Tuesday, 19 July 2016

History of English

English is a West Germanic language that originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain in the fifth to seventh centuries by Germanic invaders and settlers from what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands.
The Old English of the Anglo-Saxon era developed into Middle English, the language as spoken between the Norman Conquest and the late 15th century. A significant influence on the shaping of Middle English came from contact with the North Germanic languages spoken by the Scandinavians who conquered and colonised parts of Britain during the 8th and 9th centuries; this contact led to much lexical borrowing and grammatical simplification. Another important influence came from the conquering Normans, who spoke a form of French called Old Norman, which in Britain developed into Anglo-Norman. Many Norman and French loanwords entered the language in this period, especially in vocabulary related to the church, the court system and the government. The system of orthography that became established during the Middle English period is by and large still in use today – later changes in pronunciation, however, combined with the adoption of various foreign spellings, mean that the spelling of modern English words appears highly irregular.
Early Modern English – the language used by Shakespeare – is dated from around 1500. It incorporated many Renaissance-era loans from Latin and Ancient Greek, as well as borrowings from other European languages, including French, German and Dutch. Significant pronunciation changes in this period included the ongoing Great Vowel Shift, which affected the qualities of most long vowels. Modern English proper, similar in most respects to that spoken today, was in place by the late 17th century. The English language came to be exported to other parts of the world through British colonisation, and is now the dominant language in Britain and Ireland, the United States and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many smaller former colonies, as well as being widely spoken in India, parts of Africa, and elsewhere. Partially thanks to United States influence[citation needed], English has taken on the status of a global lingua franca.
Old English consisted of a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms established in different parts of Britain. The Late West Saxon dialect eventually became dominant; however, a greater input to Middle English came from the Anglian dialects. Geographical and social variation between English dialects and accents remains significant today. Scots, a form of English traditionally spoken in parts of Scotland and the north of Ireland, is often regarded as a separate language.

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