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The history of English - Реферат

Her monument on the Thames Embankment opposite Big Ben remind people of her harsh cry: "Liberty of death" which has echoed down the ages.

Some of the English words relating to meals are of Latin origin, they were borrowed from the Romans in ancient times. The Romans in the period of their flourishing and expansion came into contact with the Germanic tribes, or the Teutons, who later moved to Britain and formed there the English nation. The Romans were a race with higher civilization than the Teutons whom they considered barbarians. They taught the Teutons many useful things and gave them very important words that the forefathers of the English brought with them to Britain and that remained in the English language up to now. Kitchen and table are Latin words borrowed in those far-off days, that show a revolution in culinary arrangements; dish, kettle and cup also became known to the Teutons at that time.

The early words of Latin origin give us a dim picture of Roman trades traveling with their mules and asses the paved roads or the German provinces, their chests and boxes and wine-sacks full of goods that they profitably bargained with the primitive ancestors of the nowadays English. Wine was one of the first items of trade between the Romans and the Teutons. That's how this word came into use.

The Teutons knew only one fruit – apple, they did not grow fruit trees or cultivated gardens, but they seem to have been eager to learn, for they borrowed pear, plum, cherry.

The Teutons were an agricultural people, under the influence of the Romans they began to grow beet, onion.

Milk was one of the main kinds of food with the Teutons, but the Romans taught them methods of making cheese and butter for milk.

Among other culinary refinements that came to the Teutons from the Romans are spices: pepper, mint.

Judging by the Latin borrowings of that period the ancestors of English were very much impressed by Roman food, weren't they?

The word "calendar" came to us from Latin. In the Latin there was a word "calendarium". It meant "a record-book". Money-lenders kept a special book, in which they recorded to whom they lent money and how much interest they will get. This book was called "calendarium" because interest was paid on the "Calends". By the Calends the Romans named the first day of each month.

Time passed, the old meaning was forgotten. "Calendar" began to mean the record of days, weeks, months within a year.

This is a story of the word "calendar". But the story of how a calendar was made is still more interesting indeed. We know that a calendar provides an easy way to place a day within the week, month or year. But it is not easy to make a calendar. The trouble is that the length of a year is determined by the length of time the earth takes to revolve once on its own axis. But the earth does not take an equal number of days to complete its year. It needs 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. Obviously you cannot divide a day of 24 hours into that. And the problem is further complicated because the month is determined by the length of time it takes the moon to go around the earth, which is 29 days into 365 days, minus 11 minutes and 14 seconds. The result is that most calendars were messes.

The English got their calendar from the Romans. But at first the Romans had a very bad calendar. They had ten month of varying length, and then they added enough days at the end to make the year right. Besides the politicians changed the length of the months as they wished. They could change the length of the month to keep themselves in office longer and to leave less time for their opponents. I can't imagine that somebody will reduce June, July, August to two weeks each, and will take away more than half my summer vacation? Will you like that? Of course, not.

The calendar varied so much that by the time of Julius Caesar January came in August.

Meanwhile a very good calendar had been worked out in Asia Minor and was in use in Egypt. Julius Caesar, a great Roman emperor, changed it a little to fit the Roman customs and introduced it in Rome. This calendar was called after him "the Julian Calendar". As a matter of fact, Caesar only gave the orders; he had the advice of a Greek astronomer named Sosigenes. This calendar worked well for hundred years. But it provided only for exact figure of 365 days a year and an extra day in every four years, it did not count minutes and seconds. So, once more, the calendar year was getting farther and farther from the year of the earth's revolution around the sun.

Then in 1582 another change of calendar took place. The Roman Pope Gregory XII suppressed ten days in 1582 and started new calendar. The English people adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. And for a time all dates were given two ways: one for the New Style, one for the Old Style.

Now nobody uses the Old Style any more, but of course the calendar is not quite accurate yet. Still it will be a long time before we have to add or subtract another day.

The year is divided into months and every month has its own name. Now we'd like to investigate how the names of months appeared. But first, let's think of the word "month" itself.

A month is a measure of time. It is a very old word. It goes back to Indo-European base. Long time ago people probably- had only three measures of time - year, which was the four seasons; a day which was the period from one sunrise to the next; and a month, which had the period from one moon to the next.

So, the Indo-European base "me-" came into Old English, and became "mona". The word meant "a measure of time". Then it began to mean "moon", since the moon measured time. Later suffix "-th" was added to the end of the word; the word "monath" meant the period of time which the moon measured. Still later the English people dropped the "a" and called it "month".

And now, stories of the names of months. The Modem English names for the months of the year all come from the Latin. But before the English people adopted the Latin names they had their native names. And, in fact, in some cases the native names are more interesting than the Latin ones.

The first month of the year is January. January is the month of Janus. Janus was a Roman God of the beginning of things. Janus had two faces: on the front and the back of the head. He could look backwards into the past and forward to the beginning year. January is a right name for the first month of the New Year, isn't it? On the New Year eve we always think of what we have done in the past year and we are planning to do better in the New Year.

Now, the Old English had its own name for January. It was "Wulf-Monath", which means "month of wolves". To-day England is thickly populated and a very civilized country and it is hard, to imagine that their was a time when wolves roamed the island. In the cold of the deep winter they would get so hungry they would come into the towns to look for food, and so January was called "the month of the wolves".

The name of February comes from the Latin "februa" - "purification". It was a month when the ancient Romans had a festival of purification.

Before the English adopted the Latin name, they called this month "Sprate-Kale-Month". "Kale" is a cabbage plant, "sprote" means to sprout. So, it was "the month when cabbages sprout"

March is a month of Mar's, the Roman God of war. March was the earliest warm time of the year when the Romans could start a war. Before the time of Julius Caesar the Roman year began with March which was then the first month of the year.

The Old English name for March was "Hlyd-Monath", which means "the month of noisy winds". March in Britain often comes with strong winds. By the way, this explains the saying: "If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb".

There are a few stories about the meaning of the name "April"! The most spread one is a pretty story that the month was named from a Latin word "aperire" – "to open". It is a month when buds of trees and flowers begin to open.

The English before they adopted the Latin names, called April "Easter-Monath", the month of Easter.

"May" is named for the Roman goddess of growth and increase, Maia. She was the Goddess of spring, because in spring everything was growing, flourishing, increasing.

The English name is not so poetic. They called the month "Thrimilce", which means something like "to mi1k three times". In May the cows give so much milk that the farmers had to milk them three times a day.

Month of "June" was so called after the Junius family of Rome, one of the leading clans of ancient Rome. Besides, the Roman festival of Juno, the Goddess of Moon, was celebrated on the first day of the month.