Bihar Board 12th English The Story of English Important Questions

Question 1.
Write a short note on the importance of English as an international language of business, commerce and culture. .
English is the language of the Anglo-Saxon invaders who settled in Britain from the fifth century onwards. But today it has become the most widely spoken language today on earth, with every tenth person in the world employing it as his primary tongue.

Today it is used by more than 400 million people as the primary means of communication, and nearly one in every four persons in the world today could be reached by it in some degree. Its speakers cover one-fifth of the globe. The following statistics speak for themselves

(A) More than 70% of the world’s mail is written and addressed in English. More than 60% of the world’s radio programmes are in English.

(B) Throughout Africa and the Middle East English serves as the lingua franca.

(C) Today English is taught in all schools and colleges in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, The Netherland, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Japan.

(D) Throughout Asia and Latin America, English is spoken and understood almost everywhere except in the remoter areas.

(E) In the European communist countries — East Gern ,any, Poland, Yugoslavia and even Soviet Russia —’ English is taught from the primary school level.

One of the most important reasons for the phenomenal spread of the English language around the world is its rich and luxuriant vocabulary of more than half a million words and the flexibility of their use. It is also one of the easiest to learn. There is a hard core of about 1000 energetic words and a few liberal rules of grammar which can be learnt with ease and speed. In 1920, Professor I.A.

Richards and C.K. Ogden, two eminent Cambridge scholars, discovered a distilled form of the English language, known as Basic English, which contains in elixir form 850 versatile and energetic words with which almost any idea can be expressed in a simple non-technical fashion. Basic English proved an invaluable tool during the second world war when foreign soldiers were given a good working knowledge of English in a concentrated course of only about sixty hours.

Another reason for its world-wide popularity is the cosmpolitan character of its vocabulary. Throughout the centuries it has borrowed so freely and profusely from almost every important language on earth. The following random list of various borrowings from various sources would provide the evidence of its cosmpolitan nature.

  • Arabic —alcohol, algebra, alkali, camel, chemistry, magazine etc.
  • Dutch—brandy, duck, golf, measles, uproar, wagon etc.
  • Italian—colonel, duet, infantry, miniature, umbrella, volcano etc.
  • Persian—check, chess, jasmine, khaki, lilac, paradise, shawl, spinach etc.
  • Spanish— Canyon, cigar, mosquito, ranch, stampede, vanilla etc.

English today has attained an unrivaled position as the international link language. Various historical factors have helped it across the centuries in its evolution as the most supple, flexible, easy-to-leam language taking rapid and firm strides towards a world monopoly.

Question 2.
Write a short note on the characteristics of Modern English.
The period of Modem English extends from about 1500 A.D. to the present day. However, a modem linguist says that it is clearly necessary to subdivide it at about 1700 A.D. (Queen Anne’s accession) into early and later Modem English.
Although English belongs to the Teutonic branch it has been under the continuous influnce of the Romance languages. As a result the English vocabulary is a balanced mixture of the Teutonic and Romance elements.

Although the essential grammatical structure of the English language is Saxon, with Saxon verbs, conjunctions and prepositions forming the necessary’ frame work of English, The richness and variety of the language are enchanced by Latin and French.

It is again unquestionable that in many instances the Saxon word has a more emotional quality than the corresponding word of French or Latin origin, which is often the more formal of the two; foe. deep, lovely, for example, are more feeling words, and therefore more poetic words than enemy, profound, solitary.

This duality of influence has led to the evolution of two more or less distinct types of English style — the simple and direct which is Saxon; the omatse and the elaborate which is largely Latin.

One of the most important characteristics of the English language has been its extraordinary receptiveness and adaptability which has given it an extremely flexible and heterogeneous character. The other remarkable features are its freedom from inflexions and its relatively fixed word-order. Jespersen refers appreciatively to its masculinity, well-defined sound system, business¬like compactness and freedom from pedantry.

