Latin borrowings

Latin, being the language of the Roman Empire, had already influenced the language of the Germanic tribes even before they set foot in Britain. Latin loanwords reflected the superior material culture of the Roman Empire, which had spread across Europe: street, wall, candle, chalk, inch, pound, port, camp.

Latin was also the language of Christianity, and St Augustine arrived in Britain in AD 597 to christianise the nation. Terms in religion were borrowed:   pope, bishop, monk, nun, cleric, demon, disciple, mass, priest, shrine. Christianity also brought with it learning: circul, not (note), paper, scol (school), epistol.

Many Latin borrowings came in in the early MnE period. Sometimes, it is difficult to say whether the loan-words were direct borrowings from Latin or had come in through French (because, after all, Latin was also the language of learning among the French).

One great motivation for the borrowings was the change in social order, where scientific and philosophical empiricism was beginning to be valued. Many of the new words are academic in nature therefore: affidavit, apparatus, caveat, corpuscle, compendium, equilibrium, equinox, formula, inertia, incubate, momentum, molecule, pendulum, premium, stimulus, subtract, vaccinate, vacuum. This resulted in the distinction between learned and popular vocabulary in English.




Traditional classification of morphemes.
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