History of the English language.
The main periods of English are:
* Middle English
* Early modern English
English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects bought to Britain by settlers (angles, Saxons, jutes) from various parts of northwest Germany. Initially, old English was a group of dialects(Northumbrian, Mercian, West Saxon (Wessex), Kentish) reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, west-Saxon, eventually came to dominate by the 10th century. Written old English is mainly known from this period. It is written in an alphabet called Runic, derived from the Scandinavian languages.
The original Old-English was influenced by two waves ofinvasion. The first was by language speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family; they conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The 2nd was the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke a variety of French. These two invasions caused English to become ‘mixed’ to some degree. Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplificationand lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English; the later Norman occupation led to the grafting onto the Germanic core, a more elaborate layer of words from the romance branch of the European languages. The Norman influence entered English largely through the courts and governments, thus, English developed into a “borrowing” language of great flexibility with a huge vocabulary. TheLatin alphabet was brought from Ireland by Christian missionaries. This has remained the writing system of English.
The Germanic tribes who gave rise to the English language, traded with and fought with the Latin speaking Roman Empire in the process of Germanic invasion of Europe from the east. Many Latin words for common objects therefore entered the vocabulary of these Germanicpeople even before any tribes reached Britain, e.g. Camp, cheese, cook, dragon, fork, giant, gem, inch, kettle, kitchen, linen. The Romans also gave English words, which they had themselves borrowed from other languages, e.g. Anchor, butter, cat, chest, devil, dish & sack.
The invading tribes dominated the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants whose languages survive largely inScotland, Wales and Cornwall. The dialects spoken by the invaders formed what is now called Old English, and eventually Anglo-Saxon. Later, it was strongly influenced by the North Germanic language Norse, spoken by the Vikings who invaded and settled mainly in the north-east of England. Many parts of English and Norse words coexisted giving us two words with the same or slightly different meaningse.g.:
The new, and the earlier, settlers spoke languages from different branches of the Germanic family; many of their lexical roots were the same or similar, although their grammars were more distinct, including the prefix, suffix and inflexion patterns for many of their words. The Germanic language of these Old English speakinginhabitants of Britain was influenced by contact with the Norse invaders which may have been responsible for some morphological simplification, e.g. Loss of grammatical gender and explicitly marked case.
The introduction of Christianity added another wave of Latin and Greek words.
The Old English period formally ended with the Norman Conquest, when the language was influenced to an even greaterextent, by the Norman-speaking Normans.
For about 300 years following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Norman kings and their nobility spoke only a variety of French called Anglo-Norman. English continued to be the language of the common people. More pairs of similar words arose.
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