89. Reading Skills Comprehension: Development of the English Language

By | July 30, 2020

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Development of the English Language

Read the passage given below carefully:

Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Spenser, Dr Johnson are among the literary masters who contributed greatly to the growth, enrichment and development of the English language. Among them, Shakespeare has no equal with regard to extent and profundity of his influence on the language. Critics conclude that his mind is not shown by the fact that he was acquainted with around 20,000 words but by the fact that since he wrote about it in a great variety of subjects and touched upon several human facts and relationships that he needed his number of words in his writings. He also had a remarkable familiarity with technical expressions. He also used language to individualise the characters in his plays. Every day of the artisans in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is comic and different from the diction or the other superior characters. A great many words used by Shakespeare have another value than they had then. For instance, the word ‘bonnet’ was a man’s cap and not a woman’s headgear. To charm, a person was in his time associated with witchcraft while notorious was used for someone well known in a sense.

Chaucer’s writings too had a powerful influence on the English language although it is difficult to top this fact with definite examples. He was regarded as a poet of new thought. He not only imported hundreds of words from other languages but also created hundreds of them. Like him, Milton contributed about 7000 words to English vocabulary. Words like ‘pandemonium’ are examples of his coinage, and p such as ‘the human face divine’ are examples of his phrases. Mother poet of our time, Spenser, left mark on the English poetic style. Though many of his expressions have now become obsolete, in the middle of the 18th-century writers and poets were eager to adopt his romantic style when they wanted to move away from everyday realities.

By far the greatest influence on English has come from the Bible and many of its words have become household words today. The best judges of English style recommend a constant study of the Bible as a training ground in English. The scriptural ‘holy of holies’ which contains the Hebrew manner of expressing the superlative, has given rise to phrases such as ‘horror of horrors’. Some scriptural proper nouns such a Jehu, are mentioned when a driver is driving furiously in context with Jehu’s driving mentioned in the Bible. In poetry, it is due to the Biblical influence that the `the’ forms began to be used by poets in words such as loveth” hath, etc. Besides giving us words, the Bible had a tremendous influence on the technical grammar of modem poetry, particularly in the works of Milton, Tennyson and Shakespeare.

(a) On the basis of your reading of the above passage make notes on it, using headings and subheadings. Use recognizable abbreviations (wherever necessary — a minimum of four) and a format you consider suitable. Also, supply an appropriate title to it.

 (b) Write a summary of the passage in about 80 words.

 Ans. (a) ENRICHING OF ENGLISH

I.  The enrichment of English is through the writings of Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Spenser H. The contribution of Shakespeare include

 (i) knew more than 20K words

(ii) used them to express a vast number of subjects

 (iii) to express human relationships and facts

(iv) to individualise characters

(v) the artisans in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

II. Changes in the usage of words since Shakespeare’s time

(i)bonnet a man’s cap

(ii) charm: associated with witchcraft

 (iii) notorious: used in a good sense

III. The contributions of other greats

(i)Chaucer: poet of new thought

(ii) Milton: added 7000 words to Eng vocabulary

(iii) Spenser: popular for the romantic style in poetry

IV. The greatest info from the Bible

(i) for bettering English style

(ii) use of the super rooted in Hebrew

(iii) holy of holies

 (iv) scriptural proper nouns now common usage

(v) influence of the `the’ form in Eng poetry

 (vi) contribution to the technical grammar of poetry writing

Key to Abbreviations

 

K                       Thousand

 Eng                  English

 infl                   influence

super’ve          superlative

 

(b) Summary:

The English language has been enriched through the writings of Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer Spenser. Shakespeare’s contribution to 20,000 words was used to express varied subjects, individualise characters. Chaucer’s poetry provided new thought and Milton increased vocabulary with 7000 more words. Spenser introduced the romantic style of poetry writing and 1111 exerted the greatest influence of all times with bringing scriptural proper nouns into co-usage, bettering style, and contributing to the technical grammar of poetry writing.

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