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A Brief History of the English Language

The English language belongs to the West Germanic branch of the IndoEuropean family of languages. The closest undoubted living relatives of English are Scots and Frisian. Frisian is a language spoken by appro imately half a million people in the !utch province of Friesland" in nearby areas of Germany" and on a fe# islands in the $orth Sea. The history of the English language has traditionally been divided into three main periods% &ld English '()*-++** ,!-" .iddle English '++**-circa +)** ,!- and .odern English 'since +)**-. &ver the centuries" the English language has been influenced by a number of other languages. Old English (450 - 1100 AD): !uring the )th /entury ,! three Germanic tribes 'Sa ons" ,ngles" and 0utes- came to the 1ritish Isles from various parts of north#est Germany as #ell as !enmark. These tribes #ere #arlike and pushed out most of the original" /eltic-speaking inhabitants from England into Scotland" Wales" and /orn#all. &ne group migrated to the 1rittany /oast of France #here their descendants still speak the /eltic 2anguage of 1reton today. Through the years" the Sa ons" ,ngles and 0utes mi ed their different Germanic dialects. This group of dialects forms #hat linguists refer to as &ld English or ,nglo-Sa on. The #ord 3English3 #as in &ld English 3Englisc3" and that comes from the name of the ,ngles. The ,ngles #ere named from Engle" their land of origin. 1efore the Sa ons the language spoken in #hat is no# England #as a mi ture of 2atin and various /eltic languages #hich #ere spoken before the 4omans came to 1ritain ')(-)1/-. The 4omans brought 2atin to 1ritain" #hich #as part of the 4oman Empire for over (** years. .any of the #ords passed on from this era are those coined by 4oman merchants and soldiers. These include win 'wine-" candel 'candle-" belt 'belt-" weall 'wall-. '32anguage Timeline3" The 1ritish 2ibrary 1oardThe influence of /eltic upon &ld English #as slight. In fact" very fe# /eltic #ords have lived on in the English language. 1ut many of place and river
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#hich" in origin at least" #as 9ust as Germanic as &ld English.iddle English. /eltic The arrival of St.ost of the #ords embedded in the English vocabulary are #ords of po#er" such as crown"castle" co"rt" &arlia#ent" ar#'" #ansion" gown" bea"t'" ban-"et" a 2 .iddle English (1100-circa 1500 AD): . Words derived from $orse include% sk'" egg" cake" skin" leg" window (wind e'e)" h"sband" )ellow" skill" anger" )lat" odd" "gl'" get" gi e" take" raise" call" die" the'"their" the#. .round 767 . . The name of the person #ho #rote it is unkno#n.ryss . The &ld French took over as the language of the court" administration" and culture.names have origins%Kent" York" Do er" !"#berland" $ha#es" A on" $rent" %e ern. Some" such as ch"rch" bisho&" ba&tis#" #onk" e"charist and &resb'ter came indirectly through 2atin from the Greek. . They #ere mostly concerned #ith the naming of /hurch dignitaries" ceremonies" etc. The most famous is a heroic epic poem called *+eow"l)*. The use of &ld English came back" but #ith many French #ords added. The 8ikings" being Scandinavian" spoke a language 'Old (orse. It is the oldest kno#n English poem and it is notable for its length .ugustine in )56 and the introduction of /hristianity into Sa on England brought more 2atin #ords into the English language. E perts say *+eow"l)* #as #ritten in 1ritain more than one thousand years ago. . This language is called . 2atin #as mostly used for #ritten language" especially that of the /hurch. English changed a lot" because it #as mostly being spoken instead of #ritten for about <** years. 1y about +?**" England and France had split.! #ith his armies and became king" he brought his nobles" #ho spoke French" to be the ne# government. '3The &rigin and :istory of the English 2anguage3" .atsiavriadesSeveral #ritten #orks have survived from the &ld English period.ean#hile" The English language" as the language of the no# lo#er class" #as considered a vulgar tongue.<"+7< lines. .fter William the /on=ueror" the !uke of $ormandy" invaded and con=uered England in +*>> .! !anes and $orsemen" also called 8ikings" invaded the country and English got many $orse #ords into the language" particularly in the north of England.

is sometimes referred to as *the age o) %hakes&eare* or *the Eli/abethan era*" taking the name of the English 4enaissanceBs most famous author and most important monarch" respectively. 0ohann Gutenberg invented the printing press in Germany around +()*" but /a ton set up EnglandBs first press. . It #as during the English 4enaissance that most of the #ords from Greek and 2atin entered English. The portraits that he paints in his Tales give us an idea of #hat life #as like in fourteenth century England. There #ere three big developments in the #orld at the beginning of .odern English developed after William /a ton established his printing press at Westminster .odern English.atsiavriadesThe . The Great 8o#el Shift occurred during the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries.odern English period% the 4enaissance" the Industrial 4evolution" and the 1ritish /olonialism. Crinting also brought standardi@ation to English. 1asically" the long vo#els shifted up#ardsA that is" a vo#el that used to be pronounced in one place in the mouth #ould be pronounced in a different place" higher up in the mouth.#hile the #ords for the meats derived from them are French 'bee)" eal" #"tton" &ork" bacon" enison-. It #as a massive sound change affecting the long vo#els of English.iddle English is also characteri@ed for the beginning of the Great 8o#el Shift. The most famous e ample of .ryss ." cow" cal)" shee&" swine" deer. !uring the reign of Dueen Eli@abeth I there #as an e plosion of 3 .iddle English is /haucerBs *$he !anterb"r' $ales*" a collection of stories about a group of thirty people #ho travel as pilgrims to /anterbury" England. The 1ible and some valuable manuscripts #ere printed. This period in English cultural history 'early +>th century to the early +6th century. 1y the time of ShakespeareBs #ritings '+)5?-+>+>-" the language had become clearly recogni@able as . The books became cheaper and more people learned to read. The invention of the printing press made books available to more people.rt" &oet" ro#ance" d"ke" ser ant" &easant" traitor and go ernor. Timeline3" The 1ritish 2ibrary '32anguage 1oard- 1ecause the English underclass cooked for the $orman upper class" the #ords for most domestic animals are English 'o.odern English (1500 to the &resent): . '3The &rigin and :istory of the English 2anguage3" .bbey in +(6>.

The grammar of English is also distinctly Germanic .to the ES. England began the Industrial 4evolution '+7th century.frica. For e ample" BkangarooB and Bboo#erangB are native .English continues to change and develop" #ith hundreds of ne# #ords arriving every year.ustralian . These #ords #ere named after the inventor or given the name of their choice 'trains" engine" &"lle's" co#b"stion" electricit'" tele&hone" telegra&h" ca#er a etc-.and a simple set of verb tenses.sia and .borigine #ords" B0"ggerna"tB and Bt"rbanB came from India. They sent people to settle and live in their con=uered places and as settlers interacted #ith natives" ne# #ords #ere added to the English vocabulary.and this had also an effect on the development of the language as ne# #ords had to be invented or e isting ones modified to cope #ith the rapid changes in technology.culture in the form of support of the arts" populari@ation of the printing press" and massive amounts of sea travel. 1ritain #as an Empire for ?** years bet#een the +7th and ?*th centuries and English language continued to change as the 1ritish Empire moved across the #orld .three genders 'he" she and it. $e# technical #ords #ere added to the vocabulary as inventors designed various products and machinery. 4 . 1ut even #ith all the borro#ings from many other languages the heart of the English language remains the .ustralia" $e# Fealand" India" . 'See more borro#ings from different languages." .nglo-Sa on of &ld English.