englishwhat do you think who started english language and when.

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The history of the English language is one of my favorite topics, and I see that my colleagues have provided a comprehensive overview.  But it is also important to realize that ordinary people are causing the English language to evolve every day! English, like all languages, is in a constant state of flux, and gains additions and changes from slang, new foreign terms, and new technology.  If you think about just one topic, technology, you will realize that many of the words we use to describe technology did not exist 25 years ago or had completely different meanings.  Another example is the number of Latino immigrants who are contributing new terms to the English language, as have Asian immigrants.  English is an "open" and flexible language, allowing imports and new words to come in all the time, which is a good thing for a language. 

hala718 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post # 5. I also need to add that not only the English language is changing, but also other languages are affected by English. Think about it, English is now the basic language for technology. when computers first came up, they were in English, of course now every culture has its translated version of every application. However, some basic and common phrases has developmed in many non English spoken countries and people started to use them every day untill they forgot about the meanings in their language. I believe at some point the world will have one standard language and I think it is starting...

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Do not discount the tremendous influence of the Norman Conquest upon the development of Middle English, and later, Modern English.  In 1066 the Normans slaughtered Harold of Hastings and most of the Saxon lords.  Thus, a French-speaking king took over, and for many, many years the kings and nobility spoke French.  Literature was written in French (Arthurian tales, e.g.) and was not set down in English until Chaucer refused to write "The Canterbury Tales" in French. 

To this day, 60% of the words in English are derived from French.

sara337 | Student

i need 2 know da full history about who started english literature and when bcoz frm monday my exams will start and my topic iz history of medieval age literature. plzzzz help me.....

cherrybhatnagar | Student

thank you for your answers i really get so much knowledge from your answers.i think all the points are included in all your answers.

kc4u | Student

It is queer that what we now call the English language goes back to the Teutonic/Germanic races in ancient Europe. From 449 A.D. these tribes-Angles, Saxons, Jutes & Frisians-started invasions across the sea to the island of Britain, then peopled with the Celtic-speaking native Britons. These Anglo-Saxons conquered the natives numerically, culturally & linguistically. The Germanic tongue of the conquerors-a conglomerate of 4 dialects namely, Northumbrian, Mercian, West-Saxon, and Kentish-marked the beginning of the English language on the soil of England(Angles' land). Until the Scandinavian invasions started towards the end of the 8th century and subsequent occupation of a large part of the Anglo-Saxon England(called 'Danelaw'), the English language was a predominantly Germanic tongue with some early Latin continental borrowings by the Germanic tribes themselves, a few Celtic words borrowed by the settlers from the native Celts, a few Latin loans coming down to English through Celtic transmission, and some 250 odd words from Latin during the period of conversion of the pagan Anglo-Saxons to Latin Christianity. The Scandinavian borrowings upto the Norman Conquest were many, and it was the first major influence on the growth of the English language.

epollock | Student

Good point mwestwood. I included Norman French in my response.

epollock | Student

It is highly likely that human language emerged in Africa,
with the emergence of either Homo sapiens or possibly earlier species of Homo. Supporting this is the fact that there is a gene called FOXP2 that is connected with the ability to use language, and it traces back 100,000 years, long before the 50,000-year mark that “Big Bang” theorists designate as the birth of language.

The Chomskyan hypothesis: Noam Chomsky at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has argued since the late 1950s that there is evidence that language is a genetic specification located in the human brain. Chomsky argues that humans are programmed very specifically for language, down to a level of detail that includes a distinction between parts of speech, the ways that parts of speech relate to one another, and even parts of grammar as specific as the reason we can say both “You did what?” and “What did you do?”

English, then, is a descendant of Proto-Indo-European
that, along the way toward its emergence, lost most of its case endings and a third of its vocabulary. It replaced that vocabulary with words from a language possibly related to Arabic and Hebrew, then supplemented this with words from, most copiously, Old Norse, Norman French, Dutch, Latin,
and Greek. Meanwhile, it was learned so much as a second language by Vikings that its grammar was restrained somewhat from the overgrowth typical of languages that develop uninterrupted.


krishna-agrawala | Student

Languages are not started by any single individual or a group of individuals. Also it is difficult to pin point a specific time when a language was started. Languages evolve and develop over a period of time. At times more than one languages evolve from a single parent language, and at other times, a language borrows words, scripts, alphabets, and other features from many other languages. Usually most of the currently used languages have evolved from some parent language of the past, and they have also borrowed from many other languages. This is the case with English language also.

The earliest roots of English are believed to be a prehistoric language called Pront-indo-European language spoken by people in southeastern Europe about 5000 years back. Later this language developed into different languages such as Germanic, Greek and Latin. The Germanic language further branched into languages such as English, danish, Dutch, German, Norwegian and Swedish.

Around mid Fifth Century Germanic people invaded what is now known as Great Britain. At that time the people who lived there were called Celts and spoke their own language. The Language of the Germanic tribes who settled there developed into what is called English today.

However the original English of early Germanic settlers in England was quite different from modern English.Over the centuries it borrowed characteristics of languages of invaders like Vikings and Normans. Around mid Fifteenth Century English had acquired most of its current characteristics. Still the language has continued to change and develop. For example, you can observe how different the English used by Shakespeare is from the modern English.

The modern English is the result of influences of many other languages such as Arabic, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Latin, Russian, and Spanish.