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The word landscape (landscipe or landscaef) arrived in England—and therefore into the English language—after the fifth century, following the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons; these terms referred to a system of human-made spaces on the land. The term landscape emerged around the turn of the sixteenth century to denote a painting whose primary subject matter was natural scenery. Land (a word from Germanic origin) may be taken in its sense of something to which people belong (as in England being the land of the English). The suffix ‑scape is equivalent to the more common English suffix ‑ship. The roots of ‑ship are etymologically akin to Old English sceppan or scyppan, meaning to shape. The suffix ‑schaft is related to the verb schaffen, so that ‑ship and shape are also etymologically linked. The modern form of the word, with its connotations of scenery, appeared in the late sixteenth century when the term landschap was introduced by Dutch painters who used it to refer to paintings of inland natural or rural scenery. The word landscape, first recorded in 1598, was borrowed from a Dutch painters' term. The popular conception of the landscape that is reflected in dictionaries conveys both a particular and a general meaning, the particular referring to an area of the Earth's surface and the general being that which can be seen by an observer. An example of this second usage can be found as early as 1662 in the Book of Common Prayer:

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