What marks Indo-European languages?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This post was prompted by a course of History of English langage.

It is only with this last, the Germanic group, that we are here concerned. But what is that makes this Germanic, and therefore English, Indo-European?

Indo-European is but one of a number of families into which the world's languages may be divided; and it must be remembered too that there are still many languages, and even whole groups, that have not been examined scientifically or committed to writing yet, and hence cannot be fitted into any scheme of classification.

Broadly speaking, it may be said that two outstanding characteristics indicate the Indo-Europeanness of a language; its structure and its vocabulary. Indo-European languages generally lend themselves in structure, at least if one knows something of their historical development, to that description of forms invented by the ancient Greeks and named by them "parts of speech".

A language may have inflexions fully retained relatively from the original Indo-European, like Russian, or it may have lost most of its distinctive word-endings like modern English: it may, as the grammarians say, be 'synthetic' with full inflexions or 'analytic' with few or none. But if we can think of its forms fairly readily as nouns, verbs, etc., that is to say under the traditional classical terms of 'Parts of Speech' it will probably be found to be Indo-European. Chinese, with its forms consisting not of parts of speech, but of what seem now to be merely monosyllabic roots, is therefore not Indo-European.

Or again, even in Europe, there are what are called 'Finno-Ugrian' or 'Uralian' languages - Hungarian and Finnish for instance, which do not show parts of speech, or even words in our ordinary sense always. Here a kind of phrase-complex takes the place of a clause or group of words and all kinds of things may be said about an object by building up a single root with prefixes and suffixes.

These languages are sometimes classified as 'agglutinative' or 'incorporating'. Many of the languages of Central Asia now in the former USSR are of this kind, and Kazak is one of them.
Germanic, then, is Indo-European in the sense that it uses parts of speech, whether with full inflexions synthetically as in its ancient forms, or with reduced inflexions tending towards the analytic, as in modern Dutch or English, and because it shares a fundamental nucleus of the vocabulary of the commonest things with other Indo-European tongues.

More about Indo-European family of languages

Thursday, August 4, 2011

English belongs, in all its stages, to the Indo-European family of languages, Sanskrit called Indo-Germanic, and still earlier Aryan. 'Indo-European' is the name given to the set of linguistic forms from which nearly all European languages as well as those of Persia and a very large part of India can be shown to have descended.

We do not know that all these prehistoric forms co-existed or that they can properly be said to have been collectively an actual language: for languages and parts of languages change at differing speeds. Nor would it be right to assume that there was necessarily ever a race of people who spoke this Indo-European as their language. Race, culture and language need not always correspond or be coextensive, as may be seen in modern Switzerland. Indo-European is used because it merely suggests that the languages it comprises cover most of Europe and India, or that Europe and India mark the length of its confines.

'Aryan' was the name from the Sanskrit ARYAS 'noble' which the fairer-skinned bringers of the Hindu civilization to India gave themselves to distinguish them from the darker and less cultured peoples whom they largely conquered: and the belief among the predecessors of the more scientific German philologists that Sanskrit, with its remarkably full inflections, was the ancestor of all the then studied European and Asiatic languages, may explain the use of the term 'Aryan' for what we now call Indo-European.

Beginning at some period several thousand years B.C., this 'Indo-European', starting perhaps at a point in Southern Europe near the Asian border, spread itself both East and West. As it spread, with the changing needs of its speakers for different homes, it mixed with many 'non-Indo-European' tongues and was modified by them variously at different stages.

As speakers spread farther and farther from the starting point, their kinds of Indo-European developed more and more qualities, which made them different from their ancestor. In some such way, very broadly, may be described the gradual growth through successive stages of what have become the modern 1-s of Europe, Persia and India as we know them.

There are 8 main groups of Indo-European languages, all traceable back to the Indo-European primitive ancestor. These are divided into roughly an Eastern and a Western set of groups. The Eastern set comprises four groups of languages, which have in common certain basic changes from the original system, such as a general shift in the pronunciation of the so-called 'guttural' consonants [g] and [k] to a 'palatal' position. Thus, for instance, the Indo-European assumed primitive form for the numeral 100 is KMTOM: but whereas languages of the Western set of groups such as Latin (centum) retain the original k-sound, Sanskrit has changed the k- to a sh-sound (satam) and Russian has the word as [sto]

For this reason, the Western languages are commonly referred to as 'Centum' -languages' and the Eastern- after the old Persian or Iranian form of the word-as 'Satem'-languages. The 4 Eastern groups are:

1. Š’alto-Slavic- including all the Slavonic tongues ancient and modern and the related 1-s of Baltic countries such as Lithuania and Latvia;
2. Indo-Iranian- including the languages of old and new India of which Sanskrit is the type and of Iran-Persia;
3. then Armenian ancient and modern with its various dialects;
4. and finally Albanian which is only spoken over a relatively small area but forms a separate group by its nature none the less.

The Western groups are:

1. Greek, ancient and modern with their many dialects;
2. Latin and all its derivatives;
3. Celtic which survives in ancient inscriptions and in the medieval and modern languages of Wales, Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Brittany, and Sanskrit existed in
4. Cornwall and the Isle of Man;
5. and finally the Germanic group, which comprises the languages of Germany,
Scandinavia, Holland and the Flemish parts of Belgium as well as English, and includes these in some ancient and medieval forms also.

The principles of teaching English

Monday, August 1, 2011

Principle is defined as a guide to action, in our case to teaching. Methodology of teaching English is based on the fundamental principles of Didactics. They are the following: scientific approach in teaching, accessibility, durability, conscious approach, activity, visualization and individual approach to instruction, systematic practice. Except for the basic didactic principles Methodology of teaching English uses specific principles that are applied in teaching a foreign language. Let's consider them.

Since the aim of teaching English at school is to teach the pupils how to use the target language for communicative needs', one of the main methodological principles is the principle of communicative approach. It means that the pupils should be involved in oral and written communication throughout the whole course of learning English.

There are four types of language activities to be developed in pupils: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Each language activity has its own set of actions that are characteristic of this activity, thus special exercises are needed which should be adequate to each activity. So in teaching a particular language activity the teacher faces specific problems that should be solved since the development of each activity requires certain techniques and exercises. This is the application of the principle of a differential approach in teaching English, i.e. each language activity requires special attention on the part of the teacher.

The principle of an inteerated approach is another methodological principle. Pupils do not assimilate sounds, grammar units, lexical items as discrete components of the language, but they acquire them in sentence-patterns, pattern-dialogues related to certain situations. Pupils should use their skills in the four language activities as interdependent parts of their language experience.

The principle of durability implies the ability of a pupil to keep in his memory linguistic and language material he learns of ready access, i.e. the pupil can use units of the language whenever he needs them for oral or written communication. The durability is ensured: - by vivid presentation of material; - by constant revision and drills; - by the use of the material on the part of the learner for communicative needs; - by systematic control; - by constant supervision of pupil's habits and skills on the part of the teacher.

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