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Payal Khullar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Language is a dynamic ‘cognitive’ object and sociological phenomenon. Language change is natural and uncontrollable. Languages mainly change when they come in contact with other languages (read language contact and bilingualism for more details). New words may also be introduced in the language for effective communication.

Like any other language, English too has changed a lot over time. The language that we call English today is very different from what was spoken a few centuries ago. Historically speaking, English language can be classified as follows:

1. Old English (450 AD to 1100 AD)

2. Middle English (1100 AD to 1500)

3. Modern English (from 1500 AD…)

Modern English arose from Middle English somewhere around the end of the 15th century. One of the notable developments during this time period was the use of the printing press. Also, this was the time when Shakespeare wrote many verse plays in English. This is the reason why the age of Modern English is also popularly named as the age of Shakespeare or the age of Elizabeth. Modern English was different from Middle and Old English on many linguistic levels, chiefly lexically (loan words from Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc.), morphological (changes in the inflectional endings of some words), phonological (the "great vowel shift"), etc.

After that, British Colonialism also gave rise to significant changes in the language. Note that language change did not stop here. English continues to change even in contemporary times. One can see plenty of examples for that on social media.