Background of English Language Essay Example

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The English Language history begun with three Germanic tribes included Saxons, Jutes, and Angle.  The English language is known to be “West Germanic Language”. Its origin was from Frisian Dialects come to Britain around “the 5th to 7th centuries AD” with the Angola –Saxon migrants who come from the Netherlands, Germany, and Southern Denmark. Before beginning English speaking, Britain spoke a language known as the Celtic language. Those that pushed the Celtic speakers to the north and west when invaders were; Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. (BRANCHAW, 2014).  People from Angles originated from “Englaland” and the language spoken was known as “Englisc” from England and English. The figure below shows how the Germanic invaders came to Britain to the south and east around the 5th century.

According to research, little is known about the very first people’s language, but the celts were the most popular in the 400 and 200 BCE. Their number increased and widespread to an extend they sacked Rome in 390BCE. Latin and Germanic languages were later incorporated to form their Celtic language. In the present day, the Welsh, Scottish, and Irish are the remnants of these languages.

During the invading Germanic tribes, they spoke a similar language known to be old English by the British. This old English doesn’t sound English, and those who speak native English may have difficulties understanding old English. The “old English was spoken until” 1100. The picture below shows section of the poem that was “written in old English”.

Middle English (110-1500)

Around 1066 “William the Conqueror” invaded and conquered England. Being a French man, he made the language be for business class, ruling, and the royal court. This division led to a linguistic class divided whereby “the upper classes spoke the French language while the lower classes spoke English”. Again, English went viral in 14th century in Britain but it consisted of several added French words. The language is known as the “Middle English” and was mostly used by Chaucer (c1340-1400). The native English speakers couldn’t understand this type of language. The example shown hereinbelow is for a “Middle English by Chaucer (public domain.)”.

Early Modern English (1500-1800)

There was a drastic change in pronunciation at the “end of Middle English”. They began pronouncing the vowels more shortly, and by the 16th century, many people around the world were pronouncing words like the British people. New phrases and words were included in the language. Some people began printing articles written in this language, which was common. Those who didn’t understand the language bought cheaper books to understand the language better and know how to read. Through the process of printing articles, it led to standardization in English, grammar and spelling were fixed. By mid-1604, they managed to print the first dictionary in English.

The first Romans brought Christianity to the Britons, but it was later disrupted by the invasion of Germanic, which almost led to the end of the Christianity religion. Pope Gregory in 597CE organized some Christian missionaries and sent them to convert the people back to their Christianity. The Latin alphabet was incorporated into the language and accepted by Christians. During this time, writing was minimal due to few opportunities to access educations. English then started to be written, and words in Latin became more common; through this, education was strengthened, and some intellectual movements were started. English was seen as a lower-class language in the early years, but it attained respect after the evolution of Educating and writing. (Dressman, 2007).

“Late modern English: 1800 to present”

What makes “the early modern English and late-modern English” difference is “vocabulary”. Current “modern English” contains several words developed  based on primary factors, that is, two of them: “The British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth surface and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries and  industrial revolution and technology created a need for new words.”

Varieties of English

Colonizing of English in North America in mid-1600 led to the development of a different types of English in America. A big difference was seen in how individuals pronounced different words. English American language is related to Shakespeare English as compared to British English. Spanish is an example of a language that greatly influenced American English. Some of the words in Spanish that were used in English after they settled in the American West were; vigilante, canyon ad stampede. What influenced American English were West African words used by the slave trade and French words by Louisiana. ( Lombardero Caparrós, 2016).

Currently, American English is the most influential because the United Stated of America has dominated the markets on many social platforms such as; Television, trade, the internet, and cinemas. In our current society, we have many difference types of English around the globe, such as “Indian English, South African English, New Zealand English, Caribbean English and Australian English”. The current population mostly use English language in writing, speaking and reading in order to communicate to a large number of people across the globe.


BRANCHAW, S. (2014). Principles of methodology: a case study from the history of English. English Language And Linguistics18(3), 549-566. doi: 10.1017/s1360674314000161

Dressman, M. (2007). The History of the English Language Course. Arts And Humanities In Higher Education6(1), 107-113. doi: 10.1177/1474022207072232

Lombardero Caparrós, A. (2016). A ‘particular history of English language teaching in nineteenth-century Spain: the Board of Commerce School of English in Barcelona (1826–1851). Language & History60(1), 21-34. doi: 10.1080/17597536.2016.1252218