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The History of the English Language

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Sarah Perkinson

on 8 February 2016

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Transcript of The History of the English Language

Learning Objective:
The three language periods and how they affected The English Language.
The English Language is divided into three periods:

Old English Period
(AD 450-1100)

Middle English Period

Modern English Period
(1500-present day)
Old English Period
Old English Period
- The English language began as a mixture of dialects spoken by the Germanic Tribes that invaded Britain

- There is a wide assumption that English is based on Latin; however, it was rooted because of the Germanic Tribes

- 85% of the Old English words are no longer used in our vocabulary

- However, many everyday words stayed.
- examples: child, foot, hand

Old English Period

- The first recorded history began when the Germanic Tribes invaded Britain in AD 449

-The Germanic invaders pushed the Celts to the Northern and Western corners of the island
Chapter 8
Building Vocabulary

The History of the English Language
- The invasions caused the romaniticization of King Arthur's legends.

- King Arthur was believed to be a Celtic military leader who fought against the Germanic invaders

- Unlike the Modern English Period, the Old English Period had a highly developed inflectional system for indicating number, gender, and verb tenses.

- Addixes were added by the Anglo-Saxons

be- for- -ly -dom -hood

Old English Period
Old English Period
- The Anglo-Saxons also established the descriptive compound words.

Example: "music" --> "ear-sport"

- In the epic tale Beowulf, descriptive compounds include "sea" --> "whale-path" and "swan's road"

- The Romans and Vikings also influenced the English language
Old English Period


- missionaries who reintroduced Christianity to Britain in 597. They brought religious words like angel, candle, and hymn.

- contributed pronouns [they, their, them]
- /g/ and /k/ sounds [get and kid]
-enriched our vocabulary with 500+ words

Old English Period
-Old English is significantly different from Modern English due to the structure, spelling, and pronunciation.

- The language is so different we would not recognized or understand it.
/k/ sound -> knee

-Old English "stan" became "stone"
"stan" meant "father"

Middle English Period
- With The Norman Conquest in 1066, was the dawn of the Middle English Period

- William, Duke of Normandy defeated the King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. He claimed the throne and made English the official language.

-Before William, French was the official language for 200+ years.

Middle English Period
-Chaucer's Canterberry Tales prove that English replaced French.
Middle English Period
- Tremendous change during the Middle Period.

- Over 10,00 French words added and Old English words were lost.
Middle English Period
- The transition reflected the Norman impact on English life including:

: soldier, victory
: government, princess
: physician, surgeon
: comedy, music, poet
Middle English Period
- New loan words replaced Old English words.

- Old English words were eventually lost

- If the both the Old English and new loan words remained, then the words developed slightly different meanings.
example: "hearty" and "cordial"
(Old English) (French)

Both "hearty" and "cordial"
originally meant "from the heart"

Modern English Period
- The introduction of the printing press by William Caxton, began the Modern English Period.

-Standardization of the English spelling increased the lag between pronunciation and spelling. The lag made the understanding of the English Language for confusing.

- Increased exploration in the 1600-1700s
Modern English Period
- The exploration led to borrowed
words from 50+ languages.
Examples of borrowed words:

chocolate -> Arabic
cookie -> Spanish
czar -> Russian
hallelujah -> Hebrews
hurricane -> Spanish
kindergarten -> German
smorgasbord -> Swedish
tycoon -> Chinese
violin -> Italian

Modern English Period
- Latin and Greek words were added during the Renaissance to increase the language's prestige.
Latin words
Greek words:
Modern English Period
- extensive sounds changes
-short vowels sounds remained relatively the same
- long vowels had a change in pronunciation

Modern English Period
The Great Vowel Shift
- The Great Vowel Shift was a gradual change during the 1500s

-Spelling became fixed before the shift, spellings no longer corresponded to the sounds.

-For example: "name" use to rhymed with "comma" and now "name" rhymes with "game"
Modern English Period
-Modern English brought changes in syntax. (Syntax is the structure and grammar of a sentence.)

-Along with the changes brought on the disappearance of double negatives, comparatives, and superlatives.

Old English
- Germanic Tribes invaded Britain

Middle English
-The Norman Conquest in 1066

Modern English
-Introduced of the printing press by William Caxton
1. How have the modifications in the English language affected us today in the Modern Period?

2. How would our lives be different if we still in the Old or Middle English Language Period?

3. If you could live in any Language Period, what would it be and why?
William Invades
Normandy in 1066
Why is the English Language so complex?
("Language Timeline")
("Language Timeline")

"Language Timeline." . British Library. Web. 9 Jun 2014. <http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/changlang/across/languagetimeline.html>.

Merriam-webster. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/help/faq/history.htm

Tompkins, G. E. (2013). Language arts: Patterns and practice. (8th ed.). Upper Sadlde River, NJ: Pearson.

Pictures: Shutterstock
* The dawn of the Middle English Period *
(Tompkins, 2013, p.9)
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