A Brief History of English Language

The history of English language dates back to the 5th century AD when three Germanic tribes invaded Britain. They crossed the North Sea from the Denmark and northern Germany which we call today. The British inhabitants spoke a Celtic language at that time but most Celtic speakers were driven north and west by the invaders. This is what is we call Ireland, Wales and Scotland. One tribe came from “Englaland” and their language was called “Englisc”. This was the origin of the words England and English.

Old English

The time of old English was roughly from 450-1100 AD. Similar languages were spoken by the invading Germanic tribes which developed in to what the British call old English. Old English was not like the English of today and native speakers of English would have great difficulty to understand Old English. Although most of the common used words in Modern English have roots of Old English. An example are the words like “water”, “strong” and “be”  were derived from old English.

English Language

Middle English

The time of Middle English was from 1100-1500 AD. The Duke of Normandy and William the conqueror invaded and conquered England in 1066. They brought a kind of French with them which became the language of the Royal Court and business classes. There was a period when the upper classes spoke French and the lower classes spoke English. English dominated Britain again in 14th century but with the addition of many French words. This language was called Middle English. The native English speakers would still have difficulty today in understanding the language.

Early Modern English

This was the time towards the end of the Middle English from 1500-1800 AD. A sudden and distinct change in pronunciation started known as the Vowel Shift. The British had contacts with many people around the world. New words and phrases made its way into the language during the Renaissance of Classical learning. With the invention of printing, books became cheaper and more people started learning and writing. English was standardized and spelling and grammar was fixed. The first English dictionary was published in 1604.

Late Modern English

This was the time from 100 till the present. Vocabulary is the main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English. Late Modern English contained many words rose from two principal factors. The first was the Industrial Revolution and technology. The second was British Empire at its height covering one quarter of the earth’s surface. Foreign words from many countries also got included in English.

English Language

Varieties of English

The English colonization of North America resulted in the creation of distinct American variety in English from around 1600. There were some English pronunciations that reached America and American English is more like English in some ways. Some expressions were preserved in the colonies were original British expressions. There was also Spanish influence on American English. French words African words also had some influence on American English

These days, American English is mostly influential because of America’s domination on cinema, music, television, trade, internet and technology. There are also other varieties in English like Canadian English, Caribbean English, Australian English, New Zealand English, South African English and Indian English.




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