A Biography of the English Language by C. M. Millward

By C. M. Millward

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Because Russia was Christianized by the Eastern Church, whose official language was Greek, its alphabet (the Cyrillic alphabet) was borrowed independently from Greek; in many ways, it is closer to the classical Greek alphabet than the Latin alphabet is. F o r example, its forms r J\ JI H If P $ X for [g d 1 n p r f x], respectively, are similar to their Greek originals. However, the Cyrillic alphabet uses B for [ v ] , and B, a modified form of B, for [ b ] . C represents [s], and V represents [ u ] .

Titivillus, as he was named, collected fragments of mispronounced, mumbled, or skipped words in the divine services. He put them all into a sack and carried them to his master in hell, where they were registered against the offender. Later Titivillus' jurisdiction was extended to orthographic and printing errors. He never lacked for material to put in his sack. For instance, when Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) authorized the printing of a new edition of the Vulgate Bible, he decided to insure against printing errors by automatically excommunicating ahead of time any printer w h o altered the text in any way.

Scaliger also divided the languages of Europe into eleven "mother tongues"—Slavic, Germanic, Italic, Greek, Albanian, Tartar, Hungarian, Finnish, Irish, Welsh, and Basque. He did not, however, understand the exact relationships among these groups. Today we classify both Tartar (Turkish) and Basque as belonging to separate families and put Hungarian and Finnish into the larger Finno-Ugric family. All of Scaliger's remaining mother tongues are classified as Indo-European, but Welsh and Irish are grouped together as members of the Celtic branch of Indo-European.

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