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Formation of English Literary Language

In: English and Literature

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Саратовский Государственный Университет им Н.Г.Чернышевского

Literary Language
Formation of English Literary Language

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Журкина Дарья

Саратов, 2012 1. Literary Language
Literary language is a developed form of a national language, with norms fixed in writing to varying extents; the language of all manifestations of culture that are expressed in words.
The concept of a “developed form” is historically variable (in different ages and with different peoples). In the age of feudalism many peoples of the world used foreign languages as their written literary languages. The Iranian and Turkish peoples used classical Arabic, the Japanese and Koreans used classical Chinese, the Germanic and West Slavic peoples used Latin, and the people in the Baltic region and the Czechs used German. The popular languages supplanted the foreign language in many functional spheres of communication during the 14th and 15th centuries in some states and in the 16th and 17th centuries in others.
The literary language is always the result of collective creative activity. The notion that the norms of a literary language are “fixed” is somewhat relative (despite all the importance and stability of the norm, it changes in time). It is not possible to imagine a national culture that is rich and developed without a rich and developed literary language. This is why the problem of the literary language is very important for society. Linguists do not agree about the complex and multifaceted concept of the literary language. Some researchers prefer to talk not about the literary language as a whole but about its variations—the written literary language, the spoken literary language, the language of literature, and so on.
The literary language is not the same thing as the language of literature. These are different, but related, concepts. The literary language is the property of all who have mastered its rules. It functions in both written and spoken form. The language of literature (the language of writers) usually orients itself to the same norms, but it contains a great deal that is individual and not generally accepted. The closeness of the literary language and the language of literature has varied in different historical ages and with different peoples. There is a difference between the literary language and the national language. The national language operates as a literary language, but not every literary language immediately becomes the national language.
National languages are usually formed during the age of capitalism. One may speak of the Russian literary language as early as the beginning of the 17th century, but it became the national language in the first half of the 19th century, in the age of A. S. Pushkin. Examples of the French literary language are extant from the 11th century, but only in the 17th and 18th centuries was the process of formation of the French national language observed. In Italy the literary language was already seen in the work of Dante, but only in the second half of the 19th century, in the age of Italy’s national unification, did its national language form. The interrelations and interaction of the literary language and dialects represent a special problem. The more stable the historical foundations of dialects are, the more difficult it will be for the literary language to unite all members of the particular nation linguistically. Even today dialects continue to compete successfully with the literary language in many countries, for example in Italy and Indonesia.
The concept of the literary language usually interacts with the concept of linguistic styles existing within the limits of each literary language. A linguistic style is a variation of the literary language that has taken shape historically and is characterized by a definite set of features, some of which may be repeated in other styles but in their combination and unique functions distinguish one style from another. The Leninist nationalities policy of the Communist Party and the Soviet state brought about the flourishing of the literary languages of the peoples who populate the USSR. Formerly unwritten languages received writing systems. The theory of the literary language, which relies on experience in the development of the languages of different peoples in the world, is being successfully worked out.

