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Early Modern English Language Timeline

This timeline is a result of research conducted on the Early Modern English Language Period (1500 AD - 1800 AD). It highlights the people or events that I found to most interesting and influential to English language development. Enjoy!

Erin Green

on 15 July 2015

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Transcript of Early Modern English Language Timeline

1350 AD
1400 AD
1600 AD
1700 AD
1800 AD
Religious Texts
The Great Vowel Shift
English Renaissance
1500 AD
1800 AD
1500 AD
1800 AD
Early Modern English
The Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift
(1400 - 1700 AD)
The Great Vowel Shift is a radical change in pronunciation that took place over the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries as a result of which long vowel sounds began to be made higher and further forward in the mouth.
It was mostly during this period of time that English lost the purer vowel sounds of most European languages, as well as the phonetic pairing between long and short vowel sounds.
The Great "Ink-horn" Controversy
The term "inkhorn" was coined in the 16th century to describe persnickety writers who borrowed the classics to create obscure and lavish terms (many of which are obselete today)

Examples of inkhorn terms include:

revoluting, ingent, devulgate, attemptate, obtestate, fatigate, and dispraise.

This controversy was the first of several ongoing arguments over language use , specifically whether it was permissible and proper to import words into English from other languages.
To borrow, or not to borrow...
The exact reason for this shift is unknown and highly debated, but it is speculated to be the result of the large intake of
(words adopted by the speakers of one language from a different language)
from the Romance languages of Europe (primarily Latin and Greek) during this time, which required a different kind of pronunciation.

Middle English Sounds like Modern
y,i "myne, sight" "meet"
e, ee "me, meet, mete" (close e) "mate"
e "begge, rede" (open e) "bag"
a, aa "mate, maat" "father"
u, ou "hus, hous" "boot"
o, oo "bote, boot" (close o) "oak"
o "lof, ok" (open o) "bought"

The language chosen by the translators was ultimately derived from the London dialect which had been showing signs of standardization since Caxton's time

To many it seemed that the pronunciation of English had moved so far from its visual representation that a new alphabet was needed.

In the sixteenth century we have the first attempts to "reform" English spellings, a movement still active today.
Shakespeare's Contribution to the English Language
Helped contribute to the standardization of the English Language once his plays became popular in the late 17th century
Born on April 23, 1564
Shakespeare's Emergence
Shakespeare entered London at the height of Elizabethan England. Encouraged by Queen Elizabeth I, the arts flourished during this period.

He changed how plays were produced. With his intense devotion to character development, stage direction, and mood-setting props, he combined lifelike realism with style
Died on April 23, 1616
1623 -Shakespeare's first Folio is published
The first folio titled "Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories & Tragedies" included 38 plays was submitted for publication by Shakespeare's friends, colleagues, and fellow actors in the Chamberlain's Men (later the King's Men), John Hemminge and Henry Condell.
Their intention was to compile Shakespeare's work
"without ambition either of self-profit or fame, only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare."
William Shakespeare attended local schools, where he studied Latin and Greek rhetoric, history, and literature.
At the time of his death, no collected edition of his plays had been published, though some of his work, like the sonnets, had been printed in separate editions without his consent.
In addition to the 38 plays Shakespeare wrote during his time in London, he also authored two narrative poems and 154 sonnets.
He expanded the scope of the English Language by introducing over 2,000 new words that he invented. He did this by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, adding prefixes and suffixes, connecting words never used before together, as well as developing new words as a whole.

Lifetime achievements: 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 narrative poems. Also, one of the most famous people in history.
John Wycliffe
In 1525, the publication of William Tyndale's Bible translation was produced, but was initially banned by the Catholic Church

He translated the New Testament in 1525 and then revised it in 1534.

Tyndale's translation was the first English Bible to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts

His bible translation ws the first to be printed in English by way of the printing press

His translation was the first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation period
William Tyndale
The Great Bible
Book of Common Prayer
John Wycliffe was an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian
He completed the first hand writen translation of the Bible from Latin Vulgate into English in 1384

He completed his translation directly from Latin Vulgate into vernacular English in the year 1382
In 1539, the publication of the Great Bible, the first officially authorised Bible in English, was edited by Myles Coverdale, largely from the work of Tyndale.

His translation was revised and in 1568 came to be known as the Bishop's Bible (1568), and was adopted as the official version by the Protestant church in 1571.
This Bible is read to congregations regularly in churches, familiarising much of the population of England with a standard form of the language.
Was translated and composed by 54 scholars and clerics.

During the process of translation, they took others' published works into consideration:
The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible,
and even the
Rheims New Testament,
but it was

largely based on Tyndale's translation.
This gave its language a level of prestige which would prove to be more widespread and longer lasting than any Bible of the previous century

The language chosen by the translators was ultimately derived from the London dialect which had been showing signs of standardization since Caxton's time

The King James Bible has contributed far more to English in the way of idiomatic or proverbial expressions than any other literary source

Its lexicon is less than half that of Shakespeare, but its impact has been much greater
Under the watchful eye of Thomas Crammer, the first Book of Common Prayer was published in English in 1549.

