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This introduction to some exciting aspects in the field of social linguistics is designed to encourage you to read further. There are many fascinating and odd phenomena that occur in the social aspects of language.

Sociolinguistics is a term including the aspects of linguistics applied toward the connections between language and society, and the way we use it in different social situations. It ranges from the study of the wide variety of dialects across a given region down to the analysis between the way men and women speak to one another. Sociolinguistics often shows us the humorous realities of human speech and how a dialect of a given language can often describe the age, sex, and social class of the speaker; it codes the social function of a language.


Social Factors
INTRODUCTION When two people speak with one another, there is always more going on than just conveying a message. The language used by the participants is always influenced by a number of social factors which define the relationship between the participants. Consider, for example, a professor making a simple request of a student to close a classroom door to shut off the noise from the corridor. There are a number of ways this request can be made: a. Politely, in a moderate tone "Could you please close the door?" b. In a confused manner while shaking his/her head "Why aren't

you shutting the door?" c. Shouting and pointing, "SHUT THE DOOR!"

The most appropriate utterance for the situation would be a. The most inappropriate would be c. This statement humiliates the student, and provides no effort by the professor to respect him/her. Utterance b is awkward because it implies that the teacher automatically assumes that the student should know better than to leave the door open when there is noise in the hallway. The inappropriateness is a social decision tied to the social factors which shape the relationship between speaker ( the professor), and the listener (the student). When choosing an appropriate utterance for the situation, there are factors that you must consider in order to effectively convey the message to the other participant.
1. Participants- how well do they know each other? 2. Social setting- formal or informal 3. Who is talking- status relationship/social roles ( student vs. professor) 4. Aim or purpose of conversation 5. Topic

Do you notice that there is a difference in the way you speak to your friends and the way you speak to your relatives, teachers, or others of professional status?
When telling your friend that you like his/her shirt, you say: "Hey, cool shirt, I like that!" When telling the President of the company your parents work for that you like his/her shirt, you say: "You look very nice today, I really like that shirt." This is called choosing your variety or code. This can also be seen on a larger scale, diglossia, where multilingual nations include a variety of accents, language styles, dialects and languages. Each of these factors is a reflection of the region and socio-economics background from which you come from. In monolingual societies, the region and socio-economic factors are determined by dialect and language style.

It is not uncommon in our nation to see that languages other than English are spoken inside the home with friends and family. However when these bilingual or even trilingual families interact socially outside of their home, they will communicate in English. Even church services may use a variation of the language, one that you would only hear in side the church or in school. An example of the difference in the use of a language can be seen in the following example from Janet Holmes, "An Introduction to Sociolinguistics," of the two

main languages used in Paraguay; Spanish and Guarani:

Domain Family Friendship Religion Education Education Addres see Parent Friend Priest Setting Topic Home Cafe Church Planning a party Humorous ancedote Choosing the Sunday liturgy Langua ge Guarani Guarani Spanish Guarani Spanish

Teacher Primary Telling a story Lecturer Universi Solving math problem ty Office Getting an important license

Administrati Official on


Diglossia Diglossia: In a bilingual community, in which two languages or dialects are used differently according to different social situations.

Janet Holmes defines diglossia as having three crucial features:

1. In the same language, used in the same community, there are two distinct varieties. One is regarded as high (H) and the other low (L). 2. Each is used for distinct functions. 3. No one uses the high (H) in everyday conversation.

In the following example it is easy to tell which variety you will use given the social situations:

Telling a joke Interviewing for a job Giving a speech for a charity event Giving a speech for a friend for his/her birthday Church Cafeteria


INTRODUCTION Can you guess what language this is? These lines are taken from a famous comic strip in Papua New Guinea: "Sapos yu kaikai planti pinat, bai yu kamap strong olsem phantom." "Fantom, yu pren tru bilong mi. Inap yu ken helpim mi nau?" "Fantom, em i go we?"

'If you eat plenty of peanuts, you will come up strong like the phantom.' 'Phantom, you are a true friend of mine. Are you able to help me now?' 1Where did he go?'

A simplified language derived from two or more languages is called a pidgin. It is a contact language developed and used by people who do not share a common language in a given geographical area. It is used in a limited way and the structure is very simplistic. Since they serve a single simplistic purpose, they usually die out. However, if the pidgin is used long enough, it begins to evolve into a more rich language with a more complex structure and richer vocabulary. Once the pidgin has evolved and has acquired native speakers ( the children learn the pidgin as their first language), it is then called a Creole. An example of this is the Creole above from Papua New Guinea, Tok Pisin, which has become a National language.
Reasons for the development of Pidgins In the nineteenth century, when slaves from Africa were brought over to North America to work on the plantations, they were separated from the people of their community and mixed with people of various other communities, therefore they were unable to communicate with each other. The strategy behind this was so they couldn't come up with a plot to escape back to their land. Therefore, in order to finally communicate with their peers on the plantations, and with their bosses, they needed to form a language in which they could communicate. Pidgins also arose because of colonization. Prominent languages such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Dutch were the languages of the coloni zers. They traveled, and set up ports in coastal towns where shipping and trading routes were accessible.

There is always a dominant language which contributes most of the vocabulary of the pidgin, this is called the superstrate language. The superstrate language from the Papua New Guinea Creole example above is English. The other minority languages that contribute to the pidgin are called the substrate

languages. In the United States, there is a very well known Creole, Louisiana Creole, which is derived from French and African Languages. You most likely have heard of "Cajun" which is a developed dialect of this Creole. Can you guess what major language (the superstrate) contributed to the vocabulary in each of these Creoles? This table is taken from Janet Holmes, " An Introduction to Sociolinguistics":
a. mo pe aste sa banan b. de bin alde luk dat big tri c. a waka go a wosu d. olmaan i kas-im chek e. li pote sa bay mo f. ja fruher wir bleiben g. dis smol swain i bin go fo maket I am buying the banana they always looked for a big tree he walked home the old man is cashing a check he brought that for me Yes at first we remained this little pig went to market

Click HERE for answers!

a. French based Seychelles Creole b. English based Roper River Creole c. English based Saran d. English based Cape York Creole e. French based Guyanais

f. German based Papua New Guinea Pidgin German g. English based Cameroon Pidgin

In everyday conversation, there are ways to go about getting the things we want. When we are with a group of friends, we can say to them, "Go get me that plate!", or "Shut-up!" However, when we are surrounded by a group of adults at a formal function, in which our parents are attending, we must say, "Could you please pass me that plate, if you don't mind?" and "I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt, but I am not able to hear the speaker in the front of the room." I different social situations, we are obligated to adjust our use of words to fit the occasion. It would seem socially unacceptable if the phrases above were reversed. According to Brown and Levinson, politeness strategies are developed in order to save the hearers' "face." Face refers to the respect that an individual has for him or herself, and maintaining that "self-esteem" in public or in private situations. Usually you try to avoid embarrassing the other person, or making them feel uncomfortable. Face Threatening Acts (FTA's) are acts that infringe on the hearers' need to maintain his/her self esteem, and be respected. Politeness strategies are developed for the main purpose of dealing with these FTA's. What would you do if you saw a cup of pens on your teacher's desk, and you wanted to use one, would you a. say, "Ooh, I want to use one of those!" b. say, "So, is it O.K. if I use one of those pens?" c. say, "I'm sorry to bother you but, I just wanted to ask you if I could use one of those pens?" d. Indirectly say, "Hmm, I sure could use a blue pen right now." There are four types of politeness strategies, described by Brown and Levinson, that sum up human "politeness" behavior: Bald On Record, Negative Politeness, Positive Politeness, and Off-Record-indirect strategy. If you answered A, you used what is called the Bald On-Record strategy which provides no effort to minimize threats to your teachers' "face." If you answered B, you used the Positive Politeness strategy. In this situation you recognize that your teacher has a desire to be respected. It also confirms that the relationship is friendly and expresses group reciprocity. If you answered C, you used the Negative Politeness strategy which similar to Positive Politeness in that you recognize that they want to be respected however, you also assume that you are in some way imposing on them. Some other examples would be to say, "I don't want to bother you but..." or "I was

wondering if ..." If you answered D, you used Off-Record indirect strategies. The main purpose is to take some of the pressure off of you. You are trying not to directly impose by asking for a pen. Instead you would rather it be offered to you once the teacher realizes you need one, and you are looking to find one. A great example of this strategy is somethin g that almost everyone has done or will do when you have, on purpose, decided not to return someone's phone call, therefore you say, " I tried to call a hundred times, but there was never any answer."

This page was last updated on Tuesday, February 25, 1997

Politeness and Gender

Are Women More Polite Than Men? Politeness is defined by the concern for the feelings of others.

From Nancy Bonvillain's "Language, Culture, and Communication" she notes that, "women typically use more polite speech than do men, characterized by a high frequency of honorific (showing respect for the person to whom you are talking to, formal stylistic markers), and softening devices such as hedges and questions." Sociolinguists try to explain why there is a greater frequency of the use of polite speech from women than from men. In our society it is socially acceptable for a man to be forward and direct his assertiveness to control the actions of others. However, society has devalued these speech patterns when it is utilized by women. From historical recurrence, it has appeared that women have had a secondary role in society relative to that of the male. Therefore, it has been (historically) expected from a women to "act like a lady" and "respect those around you." It reflects the role of the inferior status being expected to respect the superior. In Frank and Anshen's "Language and the Sexes", they note that boys, "are permitted, even encouraged, to talk rough, cultivate a deep "masculine" voice and, if they violate the norms of correct usage or of polite speech, well "boys will be boys," although, peculiarly, it is much less common that "girls will be girls" Fortunately, these roles are becoming more of a stereotype and less of a reality. However, the trend of expected polite speech from the female continues to remain. This is a prime example of how society plays an important part on the social function of the language.

Honorifics: linguistic markers that signal respect to the person you are speaking to:
"Hey ma, fix my jacket" Mom, could you please do me a favor, and fix my jacket?" In Japanese, according to Masa-aki Yamanashi, the appropriate choice of honorifics is based on complex rules evaluating addressee, referent, and entities or activities associated with either. Example taken from Nancy Bonvillain's "Language, Culture, and Communication." 1. Without Honorific. yamada ga musuko to syokuzi o tanosinda yamada son dinner enjoyed

"Yamada enjoyed dinner with his son."

2. With Honorific.
yamada-san ga musuko-san to o-syokuzi o tanosim-are-ta yamada-HON son-HON HON-dinner enjoyed-HON

"Yamada enjoyed dinner with his son."

Hedges: "loosely speaking", having a sense of "fuzziness" they take away assertiveness in your statements, soften the impact of your words or phrases such as " I was sort-of-wondering," "maybe if....," "I think that...."

"HANK is SO MEAN!" vs. " I sort-of-think that Hank is a bit of a mean person."

