History of the English Language
The figure below shows the timeline of the history of the English language. The earliest known residents of the British Isles were the Celts, who spoke Celtic languages—a separate branch of the Indo-European language family tree. Over the centuries the British Isles were invaded and conquered by various peoples, who brought their languages and customs with them as they settled in their new lives. There is now very little Celtic influence left in English. The earliest time when we can say that English was spoken was in the 5th century CE (Common Era—a politically correct term used to replace AD).
In case you hadn’t made the connection, “England” ← “Engla Land” ← “Angle Land” (Land of the Angles, a people of northern old Germany). Their name lives on in the district of England named East Anglia, and also in the Anglican Church. In the present day there is still a region of Germany known as Angeln, which is likely the same area from which the original Angles came. Angeln lies in Schleswig-Holstein on the eastern side of the Jutland peninsula near the cities of Flensburg and Schleswig. — Google map
Here are some links for further reading on the history of English, in no particular order:
- Borrowed Words in English, by Charles Fredeen. How words from other languages came to be part of the English language.
- What are the origins of the English Language?, from Merriam-Webster
- History of English, a Sociolinguistic Approach, from Jennifer Wagner — IE language pages
- Chronology of Events in the History of English, by Professor Suzanne Kemmer, Rice University
- A (Very) Brief History of the English Language, from WordOrigins.Org
- The Origin and History of the English Language, from The KryssTal Website, an excellent language resource site
- History of English Language Links (HELL), by Professor Carol Percy, University of Toronto, Canada
Professor Percy says, if you want to learn the history of English, you can go to HELL!
- Five Events That Shaped the History of English, from AskOxford.com
- And finally, a great concise history the English language, by by Owen Alun and Brendan O’Corraidhe
Copyright © 2003–2007 Daniel M. Short