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A Short Essay of the Evolution of the English Language.

By HongKongStyle Nov 11, 2010 484 Words
The Evolution of the English Language

Did you know an estimated 750 million people speak English in the world today? English comes from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language tree and evolved on the island of Great Britain. From commercial, political, and military influences, it has become an international language. It is the official language of air traffic controllers and the Olympic Games, and is the majority of the world’s second language choice. English has changed throughout history mostly because of the influence of four invasions. The first invasion was of the Anglo-Saxons and the Christians. The Anglo-Saxons were three barbarian tribes: Anglo, Saxons, and the Jutes. There were seven Anglo- Saxon Kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. Words that came from the Anglo-Saxons were words like “sheep“, “ox“, “earth“, “plough“, “dog“, “wood“, “field“, “work“, “glee“, “merry“, “drink“, “house“, “house“, “man“, and also “there“, “the“, “is“, and “you“. In 597 A.D, missionaries came from Rome and Ireland to spread Christianity. They brought words like “angel“, “disciple“, “martyr“, “mass“, and “shrine“. They brought words like “priest“, “bishop“, “nun“, and “monk“, which was Latin. Latin was the language of the Church. The word “Sabbath” came from Hebrew, which was the language of the Old Testament. Words like “apostle“, “pope“, and “Psalter” were Greek, which was the language of the New Testament. The next invasion was of the Vikings. The Vikings came from Scandinavia in 750 A.D. They brought words like “hit“, “get“, “leg“, “low“, “root“, “same“, “want“, and “wrong“. They also brought words starting with /sk/ like “sky“, “skin“, “skate“, and “skill“. The Vikings also had different words that had the same meaning. For example, the Anglo-Saxon word for “rear” meant the same as the Viking word for “raise” and so was the Anglo-Saxon word for “wish” was the same as the Viking word “want”. The grammar simplified while vocabulary expanded. The last invasion of Great Britain was the Normans. The Normans invaded in 1066. They spoke French. The French words are multi-syllabic. William the Bastard soon became William the Conqueror after he went to Hastings and conquered the island. Since he spoke French, all people of royalty spoke French too. The peasants should have learned French so they could bargain and deal with royalty, and sell their goods. The whole island soon became a French-speaking island. Eighty percent of the words we use come from French. There were four invasions that influenced the English language as we know it today. They were the Anglo-Saxons, Christians, Vikings, and the Normans. I think it is important that we are able to trace this because we are able to track down how English first started and how it changed over time. We also see how different languages influence this modern language. English has become an international language throughout history.

Julian Lindelli

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