Brief History of the English Language

The origin, influence of the Vikings and the Norman Conquest, formation of Middle English and Modern English – everything, in short, in this article!

English is one of the Indo-European languages and belongs to the group of Germanic languages. The family of Indo-European languages now includes most of the languages spoken in Europe, as well as some of those used in Asia. The Germanic group of languages was developed from a language that existed 3000 years ago. Being a part of the history department of essaywriterfree, I should agree that with time the group had divided into Scandinavian, East Germanic, and North Germanic languages.

English Language: The Origins

The story of English itself began in around 500 A.D. when Britain was inhabited by the Celts. West Germanic invaders came to the island at that time. They were the representatives of the tribes of Anglos, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians, and spoke Anglo-Saxon, or Old English language. It was similar to Frisian, which is still used by four thousand people nowadays.

Oppressed by the invaders, the Celts moved to the north and the west of Britain, as well as to Ireland and Brittany in contemporary France, to become contemporary Irish, Scots, Welsh, and Bretons. They all speak a similar form of Gaelic.

The Viking Era in the History of English

Anglo-Saxons in Britain were followed by Vikings, beginning about 850 A.D. They brought some influence of North Germanic languages into Old English. The Old English formed during that period became the basis of the modern language we know today. A great part of the most commonly used words of English comes from the Old English of those days.

The Norman Conquest

Another influential event in the development of English took place in 1066 A.D.: the Norman Conquest. English Anglo-Saxons were captured by French-speaking Normans. As a result, being a college essay writer, I totally agree that the language of Anglo-Saxons was greatly influenced by Norman aristocracy who spoke French, while plain people used English.

So with time French Latin-based vocabulary started mixing with English, and it became a common situation when people used two words instead of one for expressing the same thing. Such pairs include, for example, beef and cow, pork and pig. French also left many of its words in the English judicial language: jury, crime, verdict, etc. Some new words were formed by joining two words together, like the word ‘gentleman’.

Middle English

With time, however, the division of languages in Britain disappeared, and Middle English (of around 1100-1500 A.D.) was used by both upper and lower classes of Britain. The period between 1500 and 1800 was that of Early Modern English. At that time the introduction of the printing press and revival of scholarship along with the development of the Renaissance brought into the language many Greek and Latin words, as well as words formed from Greek and Latin ones. At the same time, the development of trade and discovery of the Americas enriched English by words naming new products brought from abroad. Among such words are ‘tobacco’, ‘chocolate’, ‘potato’, and others. Besides, while previously the language was based on dialects and had free spelling, the printing of “King James Bible” introduced certain standards to word usage and spelling.

Modern English

The major events in the development of Modern English (from 1800 till the present) were technological progress and British Empire’s growth. According to the essay writing service, as a result of the industrial revolution in Britain and the United States, on the basis of Greek and Latin, as well as other English words, there were created many new words to name new concepts and things, such as ‘oxygen’, ‘nuclear’, ‘vaccine’, ‘typewriter’, ‘airplane’, and so on.

Up till now, new words are continuously entering the language. Many of them are borrowings from other languages; some evolve with the development of technologies (would you ‘google’ anything a hundred years ago?); some just change their meaning with time (‘doctor’ once meant ‘teacher’, for instance). In any case, the most important thing for us all is to understand each other; that is the purpose of the language.

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