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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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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • ________________: 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

  • ________ 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

  • 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

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


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


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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