Posted: September 17th, 2021

History of the English Language Development

What differs us people from animals is the truth that people have skills to control issues that occur in every day life. People are capable of suppose whether or not a sure motion may cause good or hurt to themselves or individuals round them. One other important distinction that distinguishes people and animals is the language utilized in communication. It’s language, apart from anything that differs humankinds from fellow earthlings. It’s a undeniable fact that different animals do talk with one another, in many different methods, for instance, warning for enemies or hazard, calling for mating, or different numerous screams of cries to ship their anger, concern or pleasure (Barber, 1993). Nonetheless, these numerous calls of communication for his or her species differ from the individuality of the human language. Barber additionally states human language is a extremely elaborated signalling system, a social software, which makes use of vocal sounds. Languages are used verbally and in writings. From the historical past, language is realized spoken first, whereas written language is secondary.

Based on Crystal (2016), a language dies when it’s not spoken or used anymore. Holmes (1992) states that language dies when all of its audio system die. Nonetheless, when the audio system of a language shifts to make use of one other language, the phenomena is named ‘language shifts’. Each language modifications, although the degrees of the modifications differ every so often, which is why it’s considerably exhausting to be learn or understood the language that’s from the early years. An instance could possibly be taken from Barber’s The English Language: A Historic Introduction (1993), “English individuals discover it exhausting to understand an English doc from the 12 months 1300, the place it’s only doable for them to know if they’ve some particular coaching. Paperwork in 900 appear to be a international language textual content to them, because it appears prefer it has no connection to Customary English.”

There are three acknowledged intervals within the growth of the English language the place the primary interval, dated from 450 to 1150 is called Previous English. Based on Baugh and Cable (1993), this era is described as full inflections, the place the endings of the noun, the adjective, and the verb are preserved roughly impaired. The following interval begins from 1150 to 1500, is the Center English interval, or often called the interval of levelled inflections, which began on the finish of the Previous English interval, and the inflections throughout that interval is claimed to be considerably levelled down. The final interval, which is up till now is named because the Fashionable English interval, which began since 1500. This era can be described because the interval of loss inflections the place the inflections within the language are utterly vanished.

The Center English interval, as said by Baugh and Cable, is the interval of an incredible change, the place the language modifications that occurred through the interval are extra in depth and basic compared to the modifications within the language that happened in Previous English and Fashionable English interval. Each language modifications every so often, it’s the matter of the quantity of modifications that happen within the language. The main causes of the language modifications have been clearly due to the observe of time, and get in touch with, although the modifications and processes within the Center English interval that associates with the language contact are numerous (Penhallurick, 2010).

The Norman invasion to England in 1066 is likely one of the fundamental causes that introduced modifications within the language from Previous English to Center English as they introduced French into the land. Their invasion to England naturally had a big impact on England’s establishments and its languages. The language modifications that have been introduced from the French throughout their arrival have been already existed within the Previous English. They have been talking in French however someway influenced by the Germanic dialect. The dialect is named Norman French. Based on (Digital Medieval Church and Its Writings, 2003), this example results in the residents converse the English language, while the Normans converse Norman French. In time, the 2 languages began to combine collectively which then brings the existence of the Center English. Round ten thousand French phrases have been introduced into English by the thirteenth century. Most of those French loans nonetheless exist within the English language at the moment.

Based on (Oxford English Dictionary, 2016), Center English, primarily based on the exterior historical past, is “trapped at its starting by the results of the settlements of the Norman Conquest in 1066, and its finish by the arrival of the printing paperwork by William Caxton in 1476, in Britain and by the vital social and cultural impacts of the English Reformation (from the 1530s onwards) and of the concepts of the continental Renaissance.” The change from Previous English to Center English appeared to look a bit fast by the rising of latest spelling innovations by the Normans. The language used throughout that point, which is the West Saxon, was now not used, as a result of social and political disruption by the Norman Conquest. The modifications that they introduced embrace modifications within the spelling the place they used the spellings that matched extra to the best way they pronounce it of their spoken dialect. As well as, the scribes often modified the spelling of the phrases they have been copying to their very own dialectal pronunciation, once they see if any didn’t match theirs. The Normans disapprove the normal English spelling, subsequently they spelt the language as how they heard it, which is utilizing the conventions of Norman French. Each Barber (1993) and Freeborn (1992) talked about these details of their books. Examples of the modifications made by the Normans could possibly be taken from (Digital Medieval Church and Its Writings, 2003), “resembling qu for cw (queen for cwen).The scribes additionally launched gh (as a substitute of h) in such phrases as night time and sufficient, and ch (as a substitute of c) in such phrases as church. One other change launched was ou for u (as in home). But yet another change was the usage of c earlier than e (as a substitute of s) in such phrases as cercle (‘circle’) and cell.”

The lack of inflections within the Center English interval additionally embrace the lowered quantity in nouns, pronouns and adjectives. The Peterborough Chronicle, a medieval textual content written at Peterborough Abbey through the Previous English interval, the place the continuations of the chronicle then reveals the Center English traits within the script although in some methods the traits of the Previous English nonetheless continues.  Penhallurick (2010) mentions that the Normans are clearly those answerable for the mixings of French and Center English, that they introduced the scribes who’re French-trained into England after their conquest. Three sources have been affecting the modifications within the Center English and the modifications could be seen from the Peterborough Chronicle the place a big variety of new phrases are drawn upon the Norse, Latin and French. This reveals that not solely French precipitated the Center English, but in addition the Norse and the Latins.

