U214 Tma01 Essay

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Pages: 5

Late Modern English, a global language spoken around the world by over 2 billion people can trace its roots to the Germanic language introduced by Anglo-Saxon invaders in the 5th century. Before the arrival of the Anglo Saxons, many parts of Britain were bilingual Celtic-Latin speakers, although very few traces of Celtic remain in the English language – other than in place names, for example Avon and Ouse – which derive from the Celtic word for ‘water’, and words found more in local dialects than mainstream English – for example ‘broc’ for badger.

The Germanic languages of the Anglo Saxons themselves evolved as a result of centuries of Roman occupation and interaction among different tribes.[1] Furthermore the invaders did not
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There have also been changes in semantics. The word ‘wife’ though visually the same, has a much narrower meaning today. In Old English it was the term used for women in general, today it is specifically used to refer to a married woman. Other words have fallen out of common usage – ‘fell’ in Middle English means ‘cruel’. Although the word was still in use in Shakespeare’s time, it is no longer used in this sense today.

Regional variations in spelling were probably a result of regional pronunciation differences. Although these differences continue today, many variations in written English were gradually eliminated through a process of standardisation. The end of the fourteenth century saw the first post conquest King of England whose first language was English[4] and it became the language of government. Official documents were written in English, and since these had to be understood throughout the country, the language used had to be consistent. The Westminster clerks who produced court documents used London English, and with this the number of variants in the language were significantly reduced. Spelling variations decreased over time and the technology of printing introduced by William Caxton in 1486 would have had a marked impact on this process.

The grammatical structure of the language has also changed. An early grammatical development was the introduction from the Scandinavian languages of third person plural pronouns – they, them their. The old