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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Britain is not and never has been monolingual. The 2011 census counted inhabitants of Britain speaking nearly ninety languages, including Slovenian, Farsi, Tagalog, and Swahili; a visitor to mid-twelfth-century London might have heard as many as fourteen languages: English, French, German, Flemish, Danish, Genoese, Spanish, Breton, Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek. Britain has therefore of necessity always been a site of language contact. This chapter focuses on what influence this language contact has had on British English, a topic of increasing interest to historical linguists. Following a brief account of some of the methodological challenges attendant on studying historical language contact, the chapter sketches the influence of the four main contact influences on English: Celtic, Latin, Norse, and French.

Keywords: language, borrowing, calque, English, French, Latin, Norse, Celtic

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