The History of English


How new words are created – just one section of a site that charts ‘How English went from an obscure Germanic dialect to a global language’: The History of English should keep our dear readers busy for a while.

From the INTRODUCTION
“There are many books and many websites describing the journey of the English language from its ancient origins to today’s dynamic and powerful communication tool (you can find some of them on the Sources and Links page). Some follow it in minute and excruciating technical detail, some are brief one-page summaries, and you may be wondering: do we really need another?

Well, perhaps not, but I wanted to create one anyway for my own enjoyment and edification. And this one is neither too long and intimidating nor is it too skimpy and “lite”, but, as Goldilocks might have said, just right. Not too much in the way of “fricatives” and “palatizations” and “labialized velars” (this does not pretend to be a work of serious philology), but plenty of rollicking historical detail, action and intrigue.

Whatever your thoughts on the matter, English, with all its vagaries and annoying inconsistencies, remains the single most important and influential language in today’s world. Throughout history, it has repeatedly found itself in the right place at the right time: English-speaking Britain was the leading colonial nation in the 17th and 18th Century, as well as the leader of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 18th Century; in the late 19th and 20th Century, English-speaking America was the leading economic power, and was also at the forefront of the electronic and digital revolution of the late 20th Century.

But, it has also proved itself the most flexible and resilient of languages, remarkable for its ability to adopt and absorb vocabulary from other cultures. It has survived incursions by invading armies, outfaced potential extinction on more than one occasion, and navigated the changing cultural zeitgeist, growing ever stronger in the process. Its continued vitality is evidenced by the number and diversity of its worldwide variations today.”

Read on…

The History of English in 10 minutes

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Posted on January 20, 2012, in Languagewatch, Trends. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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