The history of the English language
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Periods in the history of English The history of English covers roughly 1200 years. Traditional divides English history into three periods: The Old English period begins about 700 a. d. and lasts till about 12th century. The Middle English period lasts from about the beginning of the 12th century till 15th century. The Modern English period begins at about 15th century and lasts to the present day.
The Prehistory of English The ultimate origins of English lie in Indo-European , a family of languages consisting of most of the languages of Europe as well as those of Iran, the Indian subcontinent, and other parts of Asia. Because little is known about ancient Indo-European we'll begin our survey in Britain in the first century AD
Celts •5th-6th centuries Germanic peoples speaking West Germanic dialects settle most of Britain. •Celts retreat to distant areas of Britain: Ireland, Scotland, Wales. The Celtic influence on English survives for the most part only in place names - London, Dover, Avon, York.
Romans 43 AD The Romans invade Britain, beginning 400 AD years of control over much of the island. Early 5th century with the collapse of the empire, Romans withdraw from Britain. So many words have Latin roots in modern English. For example, word “castra” (camp) meets in words -Lancaster, Manchester, Leicester. Many of the most commonly used words in modern English have Latin roots, for example: words street, wall, wine, pear, pepper.
500-1100: The Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) Period •West Germanic invaders from Jutland and southern Denmark: the Angles Saxons, and Jutes, began to settle in the British Isles in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. •About half of the most commonly used words in modern English have Old English roots. Words like be , water , and strong , for example, derive from Old English roots.
Vikings •The Vikings attack Wessex in 878, and the Saxon king, Alfred (of burning the cakes fame) had to flee to the Somerset marshes. •English borrowed approximately two thousand lexical items from Old Norse, including anger , bag, both, hit, law, leg, same, skill, sky, take, and many others, possibly even including the pronoun they.
The Norman Conquest and Middle English (1100-1500) William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England and the Anglo-Saxons in 1066 AD. The influence of the Normans can be illustrated by looking at two words, beef and cow. Many legal terms, such as indict, jury.
Early Modern English (1500-1800) The next wave of innovation in English came with the Renaissance. Words Shakespeare bequeathed to the language include "critical," "leapfrog," "majestic," "dwindle," and "pedant”. The first factor was the Great Vowel Shift. This was a change in pronunciation that began around 1400. The last major factor in the development of Modern English was the advent of the printing press. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the first English dictionary was published in 1604.
Late-Modern English (1800-Present) The principal distinction between early- and late-modern English is vocabulary. The industrial and scientific revolutions created a need for neologisms to describe the new creations and discoveries. Words like oxygen, protein, nuclear, vaccine, horsepower, airplane, typewriter and etc.
Conclusion English is spreading from northern Europe to the south and is now firmly entrenched as a second language in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Netherlands and Denmark. It is believed that over one billion people worldwide are currently learning English. English has without a doubt become the global language.