C. M. Millward's A Biography of the English Language PDF

By C. M. Millward

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Finally, Russian also uses two graphemes as diacritics; they represent no sound of their own, but indicate that a preceding consonant is palatalized (b) or not palatalized fb). English has had two different alphabets. Prior to the Christianization of England, the little writing that was done in English was in an alphabet called the futhorc or runic alphabet. The futhorc was originally developed by Germanic tribes on the Continent and probably was based on Etruscan or early Italic versions of the Greek alphabet.

O n e entertaining kind of origin is simple misreading due to confusion of similar letter forms. For example, the English word gravy comes from Old French grave, but the original French form was probably grane; the letters n and v (u) looked much alike in medieval handwriting. The word sneeze is apparently the result of misreading an / for an s; its Old English ancestor was fneosan ( / and s were formed in much the same way in Old English times). In some instances, both the correct and the erroneous form have survived, with differentiation of meaning.

Among the various subfamilies of Niger-Congo is Kwa, which includes the Yoruba, Ibo, and Ewe languages; and the Bantu group, whose best-known members are Swahili and Zulu. The Khoisan family includes the distantly related Hottentot and Bushman languages. In Asia, the dominant language family in terms of number of speakers is Sino-Tibetan. The Sinitic branch comprises most of the languages of China, including Mandarin and Cantonese. The most familiar representatives of the Tibetan branch are Tibetan and Burmese.

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A Biography of the English Language by C. M. Millward

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