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The History of the English Language

Lecture notes

Joel Laveborn

on 2 October 2013

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Transcript of The History of the English Language

The History of the English Language
Modern English ~ 1550 - today
Old English - Before England was England
With the introduction of Christianity in the 6th century, a lot of Latin words were put to use (school, priest, paper to name a few).
Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum,
Sī þīn nama ġehālgod.
Tōbecume þīn rīċe,
ġewurþe þīn willa, on eorðan swā swā on heofonum.
Ūre ġedæġhwāmlīcan hlāf syle ūs tō dæġ,
and forgyf ūs ūre gyltas, swā swā wē forgyfað ūrum gyltendum.
And ne ġelǣd þū ūs on costnunge, ac ālȳs ūs of yfele.
Middle English
A lot of people think Shakespeare wrote in Middle English.

Shakespeare's works are not written in Middle English, but in
Early Modern English
- Chaucer, on the other hand, wrote in Middle English and is often called the "father of English literature."
Speaking of Chaucer, here's an example:
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.
This is a pig.
This is pork.
This is a cow.
This is beef.
Old English - cū
In French, pig is 'porc'.
French - 'un vache'/'boeuf'
The word comes from Middle English ("pigge").
Get it?
Modern English: whose language is it, really?
The Great Vowel Shift - great change in English pronunciation during the time of 1350-1700.
To sum things up; watch this video
Old English ~ 400 - 1100 C.E.
Middle English ~ 1100 - 1400 C.E.
Old English would be completely impossible to understand for a modern Englishman.
However, modern English has a lot of its roots in Old English (over 2000 words).
Old English was heavily influenced by Germanic tribes and sounds a bit like a mash of German and Icelandic rather than modern English.
The Norman conquest 1066 C.E. (William the Conqueror).
Known as the "battle of Hastings".
French became the standard among the nobility. Regular people still talked English.
Trilingual activity - a shitload of synonyms
Nowadays there is a vast amount of different accents and dialects belonging to the Modern English - American English, British English, Indo-Pakistani English, South African English to name a few.
The Great Vowel Shift is responsible for a lot of the peculiar spelling in the English language.
Modern English: whose language is it, really?
Writers like Shakespeare introduced a written standard.
Shakespeare also invented over 2000 words!
People started borrowing words from other languages, since trade was more common.
Greek: astronomy, atom, centre, climate, machine, system
Italian:opera, pizza, umbrella, volcano, balloon
Spanish: sherry, cigar, potato, tomato, chocolate, guitar,
Portuguese: albino, flamingo, marmelade, veranda
Chinese: ketchup, tea
Arabic: alcohol, lemon, sofa, zero
Turkish: coffee, kiosk
Since the world is changing we need to invent new words all the time: aeroplane, computer, cell phone etc.
A language in change
Cyber bully
Slow food
credit crunch
password fatigue
muffin top
pod slurping
Full transcript