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Where Does English Go From Here: How Will The Language Look Like In The Future?

1162 words - 5 pages

Greater Language with Simpler Core

In the Late Middle Ages, which was a period dominated by Latin language, a Spanish speaking Italian explorer Christopher Columbus decided to find a new sea lane to east by sailing west. Unbeknownst to him, he discovered a whole new continent. Little did Columbus know that not only did his voyage help ending one of the longest and darkest periods in Europe’s history, but it also made way for the English language world conquest half a millennium later. Today, English is one of the most widely spoken languages globally and perhaps the most common lingua franca in the world according to the British Council. Because of its status the language and also its ...view middle of the document...

Background of English

Amongst others, the Spanish born American philosopher George Santayana stated famously in his book The Life of Reason (1905: 208) that the past indeed affects the future of events. Similar philosophy can be used when examining the future development of a language. Without sufficient data on the history of English it is next to impossible to determine how the future development stages will look like. In this chapter I will briefly explore the history of the English language and the major things contributing in language change.

In the academic context, it is a widely believed fact that the present day English language is a descendant of some sort of a common Indo-European language source (Penhallurick 2010: 21) (Yule 2010: 225) According to researchers, this proto language, Proto-Indo-European, spread across the Eurasian continent. Through time and diversification, it was slowly shaped into different regional varieties and eventually into different languages completely. This is also the case with English. As Penhallurick puts it: “There is kind of birth-date for English [...] It was at that time [...] that the south and east of the land began to be settled [...]” (2010: 19). Thus, English was born from the Proto-Indo-European language through the isolation of the British Isles.

Researchers have derived different stages on the development of the English language based on major language changes (Penhallurick 2010: 27-33) (Yule 2010: 228-234). The first of these changes transformed the highly Proto-Indo-European influenced English, dubbed Old English by scholars, into a language called Middle English. The catalyst for this change was the contact of English with other languages. According to Yule:

“The event that marks the end of the Old English period, and the beginning of the Middle English period, is the arrival of the Norman French in England [...] These French-speaking invaders became the ruling class, so that the language of the nobility, the government, the law and civilized life in England for the next two hundred years was French.”
(Yule: 2010: 229-230)

Penhallurick also emphasizes the contact of English with Norse during this period. Researchers have deduced that this contact has not only greatly affected the vocabulary of English, but it also changed the grammar of the language through grammar-words and new spelling conventions (Penhallurick 2010: 43) (Yule 2010: 230). Thereby it can be said that the contact of languages with one another has a significant importance in language development.

The second notable matter concerning language change alongside...

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