This book standardises much of the wording of church services.

In 1662, a newly revised edition of the Book of Common Prayer was produced
Along with Shakespeare's works and the King James Bible, the Book of Common Prayer Is one of the three fundamental sources of modern English and is still used widely today.
King James Bible
(the Authorised Version)
Religious Texts
George Puttenham, the author of The Arte of English Poesie (1589), one of the most important critical works of the Elizabethan age, complained about the excessive use of “inkhorn terms, smelling too much of the Latin,” just as Thomas Wilson had earlier railed in his Art of Rhetorique (1553) against those who “seeke so far for outlandish English that they forget altogether their mothers language.”
In 1569 John Hart (in his Orthographie) went so far as to devise a new phonetic alphabet to remedy what he considered a fatal flaw in our system of language. (His alphabet and the work of other language reformers provides us with our best evidence for the pronunciation of English in his time).
The first English printing press
In 1476, William Caxton establishes the first English printing press. at Westminister

The first book known to have been published there was an edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
Due to the non-standardization of the English language, he was given to print were in a variety of styles and dialects. Being that Caxton's skills were as a technician and not a writer, he often faced dilemmas concerning language standardization in the books he printed.
American lexicographer and linguist.

Grammatical institute of the English language
(1783-85) established his reputation as the foremost scholar of English in America.

The first part of this work, The elementary spelling book, was instrumental in codifying American spelling.

His lexicographical work includes the Compendious Dictionary (1806)

Followed was his major work, The American Dictionary of the English Language (1812) which contained 70,000 words, 12,000 of which had not been listed before.
Noah Webster
"His thoughts were low,
To vice industrious but to nobler deeds
Timorous and slothful. Yet he pleased the ear
And with persuasive accent thus began" (2.115-8)
John Milton's
Paradise Lost
Published in 1667

Epic blank-verse poem of over 10,000 lines of verse throughout ten books.
Daniel Defoe's
Robinson Crusoe
Published in 1719

Considered by some to be the first novel in English
"European literature." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 12 July 2015.
I had a great experience with this project! Gaining the knowledge of how the English language has evolved will most certainly benefit my instructional approach, especially on how to approach grammar instruction, or when planning instruction for unit on Shakespeare. It wasn't until I entered college that educators took time to provide rich, background information about the text and author. Recieving this type of information before reading a novel enriched the reading experience for me because I was

biography, which always made for a better

Instructional Approach
Language as Play
This project also has reinforced the notion of language as play and to encourage students to experiment with language and coin new words just as Shakespeare did. Language is an art form and as with all art forms, they are subkect to interpretation and ever evolving.
Bonding Agent
I took a special interest in the evolution of religious texts during Early Modern English era. The publication of the King James bible essentially served as a bonding agent by bringing a standardization to both written and vernacular communications in the 17th century and still is today. It also reinforces the idea that cultural understanding informs language understanding, which I believe is important for educators to pass this on to their students by helping them become aware that knowledge of language can help inform cultural understanding.
Evaluative Statements
Mastin, L. (2011). History: Early modern english (c. 1500 – c. 1800). Retrieved from http://www.thehistoryofenglish.com/history_early_modern.html
Chubarov 1066-2066, A. (n.d.). Timeline: Early modern english. Retrieved from http://www.1066andallthat.com/english_modern/timeline_early_ME.asp
Shakespeare’s development of early modern English. (2004-2014). No Sweat Shakespeare. Retrieved from http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/resources/shakespeare-early-modern-english/
"Noah Webster." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 12 July 2015.
Hickey, R. (2015). Themes in studying the history of english. University of Duisburgessen. Retrieved from https://www.uni-due.de/SHE/
Kemmer, S. (2001-2005). A brief history of english, with chronology. Rice University. Retrieved from http://www.thehistoryofenglish.com/history_early_modern.html#Renaissance
Jeffcoat, J. (2013). English bible history. WWW.GREATSITE.COM. Retrieved from http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/
"William Shakespeare." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 12 July 2015.

Truthnet.org. (n.d.). How was the English Bible created? Retrieved from http://www.truthnet.org/Bible-Origins/
Wekiner, E. (2013). Grammar in early modern English. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/english-in-time/grammar-in-early-modern-english/
Wagner, J. (2015). Richard grafton. World History: The Modern Era. Retrieved from http://worldhistory2.abc-clio.com.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/
Curth, L. (2015). Industrial revolution. World History: The Modern Era. Retrieved from http://worldhistory2.abc-clio.com.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/
Benson, L.D. (2000). The great vowel shift. The Geoffrey Chaucer Page. Retrieved from http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chaucer/vowels.html
Lorenson, S. & Napoli, Donna Jo. (n.d.). The great vowel shiff: Its rules, its legacy, and its evaluation as a natural process. Retrieved from http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10066/10710/Lorenson_thesis_1991.pdf?sequence=3
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