From Where Did the English Language Originate?
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From Where Did the English Language Originate?

English (that is, modern English) the way we know it has its origins from German, Scandinavian, Celtic, Greek and Latin. Every time a new dictionary is published there are more words added to it, because more words are assimilated from other languages. One would think that our English language came from England, and that England always spoke English, right? Well not so, English evolved as German settlers and Scandinavian settlers came to the British Isles.

It seems when there is a war and another country invades a country, the language of the country intermingles until there is a whole new language. English is a language derived from the Anglo-Saxons and the Friscans (different Germanic tribes) from north-western coasts of Europe, colonizing in with the Celtics in the British Isles. The Anglos were also known as Angles, and then the term evolved to Engles, from where the word English comes from. The Friscans were from three different Germanic tribes that came to settle in present day England.

The invasion of the Anglos and the Friscans happened in the 5th century AD. In the 8th and 9th centuries there was an invasion of Scandinavian/Germanic people who brought their language with them. In the 11th century there was another wave of Scandinavian people, called the Normans that came to the British Isles. Prior to the English language coming to the British Isles the people there spoke Celtic, but most of the Celtics moved to Wales, Cornwall and Scotland when they were pushed out by the invasion of Anglo-Friscans.

This Anglo-Friscan language was what we call Old English, which was also influenced by the Vikings that invaded, which is where the Scandinavian roots come from. The period of the Old English language ended with the Vikings in the Norman Conquest. The language of the Normans was a mixture of Old French and Latin; many of their words assimilated Old English over time. For example, the words servant, juggler, baron, dame, noble, feast, story, and lay come from the Norse influence on Old English.

Our modern English comes from the 15th century English. During the period between 1200 and 1600 the English language came about a major change, which was much later to be called the Great Vowel Shift, coined by the Danish liguist, Otto Jespersen who lived from 1860 to 1943. Let's look at the word "date". In modern English we pronounce the word with a long "a" sound, but in middle English the word date would sound more like the word dot. The"a" in the middle English word date had an "a" that sounded like the "a" in dart, so there was more of an "ah" sound. During this great vowel shift period the vowel change assimilated naturally into the language.

Not only are there differences in the written language, but there are difference in the spoken language, the phonics are not the same from dialect to dialect. An English speaking person from England will speak in a different dialect than an English speaking person in America. When I watched American Idol, the British judge, Simon Cowell, could not pronounce the new judge's name, which is Kara, in the American dialect. The correct pronunciation of Kara's name is with an "a" sound that has an "a" as in cat sound, and Simon always pronounces that "a" with an "ah" sound, making her name sound like Car-a. Different regions of the world employ different phonics. In summary, English as we know it did not exist even a thousand years ago.

Our language has so many different rules that have been adapted from the language where the root word originated. For instance, the rule "I before E except after C" is true in most cases but not all. The word "science" and "deity" are examples of the exclusions of that rule. As more words come in from different languages the rules may not apply, if there is a phonetic sound such as an "ay" sound as in "way". The words neighbor and weigh and weight are such words that don't follow the rule. The word "ain't" was used in the 18th century as a contraction for "am not" or "are not," but some time later the word "aren't" came into being and the two words got confused. The word "ain't" was thrown out as bad language, and "aren't" became the norm. The only people who used the word "ain't" were folks that were considered uneducated. It is still considered a sin to use the word "ain't."

The use of double negatives was thrown out of the English language at some point in time and it was declared that two negatives in a sentence does the same thing as they do in mathematics, and that is double negatives destroy each other, or they make a positive. You might say "I don't have no pencil to write with." The double negatives are "don't and "no." That's not the only thing wrong with that sentence. It's ended with a preposition. Prepositions are for starting prespositional phrases, as in to the bridge, across the bridge, before the bridge, etc.  The object of a preposition should come after the prepositon, but this rule is often ignored by everyone but teachers.

