The English Language A Living Language: evolving for 1500 years and counting
English is a member of the Germanic language group, which includes German, Dutch, Flemish, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian. • Old English 450-1100 • Middle English 1100-1500 • Modern English 1500- What is English?
pre-English Who? When? Where? Why?
pre-English:Celtic and Latin on the Island of Britain bronze age to 449 CE
The Celts Celtic • first Indo-European tongue to be spoken in England • Celts came to England with the introduction of bronze to the island • two branches: Gaelic and Cymric (Britannic)
surviving Celtic cultures in Great BritainIrelandScotlandWalesCornwall
Latin • In the summer of 55 B.C., Julius Caesar, having completed the conquest of Gaul, decided to invade England, but the resistance of the natives was unexpectedly spirited. • Not until A.D. 43 did the Romans undertake the actual conquest of England, led by the Emperor Claudius. Again, the natives revolted, under the direction of the widow of one of the native chiefs; thousands of Romans and Romanized Britons were slaughtered. • The Romans set up a stone wall stretching across England, separating themselves from Wales and Scotland, and ruled there for more than three hundred years. • During that time, Christianity began to take hold on the island. Though Latin was used in England during this time period, it was confined to members of the upper classes and the inhabitants of the cities and towns. Thus, it was not sufficiently widespread to cause it to survive the Germanic invasions. The Romans
transformation to Old English Who? When? Where? Why?
Old English 450-1100 CE
Yikes! The Barbarians! Anglo-Saxon • Germanic tribes (the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles), the founders of the English nation, began the invasion of Britain in 449. • For over a hundred years, bands of conquerors and settlers migrated from the region of Denmark and the Low Countries and established themselves in the south and east of the island, driving out the Romans in 410 and forcing the Celts to seek refuge in Wales. Danes and Vikings • Because of scarcity of land at home and depletion of fishing waters, Vikings and Danes began arriving in the ninth century. • They looted and plundered and waged war with the Anglo-Saxons. • Alfred the Great resisted their attacks and forced a truce. England was divided between the two groups. • Eventually, they settled down and assimilated into the population.
kings (5 kingdoms) eoldermen & thanes freemen bondsmen & slaves Anglo-Saxon social hierarchy
Alfred the GreatKing of Wessex & unifier of Anglo-Saxons871-899 CE
evolution to Middle English Who? When? Where? Why?
Middle English 1100-1500 CE
The Normans French • The Norman (Germanic/Viking heritage; Norman from North Men) Conquest in 1066 had a greater effect on the English language than any other in the course of its history. Without the intervention of French into the language, English would have retained its Germanic inflections and vocabulary. • The French ruling class maintained the use of French for over two hundred years, though the middle and lower classes continued to cling to English. Only those living in town and cities had extensive exposure to French. • The Battle of Hastings, on October 12, 1066, completely changed the course of the development of the English language.
King nobility & knights peasants Norman-French Feudalism
King John Magna Carta1215 CE
The Magna Carta • Magna Carta is an English legal charter, originally issued in the year 1215. It was written in Latin and is known by its Latin name. The usual English translation of Magna Carta is Great Charter. • Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (pertaining to freemen), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered — and implicitly supported what became the writ of habeas corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment. • Magna Carta was arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English speaking world. Magna Carta influenced the development of the common law and many constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.
1348-1350 CE Black Plaguein England
King nobility & knights middle class (skilled workers) lower class (laborers) Society after the Black Plague
Old English makes a comeback… • After King John lost Normandy in 1204, English nobles (of French origin) began to choose England over France and see themselves as English instead of French. • French continued to be used for another hundred years in the courts, supported by social custom. However, the upper class began using English for other purposes and occasions. • The rise of the middle class and the increasing importance of the laboring class (due to the effects of the Black Death in 1348-1350) heightened the prominence of English. • The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), when the French—and the language—became enemies of England, was the final nail the coffin of the reign of the French language in England.
but has been transformed to Middle English. • After the Norman Invasion, introducing the French speakers of a polysyllabic Latinate (L) language, English was forever changed, but thanks to the conqueror, he let the more monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon remain with his language. Result: a richer, more varied English language. • Examples: Both are used today, one is AS and one is Latinate: • go up (AS) - ascend (L) • eat (AS) - dine (L) • hill (AS) - mountain (L) • go down (AS) descend (L) • The AS called dinner "eat time." The Latinates said, No, that's "dinner."
evolution to Modern English Who/What? When? Where? Why?
Modern English 1500-present CE
Printing Press Johannes Gutenberg invented it, butWilliam Caxton brought it to England in 1476
The Renaissance 1485-1660 • We now are experiencing a gradual shift from Middle English to Modern English. • Rediscovery and reevaluation of Ancient Greece and Rome (whose eras occurred at least 1500 years before the Renaissance) = new use of Latin and Greek in academics. • The invention of the printing press causes Modern English to become standardized; more literacy
The Tudors • First King Henry VIII, then Queen Elizabeth I worked at establishing a strong British Navy. When the British Royal Navy defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, Britain became, in essence, the ruler of the seas.
Now… on to our etymology Old English words Middle English chivalry entertain feast honor hospitality poet present romance bacon beef mutton pork poultry Veal venison county court imprison judge mayor pardon statute treason tax armor army battalion battle castle general siege soldier alms altar minister prayer preach salvation sermon virtue fear forgive glad guilt hate love pride Sad fat good kind lean old strong mean weak Young cook drink eat fight help live rise walk work ax bed boot bowl candle clothing dish pot sword bird calf cat chicken cow deer dog sheep swine
Modern English antibiotic asteroid bacteria laser nuclear oxygen penicillin protein titanium vaccine airplane byte computer elevator horsepower microchip nylon scuba stereo telescope encyclopedia essay geography hypothesis museum pedant psychology pundit seminar statistics thesaurus bangle canoe khaki kiwi moonshine mustang orangutan pajamas persimmon tomato