Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson

Topics: England, English language, Dialect Pages: 3 (1036 words) Published: April 7, 2013
-Mother Tongue – The Story of the English Language
Around the planet, English is one of the most commonly used languages. Whether it’s in daily life or in translations, it is a universal language. English has been seen around the world for thousands of years, maybe not as the English we know and speak today, but it is an original form of the language. Major historical events occurred which resulted in the change of English, also creating many varieties of the English language, and how it is used in the world today.

In around A.D 450 – 480 a British intruder dropped a medallion around Suffolk. Almost 1,000 years later, in 1982, it was found and it had the sentence “ This she-man is a reward to my kinsman” inscribed on it. This is the first written record in the English language. It was around the time of the Anglo-Saxons, a relatively uncultured group of settlers. At the same time the native Celts were “overrun by primitive, unlettered warriors from the barbaric fringes of the Roman empire”(p.40) At this point in history, the Celts were well-mannered people, civilized and law-abiding. Soon after the Anglo-Saxons settled and became more cultured, England was under attack again, but by a different, aggressive group of migrators, the Danish and Scandinavian Viking warriors. They were related by blood and language to the Anglo-Saxons. Slowly, the Vikings started to attack the country as part of a massive, ungainly culture expansion. They started to spread over Europe, in Russia, Iceland, France, Ireland etc. Suddenly things became quiet, and the Vikings ceased attacks. In 850, Viking ships sailed up the Thames, which consequently created the linguistic division between northern and southern dialects in England today. Another jolt to English language came in 1066, when the Normans, Vikings who had settled in the north of France, ended up creating 10,000 words for the English language. For the next 300 years, no English king spoke his mother tongue. In 1131 and...
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