There are so many rules and regulations in the English language that I couldn't include them all in this article. It is one amazing mystery to me how the English language evolved from German, French, Norse, Celtic, Latin and Greek, and it is quite another mystery as to how the rules of spelling, grammar, and pronunciation came into being. I would love to be able to find all the information on the Internet to answer every single question concerning the English language, but I think that is an impossible task. Some of the questions that come to my mind are: Why is there no "r" in colonel, and why is it woman and not "womans" and why is it men and not "mans", and last of all why is it geese and not "gooses"?

Source:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_did_the_English_language_come_from

http://www.uoregon.edu/~spike/ling290/badEnglish.html http://english.unitecnology.ac.nz/resources/resources/exp_lang/rules.html

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Comments (11)

Very interesting and good article. Thanks!

Brilliant article! Do you remember that comedian, Gallagher? "The bandage was wound around the wound." -- That guy? If not, look him up! He introduced "Gallagherisms": "Why isn't phonetic spelled the way it sounds?" He had many provocative concerns: "Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him, but imagine the feminine as being she, shis, and shim." Here are some great sites concerning Gallagher (Leo Anthony Gallagher) and the English Language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallagher_(comedian) http://www.gallaghersmash.com/ http://www.beantowngeek.com/archives/2003/08/fun_with_the_english_language.php

Ranked #9 in Linguistics

Very interesting article. I live in the Cumbria region of England and there are old Viking words still in use here. The way some of the old country folk count sheep is an example: yan, tan, tethera (one-two-three).

Very interesting. There are so many books and rules out there on the language, but the beginning seems to be the most meaningful because event he things we do now, the way we speak and create words are mirrored in history. Awesome.

JPS

Though the English language evolved from other earlier languages, it's still the best language that I have ever known! I love to know everything about the language.

JPS

Though the English language evolved from other earlier languages, it's still the best language that I have ever known! I love to know everything about the language.

It's quite a hodge podge mix of languages in the most spoken language of the world... I have to say that the latin based languages sound better!

Ian Edmondson

I'd have to say the latin based languages do not sound better at all.

Especially Spanish, spoken with all those awful long tongues - sounding almost like snakes hissing. English is the sound of fantastic poetry, brilliant pop lyrics and Shakespearean plays. Pop music lyrics on the whole sounds awful in both Spanish and French.

Ian Edmondson

I'd have to say the latin based languages do not sound better at all.

Especially Spanish, spoken with all those awful long tongues - sounding almost like snakes hissing. English is the sound of fantastic poetry, brilliant pop lyrics and Shakespearean plays. Pop music lyrics on the whole sounds awful in both Spanish and French.

AorphiA

Therefore, the brits cannot say that their english is properly spoken, since the language is derived from several languages. I think that americans are the ones that perfected the language. When it comes to math, I'd much prefer the metric system. I used to make straight A's in math class with the metric system, but... when it came to american math, I could barely pull off a C. Even scientist, prefer using the metric system. All in all, I really like to hear the way brits speak english... there is a bit of sexiness to the sound of it.

carlos noguera

Dear edmondson,I have to teach you that spanish awful long tongues doesn't exist in our spanish language as SNAKES you have SNAKES SENSE to describe our language,let me tell you or teach you about tongues people who SPEAK SPANISH use the tongue between teeths I mean straight in that way the sound is like what you know ,the people who SPEAK ENGLISH use the tippy tongue back to the throat ,that's the reason you don't understand our speech,I CAN SPEAK ENGLISH WHAT ABOUT YOU TALKING SPANISH.IN SOUTH AMERICA every body love learn to speak english there are 3 ways to speak or form ,ASKING DENIAL AND AFFIRM for all language WHY DO YOU THINK YOU"RE RIGHT WITH YOUR SNAKE SENSE IF YOU LOOK WITHOUT GRUDGE YOU WE"L BE HEALTHY I APPRECIATE YOUR COMMENTS YOU MAKE ME PARTICIPATE THANK YOU MY FRIEND

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