The history of the English language can be separated basically in
Old English: Between 450 and 1150 a. C.
English's main characteristic was the fact of being a flexile language, like Latin, Greek
and many other Indo-European languages. This period may be considered as a period of
formation and growth of English as a new language spoken in Great Britain.
It was born out of the conjunction of
several dialects of the Germanic tribes that invaded the territory after the fall of the
Roman Empire, such as the Saxon, the Anglian, the Frisio and the Juto, specially from the
first one. It also had the influence of other languages such as Celtic, Latin and
Scandinavian. It had a great capacity to produce many meanings from one same word with
only the addition of a certain prefix or suffix, feature that was inherited by
todays English language.
Middle English: Between the years of 1150 and
1500 a. C. English suffered its most meaningful changes. In grammar it went from being a
flexile language to being completely analytical. Thousands of words were added to the
vocabulary from French and Latin, as a result of the invasion and colonization from
Normandy that lasted 400 years and noticeably deteriorated the Old English. These changes
gave place to the 5 variants of English that still last in Great Britain: Northern, East
Midland, West Midland, Kentish and Southern.
Modern English: It began in the year 1500
until today. During this period, the invention of the printing press eased a conservative
process in its grammar and its orthography, which was facing the need for a standard
language for all its readers. It also eased an innovative process in its range of
vocabulary, giving the accelerated transmission of knowledge at the time, due to the
discoveries and the travels of the British all over the world. In fact, the English
language got in touch with over 50 other languages from around the world, among which were
French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, which influenced it notably. During that time, an
important change in its pronunciation occurred, which give place to the inadequacy of the
orthography to the English pronunciation, because the first one was designed to preserve
its previous phonological values.
With the growth of the British Empire in the following
centuries, the acceleration of the forms of international commerce and the European
colonization of new territories, the English language spreaded throughout the world and
became the official language of many countries and the most important transmitter of
knowledge in the modern era.