History of English language

History of English language

The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke History of English language a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived.[16]


Germanic History of English language invaders entered Britain on the east and south coasts in the 5th century.

During the 7th and 8th Centuries, Northumbria's culture and language dominated Britain. The Viking invasions of the 9th Century brought this domination to an end (along with the destruction of Mercia). Only Wessex remained History of English language as an independent kingdom. By the 10th Century, the West Saxon dialect became the official language of Britain. Written Old English is mainly known from this period. It was written in an alphabet called Runic, derived from the Scandinavian languages. The Latin Alphabet was brought over from Ireland by History of English language Christian missionaries. This has remained the writing system of English.

At this time, the vocabulary of Old English consisted of an Anglo Saxon base with borrowed words from the Scandinavian languages (Danish and Norse) and Latin. Latin gave English words like street, kitchen, kettle, cup, cheese, wine, angel, bishop, martyr History of English language, candle. The Vikings added many Norse words: sky, egg, cake, skin, leg, window (wind eye), husband, fellow, skill, anger, flat, odd, ugly, get, give, take, raise, call, die, they, their, them. Celtic words also survived mainly in place and river names (Devon, Dover, Kent, Trent, Severn, Avon, Thames).

Old History of English language English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English. Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English. Old History of English language English was spoken until around 1100.

Many pairs of English and Norse words coexisted giving us two words with the same or slightly differing meanings. Examples below[25]

Norse English Explanations
anger wrath Ярость, гнев
nay no Нет
fro from Из
raise rear Подымать, воспитывать
ill sick Болеть
bask bathe Купаться
skill History of English language craft Искусство
skin hide Шкура
dike ditch Канава, ров
skirt shirt Сорочка
scatter shatter Разломать, повредить
skip shift Передвигаться

Middle English (1100-1500)

In 1066 the Normans conquered Britain. French became the language of the Norman aristocracy and added more vocabulary to English. More pairs of similar words arose. William the History of English language Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and conquered England. The new conquerors (called the Normans) brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. For a period there was a kind of linguistic History of English language class division, where the lower classes spoke English and the upper classes spoke French.

In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words added. This language is called Middle English. It was the language of the great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), but it would still History of English language be difficult for native English speakers to understand today. [30]

Because the English underclass cooked for the Norman upper class, the words for most domestic animals are English (ox, cow, calf, sheep, swine, deer) while the words for the meats derived from them are French (beef, veal, mutton, pork, bacon History of English language, venison).

The Germanic form of plurals (house, housen; shoe, shoen) was eventually displaced by the French method of making plurals: adding an s (house, houses; shoe, shoes). Only a few words have retained their Germanic plurals: men, oxen, feet, teeth, children.

French also affected spelling so that the «cw History of English language» sound came to be written as «qu» (eg. cween became queen).

It wasn't till the 14th Century that English became dominant in Britain again. In 1399, King Henry IV became the first king of England since the Norman Conquest whose mother tongue was English. By the end of the 14th History of English language Century, the dialect of London had emerged as the standard dialect of what we now call Middle English. Chaucer wrote in this language.[28]

Modern English

Modern English began around the 16th Century and, like all languages, is still changing. One change occurred when the th of some History of English language verb forms became s (loveth, loves: hath, has). auxiliary verbs also changed (he is risen, he has risen).

Early Modern English (1500-1800)

Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century History of English language the British had contact with many peoples from around the world. This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print.

Borrowed words include names of animals (giraffe History of English language, tiger, zebra), clothing (pyjama, turban, shawl), food (spinach, chocolate, orange), scientific and mathematical terms (algebra, geography, species), drinks (tea, coffee, cider), religious terms (Jesus, Islam, nirvana), sports (checkmate, golf, billiards), vehicles (chariot, car, coach), music and art (piano, theatre, easel), weapons (pistol, trigger, rifle), political and military terms History of English language (commando, admiral, parliament), and astronomical names (Saturn, Leo, Uranus).

Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published.[16]

Late Modern History of English language English (1800-Present)

The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter History of English language of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.[34]

Languages that have contributed words to English include Latin, Greek, French, German, Arabic, Hindi (from India), Italian, Malay, Dutch, Farsi (from Iran and Afghanistan), Nahuatl (the Aztec language), Sanskrit (from ancient India), Portuguese, Spanish History of English language, Tupi (from South America) and Ewe (from Africa).

The vocabulary of English is the largest of any language.

Even with all these borrowings the heart of the language remains the Anglo-Saxon of Old English. Only about 5000 or so words from this period have remained unchanged History of English language but they include the basic building blocks of the language: household words, parts of the body, common animals, natural elements, most pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions and auxiliary verbs. Grafted onto this basic stock was a wealth of contributions to produce, what many people believe, is the richest of the world's languages History of English language.


English is a member of the Germanic family of languages.

Germanic is a branch of the Indo-European language family.

Present days:

In Great Britain at present the speech of educated persons is known as Received Pronunciation. A class dialect rather than a regional dialect, it is based on History of English language the type of speech cultivated at public schools and at such of the older universities as Oxford and Cambridge. Many English people who speak regional dialects in their childhood acquire Received Pronunciation while attending school and university. Its influence has become even stronger in recent years because of its History of English language use by such public media as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

RP is not intrinsically superior to other varieties of English, and is, itself, only one particular dialect. It has just achieved more extensive use than others.

Widely differing regional and local dialects are still employed in the various History of English language counties of Great Britain. Other important regional dialects have also developed; for example, the English language in Ireland has retained certain individual peculiarities of pronunciation, such as the pronunciation of lave for leave and fluther for flutter; certain syntactical peculiarities, such as the use of after following forms of the verb History of English language be; and certain differences in vocabulary, including the use of archaic words such as adown (for down) and Celtic borrowings such as banshee. The Lowland Scottish dialect, sometimes called Lallans, first мейд known throughout the English-speaking world by the songs of the 18th-century Scottish poet Robert History of English language Burns, contains differences in pronunciation also, such as neebour (“neighbour”) and guid (“good”), and words of Scandinavian origin peculiar to the dialect, such as braw and bairn. The English spoken in Australia, with its marked diphthongization of vowels, also makes use of special words, retained from English History of English language regional dialect usages, or taken over from indigenous Australian terms.[28]


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