More Gender Speech Issues

Who Talks More, Men or Women? A common cultural stereotype describes women as being talkative, always speaking and expressing their feelings. Well, this is probably true, however, do women do it more than men? No! In fact an experiment designed to measure the amount of speech produced suggested that men are more prone to use up more talking time than women. An experiment b y Marjorie Swacker entailed using three pictures by a

fifteenth century Flemish artist, Albrecht Durer which were presented to men and women separately. They were told to take as much time as they wanted to describe the pictures. The average time for males: 13.0 minutes, and the average time for women 3.17 minutes. Why is this? Sociolinguists try to make the connection between our society and our language in a way that suggests that women talk less because it has not always been as culturally acceptable as it has been for men. Men have tended to take on a more dominant role not only in the household, but in the business world. This ever-changing concept is becoming le ss applicable in our society, however, the trend is still prominent in some societies across the world. It is more acceptable for a man to be talkative, carry on long conversation, or a give a long wordy speech, however it is less acceptable for a women to do so. It has been more of a historical trend for men have more rights to talk. However , it is common for men to be more silent in situations that require them to express emotion. Since childhood, they have been told to "keep their cool" and "remain calm, be a man."

Do Men and Women Really Speak Differently? Can you tell who, most likely, is speaking? "Wow what a beautiful home!" "That outfit looks lovely on you!" "Nice coat." "Where can I find a pair of shoes like that, I like them." "This is a super cool shirt, I love it." "This shirt is cool." Sometimes comment like these may be extremely stereotypical, however it is easy for any one to identify who the speaker is. In English we laugh at these utterances, however in some languages there are gender-exclusive speech patterns for men and women respectively. It is not uncommon to see these speech patterns cross-culturally to linguistically the gender of the speaker. Edward Sapir documented such occurrences in Yana, an American Indian language, where there are distinct words that are used for men and women respectively.

Example taken from Janet Holmes, "An Introduction to Sociolinguistics"

Women Men

ba yaa

ba-na yaa-na

"dear" "person"

Sapir found that the male form of speech is used by men when talking

to other men. Female speech is used by women talking to other women or men, or by men talking to women. Therefore, there is an exclusive speech pattern for men speaking to men.

There are also some examples of this in Japanese. Example taken from Nancy Bonvillain's, "Language, Culture, and Communication"
Women Men

ohiya onaka oisii taberu

mizu hara umai kuu

"water" "stomach" "delicious" "eat"

Do Men and Women Really Speak Differently? Can you tell who, most likely, is speaking? "Wow what a beautiful home!" "That outfit looks lovely on you!" "Nice coat." "Where can I find a pair of shoes like that, I like them." "This is a super cool shirt, I love it." "This shirt is cool." Sometimes comment like these may be extremely stereotypical, however it is easy for any one to identify who the speaker is. In English we laugh at these utterances, however in some languages there are gender-exclusive speech patterns for men and women respectively. It is not uncommon to see these speech patterns cross-culturally to linguistically the gender of the speaker. Edward Sapir documented such occurrences in Yana, an American Indian language, where there are distinct words that are used for men and women respectively.

Example taken from Janet Holmes, "An Introduction to Sociolinguistics"

Women Men

ba yaa

ba-na yaa-na

"dear" "person"

Sapir found that the male form of speech is used by men when talking to other men. Female speech is used by women talking to other women or men, or by men talking to women. Therefore, there is an exclusive speech pattern for men speaking to men.

There are also some examples of this in Japanese. Example taken from Nancy Bonvillain's, "Language, Culture, and Communication"
Women Men





onaka hara "delicious" oisii umai "eat" taberu kuu Language belonging to the Germanic languages branch of the Indo-European language family, widely spoken on six continents. The primary language of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various Caribbean and Pacific island nations, it is also an official language of India, the Philippines, and many sub-Saharan African countries. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world (approximately 1.5 billion speakers), the mother tongue of more than 350 million people, and the most widely taught foreign language. English relies mainly on word order (usually subject-verb-object) to indicate relationships between words (see syntax). Written in the Latin alphabet, it is most closely related to Frisian, German, and Dutch. Its history began with the migration of the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons from Germany and Denmark to Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Norman Conquest of 1066 brought many French words into English. Greek and Latin words began to enter it in the 15th century, and Modern English is usually dated from 1500. English easily borrows words from other languages and has coined many new words to reflect advances in technology. Read more: English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic invaders from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, Late West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. English changed enormously in the Middle Ages. Written Old English of 1000 AD is similar in vocabulary and grammar to other old Germanic languages such as Old High German and Old Norse, and completely unintelligible to modern speakers, while the modern language is already largely recognizable in written Middle English of 1400 AD. This was caused by two further waves of invasion: the first by speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic language family, who conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries; the second by the French Normans in the 11th century, who spoke Old Norman and ultimately developed an English variety of this called Anglo-Norman. A large proportion of the modern English vocabulary comes directly from Old French. Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English. However, this had not reached southwest England by the 9th century AD, where Old English was developed into a full-fledged literary language. This was completely disrupted by the Norman invasion in 1066, and when literary English rose anew in the 13th century, it was based on the speech of London, much closer to the center of Scandinavian settlement. Technical and cultural vocabulary was largely derived from Old French, with heavy influence from Norman French in the courts and government. With the coming of the Renaissance, as with most other developing European languages such as German and Dutch, Latin and Ancient Greek supplanted French as the main source of new words. Thus, English developed into very much a "borrowing" language with an enormously disparate vocabulary. The languages of Germanic peoples gave rise to the English language (the Angles, Saxons, Frisii, Jutes and possibly the Franks, who traded and fought with the Latin-speaking Roman Empire in the centuries-long process of the Germanic peoples' expansion into Western Europe during the

Migration Period). Some Latin words for common objects entered the vocabulary of these Germanic peoples before their arrival in Britain and their subsequent formation of England. The main source of information for the culture of the Germanic peoples (the ancestors of the English) in ancient times is Tacitus' Germania, written around 100 AD. While remaining conversant with Roman civilisation and its economy, including serving in the Roman military, they retained political independence. Some Germanic troops served in Britannia under the Romans. It is unlikely that Germanic settlement in Britain was intensified (except for Frisians) until the arrival of mercenaries in the 5th century as described by Gildas. As it was, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrived as Germanic pagans, independent of Roman control. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, around the year 449, Vortigern, King of the Britons, invited the "Angle kin" (Angles allegedly led by the Germanic brothers Hengist and Horsa) to help him in conflicts with the Picts. In return, the Angles were granted lands in the southeast of Britain. Further aid was sought, and in response "came men of Ald Seaxum of Anglum of Iotum" (Saxons, Angles and Jutes). The Chronicle talks of a subsequent influx of settlers who eventually established seven kingdoms, known as the heptarchy. However, modern scholars view the figures of Hengist and Horsa as Euhemerized deities from Anglo-Saxon paganism, who ultimately stem from the religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.[1]

[edit] Old English

The first page of the Beowulf manuscript Main article: Old English language The invaders' Germanic language displaced the indigenous Brythonic languages in most of the areas of Great Britain that were later to become England. The original Celtic languages remained in parts of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall (where Cornish was spoken into the 19th century). What is now called Old English emerged over time out of the many dialects and languages of the colonising tribes.[2] Even then, it continued to exhibit local language variation, the remnants of which continue

to be found in dialects of Modern English.[3] The most famous surviving work from the Old English period is the epic poem Beowulf composed by an unknown poet. Old English did not sound or look like the Standard English of today. Any native English speaker of today would find Old English unintelligible without studying it as a separate language. Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English; and many non-standard dialects such as Scots and Northumbrian English have retained many features of Old English in vocabulary and pronunciation.[4] Old English was spoken until sometime in the 12th or 13th century.[5][6] Later, English was strongly influenced by the North Germanic language Old Norse, spoken by the Norsemen who invaded and settled mainly in the north-east of England (see Jrvk and Danelaw). The new and the earlier settlers spoke languages from different branches of the Germanic family; many of their lexical roots were the same or similar, although their grammars were more distinct. The Germanic language of these Old English-speaking inhabitants was influenced by contact with Norse invaders, which might have been responsible for some of the morphological simplification of Old English, including the loss of grammatical gender and explicitly marked case (with the notable exception of the pronouns). English words of Old Norse origin include anger, bag, both, hit, law, leg, same, skill, sky, take, and many others, possibly even including the pronoun they. The introduction of Christianity added another wave of Latin and some Greek words. The Old English period formally ended sometime after the Norman conquest (starting in 1066 AD), when the language was influenced to an even greater extent by the Normans, who spoke a French dialect called Old Norman. The use of Anglo-Saxon to describe a merging of Anglian and Saxon languages and cultures is a relatively modern development.

[edit] Middle English

Main article: Middle English Further information: Middle English creole hypothesis For about 300 years following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Norman kings and their high nobility spoke only one of the French langues d'ol, that we call Anglo-Norman, which was a variety of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the AngloNorman period and originating from a northern dialect of Old French, whilst English continued to be the language of the common people. Middle English was influenced by both Anglo-Norman and, later, Anglo-French (see characteristics of the Anglo-Norman language). Even after the decline of Norman-French, standard French retained the status of a formal or prestige language - as with most of Europe during the period - and had a significant influence on the language, which is visible in Modern English today (see English language word origins and List of English words of French origin). A tendency for French-derived words to have more formal connotations has continued to the present day; most modern English speakers would consider a "cordial reception" (from French) to be more formal than a "hearty welcome" (Germanic). Another example is the very unusual construction of the words for animals being separate from the words for their meat: e.g., beef and pork (from the French buf and porc) being the products of 'cows' and 'pigs', animals with Germanic names.

English was also influenced by the Celtic languages it was displacing, especially the Brittonic substrate, most notably with the introduction of the continuous aspecta feature found in many modern languages but developed earlier and more thoroughly in English.[7] While the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle continued until 1154, most other literature from this period was in Old Norman or Latin. A large number of Norman words were taken into Old English, with many doubling for Old English words. The Norman influence is the hallmark of the linguistic shifts in English over the period of time following the invasion, producing what is now referred to as Middle English. The most famous writer from the Middle English period was Geoffrey Chaucer, and The Canterbury Tales is his best-known work. English literature started to reappear around 1200, when a changing political climate and the decline in Anglo-Norman made it more respectable. The Provisions of Oxford, released in 1258, was the first English government document to be published in the English language since the Conquest. In 1362, Edward III became the first king to address Parliament in English. By the end of that century, even the royal court had switched to English. Anglo-Norman remained in use in limited circles somewhat longer, but it had ceased to be a living language. English spelling was also influenced by Norman in this period, with the // and // sounds being spelled th rather than with the Old English letters (thorn) and (eth), which did not exist in Norman. These letters remain in the modern Icelandic alphabet, which is descended from the alphabet of Old Norse.

