Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
swelled the ranks of a form pattern familiar from such instances as wide and widen. In other words, the morphological influence exerted by foreign languages on English, if it is to be gauged by such examples as I have cited, is hardly different in kind from the mere borrowing of words. The introduction of the suffix -ize made hardly more difference to the essential build of the language than did the mere fact that it incorporated a given number of words. Had English evolved a new future on the model of the synthetic future in French or had it borrowed from Latin and Greek their employment of reduplication as a functional device (Latin tango: tetigi; Greek leipo: leloipa), we should have the right to speak of true morphological influence. But such far-reaching influences are not demonstrable. Within the whole course of the history of the English language we can hardly point to one important morphological change that was not determined by the native drift, though here and there we may surmise that this drift was hastened a little by the suggestive influence of French forms.9
It is important to realize the continuous, self-contained morphological development of English and the very modest extent to which its fundamental build has been affected by influences from without. The history of the English language has sometimes been represented as though it relapsed into a kind of chaos on the arrival of the Normans, who proceeded to play nine-pins with the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Students are more conservative today. That a far-reaching analytic development may take place without such external foreign
Note 9. In the sphere of syntax one may point to certain French and Latin influences, but it is doubtful if they ever reached deeper than the written language. Much of this type of influence belongs rather to literary style than to morphology proper. [back]