History of English

Length: 11 Pages 2812 Words

The English language is arguably the most influential in the modern world. As the language of the only modern military and economic superpower, the United States, it has become the de facto language of international trade. But though English is spoken now by over 300 million people ( British Council ), few of them would be able to understand the English of the 1300’s, and far fewer still the English of the 500’s. As nations were conquered and cultures assimilated, English grew in both popularity and diversity, but also changed dramatically. As a member of the Indo-European family of languages, English bares a strong resemblance to many modern languages across the world, but it has developed on a path all its own (Watkins 2002). This development of Old English in and around the British Isles is discussed, as well as its transition through Middle to Modern English and finally the (relatively) recent emersion of the American dialect. English is one of more than 150 members of the Indo-European (IE) family of languages. Named for the early prevalence of its speakers in and between India and Europe, the Indo-European family can now claim approximately half of the Earth’s population and its relative languages are spoken Continue...


Often a French word would be adopted in lieu of on Old English word, such as crime for firen and uncle for eam. It was not only Native Americans, though, that the British colonists encountered, but also the Spanish colonists living in the south central regions of North America and the French in what is now Louisiana. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen. There are even quite a few vocabulary and grammatical differences that appear when looking across the United States. The above translates directly to "Father out thou that art in heavens be thy name hallowed come thy kingdom be-done thy will on earth as in heavens our daily bread give us today and forgive us our sins as we forgive those-who-have-sinned-against-us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil truly" (Ball). The wars of the 20th century also caused an influx of military terms that are still quite present. The Brahmin dialect of Boston, for instance, spoken by the upper class (of which Mr. William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, and his entourage of invaders spoke an Old French dialect called Anglo-Norman. It was not only the Industrial Revolution, though, that sparked the need for the wider vocabulary which marks the primary difference between Early and Late Modern English, but also the beginning of the British Empire and long-term contact with foreign civilizations. The colonist contact with Native Americans also served to increase the vocabulary of American English; most often place names, word such as Roanoke, Iowa and Mississippi all derive from Native American Languages, as do other common names such as raccoon, tomato, canoe and hickory (Birchbark 1999). And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euylTranslating directly to, "Our father that art in heaven hallowed by thy name thy land or kingdome come to be. Spoken on every continent in the world, there exist startlingly few environments that it is found inadequate to describe. FAder ure Au Ae eart on heofonum si Ain nama gehalgod tobecume Ain rice gewurAe Ain willa on eorAan swa swa on heofonum urne gedAghwamlican hlaf syle us todAg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfaA urum gyltendum and ne gelAd Au us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soAlice. Frisian, the language spoken in the northeastern region of the Netherlands, is generally accepted as the language most similar to Modern English. Be thy will done in earth as it is done in heaven give to us our each days bread and forgive to us our selves that is our sins as we forgive to our selves that is to those that have sinned in us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil," this passage is much more recognizable (Wycliff).