[edit] Early Modern English

Main article: Early Modern English Modern English is often dated from the Great Vowel Shift, which took place mainly during the 15th century. English was further transformed by the spread of a standardised London-based dialect in government and administration and by the standardising effect of printing. By the time of William Shakespeare (mid 15th - early 16th century),[8] the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English. In 1604, the first English dictionary was published, the Table Alphabeticall. English has continuously adopted foreign words, especially from Latin and Greek, since the Renaissance. (In the 17th century, Latin words were often used with the original inflections, but these eventually disappeared). As there are many words from different languages and English spelling is variable, the risk of mispronunciation is high, but remnants of the older forms remain in a few regional dialects, most notably in the West Country.

[edit] Modern English

Main article: Modern English In 1755, Samuel Johnson published the first significant English dictionary, his Dictionary of the English Language. The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial

Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the Earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.

Evolution of English pronouns

"Who" and "whom", "he" and "him", "she" and "her", etc. are remnants of both the old nominative versus accusative and also of nominative versus dative. In other words, "her" (for example) serves as both the dative and accusative version of the nominative pronoun "she". In Old English as well as modern German and Icelandic as further examples, these cases had distinct pronouns. This collapse of the separate case pronouns into the same word is one of the reasons grammarians consider the dative and accusative cases to be extinct in English neither is an ideal term for the role played by "whom". Instead, the term objective is often used; that is, "whom" is a generic objective pronoun which can describe either a direct or an indirect object. The nominative case, "who", is called simply the subjective. The information formerly conveyed by having distinct case forms is now mostly provided by prepositions and word order. Modern English morphologically distinguishes only one case, the possessive case which some linguists argue is not a case at all, but a clitic (see the entry for genitive case for more information). With only a few pronominal exceptions, the objective and subjective always have the same form.
[edit] Interrogative pronouns Case Old English Middle English who Modern English who

Nominativ hw e Accusativ hwone / e hwne Masculine/Feminine (Person) Dative Instrumen tal Genitive Neuter (Thing) hws hwm / hwm


who / whom1

whos what


Nominativ hwt e Accusativ hwt e Dative hwm / hwm

what / whom


Instrumen hw / hwon



tal Genitive




- In some dialects who is used where Formal English only allows whom, though variation among dialects must be taken into account.

- Usually replaced by of what (postpositioned).

[edit] First person personal pronouns Old Middle Modern Case English English English Nominati i ve I / ich / ik I

Singul Accusativ m / me e ar me Dative m min / mi we


Genitive mn Nominati w ve

my, mine we

Accusativ s / si Plural e us Dative Genitive s ser / re ure / our


our, ours

(Old English also had a separate dual, wit ("we two") etcetera; however, no later forms derive from it.)
[edit] Second person personal pronouns Old and Middle English singular to the Modern English archaic informal Case Old English Middle English u / thou Modern English thou (you)

Singul Nominati ar ve Accusativ / e e Dative

/ thee

thee (you)

Genitive n

i / n / ne / thy /thin / thy, thine

thine Nominati ve Accusativ ow / Plural e owi Dative ow your ye / e / you


you you, ya

Genitive ower

your, yours

Note that the ye/you distinction still existed, at least optionally, in Early Modern English: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" from the King James Bible.

Here the letter (interchangeable with in manuscripts) corresponds to th.

Formal and informal forms of the second person singular and plural Old English Singular Case Plural Middle English Singular Plural Modern English Singular Plural

For Infor For Infor For Infor For Infor For Infor For Infor mal mal mal mal mal mal mal mal mal mal mal mal ow / owi ow ower your, thy, yours thine your, yours your, yours you thee thou you you ye you

Nominati ve Accusati / e ve Dative

Genitive n

(Old English also had a separate dual, it ("ye two") etcetera; however, no later forms derive from it.)

[edit] Third person personal pronouns Old Case Middle English English Nominati h ve Masculine Singular Accusativ hine e Dative him his he

Modern English he



Genitive his


Nominati ho ve Feminine Singular Accusativ he e Dative hire

heo / sche / ho / he / ho


hire / hure / her / heore


Genitive hire Nominati hit ve Accusativ hit Neuter Singular e Dative him

hir / hire / heore / her / here hit / it

her, hers

it hit / it / him

Genitive his Nominati he ve Accusativ he e Dative him

his / its he / hi / ho / hie / ai / ei

its they


hem / ham / heom / aim / em them / am

Genitive hira

here / heore / hore / air / ar

their, theirs

(The origin of the modern forms is generally thought to have been a borrowing from Old Norse forms ir, im, ira. The two different roots co-existed for some time, although currently the only common remnant is the shortened form 'em. Cf. alsoEnglish is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria. Following the economic, political, military, scientific, cultural, and colonial influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 18th century, via the British Empire, and of the United States since the mid-20th century,[5][6][7][8] it has been widely dispersed around the world, become the leading language of international discourse, and has acquired use as lingua franca in many regions.[9][10] It is widely learned as a second language and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.[11] Historically, English originated from the fusion of languages and dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) settlers by the 5th century with the word English being derived from the name of the Angles, and ultimately from their ancestral region of Angeln (in what is now Schleswig-Holstein).[12] A significant number of English words are constructed based on roots from Latin, because Latin in some form was the lingua franca of the Christian Church and of European intellectual life.[13] The

language was further influenced by the Old Norse language due to Viking invasions in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century gave rise to heavy borrowings from NormanFrench, and vocabulary and spelling conventions began to give the superficial appearance of a close relationship with Romance languages[14][15] to what had now become Middle English. The Great Vowel Shift that began in the south of England in the 15th century is one of the historical events that mark the emergence of Modern English from Middle English. Owing to the significant assimilation of various European languages throughout history, modern English contains a very large vocabulary. The Oxford English Dictionary lists over 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical or slang terms, or words that belong to multiple word classes.[16]


1 Significance 2 History 3 Classification and related languages 4 Geographical distribution o 4.1 Countries in order of total speakers o 4.2 Countries where English is a major language o 4.3 English as a global language o 4.4 Dialects and regional varieties o 4.5 Constructed varieties of English 5 Phonology o 5.1 Vowels 5.1.1 Notes for vowels o 5.2 Consonants 5.2.1 Notes for consonants 5.2.2 Voicing and aspiration o 5.3 Supra-segmental features 5.3.1 Tone groups 5.3.2 Characteristics of intonationstress 6 Grammar 7 Vocabulary o 7.1 Number of words in English o 7.2 Word origins 7.2.1 French origins 7.2.2 Old Norse origins 7.2.3 Dutch and Low German origins 8 Writing system o 8.1 Basic consonant sound-letter correspondence o 8.2 Written accents 9 Formal written English 10 Basic and simplified versions 11 See also 12 References

12.1 Bibliographic

13 External links

See also: English-speaking world and Anglosphere Modern English, sometimes described as the first global lingua franca,[18][19] is the dominant language or in some instances even the required international language of communications, science, information technology, business, seafaring,[20] aviation,[21] entertainment, radio and diplomacy.[22] Its spread beyond the British Isles began with the growth of the British Empire, and by the late 19th century its reach was truly global .[3] Following British colonisation from the 16th to 19th centuries, it became the dominant language in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The growing economic and cultural influence of the US and its status as a global superpower since World War II have significantly accelerated the language's spread across the planet.[19] English replaced German as the dominant language of science Nobel Prize laureates during the second half of the 20th century[23] (compare the Evolution of Nobel Prizes by country). A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields, occupations and professions such as medicine and computing; as a consequence over a billion people speak English to at least a basic level (see English language learning and teaching). It is one of six official languages of the United Nations. One impact of the growth of English is the reduction of native linguistic diversity in many parts of the world. Its influence continues to play an important role in language attrition.[24] Conversely, the natural internal variety of English along with creoles and pidgins have the potential to produce new distinct languages from English over time.[25]

Main article: History of the English language English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian and Old Saxon dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers from various parts of what is now northwest Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.[26] Up to that point, in Roman Britain the native population is assumed to have spoken the Celtic language Brythonic alongside the acrolectal influence of Latin, from the 400-year Roman occupation.[27] One of these incoming Germanic tribes was the Angles,[28] whom Bede believed to have relocated entirely to Britain.[29] The names 'England' (from Engla land[30] "Land of the Angles") and English (Old English Englisc[31]) are derived from the name of this tribebut Saxons, Jutes and a range of Germanic peoples from the coasts of Frisia, Lower Saxony, Jutland and Southern Sweden also moved to Britain in this era.[32][33][34] Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the AngloSaxon kingdoms of Great Britain[35] but one of these dialects, Late West Saxon, eventually came to dominate, and it is in this that the poem Beowulf is written.

Old English was later transformed by two waves of invasion. The first was by speakers of the North Germanic language branch when Halfdan Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless started the conquering and colonisation of northern parts of the British Isles in the 8th and 9th centuries (see Danelaw). The second was by speakers of the Romance language Old Norman in the 11th century with the Norman conquest of England. Norman developed into Anglo-Norman, and then Anglo-French and introduced a layer of words especially via the courts and government. As well as extending the lexicon with Scandinavian and Norman words these two events also simplified the grammar and transformed English into a borrowing languagemore than normally open to accept new words from other languages. The linguistic shifts in English following the Norman invasion produced what is now referred to as Middle English, with Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales being the best known work. Throughout all this period Latin in some form was the lingua franca of European intellectual life, first the Medieval Latin of the Christian Church, but later the humanist Renaissance Latin, and those that wrote or copied texts in Latin[13] commonly coined new terms from Latin to refer to things or concepts for which there was no existing native English word. Modern English, which includes the works of William Shakespeare[36] and the King James Bible, is generally dated from about 1550, and when the United Kingdom became a colonial power, English served as the lingua franca of the colonies of the British Empire. In the post-colonial period, some of the newly created nations which had multiple indigenous languages opted to continue using English as the lingua franca to avoid the political difficulties inherent in promoting any one indigenous language above the others. As a result of the growth of the British Empire, English was adopted in North America, India, Africa, Australia and many other regions, a trend extended with the emergence of the United States as a superpower in the mid-20th century.

