4 March 2015
History of The English Language
Over the course of time, the english language has been molded and shaped by many different factors. From 55 BC when Julius Caesar invaded Britain, to our time era now, countless events have lead to the influence of the modern english dialect. Three time periods are commonly referred to as the major impactors of the language. The first being Old English from
4501100, the second being Middle English from 11001450 and finally the last referred to as
Modern English dating from 1450 to present day. However, the Middle time period has had the greatest effects on the way english is spoken today, due to foreign invasions, many influential writers and the binding of the AngloSaxon, Latin, French, and Norse languages.
Foreign invasions played a large part in adding and taking from the english dialect over many years to make it what it is today. Various battles were fought to take british land, but one in particular had a significant impact, “In the year of 1066 the Normans first invaded England. At the battle of hastings king William of Normandy claimed the kingdom of essex” (Junkin 2). An invasion such as this by the Normans brought about many changes that challenged and remodeled the dialect of the native people.After this, English was reduced to the language of the lower class, and Norman French became the language of the court and classes which owned property. The legal system, too, was conducted in
French. Churches and monasteries becameFrench, and French is used there for all record keeping. “For all practical purposes, English was no longer a written language” (Junkin 2).
Quickly the language became less and less dominant, only heard between the native people to the land; this lasted for two centuries. This invasion brought thousands of new words to England, but forced the English language underground almost bringing about its extinction. The foreign invasions had taken their tole, largely influencing change upon the English vocabulary.
In addition, during this time period there were many influential writers who played a role in shaping the English language. Geoffrey Chaucer, William Caxton and Roger Bacon are just three of the hundreds who had an impact during this era. Although, no writer had such an impact as “John Wycliffe, the first writer of an English bible” (
John Wycliffe 2013
). Such a book that is part of a religion as large as christianity practiced among these English speaking people, created a permanent dialect for them to follow. “Today almost eight hundred years after the first English copy was written, the bible is now the most sold book in the history of the world” (History Of
The English Language 2013). John Wycliffe had created the basis for how English would be spoken, read and written for religious purposes. The writers during this