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The English Language Essay

1358 words - 6 pages

The English language as many other languages in the World has been evolving through time, and it passed through many stages including its nearly extinction. So where and when did this story begin? 2000 years ago in what now would be the United Kingdom, the language was incomprehensible. The Anglo-Saxon, wich is known also as Old English, was a language that sounded like the modern Frisian language. This language arrived when Germanic tribes invaded Britain and subjugated the native Celts. Nowadays some words have stayed more or less the same down the centuries, words like: buter (butter), brea (bread), tsiis (cheese) miel (meal), sliepe (sleep), boat (boat), snie (snow), see (sea), stoarm ...view middle of the document...

The influence of the Vikings brought Old Norse to Britain, and the evolution of Anglo-Saxon from an inflected language to an uninflected one. Examples of inflected words still in use nowadays would be the endings -ing, which means “the people of”; -ton “enclosure or village”, and -ham “far”. The English language was in need of a champion and it found one: King Alfred, the king of Wessex, known as the savior of England. He was a great defender of the English language making it the primary language by promoting literacy, scholarship, and translations.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long until another threat for the English language arrived: the invasion of the Normans, who sailed to claim the English throne in 1066. The new Norman king, known as William the Conqueror, established French as the primary language of government, comerse, and from the educated society in England. “Castel” (castle), was one of the first French words to enter the English language. 10,000 French words colonizad the English language, a new social order arrived with words like: corune (crown), trone (throne), cort (court), duc (duque), nobilité (nobility), païsant (peasant), servant (servant), governer (governor), liberté (liberty), autorité (authority), obédience (obedience), traitre (traitor), justise (justice), juge (judge), jurée (jury), prisun (prison), gaiole (jail). The new words brought new ideas from the Franch tradition of chivalry, such as “courtesy” and “honor”. French and Latin had become the languages of state, law, the church, and history itself in England. The writing in English became increasingly rare, in a country of three languages, English was now a poor third bottom of the pile. The English language was enforced underground, it took 300 years for it to emerge from the shadows, and when it did, it would change dramatically.

In the mid 14th Century, “Black Death”, also known as “The Great Plague”, was brought by the black rats to England. This dramatic event helped restore English as the language of religion, comerse, law, and government. Eventually, with Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the English language found its flowering; his language of the late 14th Century would become with some later modifications the standard form of English. During this century, people had the right to read and interpret Scripture for themselves without the help of church authorities; John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English directly from the Latin Vulgate.

In the 16th Century, William Tyndale translated Greek and Hebrew Scriptures into English. This provoked political and religious turmoil over England until Henry VIII had a conflict with the Church of England, breaking its relations with Rome. Later on, the King James Bible was published and became the standard English Protestant translation, and translators made their Works to be read aloud. Printing caused a revolution in the English language, for everyone could acquire knowledge from books. New...

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