Classification and related languages

The English language belongs to the Anglo-Frisian sub-group of the West Germanic branch of the Germanic family, a member of the Indo-European languages. Modern English is the direct descendant of Middle English, itself a direct descendant of Old English, a descendant of ProtoGermanic. Typical of most Germanic languages, English is characterised by the use of modal verbs, the division of verbs into strong and weak classes, and common sound shifts from Proto-IndoEuropean known as Grimm's Law. The closest living relatives of English are the Scots language (spoken primarily in Scotland and parts of Ireland) and Frisian (spoken on the southern fringes of the North Sea in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany). After Scots and Frisian come those Germanic languages that are more distantly related: the nonAnglo-Frisian West Germanic languages (Dutch, Afrikaans, Low German, High German), and the North Germanic languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese). With the (partial) exception of Scots, none of the other languages is mutually intelligible with English, owing in part to the divergences in lexis, syntax, semantics, and phonology, and to the isolation afforded to the English language by the British Isles, although some, such as Dutch, do show strong affinities with English, especially to earlier stages of the language. Isolation has allowed English and Scots (as well as Icelandic and Faroese) to develop independently of the Continental Germanic languages and their influences over time.[37] In addition to isolation, lexical differences between English and other Germanic languages exist due to heavy borrowing in English of words from Latin and French. For example, compare "exit" (Latin),

vs. Dutch uitgang, literally "out-going" (though outgang survives dialectally in restricted usage) and "change" (French) vs. German nderung (literally "alteration, othering"); "movement" (French) vs. German Bewegung ("be-way-ing", i.e. "proceeding along the way"); etc. Preference of one synonym over another also causes differentiation in lexis, even where both words are Germanic, as in English care vs. German Sorge. Both words descend from Proto-Germanic *kar and *surg respectively, but *kar has become the dominant word in English for "care" while in German, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages, the *surg root prevailed. *Surg still survives in English, however, as sorrow. Despite lexical borrowing, English retains its classification as a Germanic language due to its structure and grammar. Non-native words are incorporated into a Germanic system of conjugation, declension, and syntax (For example, the word reduce is borrowed from Latin redcere; however, in English we say "I reduce - I reduced - I will reduce" rather than "redc - redx - redcam"; likewise, we say: "John's life insurance company" rather than "the company of insurance life of John", cf. the French: la compagnie d'assurance-vie de John). Furthermore, in English, all basic grammatical particles added to nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are Germanic. For nouns, these include the normal plural marker -s/-es, and the possessive markers -'s and -s' . For verbs, these include the third person present ending -s/-es (e.g. he stands/he reaches ), the present participle ending -ing, the simple past tense and past participle ending -ed, and the formation of the English infinitive using to (e.g. "to drive"; cf. Old English t drfenne). Adverbs generally receive an -ly ending, and adjectives and adverbs are inflected for the comparative and superlative using -er and -est (e.g. fast/faster/fastest), or through a combination with more and most. These particles append freely to all English words regardless of origin (tsunamis; communicates; to buccaneer; during; calmer; bizarrely) and all derive from Old English. Even the lack or absence of affixes, known as zero or null (-) affixes, derive from endings which previously existed in Old English (usually -e, -a, -u, -o, -an, etc.), that later weakened to -e, and have since ceased to be pronounced and spelt (e.g. Modern English "I sing" = I sing- < I singe < Old English ic singe; "we thought" = we thought- < we thoughte(n) < Old English w hton). Although the syntax of English is somewhat different from that of other West Germanic languages with regards to the placement and order of verbs (for example, "I have never seen anything in the square" = German Ich habe nie etwas auf dem Platz gesehen, and the Dutch Ik heb nooit iets op het plein gezien, where the participle is placed at the end), English syntax continues to adhere closely to that of the North Germanic languages, which are believed to have influenced English syntax during the Middle English Period (e.g., Danish Jeg har aldrig set noget p torvet; Icelandic g hef aldrei s neitt torginu). As in most Germanic languages, English adjectives usually come before the noun they modify, even when the adjective is of Latinate origin (e.g. medical emergency, national treasure). Also, English continues to make extensive use of self-explaining compounds (e.g. streetcar, classroom), and nouns which serve as modifiers (e.g. lamp post, life insurance company), traits inherited from Old English (See also Kenning). The kinship with other Germanic languages can also be seen in the tensing of English verbs (e.g. English fall/fell/fallen/will or shall fall, West Frisian fal/foel/fallen/sil falle, Dutch vallen/viel/gevallen/zullen vallen, German fallen/fiell/gefallen/werden fallen), the comparatives of adjectives and adverbs (e.g. English good/better/best, West Frisian goed/better/best, Dutch goed/beter/best, German gut/besser/best), the treatment of nouns (English shoemaker, shoemaker's, shoemakers, shoemakers'; Dutch schoenmaker, schoenmakers, schoenmakers, schoenmakeren; Swedish skomaker, skomakers, skomakere, skomakere), and the large amount of cognates (e.g. English wet, Scots weet, West Frisian wiet, Swedish vt; English send, Dutch zenden, German senden; English meaning, Swedish mening, Icelandic meining, etc.). It also gives rise to false friends (e.g. English time vs Norwegian time, meaning "hour"; English gift vs German Gift, meaning

"poison"), while differences in phonology can obscure words that really are related (tooth vs. German Zahn; compare also Danish tand). Sometimes both semantics and phonology are different (German Zeit ("time") is related to English "tide", but the English word, through a transitional phase of meaning "period"/"interval", has come primarily to mean gravitational effects on the ocean by the moon, though the original meaning is preserved in forms like tidings and betide, and phrases such as to tide over).[citation needed] Many North Germanic words entered English due to the settlement of Viking raiders and Danish invasions which began around the 9th century (see Danelaw). Many of these words are common words, often mistaken for being native, which shows how close-knit the relations between the English and the Scandinavian settlers were (See below: Old Norse origins). Dutch and Low German also had a considerable influence on English vocabulary, contributing common everyday terms and many nautical and trading terms (See below: Dutch and Low German origins). Finally, English has been forming compound words and affixing existing words separately from the other Germanic languages for over 1500 years and has different habits in that regard. For instance, abstract nouns in English may be formed from native words by the suffixes "-hood", "-ship", "-dom" and "-ness". All of these have cognate suffixes in most or all other Germanic languages, but their usage patterns have diverged, as German "Freiheit" vs. English "freedom" (the suffix "-heit" being cognate of English "-hood", while English "-dom" is cognate with German "-tum"). The Germanic languages Icelandic and Faroese also follow English in this respect, since, like English, they developed independent of German influences. Many French words are also intelligible to an English speaker, especially when they are seen in writing (as pronunciations are often quite different), because English absorbed a large vocabulary from Norman and French, via Anglo-Norman after the Norman Conquest, and directly from French in subsequent centuries. As a result, a large portion of English vocabulary is derived from French, with some minor spelling differences (e.g. inflectional endings, use of old French spellings, lack of diacritics, etc.), as well as occasional divergences in meaning of so-called false friends: for example, compare "library" with the French librairie, which means bookstore; in French, the word for "library" is bibliothque. The pronunciation of most French loanwords in English (with the exception of a handful of more recently borrowed words such as mirage, genre, caf; or phrases like coup dtat, rendez-vous, etc.) has become largely anglicised and follows a typically English phonology and pattern of stress (compare English "nature" vs. French nature, "button" vs. bouton, "table" vs. table, "hour" vs. heure, "reside" vs. rsider, etc.).

Geographical distribution
See also: List of countries by English-speaking population

Pie chart showing the relative numbers of native English speakers in the major English-speaking countries of the world Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language.[38] English today is probably the third largest language by number of native speakers, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.[11][39] However, when combining native and non-native speakers it is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world, though possibly second to a combination of the Chinese languages (depending on whether or not distinctions in the latter are classified as "languages" or "dialects").[40][41] Estimates that include second language speakers vary greatly from 470 million to over a billion depending on how literacy or mastery is defined and measured.[42][43] Linguistics professor David Crystal calculates that non-native speakers now outnumber native speakers by a ratio of 3 to 1.[44] The countries with the highest populations of native English speakers are, in descending order: United States (215 million),[45] United Kingdom (61 million),[46] Canada (18.2 million),[47] Australia (15.5 million),[48] Nigeria (4 million),[49] Ireland (3.8 million),[46] South Africa (3.7 million),[50] and New Zealand (3.6 million) 2006 Census.[51] Countries such as the Philippines, Jamaica and Nigeria also have millions of native speakers of dialect continua ranging from an English-based creole to a more standard version of English. Of those nations where English is spoken as a second language, India has the most such speakers ('Indian English'). Crystal claims that, combining native and non-native speakers, India now has more people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world.[52][53]

Countries in order of total speakers

Country Total Percent of population 96% As an additional Population language 215,423,557 35,964,744 262,375,152 First language Comment
Source: US Census 2000: Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000, Table 1. Figure for second language speakers are respondents who reported they do not speak English at home but know it "very well" or "well". Note:

United 251,388,301 States of America





86,125,221 second language speakers. 38,993,066 third language speakers




4,000,000 >75,000,000

figures are for population age 5 and older Figures include both those who speak English as a second language and those who speak it as a third 1,028,737,436 language. 2001 figures.[54][55] The figures include English speakers, but not English users.[56] Figures are for speakers of Nigerian Pidgin, an Englishbased pidgin or creole. Ihemere gives a range of roughly 3 to 5 million native speakers; the midpoint of the range is used in the table. Ihemere, 148,000,000 Kelechukwu Uchechukwu. 2006. "A Basic Description and Analytic Treatment of Noun Clauses in Nigerian Pidgin." Nordic Journal of African Studies 15(3): 296 313.

United 59,600,000 Kingdom





Source: Crystal (2005), p. 109. Total speakers: Census 2000, text above Figure 7. 63.71% of the 66.7 million people aged 5 years or more could speak English. Native speakers: Census 1995, as quoted by Andrew Gonzlez in The Language Planning Situation in the Philippines, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 19 (5&6), 487525. (1998). Ethnologue lists 3.4 million native speakers with 52% of the population speaking it as an additional language.[57]

Philippines 48,800,000


3,427,000[57] 43,974,000




Source: 2001 Census Knowledge of Official Languages and Mother Tongue. The native speakers figure comprises 122,660 people with 25,246,220 85% 17,694,830 7,551,390 29,639,030 both French and English as a mother tongue, plus 17,572,170 people with English and not French as a mother tongue. Source: 2006 Census. [58] The figure shown in the first language English speakers column is actually the number of Australian residents who speak only English at home. The additional language column 18,172,989 92% 15,581,329 2,591,660 19,855,288 shows the number of other residents who claim to speak English "well" or "very well". Another 5% of residents did not state their home language or English proficiency. Note: Total = First language + Other language; Percentage = Total / Population

Countries where English is a major language

English is the primary language in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the British Indian Ocean Territory, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Grenada, Guam, Guernsey, Guyana, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jamaica, Jersey, Montserrat, Nauru, New Zealand, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom and the United States. In some countries where English is not the most spoken language, it is an official language; these countries include Botswana, Cameroon, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malta, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines (Philippine English), Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is also one of the 11 official languages that are given equal status in South Africa (South African English). English is also the official language in current dependent territories of Australia (Norfolk Island, Christmas Island and Cocos Island) and of the United States (American Samoa, Guam,

Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands),[59] and the former British colony of Hong Kong. (See List of countries where English is an official language for more details.) English is not an official language in the United States.[60] Although the United States federal government has no official languages, English has been given official status by 30 of the 50 state governments.[61] Although falling short of official status, English is also an important language in several former colonies and protectorates of the United Kingdom, such as Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cyprus, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.