Question 3.
Write a short note on American English.
American English has very considerably influenced Modem English, especially in the last quarter of the twentienth century. And this has been due to a far wider set of circumstances than the mere fact of America’s leading position in commerce, films and finance, though these have produced a body of slang in English some of which has already penetrated to good colloquial usage.

The word caucus, for instance, came to England as a political term from America, and has now developed a slightly different meaning. The use of cut as a word of reduction was originally American, but became fixed in good English largely through the financial slump of 1931 in Britain and its consequences. Sense as a verb, which has been in use in the British written language for nearly a century, was an importation from America.

With the abrupt shifting of the political and economic centre of gravity of the western hemisphere from Europe to the United States, the American variety of English has forced itself, often for commercial and technical reasons, upon the attention of millions who were previously unacquainted with it, and what is even more important, it has become respectable, that is to say, it is no longer regarded merely as a quaint, barbarous or amusing appendage to the British original.

Many American expressions today are freely used by British speakers and writers also— O.K., down – and – out, tasty, movie, bill-board, rail road, he-man, to engineer, to author, faucet, to brass tacks, double talk, break down,radio, disk jockey, blurb, fan,backlog, gimmick, forum, commuter, band wagon, bogus etc.

Some of the important features of American English are—

  • Cinema, radio, press and television have contributed to its popularity.
  • The primary difference between English and American is in the rhythm and intonation of speech.
  • The most marked American influence is in the slang of the younger generation in Britain.

Bring out the characteristics of Old English.
For a modem reader it would be a little difficult to understand the available texts of Old English because it was not a single uniform language. It was composed of four dialects-Kentish, Northumbrian, Mercian and west Saxon. It was so because three different Anglo-Saxon tribes spoke it in areas of their own.

In the second place the old English differs from Modem English in spelling, vocabulary and even grammatical structure. With the spread of Christianity around 600 AD many Latin words related to religion entered the English language. The important words were-heaven, hell, God, gospel, angel, priest, nun etc.

As a result of the Scandinavian attack on England many words of Scandinavian origin entered which have since then become part of everybody interaction. The important Scandinavian words are-birth, bank, call, die, egg, give, get, sky, sister, window etc.

Many family names and place names have a Scandinavian stamp. In addition to nouns, verbs and adjectives, conjunctions and prepositions of Scandinavian origin also made way to English vocabulary. They, their, them, both, same, to, till, though are Scandinavian words in current use.

Question 4.
Name the four manuscripts of the Old English that have survived.
The four major manuscripts of Old English that have survived are as follows—

  • Bewowulf
  • Junius
  • Exeter Book
  • Vercellibookz

Question 5.
Write a short note on Runic Characters.
Runic characters formed a system of writing which was in use in the Northern and Western part of Europe. These characters were composed of sharp straight lines without curves.

Many of these letters are found on weapons; such as arrows, axes, knife-handles, swords etc. Some are to be seen in monumens, jewellery or caskets. But, being symbolic in nature, they are difficult to be fully understood.

Question 6.
Write a short note on Middle English.
The transition from Old English to Middle English was.influenced by one very important political factor, that is, by Norman attack. The French element made a considerable impact over English language, changing its character sharply, making it a vehicle of administration, law and literature.

The nature and variety of dialects changed during this period. There were five dialects in oral and written use this time-they were Northern, Southern, East Midland, West Midland and Kentish. The Northumbrian OE is now called

Northern; West Saxon is known as Southern; and the Mercian is divided into East Midland dialect and West Midland dialect evolved gradually into Modem English.

The most significant change is the expansion of English vocabulary with the help of extensive borrowing from French language. When a linguist says that borrowings were largely in the fields of science, medicine, law and literature it implies that there was significant academic progress also. Anyway, the important French words borrowed during the period are-history, index, intellect, legal, summary, magnify, temperature etc.

Together with the loss of infection the Great Vowel Shift was another linguistic development.’ Between Middle and Modem English there is the important difference in vowel system. For instance, the long vowels have virtually disappeared and the short vowels have hardly altered. The change in long vowels is known as the Great Vowel Shift.

Bihar Board Class 12th English Important Questions