Language and Society

Topics: English language, Indo-European languages, History of the English language Pages: 8 (2578 words) Published: February 21, 2011
Language and Society
<span>The History of English</span>
            It all started during the fifth century, when the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes arrived and occupied Britain that started the history of English. The three of these Germanic tribes crossed the North Sea in order to reach Britain.  

Germanic invaders entered Britain on the East and South coasts in the fifth century. Map retrieved from The earliest people who lived in Britain were the Celts and they spoke Celtic language back then. According to The Free Online Dictionary by Farlex, Celtic language is a branch of the Indo-European languages that was spread widely over Europe in the pre-Christian era. Based on the website of The English Language History, there are a few major branches in the Indo-European family. They are Latin and the modern Romance languages (French); the Germanic languages (English, German, Swedish); the Indo-Iranian languages (Hindu, Urdu, Sanskrit); the Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Czech); the Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian; the Celtic languages (Welsh, Irish Gaelic) and Greek.  

Retrieved from Today, the influence of the Indo-European language towards English can still be seen. Take the word ‘father’ as an example, in German, it is vater; in Latin, it is pater; in Sanskrit, it is pitr. These words, although in different languages, have the same origin – Indo-European language. Authors can see some common features from them. Based on ‘The Study of Language’ by George Yule, a cognate of a word in one language is a word in another language that has a similar form and, is or was, used with a similar meaning. Therefore, it can be said that the examples given above may have the same ancestor in the branch of Indo-European.              English language has undergone changes through time. The historical changes of English are divided into three periods, which are the Old English period, Middle English period and Modern English period.             The Old English period started from 500 AD-1100 AD. The English language did not sound or look like modern English.  

Part of Beowulf, a poem written in Old English. Retrieved from When the Angles, Saxons and Jutes settled in Britain, they spoke the Old English. They were given the term ‘Anglo-Saxons’ for a description of God’s wrath towards Britain. From the name of the first tribe, the words ‘England’ and ‘English’ came from Engla-land, which was also referred to as the Land of the Angles and their language Englisc. There is still a region of Germany known as Angeln, the place where the Angles came from, until this very day. Some of theEnglisc term that still remain in English language are like mann (‘man’), etan (‘eat’) and drincan (‘drink’). A number of terms from the language Latin came into English during the sixth to eighth century when Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity. This is when words like church, priest and school came from. The Vikings bought many words form their language, Old Norse, into English language from the eighth century. Some of the terms are shirt, from the cognate skirtand dream, from the cognate draumr. Also, some common words in modern English such as water and strong derive from Old English roots.             The Middle English period occurred from 1100 to 1500, during the arrival of the Norman French in England under William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy in 1066 AD. The invaders spoke Old French that was known as Anglo-Norman, which had Germanic influences to the basic Latin roots. The language of the management, the rule and the higher class community was in French for the next two hundred years. Terms like court and tax came from this source. The language of the lower class community such as peasants stick to English. Those in this class talk in terms...
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