English as a global language

See also: English in computing, International English, World language, and English as a foreign or second language Because English is so widely spoken, it has often been referred to as a "world language", the lingua franca of the modern era,[19] and while it is not an official language in most countries, it is currently the language most often taught as a foreign language. Some linguists believe that it is no longer the exclusive cultural property of "native English speakers", but is rather a language that is absorbing aspects of cultures worldwide as it continues to grow.[19] It is, by international treaty, the official language for aerial and maritime communications.[62] English is an official language of the United Nations and many other international organisations, including the International Olympic Committee. English is the language most often studied as a foreign language in the European Union, by 89% of schoolchildren, ahead of French at 32%, while the perception of the usefulness of foreign languages amongst Europeans is 68% in favour of English ahead of 25% for French.[63] Among some nonEnglish speaking EU countries, a large percentage of the adult population can converse in English in particular: 85% in Sweden, 83% in Denmark, 79% in the Netherlands, 66% in Luxembourg and over 50% in Finland, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, and Germany.[64] Books, magazines, and newspapers written in English are available in many countries around the world, and English is the most commonly used language in the sciences[19] with Science Citation Index reporting as early as 1997 that 95% of its articles were written in English, even though only half of them came from authors in English-speaking countries. This increasing use of the English language globally has had a large impact on many other languages, leading to language shift and even language death,[65] and to claims of linguistic imperialism.[66] English itself is now open to language shift as multiple regional varieties feed back into the language as a whole.[66]

Dialects and regional varieties

Main article: List of dialects of the English language The expansion of the British Empire andsince World War IIthe influence of the United States have spread English around the world.[19] Because of that global spread, English has developed a host of English dialects and English-based creole languages and pidgins. Several educated native dialects of English have wide acceptance as standards in much of the world,. In the United Kingdom much emphasis is placed on Received Pronunciation, an educated dialect of South East England. General American, which is spread over most of the United States and much of

Canada, is more typically the model for the American continents and areas (such as the Philippines) that have had either close association with the United States, or a desire to be so identified. In Oceania, the major native dialect of Australian English is spoken as a first language by the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Australian continent, with General Australian serving as the standard accent. The English of neighbouring New Zealand as well as that of South Africa have to a lesser degree been influential native varieties of the language. Aside from these major dialects, there are numerous other varieties of English, which include, in most cases, several subvarieties, such as Cockney, Scouse and Geordie within British English; Newfoundland English within Canadian English; and African American Vernacular English ("Ebonics") and Southern American English within American English. English is a pluricentric language, without a central language authority like France's Acadmie franaise; and therefore no one variety is considered "correct" or "incorrect" except in terms of the expectations of the particular audience to which the language is directed. Scots has its origins in early Northern Middle English[67] and developed and changed during its history with influence from other sources, but following the Acts of Union 1707 a process of language attrition began, whereby successive generations adopted more and more features from Standard English, causing dialectalisation. Whether it is now a separate language or a dialect of English better described as Scottish English is in dispute, although the UK government now accepts Scots as a regional language and has recognised it as such under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[68] There are a number of regional dialects of Scots, and pronunciation, grammar and lexis of the traditional forms differ, sometimes substantially, from other varieties of English. English speakers have many different accents, which often signal the speaker's native dialect or language. For the most distinctive characteristics of regional accents, see Regional accents of English, and for a complete list of regional dialects, see List of dialects of the English language. Within England, variation is now largely confined to pronunciation rather than grammar or vocabulary. At the time of the Survey of English Dialects, grammar and vocabulary differed across the country, but a process of lexical attrition has led most of this variation to die out.[69] Just as English itself has borrowed words from many different languages over its history, English loanwords now appear in many languages around the world, indicative of the technological and cultural influence of its speakers. Several pidgins and creole languages have been formed on an English base, such as Jamaican Patois, Nigerian Pidgin, and Tok Pisin. There are many words in English coined to describe forms of particular non-English languages that contain a very high proportion of English words.

Constructed varieties of English

Basic English is simplified for easy international use. Manufacturers and other international businesses tend to write manuals and communicate in Basic English. Some English schools in Asia teach it as a practical subset of English for use by beginners. E-Prime excludes forms of the verb to be. English reform is an attempt to improve collectively upon the English language. Manually Coded English constitutes a variety of systems that have been developed to represent the English language with hand signals, designed primarily for use in deaf education. These should not be confused with true sign languages such as British Sign Language and American Sign Language used in Anglophone countries, which are independent and not based on English.

Seaspeak and the related Airspeak and Policespeak, all based on restricted vocabularies, were designed by Edward Johnson in the 1980s to aid international cooperation and communication in specific areas. There is also a tunnelspeak for use in the Channel Tunnel. Simplified Technical English was historically developed for aerospace industry maintenance manuals and is now used in various industries. Special English is a simplified version of English used by the Voice of America. It uses a vocabulary of only 1500 words.

the demonstrative pronouns.)

We speak English but do we know where it comes from? I didnt know until I started to study on this subject and I learned where it comes from and how it has developed. The history of English begins a little after A.D. 600. The ancestors of the language were wandering in the forests of northern Europe. Their language was a part of Germanic branch of Indo-European Family. The people talking this language spread to the northern coast of Europe in the time of Roman Empire. Among this people the tribes called Angels,Saxons,Jutes which is called Anglo-Saxons come to England. The first Latin effect was in that period. Latin effected the language with the merchants traveling the tribes. Some of the words taken from Latin are; kettle,wine,cheese, butter, cheap. Also in the 14th century Rome Empire weakened because Goths attacked to Mediterranean countries of Roman Empire and Anglo-Saxons attacked to empire. On the other hand the Celtic tribes in Scotland and Wales developed. At the end in 410 the last roman emperor left the island to Celtic and AngloSaxons. Celtic and Anglo-Saxons fought for 100 years and Anglo-Saxons killed all the Celtics. In 550 Anglo Saxons established England. During Roma Empire Latin wasnt the native language of the kingdom because people in the country were talking Celtic. When Anglo-Saxons became Christian in 597 they learned Latin. According to the effects to English , the history of the language divided in to three; Old English(7th century-1100), Middle English(1100-1450/1500), Modern English (1500-now). In some books Modern English is divided in to two Early modern (1500-1700) ,Late Modern (1700-now). OLD ENGLISH When England was established there were several kingdoms and the most advanced one was Nurthumbria. It was this period that the best of the Old English literature was written , including the epic poem Beowulf. In the 8th century Nurthumbrian power declined , West Saxons became the leading power. The most famous king of the West Saxons was Alfred the Great. He founded and established schools, translated or caused to be translated many books from Latin in to English. After many years of hit-and-run raids between the European kingdoms, the Norseman landed in the year of 866 and later the east coast of the island was Norsemans. Norse language effected the English considerably. Norse wasnt so different from English and English people could understand Norseman. There

were considerable interchanges and word borrowings (sky,give,law,egg,outlaw,leg,ugly,talk). Also borrowed pronouns like they,their,them. It is supposed also that the Norseman influenced the sound structure and the grammar of English. Old English had some sound which we dont know have now. In grammar , Old English was much more highly inflected that Middle English because there were case endings for nouns, more person and number endings of words and a more complicated pronoun systems, various endings for adjectives. In vocabulary Old English is quiet different from Middle English. Most of the Old English words are native English which werent borrowed from other languages. On the other hand Old English contains borrowed words coming from Norse and Latin. MIDDLE ENGLISH Between 1100-1200 many important changes took place in the structure of English and Old English became Middle English. The political event which effected the administration system and language was the Norman Conquest. In 1066 they crossed the Channel and they became the master of England. For the next several next years ,England was ruled by the kings whose native language was French. On the other hand French couldnt become the national language because it became the language of the court , nobility, polite society, literature. But it didnt replace as the language of the people. English continued to be the national language but it changed too much after the conquest. The sound system&grammar wasnt so effected but vocabulary was effected much. There were word related with goverment:parliment,tax, goverment,majesty; church word: religion, parson, sermon; words for food: veal, beef, mutton, peach,lemon,cream,biscuit; colors: blue, scarlet, vermilion; household words: curtain, chair,lamp,towel,blanket; play words: dance,chess,music,leisure,conversation; literary words: story romance, poet, literary; learned words: study, logic grammar,noun,surgeon, anatomy, stomach; ordinary words for all sorts: nice,second,very,age,bucket, final,gentel, fault, flower,count,sure, move, surprise, plain. (Clark, V.P.& Eschholz, P.A. &Rose ,A.F.; 1994;622 ) Middle English was still a Germanic language but it is different from Old English in many ways. Grammar and the sound system changed a good deal. People started to rely more on word order and structure words to express their meaning rather than the use of case system. This can be called as a simplification but it is not exactly. Languages dont become simpler , they merely exchange one kind of complexity for another( (Clark, V.P.& Eschholz, P.A. &Rose ,A.F.; 1994;622 ) For us Middle English is simpler that Old English because it is closer to Modern English. EARLY MODERN ENGLISH Between 1400-1600 English underwent a couple of sound changes. One change was the elimination of a vowel sound in certain unstressed positions at the end of the words. The change was important because it effected thousands of words and gave a different aspect to the whole language. The other change is what is called the Great Vowel Shift. This was a systematic shifting of half a dozen vowels and diphthongs in stressed syllables. For example the word name had in Middle English a vowel something like that in the modern word father;...etc. The shift effected all the words in which these vowels sounds occurred. These two changes produced the basic differences

between Middle English and Modern English. But there are several other developments that effected the language. One was the invention of printing. It was introduced to England by William Caxton in 1475. After this books became cheaper and cheaper, more people learned to read and write and advanced in communication. The period of Early Modern English was also a period of English Renaissance, which means the development of the people. New ideas increased. English language had grown as a result of borrowing words from French ,Latin, Greek. The greatest writer of the Early Modern English period is Shakespeare and the best known book is the King Jones version of the BIBLE. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS In order to establish the language they develop a dictionary. The first English Dictionary was published in 1603. Another product of the 18th century was the invention of English Grammar. As English is replaced with Latin as the language of scholarship, it was felt to control the language. The period where English developed most in the Modern English. In that period the people speaking that language increased too much. Now, English is the greatest language of the world spoken natively and as a second language. What will happen in the future? Itll continue to grow , may be it will be the universal language.
A (Very) Brief History of the English Language Dave Wilton, Monday, January 15, 2001

Indo-European and Germanic Influences

English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages. This broad family includes most of the European languages spoken today. The Indo-European family includes several major branches:

Latin and the modern Romance languages; The Germanic languages; The Indo-Iranian languages, including Hindi and Sanskrit; The Slavic languages; The Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian (but not Estonian); The Celtic languages; and Greek.

The influence of the original Indo-European language, designated proto-Indo-European, can be seen today, even though no written record of it exists. The word for father, for example, is vater in German, pater in Latin, and pitr in Sanskrit. These words are all cognates, similar words in different languages that share the same root. Of these branches of the Indo-European family, two are, for our purposes of studying the development of English, of paramount importance, the Germanic and the Romance (called that because the Romance languages derive from Latin, the language of ancient Rome, not because of any bodice-ripping literary genre). English is in the Germanic group of languages. This group began as a common language in the Elbe river region about 3,000 years ago. Around the second century BC, this Common Germanic language split into three distinct sub-groups:

East Germanic was spoken by peoples who migrated back to southeastern Europe. No East Germanic language is spoken today, and the only written East Germanic language that survives is Gothic. North Germanic evolved into the modern Scandinavian languages of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic (but not Finnish, which is related to Estonian and is not an Indo-European language). West Germanic is the ancestor of modern German, Dutch, Flemish, Frisian, and English.