2. THE FORMATION OF THE NATIONAL LITERARY ENGLISH LANGUAGE A language family is a group of languages that have a common origin. Linguists establish comparatively their sound systems, vocabulary, and grammar. Among the most important language families are the Indo-European, Finno-Ugric, Indo-Chinese, Malayo-Polynesian and Semitic. Various branches exist within language families. For example, in the Indo-European family Germanic and Italic are subfamilies, and the Romance languages are a subgroup of the Italic. Proto-Germanic gave rise to Dutch, English, German and the Scandinavian tongues. Proto-Romance gave rise to French, Italian, Spanish and other tongues. French, German, Italian, Russian and English are Indo-European languages, but French and Italian are more closely related than Italian and German or English and Russian. Linguists can trace the relationship of languages by comparing words in one language with words having the same meaning in another language. For instance, if we compare words in English and German, we find hand and Hand, foot, feet and Fuß, Fiifie, lips and Lippen, lungs and Lungen. In addition there are some similarities in grammatical structures.
The relationships of this kind are characteristic of languages that belong to the same language family. Such relationships do not exist across language-family lines. Thus it may be established that Greek, the Slavic languages (such as Russian), the Celtic languages (such as Irish) and even some of the languages of India (such as Sanskrit) are members of the Indo-European family but it has been proved that Finnish and Hungarian are not members of this language family.
The formation of the national English language, or Standard English, is considered to date from the period between the 15th and 17th centuries. After that time the language continued to change, yet, henceforth one can speak of the evolution of Standard English instead of trading the similar or different trends in the history of its dialects.
We must mention at least two of the external factors that led to this development: the unification of the country and the progress of culture. Other historical events, such as the increased foreign contacts, produced a more specific kind of influence on the language: they affected the word stock.
The 15th and 16th centuries saw striking changes in the life of the country. Trade had extended beyond the local, boundaries and apart from farming and cattle-breeding an important wool trade and industry was carried on in the country-side. As the demand for wool and cloth rose, Britain began to export woolen cloth produced by the first big enterprises, the «manufactures».
The changes in the economic and social conditions were accompanied by the intermixture of people coming from different regions, the growth of towns with a mixed population, and the strengthening of social ties between the various regions. All these processes played an important role in the unification of the English language.
Towards the end of the 16th century the period of feudal disunity in Britain came to an end, and Britain became a centralized state.
In 1485 the strongest royal power under Henry VII was established. Henry VII was the founder of the Tudor dynasty and of a new kind of monarchy. He reduced the power of the old nobility and created new nobles out of the bourgeoisie and the middle class who ardently supported him. The royal power grew still stronger and the power of the church weaker when his successor, Henry VIII, broke with the Pope and declared himself he .d of the English Church (1534).
The Tudors encouraged the development of trade inside and outside the country. The great geographical discoveries gave a new impetus to the progress of foreign trade. English traders set forth on daring journeys in search of gold and treasures. Sea pirates and slave-traders were patronised by Queen Elizabeth as readily as traders in wool, for they made large contributions to her treasury. Under the later Tudors England became one of the biggest trade and sea powers. In 1588 England defeated the Spanish fleet, the Invisible Armada, thus dealing a final blow to Spain, her main rival in overseas trade and in colonial expansion. In the late 16th century England founded its first colonies abroad.
Thus the contacts of England with other nations — although not necessarily friendly — became closer, and new contacts were made in distant lands. These new ties could not but influence the development of the language.
The rise of a new vigorous social class — the bourgeoisie — proved an enormous stimulus to the progress of learning, science, literature and art. Of all the outstanding achievements of this great age the invention of printing had the most immediate effect on the development of the language, its written form in particular. The first book in the English language was printed in the year 1476 by the first English printer William Caxton (his own translation of the Story of Troy), Recuyell of the Histories of Troy.
Among the earliest publications were the poems of Geoffrey Chaucer, still the most popular poet in England, the poems of John Gower, Chaucer's contemporary, the works of John Lydgate, the most prominent poet of the 15th century, Trevisa's Polychronicon, and others. The language the first printers used was the London literary English established since the age of Chaucer and modified in accordance with the linguistic changes that had taken place during the past hundred years. In the ensuing century the form of the language used hy the printers became the standard form of literary English recognized throughout the country.
In conclusion it should be recalled that so great was the effect of printing on the development of the language that the year 1476 — the date of the publication of the first English book — is regarded by пишу as a turning point in English linguistic history and the start of § new period — New English.
The written form of the English language became standardized earlier than its spoken form. The literary form of English Came into existence in the age of Chaucer, was fixed and spread with the introduction of printing and was further developed as the national (lie 16th and 17th centuries.
The most prominent writers of the 15th century were the disciple and imitators of Geoffrey Chaucer: Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate. The language of Chaucer's successors is believed to have drawn farther away from everyday speech. The style used and advocated by the writers is known as the «aureate language», which was highly affected in character, abounding in abstract words and strongly influenced by Latin rhetoric.
In the 16th century the most important prose writers were) certainly Thomas More (1478—1535), who wrote both in Latin and in English (his first work Utopia was writening Latin in 1616 and was first translated into English by Ralph Robynson in 1661) and William Tyndale, the famous translator of the Bible. His translation of the New Testament was first published in Worms in 1525.
The progress of literature and especially the flourishing of the drama in the late 16th and early 17th centuries are linked up with an unparalleled enrichment of the language. William Shakespeare (1564—1616) and his contemporaries (Edmund Spencer, Christopher Marlowe, John Fletcher and others) wrote in what is known now as the Early New English literary language. It was represented by a wide variety of literary styles and was characterized by a rapid growth of the vocabulary, freedom in creating new words and meanings, and veracity of grammatical construction. In all these qualities the language of Shakespeare certainly excelled that of his contemporaries.
The earliest date suggested as the time of the formation of the spoken standard is the end of the 17th century; the type of speech used in London and in the Universities was unanimously proclaimed the best type of English. The phoneticians and grammarians recommend it as a model of correct English. Naturally we possess no direct evidence of the existence of a spoken standard, since all the evidence comes from written sources. Valuable information is furnished by the language of private letters (compared to the language of professional writers), the speech of various characters in the Early New English drama, and also by some direct references of contemporary writers to different types of speech.
From the 11th to the 16th century the English language spread to the whole of the British Isles At the end of the 16th century England founded her first colonies abroad; Newfoundland w is captured in 1583. The conquest of the West Indies begun about the same time extended over a hundred years. The 17th century saw the English colonization of the New World (North America). It began with the famous voyage of the Mayflower in 1620, which carried the first settlers to Massachusetts. Many colonists arrived from Ireland and Scotland. The English dialects of all these areas formed the basis of American English, which has now become a second standard form of English.
In the 18th century the main issues in the colonial struggle were India and America. The British conquest of India had been prepared by the East Indian Trading Company which was founded as early as the 17th century and had monopolized the trade with India. In the I Mill century the British secured partial control over the administration of many provinces in India. Under the treaty of Paris after the Seven Years' War (1763) England got many disputed territories from France: Canada became an English dominion, Senegal was transferred to England, and England’s position in India was further strengthened.
Australia was the last continent to be discovered and colonized by the Europeans. Beginning with 1786 English convicts began to be mini to Australia and other settlers came as well. In every area English has developed some specific features differing from those of Standard English in Britain which are due either to the original dialect of settlers or to the new developments in the areas concerned.

Список литературы
1. http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Literary+Language
2. http://www.rusnauka.com/10_NPE_2009/Philologia/44110.doc.htm…...

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