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14 Define the main principles of language classification

The classification of natural languages can be performed on the basis of different underlying principles: Genetic/classification:A language family is a group of languages related by descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family.The concept of language families is based on the assumption that over time languages gradually diverge into dialects and then into new languages. Membership of languages in the same language family is determined by a genetic relationship. Some of the-major families are the Indo-European languages, the Afro-Asiatic languages, the Austro-nesian languages, and the Sino-Tibetan languages. The shared features of languages from one family can be due to shared ancestry.

Typological/classification based on the similarity of language structural features An example of a typological classification is the classification of languages on the basis of the basic order of the verb, the subject and the object in a sentence. Areal/classification:The following language groupings can serve as some linguistically significant examples of areal linguistic units, or sprachbunds: Balkan linguistic union, or the bigger group of European languages; Caucasian languages; East Asian languages.

Sociological/classification:According to Dutch sociologist Abram de Swaan, a sociological classification of languages is performed according to their large scale social role for its speakers: • Central languages: widely spoken languages • Supercentral languages: very widely spoken languages that serve as connector between speakers of central languages; according to de Swaan, there are twelve of these: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili; • Hypercentral languages: also connects supercentral languages; de Swaan erects English to be the sole hypercentral language; • Peripheral languages: the rest – languages that no one consider being worth learning for the sole purpose of improving one’s own communication facilities.

16 Dwell on the development of the English graphemics

Graphemicsis the study of systems of writing and their relationship to the systems of the languages they represent.

An alphabet is a standardized set of letters – basic written symbols – each of which roughly represents a phoneme, a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic unit.

The English language was first written in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc runic alphabet (also called Northumbrian), in use from the fifth century. Futhorc was descended from the Elder Futhark of 24 runes and contained between 26 and 33 characters. It was used probably from the fifth century onward, for recording Old English and Old Frisian. This alphabet was brought to what is now England, along with the proto-form of the language itself, by Anglo-Saxon settlers. Very few examples of this form of written Old English have survived.

The Latin alphabet, introduced by Irish Christian missionaries, began to replace the Anglo-Saxon futhorc from about the seventh century. First the scripts shifted to a (minuscule) half-uncial script of the Latin alphabet. This was replaced by insular script, a cursive and pointed version of the half-uncial script. This was used until the end of the 12th century when continental Carolingian minuscule (also known as Caroline) replaced the insular.

In very early Old English also used was a symbol for the conjunction and, a character similar to the number seven (called a Tironian note), and a symbol for the relative pronoun ??t a thorn with a crossbar through the ascender. Macrons over vowels were rarely used to indicate long vowels. The ampersand (&, &) has sometimes appeared at the end of the English alphabet, as in Byrhtfer?’s list of letters in 1011. Properly speaking the figure is a ligature for the letters Et. In English it is used to represent the word and and occasionally the Latin word et, as in the abbreviation &c (et cetera).

Modern orthography had been finally established by the 13th century. After Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (first publication in 1755) had been published, some insignificant changes were introduced. S.Johnson tried to keep to the orthography of his time without any innovation by choosing the only variant if there were some. These rules of spelling were accepted as model ones; schools and publishing houses tried to keep to them. The phonetic structure forming the basis of modern English orthography is the phonetic structure of the late ME period. Modern orthography does not take into consideration the weakening of unstressed syllables in the words borrowed from French and Latin.

Besides, in many cases the historical spelling adopted in the late ME period was preserved. This fact explains numerous contradictions of ME and that especially concerns the vowel system. The expression of consonants is more distinct; although there is a number of polysemantic graphemes and quite often one sound is marked by different graphemes: the phonetic changes of the late ME and NE period are not taken into account.

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