Old English (500-1100 AD)

West Germanic invaders from Jutland and southern Denmark: the Angles (whose name is the source of the words England and English), Saxons, and Jutes, began populating the British Isles in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. They spoke a mutually intelligible language, similar to modern Frisian--the language of northeastern region of the Netherlands--that is called Old English. Four major dialects of Old English emerged, Northumbrian in the north of England, Mercian in the Midlands, West Saxon in the south and west, and Kentish in the Southeast. These invaders pushed the original, Celtic-speaking inhabitants out of what is now England into Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland, leaving behind a few Celtic words. These Celtic languages survive today in Gaelic languages of Scotland and Ireland and in Welsh. Cornish, unfortunately, is now a dead language. (The last native Cornish speaker, Dolly Pentreath, died in 1777 in the town of Mousehole, Cornwall.) Also influencing English at this time were the Vikings. Norse invasions, beginning around 850, brought many North Germanic words into the language, particularly in the north of England. Some examples are dream, which had meant joy until the Vikings imparted its current meaning on it from the Scandinavian cognate draumr, and skirt, which continues to live alongside its native English cognate shirt. The majority of words in modern English come from foreign, not Old English roots. In fact, only about one sixth of the known Old English words have descendants surviving today. But this statistic is deceptive; Old English is much more important than this number would indicate. About half of the most commonly used words in modern English have Old English roots. Words like be, water, and strong, for example, derive from Old English roots. Old English, whose best known surviving example is the poem Beowulf, lasted until about 1100. This last date is rather arbitrary, but most scholars choose it because it is shortly after the most important event in the development of the English language, the Norman Conquest.

The Norman Conquest and Middle English (1100-1500)

William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England and the AngloSaxons in 1066 AD. (The Bayeux Tapestry, details of which form the navigation buttons on this site, is perhaps the most famous graphical depiction of the Norman Conquest.) The new overlords spoke a

dialect of Old French known as Anglo-Norman. The Normans were also of Germanic stock (Norman comes from Norseman) and Anglo-Norman was a French dialect that had considerable Germanic influences in addition to the basic Latin roots. Prior to the Norman Conquest, Latin had been only a minor influence on the English language, mainly through vestiges of the Roman occupation and from the conversion of Britain to Christianity in the seventh century (ecclesiastical terms such as priest, vicar, and mass came into the language this way), but now there was a wholesale infusion of Romance (Anglo-Norman) words. The influence of the Normans can be illustrated by looking at two words, beef and cow. Beef, commonly eaten by the aristocracy, derives from the Anglo-Norman, while the Anglo-Saxon commoners, who tended the cattle, retained the Germanic cow. Many legal terms, such as indict, jury, and verdict have Anglo-Norman roots because the Normans ran the courts. This split, where words commonly used by the aristocracy have Romantic roots and words frequently used by the Anglo-Saxon commoners have Germanic roots, can be seen in many instances. Sometimes French words replaced Old English words; crime replaced firen and uncle replaced eam. Other times, French and Old English components combined to form a new word, as the French gentle and the Germanic man formed gentleman. Other times, two different words with roughly the same meaning survive into modern English. Thus we have the Germanic doom and the French judgment, or wish and desire. It is useful to compare various versions of a familiar text to see the differences between Old, Middle, and Modern English. Take for instance this Old English (c.1000) sample from the Bible: Fder ure ue eart on heofonum si in nama gehalgod tobecume in rice gewure in willa on eoran swa swa on heofonum urne gedghwamlican hlaf syle us to dg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfa urum gyltendum and ne geld u us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele solice. To get a feel for Old English pronunciation, play a wav file of this Old English text (518Kb), read by Catherine Ball of Georgetown University. Rendered in Middle English (Wyclif, 1384), the same text starts to become recognizable to the modern eye: Oure fadir at art in heuenes halwid be i name; i reume or kyngdom come to be. Be i wille don in here as it is dounin heuene. yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred. And foryeue to us oure dettis at is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris at is to men at han synned in us. And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl. Finally, in Early Modern English (King James Version, 1611) the same text is completely intelligible: Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen. Giue us this day our daily bread.

And forgiue us our debts as we forgiue our debters. And lead us not into temptation, but deliuer us from euill. Amen. In 1204 AD, King John lost the province of Normandy to the King of France. This began a process where the Norman nobles of England became increasingly estranged from their French cousins. England became the chief concern of the nobility, rather than their estates in France, and consequently the nobility adopted a modified English as their native tongue. About 150 years later, the Black Death (1349-50) killed about one third of the English population. The laboring and merchant classes grew in economic and social importance, and along with them English increased in importance compared to Anglo-Norman. This mixture of the two languages came to be known as Middle English. The most famous example of Middle English is Chaucers Canterbury Tales. Unlike Old English, Middle English can be read, albeit with difficulty, by modern English-speaking people. By 1362, the linguistic division between the nobility and the commoners was largely over. In that year, the Statute of Pleading was adopted, which made English the language of the courts and it began to be used in Parliament. The Middle English period came to a close around 1500 AD with the rise of Modern English.

Early Modern English (1500-1800)

The next wave of innovation in English came with the Renaissance. The revival of classical scholarship brought many classical Latin and Greek words into the Language. These borrowings were deliberate and many bemoaned the adoption of these inkhorn terms, but many survive to this day. Shakespeares character Holofernes in Loves Labor Lost is a satire of an overenthusiastic schoolmaster who is too fond of Latinisms. Many students having difficulty understanding Shakespeare would be surprised to learn that he wrote in modern English. But, as can be seen in the earlier example of the Lords Prayer, Elizabethan English has much more in common with our language today than it does with the language of Chaucer. Many familiar words and phrases were coined or first recorded by Shakespeare, some 2,000 words and countless catchphrases are his. Newcomers to Shakespeare are often shocked at the number of cliches contained in his plays, until they realize that he coined them and they became cliches afterwards. One fell swoop, vanish into thin air, and flesh and blood are all Shakespeares. Words he bequeathed to the language include critical, leapfrog, majestic, dwindle, and pedant. Two other major factors influenced the language and served to separate Middle and Modern English. The first was the Great Vowel Shift. This was a change in pronunciation that began around 1400. While modern English speakers can read Chaucer with some

difficulty, Chaucers pronunciation would have been completely unintelligible to the modern ear. Shakespeare, on the other hand, would be accented, but understandable. Long vowel sounds began to be made higher in the mouth and the letter e at the end of words became silent. Chaucers Lyf (pronounced /leef/) became the modern word life. In Middle English name was pronounced /nam-a/, five was pronounced /feef/, and down was pronounced /doon/. In linguistic terms, the shift was rather sudden, the major changes occurring within a century. The shift is still not over, however, vowel sounds are still shortening, although the change has become considerably more gradual. The last major factor in the development of Modern English was the advent of the printing press. William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476. Books became cheaper and as a result, literacy became more common. Publishing for the masses became a profitable enterprise, and works in English, as opposed to Latin, became more common. Finally, the printing press brought standardization to English. The dialect of London, where most publishing houses were located, became the standard. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the first English dictionary was published in 1604.

Late-Modern English (1800-Present)

The principal distinction between early- and late-modern English is vocabulary. Pronunciation, grammar, and spelling are largely the same, but Late-Modern English has many more words. These words are the result of two historical factors. The first is the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the technological society. This necessitated new words for things and ideas that had not previously existed. The second was the British Empire. At its height, Britain ruled one quarter of the earths surface, and English adopted many foreign words and made them its own. The industrial and scientific revolutions created a need for neologisms to describe the new creations and discoveries. For this, English relied heavily on Latin and Greek. Words like oxygen, protein, nuclear, and vaccine did not exist in the classical languages, but they were created from Latin and Greek roots. Such neologisms were not exclusively created from classical roots though, English roots were used for such terms as horsepower, airplane, and typewriter. This burst of neologisms continues today, perhaps most visible in the field of electronics and computers. Byte, cyber-, bios, hard-drive, and microchip are good examples. Also, the rise of the British Empire and the growth of global trade served not only to introduce English to the world, but to introduce words into English. Hindi, and the other languages of the Indian subcontinent, provided many words, such as pundit, shampoo, pajamas, and juggernaut. Virtually every language on Earth has contributed to the development of English, from the Finnish sauna and the Japanese tycoon, to the vast contributions of French and Latin. The British Empire was a maritime empire, and the influence of nautical terms on the English language has been great. Words and phrases like three sheets to the wind and scuttlebutt have their origins onboard ships. Finally, the 20th century saw two world wars, and the military influence on the language during the latter half of this century has been great. Before the Great War, military service for English-speaking persons was rare; both Britain and the United States maintained small, volunteer militaries. Military slang existed, but with the exception of nautical terms, rarely influenced standard English. During the mid-20th century, however, virtually all British and American men served in the military. Military slang entered the language like never before. Blockbuster, nose dive, camouflage, radar,

roadblock, spearhead, and landing strip are all military terms that made their way into standard English.

American English
Also significant beginning around 1600 AD was the English colonization of North America and the subsequent creation of a distinct American dialect. Some pronunciations and usages froze when they reached the American shore. In certain respects, American English is closer to the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is. Some Americanisms that the British decry are actually originally British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost at home (e.g., fall as a synonym for autumn, trash for rubbish, frame-up which was reintroduced to Britain through Hollywood gangster movies, and use of loan as a verb instead of lend). The American dialect also served as the route of introduction for many native American words into the English language. Most often, these were place names like Mississippi, Roanoke, and Iowa. Indian-sounding names like Idaho were sometimes created that had no native-American roots. But, names for other things besides places were also common. Raccoon, tomato, canoe, barbecue, savanna, and hickory have native American roots, although in many cases the original Indian words were mangled almost beyond recognition. Spanish has also been great influence on American English. Armadillo, mustang, canyon, ranch, stampede, and vigilante are all examples of Spanish words that made their way into English through the settlement of the American West. To a lesser extent French, mainly via Louisiana, and West African, through the importation of slaves, words have influenced American English. Armoire, bayou, and jambalaya came into the language via New Orleans. Goober, gumbo, and tote are West African borrowings first used in America by slaves.

