘teaching’ of specific linguistic information on the sidelines, but in order for ESL teachers to help students recognize new L2 words, the teachers need to know the linguistic information themselves as well as the historical background of it for our purposes in this unit.

Learners cannot do it all on their own. Language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, do not automatically recognize similiarities which seem obvious to teachers; learners need to have

these associations brought to their attention. As we have seen, understanding the notions of

semantic features and sense relations is important to teachers because they are typical means of defining new words. Students are expected to be aware of the richness of English in synonyms, largely due to the happy mingling of English, French and Latin elements during Middle Ages (i.e. rise-mount-ascend; goodness-virtue-probity; fast-firm-secure; fire-flame-conflagration; respectively).

So far, we have attempted in this conclusion to look for linguistic and historical similiarities and differences in word-associations between Spanish and English with obviously no claim to completene ss, but only personal curiosity and a desire to bring some information to the attention of teachers who might find it useful for their students.


Algeo, J. 1982. Problems in the origins and development of the English language . Harcourt Brace

Jovanovich, Inc.

Algeo , J. and T. Pyles. 1982. The origins and development of the English language. Harcourt Brace

Jovanovich, Inc.

Asimov, Isaac. 1990. La formación de Inglaterra . Historia Universal, Alianza Editorial.

Conde, J.C. and A. Sánchez. 1996. An Introduction to the History of the English language-I: Old English . PPU: Promociones y Pu blicaciones Universitarias.

Bauer, L. 1983. English Word-Formation. Cambridge University Press.

Baugh, A. & Cable, T. 1993. A History of the English Language. Prentice- Hall Editions.

B.O.E. 2002. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 112/2002, de 13 de septiembre. Currículo de la

Educación Secundaria Obligatoria en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

B.O.E. 2002. Consejería de Educación y Cultura. Decreto N.º 113/2002, de 13 de septiembre. Currículo de

Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

Canale, M. 1983. From Communicative Competence to Communicative Language Pedagogy, in J. Richards and R. Schmidt (eds.). Language and Communication. London, Longman.

Council of Europe (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European

Framework of reference.

Haugen, E. 1972 . The analysis of linguistic borrowing . In Firchow, E. et al., eds: Studies by Einar Haugen. The Hague: Mouton.

Hymes, D. 1972. On communicative competence. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Leith, D. 1997. A Social History of English . Routledge, London.

Nelson, F. W. 1974. The English language . Norton and Company.

Read, J. 2000. Assessing Vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rivers, W. 1981. Teaching Foreign-Language Skills. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.