West germanic language of the indo-european language family that is closely related to Frisian, german, and netherlandic languages. English originated in england and is now spoken onsix continents.
It is the primary language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various small island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the PacificOcean. It is also an official language of India, the Philippines, and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa.
ORIGINS AND BASIC CHARACTERISTICS
English belongs to theIndo-European family of langauges and is therefore related to most other languages spoken in Europe anmd western Asia from Iceland to India.
The parent tounge, called Proto-Indo-European, was spokenabout 5,000 years ago by nomads believed to have roamed the southeast european plains.
Modern english is analytic (i.e., relatively uninflected) whereas Proto-Indo-European, theancestral tougue of most of the modern European languages (e.g. German, French, Russian, Greek), was synthetic, or inflected. During the course of thousands of years, English words have beenslowly simplified from the inflected variable forms found in Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Russian, and German, toward invariable forms, as in Chinese and Vietnamese.
Flexibility of function has grownover the last five centuries as a consequence of the loss of inflections. Words formerly distinguished as nouns or verbs by differences in their forms are now often used as both nouns and verbs.Openness of vocabulary implies both free admission of words from other languages and the ready creation of compunds and derivatives. English adopts (without change) or adapts (with slight change)any word really needed to name some new objetct of to denote some new process. Like french, Spanish, and Russian, English frequently forms scientific terms from Classical Greek word elements.
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