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The English language. History of English. 50.000 years ago. 3.000 years ago. Few knowings about the languages spoken. C elts. Celtic languages were spoken al over Europe.

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History of English

50.000 yearsago

3.000 yearsago



  • Celtic languages were spoken al over Europe.
  • There were many tribes and one of them may have been given a name such as “pritaini” from the names Britain and British may derive.
  • Celtic languages survive to the present Wales, Scotland and Ireland, but they are not consider English.
  • The celts and its languages were displaced further west.





fromBritainaround 410)

(RomanEmpire rules much of Europe)


  • Latin was spoken in parts of Britain and Europe.
  • Latin influenced Celtic and Germanic language. Eg:
  • From Latin
  • Wall, wine, kitchen, street into Germanic (from germanic into English)
  • The settlements and roads of the Romans were remained important even after they left the island (410)
  • The Latin continued trough medieval and renaissance times in the Catholic Church and intellectual development such as Humanism and the Renaissance.





arrivedtothe British Isles)

  • There was an early contact between Europe and Britain, because:
  • During the Roman ocupation, speakers of Germanic dialects served in the Roman army.
  • Many trade contact.
  • Slavery in Europe (means of contact between Celtic, Germanic and Roman culture).
  • From the Angles (one of the Germanic tribes which occupied the British Isles) derives the word “English.
  • what started as a Germanic dialect spoken in small parts of England is now a language spoken in many parts of the world (as a 1st or 2nd)

Germaniclanguage + words of otherlanguges = English

Half of thevocabulary comes fromfrench

and Latin (theygiveformalitytothelanguage)

  • Fromthe 10.000 mostfrecuentEnglishwords:
  • TheEnglishis a partialresult of theborrowings and itisthecollection
  • of wordsthatwereselectedtoappear in a dictionary.
  • Most of thespeakers of English are saidtohave a vocabulary of 40.000 to60.000 words.
  • The Oxford Englishdictionary (OED) isthebestresourceontheEnglishlanguage and itshistory.
  • Ifweknowallthewords, westillwouldnotknowtheEnglishlanguage. WealsoneedGrammar, phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

ModernEnglishcomparedtoearlier and otherlanguages

Differences in sound, words and sentences.


(Old English/OE)

b) now should praise-INF heaven-kingdom-GEN guardian

(first sentence of the Caedmon’s Hymn, from a manuscript dated 737)

Now we should praise the guardian of the heavenly kingdom.

(Modern English)

  • Thereisnotleter v in heafen (heaven).
  • Theu in uard (guard) ispronounceddifferentlylikew.
  • Itisnotcompletelyclearhowthesc and g are pronounce in OE, sk and g orsh
  • and y.

Words and sentences.

  • Lack of grammaticalwords: of,theand we.
  • The OE sentence (a) contains 5 words, whereastheModernEnglish 1 has twice as many.
  • He additionalwords in ModernEnglishfulfill gramatical functionperformedbyendingssuch as –es in OE.
  • Sounds.
  • ModernEnglish has 13or14differentvowels and allcontaindifferentvowelsounds.
  • English has 25 consonants.
  • Thus, eachlanguage has a uniquesystem and manylanguages and manyvarieties of English do nothavesomsounds.
  • Englishsyllablestructureiscomplex (consonantscluster), so in otherlanguagestheclusterisbrokenup.Eg:
  • Spanishspeakersadaptaninitialsk-sound, as in school, toeskool.

One of themajorfunctions of languageistoindicatewhodoeswhattowhom and where, when, how and whythatoccurs.

endingsontheverbs and nouns

  • Thelanguagesdiffer in how
  • theymarkthesefuntions


wordorderand grammaticalwords

  • ModernEnglishis more likeChinese.
  • OldEnglishis more like Navajo (number of endings). Butthedifferenceisthat in OE theendings are onthenouns and in Navajo theendings are ontheverbs .
  • Theendingsin OE expresswhatwordorder and preposition do in ModernEnglish
  • ThemajorchangethatoccurredbetweenOldanModernEnglishisthechangefromsynthetictoanalytic.


  • Sociolinguisticsisthebranch of linguisticswhichisinterested in varietieswithin a single language.

Of region, social class, registerorlevel of formality.

  • Throughoutthehistory of English, stndarvarietieswereestablished in a somewhatarbitraryfashion.

External and internalchanges.

Externalchangesare releatedto:

- languagecontact (betweenspeakers of differnetlanguages)

- inovationsbyspeakers.

-issues of politicalor social identity.

Externalchanges are unpredictible.

(Politically, geographically and sociallychanges)

Internalchangesare when,forinstance, spekers stop usingendingsorinflections and starttorelyonwordsuch as of, for, theandhave. Internalchangesalsooccurswhenthecategory of a wordisreanalyzedwhenprepositionsdtartbeingusedto introduce sentences. However, there are factorsthatinhibitinternalchange,

prescriptive rules (includedon´tsplitinfinitives and don´tendendsentenceswith a preposition)




  • English:
  • -thelanguge of a group of Germanictribesafter --theyarrived in britain.
  • -Gammarand words a speaker knowsforconstructsentences.
  • ModernEnglishisdifferentto OE and otherlanguages . English has lostendings and acquiredgrammaticalwords.
  • Thechanges are dividedintocategories:

1) Internal(linguisticreasons. Eg a appleanapple)

2) External(social, economic, geographical, political and historicalreasons. Eg: migrationsanndtradecontact)