A Primer of English Etymology
In the present little book, I merely endeavor to draw out a general sketch of some of the more important principles which should be observed by all who pretend to have any acquaintance with English etymology."-Walter W. Skeat, in his PrefaceFirst published in 1910, this classic introduction to the linguistics of the English language is notable not only for its scholarly value but for a charming defensiveness of its own erudition ("The general ignorance of even the most elementary notions on the subject [of etymology], as perpetually exhibited in our periodical literature, is truly deplorable," the author sniffs). Cambridge professor Skeat concisely explores the history of the English language and the sources from which it is derived, including the influences of military and religious invasions from the continent of Europe; the ancient Anglo-Saxon symbols and sounds the language utilizes; how English spelling came to be standardized; the historical mutation of vowel sounds; and prefixes, suffixes, and roots.British academic WALTER WILLIAM SKEAT (1835-1912) was Erlington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge. He also wrote (with A.L. Mayhew) A Concise Dictionary of Middle English: From A.D. 1150 To 1580.
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A. S. forms A. S. suffix accent allied Anglo-French words Anglo-Saxon appears became become century CHAPTER cognate common consonant consonantal dative denote derived diphthongs ENGLISH ETYMOLOGY Euss examples fact final formerly German forms Goth Gothic gradation Greek Grimm's Law gutturals Hence i-mutation Icel Icelandic Indo-Germanic initially language later Latin Lith lost Low German medially Mercian mete Middle-English Midland dialect modem modern English mutation native Northumbrian occurs Old High German orig original Germanic Palatalisation past participle past tense period plural preceding prefix pronounced pronunciation remains represented root Sanskrit Scandian words scribes shews shifting short shortened sound-shifting spelling staon stem strong verbs suffix syllable Tudor-English usually velar Verner's Law vocalic voiced letter voiceless voiceless consonant Vomer's Law vowel-sounds weak verb whence whilst written
Page 2 - the common language of the more educated classes, among the British, was Latin, which was in use as a literary language and as the language of the British Christian church,
Page v - in its pronunciation, is seldom found to be amongst the subjects which ' every schoolboy knows.' A person wholly ignorant of botany would hesitate, in these days, to dash headlong into a botanical subject; but similar caution, as respects the study of etymology, is frequently scouted as displaying a needless timidity. Every man, as was once observed to me, thinks
Page v - The general ignorance of even the most elementary notions on the subject, as perpetually exhibited in our periodical literature, is truly deplorable, owing probably to the fact that anything like a scientific treatment of etymology is of comparatively modern growth, It is