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Lecture Summary (11/02/06)

The topic of this lecture was named "The History of English - From Indo-European to Middle English".

At the beginning we learned that there are approximately 6000 languages worldwide wich is an impressive figure.

Afterwards we dealt with the Indo-European Language Family. One can say that almost all European languages are in a way related to each other (the only execptions are Basque, Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian) as well es several languages to be found in South Central Asia (like Farsi/Persian in Iran and Hindi in India). This fact leads to the conclusion that these languages developped from the same original language.

The origins of Indo-European cannot be located exactly but there are several theories considering this aspect.

  • The Baltic Theory: the oldest among the theories; based on shared botanical vocabulary; no reasons for dispersion
  • The South-East European Theory: similar to the Baltic Theory; no reasons for dispersion
  • The Flood Theory: gives a natural catastrophe as a reason for dispersion
  • The Caucasus Theory (the most plausible): the East-West spread of agriculture from Iraq coincided with the East-West spread of Indo-European 

After this we learned more about the expansion of Indo-European during the Hellenic and Roman Empire and the Colonal Expansion after 1492.

Then we took a look at the Celts who are the earliest known inhabitants of the British Isles. We learned for example that the Celts were trading salt and that traces of this can still be found in town names like Halle or Bad Reichenhall.



Why are Portuguese and Spanish the official national languages of South American states?

The reason for this lies in the fact that Spain and Portugal dominated the ocean so they were the first to be able to conquer South America. They defeated the natives and forced them to adapt their respective language.

Why are varieties of Dutch among the official national languages of Indonesia and South Africa?

The Netherlands used to be a big sailing nation as well. The conquered Indonesia and South Africa and stayed there long enough to influence the culture so deeply that it can still be seen today in the use of the language.

Why is English the official national language of the USA, Australia, New Zealand?

Many British people migrated to Northern America because they have been persecuted because of there religiouse beliefs. The East coast of what is now the United States was colonised by the Brits. New Zealand was occupied by them, too. Last but not least Australia was used by the Empire to imprison people.

In which African countries are the following Indo-European languages among the official national languages?

English: Botswana, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rhuanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Frensh: Benin, Bukina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo

Portuguese: Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique

Where did the Celts originate?

The earliest traces of the Celts were found in Northern Italy around 400 BC.

Name 3 Celtic town names in the area of modern Germany and give their meanings

  • Halle (Halla), the place of winning salt
  • Remagen (Rigomagos), the King’s field
  • Worms (Brobetomagus), settlement in watery area

Where do the Celts live now?

Nowadays the Celts live in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwell and the Isle of Men.

1.12.06 17:10

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