A brief history of the english language
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Henry, M. (1990). Words: Integrated decoding and spelling instruction based on word origin and word structure. Austin: PRO-ED. Facts. Over ___________ people speak English (half the population of the world)

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A brief history of the english language


Henry, M. (1990). Words: Integrated decoding and spelling instruction based on word origin and word structure. Austin: PRO-ED.



  • Over ___________ people speak English (half the population of the world)

  • When we learn English, we are actually learning _______ languages- each with its own phonology and structure

Germanic influence

Germanic Influence

  • English is classified as a Germanic language

    • However, less than __________ of the words are Germanic

  • The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came from northern Germany bringing their language with them (Anglo-Saxon)

Germanic words

Germanic Words

  • Relatively few in number

  • Common, everyday words in the language

  • Includes all words on the _____________

  • All words on any lists of the “__________________” are Germanic

Features of germanic words

Features of Germanic Words

  • Short because over time, the endings dropped off

  • Most of our one-syllable words are Germanic

    • Examples: _______________________

  • ____________ words in the language

  • Least ___________________

  • Most _______________to spell

    • Examples: they, could, was, write, old, most, thought

  • Silent letters, vowel pairs, and unfamiliar behavior of vowels are characteristics of the Germanic strain of language

Anglo saxon letter sound correspondences

Anglo-Saxon Letter-Sound Correspondences

Latin words

Latin Words

  • __________________ the words in the English language are based on Latin

  • A handful of Latin words entered during the language during the Roman era

  • Most of the Latin words came by way of French (a romance language)

    • Ex. glamour



  • Scholars in England borrowed words directly from Latin itself

  • Christian Church (with its center in Rome) adopted Latin for its services)

  • As Christianity spread over western Europe, the people attending services learned Latin words

  • Latin was also the required language at ____________________

    • Ex. calculus

Characteristics of latin words

Characteristics of Latin Words

  • Consist of a __________________________

    • Examples: pre dic tion, in somni a

  • Seldom use __________________

  • Use consonant-vowel-e or vowel alone for long sound

    • Examples: invade, denote

  • Never uses sh for /sh/; instead, the sound is spelled ______________________

    • Examples: invention, social, permission, complexion

Latin layer of language

Latin Layer of Language

  • Students encounter these words in ______grade

  • ______________ sound is the most notable feature (unaccented vowel sound found in unaccented syllables) ~ Letter-sound correspondences are otherwise the same as Anglo-Saxon

    • machine, soda, ahead, about, magazine

Latin layer

Latin Layer

  • ________________: usually stressed & contain the major meaning of the word

    • spect, rupt, vis, aud, vent, flect, script, gress, dict, tract, lit, duct, struct, pend, ped

  • ______________: pre, re, bi, pro, mid, sub, dis, inter, intro, intra, il, extra, per, ultra, trans

    • Many have the schwa sound

      • aggressive, appearance, connect, collect, attach

Greek words

Greek Words

  • ________ of the English vocabulary is based on Greek

  • Greek words came into the language from 2 sources:

    • Latin (as every educated Roman knew Greek)

    • Borrowed by scientists

Greek layer of language

Greek Layer of Language

  • Same letter-sound correspondences as those in Anglo-Saxon words,

    • Use ___ for /f/ (Example: physics)

    • Use __ for /k/ (Example: chemistry)

    • Use __ for /i/ (Example: gym, type)

    • Often contain silent p (pneumonia, pseudonym)

    • mn as in mnemonics

  • Usually specialized words in science, though some are common (television)

    • Scientists use Greek when they want a new word for a discovery or invention (Examples: neutron, electron, cardiogram

    • Greek has become the language of science

  • Often consists of 2 elements joined by a connecting o (Example: hydrogen, photograph

Greek combining forms

Greek Combining Forms

  • Not called prefixes and suffixes but combining forms since there are usually 2 parts of equal stress and importance

Greek combining forms1


auto = self

phono = sound

photo = light

hydro = water

tele = distance

micro = small

therm = heat

biblio, hyper, chron, chrom, arch, phys, pysch, peri, bi, semi, hemi, mono, meta, mega, metro, philo, soph, theo, techni


graph, gram = written/drawn

meter = measure

ology = study

scope = watch, see

sphere, crat, cracy, polis

Greek Combining Forms

A brief history of the english language


Specialized words used mostly in science, though some (i.e., television) are common


Technical, sophisticated words used primarily in more formal settings such as literature & textbooks


Common, everyday, down-to-earth words used frequently in ordinary situations and found in school primers

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