A Chronology of the English Language

55 BCE: Roman invasion of Britain under Julius Caesar 43 CE: Roman invasion and occupation under Emperor Claudius. Beginning of Roman rule of Britain 436: Roman withdrawal from Britain complete 449: Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain begins 450-480: Earliest Old English inscriptions date from this period 597: St. Augustine arrives in Britain. Beginning of Christian conversion of the Anglo-Saxons 731: The Venerable Bede publishes The Ecclesiastical History of the English People in Latin 792: Viking raids and settlements begin 865: The Danes occupy Northumbria 871: Alfred becomes king of Wessex. He has Latin works translated into English and begins practice of English prose. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is begun 911: Charles II of France grants Normandy to the Viking chief Hrolf the Ganger. The beginning of Norman French c.1000: The oldest surviving manuscript of Beowulf dates from this period 1066: The Norman conquest c.1150: The oldest surviving manuscripts in Middle English date from this period 1171: Henry II conquers Ireland 1204: King John loses the province of Normandy to France

1348: English replaces Latin as the medium of instruction in schools, other than Oxford and Cambridge which retain Latin 1349-50: The Black Death kills one third of the British population 1362: The Statute of Pleading replaces French with English as the language of law. Records continue to be kept in Latin. English is used in Parliament for the first time 1384: Wyclif publishes his English translation of the Bible c.1388: Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales c.1400: The Great Vowel Shift begins 1476: William Caxton establishes the first English printing press 1485: Caxton publishes Malorys Le Morte dArthur 1492: Columbus discovers the New World 1525: William Tyndale translates the New Testament 1536: The first Act of Union unites England and Wales 1549: First version of The Book of Common Prayer 1564: Shakespeare born 1603: Union of the English and Scottish crowns under James the I (VI of Scotland) 1604: Robert Cawdrey publishes the first English dictionary, Table Alphabeticall 1607: Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, established 1611: The Authorized, or King James Version, of the Bible is published 1616: Death of Shakespeare 1623: Shakespeares First Folio is published 1666: The Great Fire of London. End of The Great Plague 1702: Publication of the first daily, English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant, in London 1755: Samuel Johnson publishes his dictionary 1770: Cook discovers Australia 1776: Thomas Jefferson writes the Declaration of Independence 1782: Washington defeats Cornwallis at Yorktown. Britain abandons the American colonies 1788: British penal colony established in Australia 1803: Act of Union unites Britain and Ireland 1828: Noah Webster publishes his dictionary 1851: Herman Melville publishes Moby Dick 1922: British Broadcasting Corporation founded 1928: The Oxford English Dictionary is published
Filed un

Origins of the English Language

from The Origins of the English Language: A Social and Linguistic History, by Joseph M. Williams.

The Indo-European Family of Languages

Our English vocabulary is not something to be studied in isolation but is related in one way or another to many of the other languages of the world. The proper beginning for us, therefore, is to view the place of English in perspective, amid the many tongues of mankind. Those German Dutch Danish students who have studied German undoubt edly have noticed a remarka ble similarity between that language and their own. The German word Milch is very close in sound to the English milk; likewise, the German Wasser and English water, Brot and bread, Fleisch and flesh closely resemble each other, not to mention a great many additiona l

example s. Perhaps we can see this similarity best if we place side by side in systemat ic form the words for mother, father, and brother, as they appear in various tongues. English mother father brother

Mutter Vater Bruder

moeder vader broeder

moder fader broder

History of English
(Source: A History of English by Barbara A. Fennell) The English language is spoken by 750 million people in the world as either the official language of a nation, a second language, or in a mixture with other languages (such as pidgins and creoles.) English is the (or an) official language in England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand; however, the United States has no official language. Indo-European language and people English is classified genetically as a Low West Germanic language of the Indo-European family of languages. The early history of the Germanic languages is based on reconstruction of a ProtoGermanic language that evolved into German, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, Yiddish, and the Scandinavian languages. In 1786, Sir William Jones discovered that Sanskrit contained many cognates to Greek and Latin. He conjectured a Proto-Indo-European language had existed many years before. Although there

is no concrete proof to support this one language had existed, it is believed that many languages spoken in Europe and Western Asia are all derived from a common language. A few languages that are not included in the Indo-European branch of languages include Basque, Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian; of which the last three belong to the Finno-Ugric language family. Speakers of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) lived in Southwest Russia around 4,000 to 5,000 BCE. They had words for animals such as bear or wolf (as evidenced in the similarity of the words for these animals in the modern I-E languages.) They also had domesticated animals, and used horse-drawn wheeled carts. They drank alcohol made from grain, and not wine, indicating they did not live in a warm climate. They belonged to a patriarchal society where the lineage was determined through males only (because of a lack of words referring to the female's side of the family.) They also made use of a decimal counting system by 10's, and formed words by compounding. This PIE language was also highly inflectional as words had many endings corresponding to cases. The spread of the language can be attributed to two theories. The I-E people either wanted to conquer their neighbors or look for better farming land. Either way, the language spread to many areas with the advancement of the people. This rapid and vast spread of the I-E people is attributed to their use of horses for transportation. Germanic Languages The subgroup of Germanic languages contains many differences that set them apart from the other I-E languages. 1. Grimm's Law (or the First Sound Shift) helps to explain the consonant changes from P-I-E to Germanic.

a. Aspirated voiced stops became Unaspirated voiced stops (B, d, g became b, d, g) b. Voiced stops became Voiceless stops (B, d, g became p, t, k) c. Voiceless stops became Voiceless fricatives (P, t, k became f, , x (h))

Verner's Law explains other exceptions that Grimm's law does not include. 2. Two Tense Verbal System: There is a past tense marker (-ed) and a present tense marker (-s) on the verb (without using auxiliary verbs.) 3. Weak Past Tense: Used a dental or alveolar suffix to express the past (such as -ed in English, -te in German, or -de in Swedish.) 4. Weak and Strong Adjectives: Each adjective had a different form whether it was preceded by a determiner or no determiner. 5. Fixed Stress: The stress of words was fixed on the first syllable. 6. Vowel Changes (Proto Germanic)

Short o to short a (Latin: hortus, English: garden)

Long a to long o (Latin: mater, OE: modor)

7. Common Vocabulary: Words developed that hadn't been used before, such as nautical terms (sea). Others include rain, earth, loaf, wife, meat and fowl.

Old English (449 - 1066 CE) The Old English language (also called Anglo-Saxon) dates back to 449 CE. The Celts had been living in England when the Romans invaded. Although they invaded twice, they did not conquer the Celts until 43 CE and Latin never overtook the Celtic language. The Romans finally left England in 410 CE as the Roman Empire was collapsing, leaving the Celts defenseless. Then the Germanic tribes from the present-day area of Denmark arrived. The four main tribes were the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. These tribes set up seven kingdoms called the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy that included: Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, Wessex, Sussex, Essex, and East Anglia. Four dialects were spoken in these kingdoms: West Saxon, Kentish, Mercian and Northumbrian. The Celts moved north to Scotland, west to Ireland and south to France, leaving the main area of Britain. In 731 CE, Bede wrote the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" in Latin. It detailed the sophisticated society of the Germanic tribes. They had destroyed the Roman civilization in England and built their own, while dominance shifted among the kingdoms beginning with Kent and Northumbria. They aligned with the Celtic clergy and converted to Christianity. Laws and contracts were written down for a sense of permanence and control. The Tribal Hidage, a list of subjects who owed tribute to the king, was written during the Mercian period of power. Alfred the Great was the king of Wessex from 871-899 while Wessex was the dominant kingdom. During his reign, he united the kingdoms together and commissioned the Anglo-Saxon chronicles, a historical record of important events in England that continued 200 years after his death. Alfred also settled a truce with the Vikings who repeatedly invaded the area. The Treaty of Wedmore was signed in 878 CE and this "Danelaw" gave the northeast half of England to the Danes for settlement. However, because the languages were so similar, the Danes quickly assimilated and intermarried into the English society. Although the Danes brought their own writing system with them, called the Futhorc, it was not used in England. It is commonly referred to as Runes. The Insular Hand was the name of the writing system used in England, and it contained many symbols that are no longer found in Modern English: the aesc, thorn, edh, yogh and wynn, as well the macron for distinguishing long vowels. Characteristics of the Old English language

The Germanic tribes were exposed to Latin before they invaded England, so the languages they spoke did have some Latin influence. After converting to Christianity, Latin had more influence, as evidenced in words pertaining to the church. Celtic did not have a large impact on English, as only a few place names are of Celtic origin, but Danish (Old Scandinavian) did contribute many vocabulary words. Nouns could be of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter; but these were assigned arbitrarily. Numbers could be either singular or plural, and there were four cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive. In all, there were seven groups of declensions for nouns. The infinitive of verbs ended in -an. In the present tense, all verbs had markers for number and person. The weak past tense added -de, while the strong past tense usually involved a vowel change. Old English also had many more strong verbs than modern English. Adjectives could be weak or strong. If preceded by a determiner, the weak ending was added to the adjective. If no determiner preceded the adjective, then the strong endings were used. They also agreed in gender, case and number with the nouns they described. The comparative was formed by adding -ra to the adjective, while the superlative had many endings: -ost, -ist, -est, and -m. Eventually the -ost and -m endings combined to form the word "most" which is still used before adjectives in the superlative today. Adverbs were formed by adding -e to the adjective, or -lic, the latter which still remains in modern English as -like. The syntax of Old English was much more flexible than modern English becase of the declensions of the nouns. The case endings told the function of the word in the sentence, so word order was not very important. But as the stress began to move to the first syllable of words, the endings were not pronounced as clearly and began to diminish from the language. So in modern English, word order is very important because we no longer have declensions to show case distinctions. Instead we use prepositions. The general word order was subject - verb - object, but it did vary in a few instances: 1. When an object is a pronoun, it often precedes the verb. 2. When a sentence begins with an adverb, the subject often follows the verb. 3. The verb often comes at the end of a subordinate clause. Pronunciation was characterized by a predictable stress pattern on the first syllable. The length of the vowels was phonemic as there were 7 long and 7 short vowels. There were also two front rounded vowels that are no longer used in modern English, [i:] and [:]. The i-mutation occurred if there was a front vowel in the ending, then the root vowel became fronted. For example, fot becomes fot+i = fet (This helps to explain why feet is the plural of foot.) Pronunciation of consonants:

f c g h s r sc cg

v f k j g h x, z s trilled

between voiced vowels elsewhere next to a front vowel elsewhere next to a front vowel between other vowels elsewhere at beginning of word elsewhere between voiced vowels elsewhere between voiced vowels elsewhere

