The Origin of English

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The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The invading Germanic tribes spoke similar languages, which in Britain developed into what we now call Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English. The Angles and Saxons came from Englaland and their language was called Englisc - from which the words England and English are derived. Initially, Old English, also known as Anglo-Frisian, was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. English changed enormously in the Middle Ages. Written Old English of 1000 AD is similar in vocabulary and grammar to other old Germanic languages such as Old High German and Old Norse, and completely unintelligible to modern speakers, while the modern language is already largely recognizable in written Middle English of 1400 AD. This was caused by two further waves of invasion: the first by speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic language family, who conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries; the second by the French Normans in the 11th century, who spoke Old Norman and ultimately developed an English variety of this called Anglo-Norman. About 60% of the modern English vocabulary comes direct from Old French.[1]

Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English. However, this had not reached southwest England...
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