The Norsemen introduced of their phrases into Center English which embrace grammar phrases oc ‘however’, um ‘about, by way of’, and til ‘till, to’. These are the results of the contact between the English and the Norsemen through the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, which can be a big change of attribute of Center English. Borrowing or loanwords are the phrases used for this example the place phrases which originated from a sure language is introduced into one other language and is used within the language. Through the settlement of the Vikings in England, many Previous Norse phrases have been introduced into Previous English. Examples from Penhallurick (2010), nouns such as beginning, husband, leg, skirt and sky, and verbs wish to name, die, give, nag, take, and thrust. As said by Baugh and Cable (2002), 900 loanwords from the Scandinavian which might be nonetheless survived and in use within the trendy commonplace English lately, however many different phrases additionally nonetheless survived however as a substitute within the dialects of the previous Danelaw, phrases like beck ‘steam’, dag ‘to drizzle’, and laik ‘to play’. Sisam (1975) mentions that the Norse phrases should have come into English even earlier than the Center English interval, as a result of the settlements of the Vikings stopped after the Norman Conquest. Sisam additionally states that it’s not all the time simple to distinguish the Norse and the Center English as each of the languages have many similarities through the borrowing interval, and in addition the Norse phrases are borrowed fairly early to be affected by Center English.

The language affect from the Latins began through the early days of English. When the Germanic tribe began English, they’d already been involved with the Romans within the continental Europe, which was when the Germanic tribes’ very starting of their settlements within the British Isles. Many Latin phrases have been borrowed into the tribe’s language throughout their settlement within the British Isles, the place they borrowed from British’s Celtic talking individuals, which they received from the Romans. Latin throughout that point was the language of the Christian church, which marked the England’s conversion to Christianity.  This correlates with Sisam’s (1975) assertion the place there have been few direct borrowings from Latin and most of it are taken from the technical language of church. Penhallurick (2010) states that the follow of writing paperwork in Latin throughout that point was considerably regular and was joined by lots of the Norman scribes, which gave the borrowings from Latin a brand new motivation through the early Center English interval.

Not solely Previous Norse and Latin phrases that have been famous within the continuations of the Peterborough chronicle, but in addition new mortgage phrases from French, though there have been solely small variety of it within the continuation. For example, from Penhallurick (2010), duc ‘duke, and pasches ‘pasch, easter’, together with some mortgage phrases that weren’t solely new additions to language but in addition finally changed current English phrases throughout that point, for instance tresor ‘treasure’, and pais ‘peace. This language growth, the emerge of the French loans could be greatest described as began from only a few phrases to over 10000 French phrases have been borrowed through the finish of the Center English interval. The overall variety of phrases borrowed is extraordinary contemplating that the entire quantity of Previous English phrases have been solely 24000 roughly. From the Peterborough Chronicle examples, the French loans could be divided into two normal varieties, which is both the brand new phrases are simply new members of the English language which has new ideas or definitions, or new phrases which have the identical definitions to an current phrase within the native language. The consequences of this duplication may result in both the lack of one of many phrases between the languages (often the English phrase), or there could possibly be the event in differentiation in which means between the phrases. Penhallurick (2010) offers an instance, ‘OE leod was pushed out altogether by French-derived individuals, whereas English would possibly survives beside French-derived energy, kingly beside royal, and want beside want. It’s the royal household, by no means the kingly household and genies grant three needs, fairly than three needs.’ Sisam (1975) compares French with Norse, the place he states that French language had little widespread with English, not just like the Scandinavians, which brings to why the quantity of French phrases used within the English texts is lesser compared to Previous Norse and Latin, earlier than the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

French continued to be the official language of England till the mid of fourteenth century, the years after, English grew to become the language of directions, and have become the official language of authorized data or occasions, the place later on the finish of fourteenth century, everybody spoke English. When the London dialect emerged, it grew to become the usual spoken and written language. Through the finish of 1500, English language has reached the language that’s much like as what’s used at the moment, which reveals that Fashionable English began getting used round that point. The arrival of printing press arrange, invented by William Caxton in 1476 marked the beginning of the tip of the Center English (Freeborn, 1992). If the Norman Conquest marked the beginning of the modifications within the Center English, William Caxton did the identical for the beginning of the Fashionable English. Caxton is acknowledged for the arrival of printing in England by way of his work and an ordinary for the English language. His contribution brings us to the early interval of the Fashionable English (Weiner, 2013).


Barber, C., Beal, J. and Shaw, P. (2013). The English language. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge College Press.

Baugh, A. and Cable, T. (2013). A historical past of the English language. 1st ed. London: Routledge. (2003). The Making of Center English. [online] Accessible at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Crystal, D. (2016). English as a worldwide language. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge College Press.

Freeborn, D. (1992). From Previous English to plain English. 1st ed. York: Freeborn.

Graddol, D., Leith, D. and Swann, J. (1996). English. 1st ed. Milton Keynes [England]: Open College.

Holmes, J. (2013). An introduction to sociolinguistics. 1st ed. Harlow: Pearson.

Oxford English Dictionary. (2016). Center English-an overview – Oxford English Dictionary. [online] Accessible at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Penhallurick, R. (2010). Learning the English language. 1st ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sisam, Ok. (1975). Fourteenth century verse and prose. Ed. by Kenneth Sisam. (Repr.). 1st ed. Oxford: Clarendon P XLVII.

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