Middle English (1066 - 1500 CE) The period of Middle English begins with the Norman invasion of 1066 CE. King Edward the Confessor had died without heirs, and William, Duke of Normandy, believed that he would become the next king. However, upon learning that Harold was crowned king, William invaded England, killed Harold and crowned himself king during the famous Battle of Hastings. Yet William spoke only French. As a result, the upper class in England began to speak French while the lower classes spoke English. But by 1250 CE, French began to lose its prestige. King John had lost Normandy to the French in 1204 CE, and after him, King Edward I spoke only English. At this time, many foreigners entered England which made the nobility feel more "English" and so encouraged more use of the English language. The upper class tried to learn English, but they did still use French words sometimes, which was considered somewhat snobbish. French still maintained its prestige elsewhere, and the upper class did not want to lose it completely. Nevertheless, the Hundred Year's War (1337-1453 CE) intensified hatred of all things French. The Black Death also played a role in increasing English use with the emergence of the middle class. Several of the workers had been killed by the plague, which increased the status of the peasants, who only spoke English. By 1362 CE, the Statute of Pleading (although written in French) declared English as the official spoken language of the courts. By 1385 CE, English was the language of instruction in schools. 1350 to 1400 CE is known as the Period of Great Individual Writers (most famously, Chaucer), but their works included an apology for writing in English. Although the popularity of French was decreasing, several words (around 10,000) were borrowed into English between 1250 and 1500 CE (though most of these words were Parisian rather than Norman French). Many of the words were related to government (sovereign, empire), law (judge, jury, justice, attorney, felony, larceny), social life (fashion, embroidery, cuisine, appetite) and learning (poet, logic, physician). Furthermore, the legal system retained parts of

French word order (the adjective following the noun) in such terms as fee simple, attorney general and accounts payable. Characteristics of Middle English The writing system changed dramatically in Middle English:

and were replaced by th (and sometimes y, as in ye meaning the) c before i or e became ch sc became sh an internal h was added after g hw became wh cw became qu the new symbols v and u were added; v was used word initially, and u was used everywhere else k was used much more often (cyning became king) new values were given to old symbols too; g before i or e was pronounced ; became j, and c before i and e became s in some cases a historical h (usually not pronounced) was added to some words (it was assumed that these words had once begun with an h): honor, heir, honest, herb, habit sometimes words were written with o but pronounced as [] but later were pronounced []: son, come, ton, some, from, money, honey, front, won, one, wonder, of

Because of the stress shift to the beginning of the word, Middle English lost the case suffixes at the ends of nouns. Phonological erosion also occurred because of this, and some consonants dropped off while some vowels became and dropped off too. The generalized plural marker became -s, but it still competed with -n. Verb infinitives dropped the -an ending, and used "to" before the verb to signify the infinitival form. The third person singular and plural was marked with -(e)th; but the singular also competed with -(e)s from the Northern dialect. More strong (irregular) verbs became weak (regular) as well. Adjectives lost agreement with the noun, but the weak ending -e still remained. The comparative form became -er and the superlative became -est. Vowels tended to be long in the adjective form, but short in the comparative form (late - latter). The demonstratives these and those were added during this period. And the adverb ending -li became -ly; however, some "flat" adverbs did not add the -ly: fast, late, hard. The dual number disappeared in the pronouns, and the dative and accusative became the object forms of the pronouns. The third person plural pronouns replaced the old pronouns with thwords (they, them, their) borrowed from Scandinavian. She started being used for the feminine singular subject pronoun and you (plural form) was used in the singular as a status marker for the formal.

Syntax was stricter and more prepositions were used. New compound tenses were used, such as the perfect tenses, and there was more use of the progressive and passive voice. The use of double negation also increased as did impersonal constructions. The use of the verbs will and shall for the future tense were first used too. Formerly, will meant want and shall meant obliged to. Pronunciation changes:

Loss of initial h in a cluster (hleapan - to leap; hnutu - hut) [w] lost between consonant and back vowel (w is silent in two, sword, answer) [] lost in unstressed syllable (i - I) [v] lost in middle of words (heofod - head; hfde - had) Loss of final -n in possessive pronouns (min fder - mi fder) and the addition of -n to some words beginning with a vowel (a napron - an apron, a nuncle - an uncle) Voiced fricatives became phonemic with their voiceless counterparts [] phoneme was borrowed from French as the voiced counterpart for [] Front rounded vowels merged with their unrounded counterparts Vowel length became predictable (lost phonemic status); an open syllable with no consonant following it contained a long vowel, while a closed syllable with at least one consonant following it contained a short vowel

In addition, there were dialectal differences in the north and south. The north used -(e)s for the plural marker as well as for the third person singular; and the third person plural pronouns began with th- (borrowed from Scandinavian). The south used -(e)n for the plural, -(e)th for the third person singular, and h- for the third person plural pronouns. The north used [a] and [k] while the south used [o] and [] for certain words. Eventually, the northern dialect would become the standard for modern English regarding the grammatical endings, but the southern pronunciation of [o] and [] would also remain.

Early Modern English (1500 - 1650/1700 CE) William Caxton introduced the printing press to England in 1476 and the East Midland dialect became the literary standard of English. Ten thousand words were added to English as writers created new words by using Greek and Latin affixes. Some words, such as devulgate, attemptate and dispraise, are no longer used in English, but several words were also borrowed from other languages as well as from Chaucer's works. In 1582, Richard Mulcaster proposed in his treatise "Elementaire" a compromise on spelling and by 1623, Henry Cockrum published his English dictionary. The printing press helped to standardize the spelling of English in its modern stages. The printing press led the path for the laser printer many, many years later in 1969 which lead to Canon, HP and Brother toner. Characteristics of Early Modern English Adjectives lost all endings except for in the comparative and superlative forms. The neuter pronoun it was first used as well as who as a relative pronoun. The class distinctions between

formal and informal you were decreasing, so that today there is no difference between them. More strong verbs became weak and the third person singular form became -(e)s instead of (e)th. There was a more limited use of the progressive and auxiliary verbs than there is now, however. Negatives followed the verb and multiple negatives were still used. The Great Vowel Shift (1400-1600) changed the pronunciation of all the vowels. The tongue was placed higher in the mouth, and all the verbs moved up. Vowels that were already high ([i] and [u]) added the dipthongs [aj] and [aw] to the vowels of English. Several consonants were no longer pronounced, but the spelling system was in place before the consonant loss, so they are still written in English today. The consonants lost include:

Voiceless velar fricative lost in night; pronounced as f in laugh [b] in final -mb cluster (dumb, comb) [l] between a or o and consonant (half, walk, talk, folk) [r] sometimes before s (Worcestershire) initial clusters beginning with k and g (knee, knight, gnat) [g] in -ing endings (more commonly pronounced [n])

Finally, assibilation occurred when the alveolars [s], [d], [t], and [z] preceded the palatal glide [j], producing the palatal consonants: [], [], [], [] Early Grammarians (18th Century) A proposal for an Academy of the English Language was first brought forth by Jonathan Swift in 1712, but the Parliament voted against it. Nevertheless, several grammarians wrote dictionaries and grammar books in a prescriptive manner - telling people what to do or not to do with the language. Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755 and Robert Lowth's Introduction to English Grammar appeared in 1762. Early grammarians felt that language should be logical, therefore, the double negative was considered incorrect (two negatives equal one positive) and should not be used. They also didn't like shortened or redundant words, borrowing words from other languages (except Latin and Greek), split infinitives, or prepositions at the end of the sentence. A more scientifically minded attitude took hold by the 19th century when the Oxford English Dictionary was proposed in 1859. It was to be a factual account of every word in the English language since 1000 including its main form, pronunciation, spelling variations, part of speech, etymology, meanings in chronological order and illustrative quotations. The project was begun in 1879 under its first editor, James AH Murray. The first edition was published in 1928, with supplements in 1933 and 1972-6. The second edition was published in 1989 and it recognized American and Australian English, as the International Phonetic Alphabet for pronunciation. Beginnings of Modern English

In England, several changes to English had occurred since 1700. These include a loss of the postvocalic r (so that the r is only pronounced before a vowel and not after); an increase in the use of the progressive tenses; and a rise in class consciousness about speech (Received Pronunciation.) Since 1900, a very large amount of vocabulary words has been added to English in a relatively short period. The majority of these words are related to science and technology, and use Greek and Latin roots.

American English Immigrants from Southeastern England began arriving on the North American continent in the early 1600's. By the mid-1800's, 3.5 million immigrants left the British Isles for the United States. The American English language is characterized by archaisms (words that changed meaning in Britain, but remained in the colonies) and innovations in vocabulary (borrowing from the French and Spanish who were also settling in North America). Noah Webster was the most vocal about the need for an American national identity with regards to the American English language. He wrote an American spelling book, The Blueback Speller, in 1788 and changed several spellings from British English (colour became color, theatre became theater, etc.) In 1828, he published his famous American Dictionary of the English Language. Dialects in the United States resulted from different waves of immigration of English speakers, contact with other languages, and the slave trade, which had a profound impact on African American English. A dialectal study was done in 1920 and the findings are published in the Linguistics Atlas of the U.S. and Canada. English around the World Although the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have English as an official language, the United States does not have an official language. This is how it's possible to become a US citizen without speaking English. Canada also has French as an official language, though it is mostly spoken in the province of Quebec. Because many of the English speakers who originally inhabited Canada came from the US, there is little difference in the American and Canadian dialects of English. Similarly, Australian and New Zealand English have few differences, except Australia was originally settled as a penal colony and New Zealand was not. New Zealanders were more attached to the Received Pronunciation of the upper class in England, so their dialect is considered closer to British English. Cockney (and its Ryhming Slang) is an interesting dialect of English spoken in London's east end. The initial h of words is dropped, glottal stops are used frequently and labiodentals are used in place of interdentals. The Rhyming Slang refers to a word by referring to two things, the last of which rhymes with what is being referred to. For examples, money is "bees and honey," gloves is "turtle doves," suit is "whistle and flute" and trouble is "Barney Rubble." Even more confusing, sometimes the second word (which rhymes with the word being referred to) is omitted, so that money is called just "bees."

British colonialism has spread English all over the world, and it still holds prestige in South Africa, India, and Singapore, among other nations. In South Africa, English became an official language, along with Afrikaans and 9 African languages, in the 1996 constitution. However, only 3% of the country's 30 million people are native English speakers. Twenty percent are descendants of Dutch farmers who speak Afrikaans, and the rest are native Africans. Although the British won the Boer Wars of 1899-1901 against the Dutch farmers (the Boers), Britain still promised the Boers self-government under the Union of South Africa. By 1948, these Afrikaners won state elections and remained in power through the 1990's. Apartheid (which segregated the Afrikaners and Africans) officially ended under Nelson Mandela's reign, and although Afrikaans was the language used more often, the Africans wanted English as the official language. Hence the compromise of 11 official languages. India became an independent from Britian in 1947, and the English language was supposed to be phased out by 1965. However, today English and Hindi are the official languages. Indian English is characterized by treating mass nouns as count nouns, frequent use of the "isn't it?" tag, use of more compounds, and a different use of prepositions. In Singapore, Chinese, Malay and Indian languages have an impact on the form of English spoken. Everyone is taught English in the school system, but there are a few differences from British English as well. Mass nouns are treated as count nouns, "use to" means usually, and no articles are used before occupations. Creoles of English can be found on the coast of West Africa, China, and on islands of the Pacific and Caribbean (especially the West Indies.) Originally, these creoles were pidgins so that English-speaking traders could conduct business. Over time, they became the native languages of the children and evolved into creoles.