Thursday, 12 November 2015

Impact of Latin Influence on English Language

The phenomenon of borrowing words and word formation is the way of enriching one language. English is a Germanic language, having a grammar and core vocabulary inherited from Proto-Germanic. However, a significant portion of the English word-hoard comes from Romance and Latinate sources. The Latin (Classical) influence on the English Language is the earliest and perhaps the greatest of all the influences. It began about the beginning of the Christian era and has still been continuing.

The first Latin influence on English language is heralded by England’s contact with the Roman Civilization. The Latin words borrowed in this phase belong to agriculture, war and domestic life-

Latin Loan
Trade and Commerce
Wine (from Lat. ‘Vinum’)
Mint (from Lat. ‘mynet’)
Mil (from Lat. ‘mile’)
Kitchen, cup, dish, cook etc.
Pepper, cheese, butter, plum, milk etc.

After the English settled in Britain, they received a few Latin words not directly from Latin but from native. Among these one is ‘ceaster’ < Lat. ‘castre’. It survives in many places name as ending- Lancaster, Gloucester, Winchester, Manchester, Worcester etc.

With the introduction of Christianity in 597 A.D. sets in another new chapter of Latin borrowing to define the new conceptions, new religion, new ideas and new faith. We may group these Latin loan words as follows-

Latin Loan
Angel, anthem, hymn, minister, monk, disciple, apostle, alms, alter, Bishop, Pope, psalm, nun, shrine, candle etc.
Domestic Life
Silk, radish, pea, pine, poppy, pillow, pin, fan etc.
Beet, pine, aloes, pea, poppy, plum etc.
School, master, grammar, verse etc.
Doe, lobster, phoenix, turtle etc.
Offer, spend, stop etc.

In the Middle English period, Latin comes via French and through translation works. The translation works. The translation of Bible gives the English people words like- ‘generation’, ‘persecution’ and ‘transformation’

Latin Loan
Conspiracy, custody, legal, prosecute, testimony etc.
Scripture, incarnate, limbo etc.
Allegory, genius, intellect, prosody etc.
Mechanical, solar, zenith, immune,, rational etc.

The Great Revival of Learning, Renaissance of the 15 th century come to influence the English Language immensely. The Latin word borrowed this period are often basic noun, adjective and verb.-

Radius, allusion, circus, atmosphere, bonus, picture, axis etc.
Appropriate, domestic, medieval, filial, perfect etc.
Assassinate, benefit, affidavit, harass, exit, emancipate etc.


The flow of Latin borrowings has been going on incessantly even in the present day scenario. Words like 'neutron', 'mutant', 'penicillin', 'formula', 'column', have become the integral part of English vocabulary.

Some native nouns have Latin adjectives:

Native Noun
Latin Adjective

Undoubtedly, Latin loan words leave a huge mark to the English vocabulary. Yet one can not deny that excessive latinization of English has stunned the growth of native vocabulary.

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