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English History



The history of the English language can be separated basically in three periods:

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.

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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 today’s 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.















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