ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IN BRITAIN
Name: Tan Eik Ter
I.C No :
A brief chronology of English
Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.
Roman invasion and occupation. Beginning of
Roman rule of Britain.
Roman withdrawal from Britain complete.
Settlement of Britain by Germanic invaders begins
Earliest known Old English inscriptions.
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invades
and conquers England.
Earliest surviving manuscripts in Middle English.
English replaces Latin as the language of instruction
in most schools.
English replaces French as the language of law.
English is used in Parliament for the first time.
Chaucer starts writing The Canterbury Tales.
The Great Vowel Shift begins.
William Caxton establishes the first English printing
Shakespeare is born.
Table Alphabeticall, the first English dictionary, is
The first permanent English settlement in the New
World (Jamestown) is established.
Shakespeare's First Folio is published
The first daily English-language newspaper, The
Daily Courant, is published in London.
Samuel Johnson publishes his English dictionary.
Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of
Britain abandons its colonies in what is later to
become the USA.
Webster publishes his American English dictionary.
The British Broadcasting Corporation is founded.
The Oxford English Dictionary is published.
The evolution of the English language can be
divided into four stages: Old English (400-1100
AD), Middle English (ca. 1100-1500 AD), EarlyModern English (ca. 1500-1800 AD), and LateModern English (1800 to the present).
Classified genetically as a Low West Germanic
language of the Indo-European family of
languages and has four main dialects:
Northumbrian in the north of England, Mercian in
the Midlands, West Saxon in the south and west,
and Kentish in the Southeast.
Used widely in the fields of aviation, science,
computing, international trade, and diplomacy
Old English tribes from Jutland and
the West Germanic
southern Denmark (Norseland) invaded the
British Isles during the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.
the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes spoke a Germanic
language now formally known as the Old English
Alfred the Great – encouraged and promoted
the importance of English literacy throughout his
Celt-speaking inhabitants were forced to move
out of England into different places which are
called Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland
now. The Celtic language still survives today in
the Gaelic languages
The Vikings/ Norsemen : North Germanic
words such as “that”, “they” and “them”
Wide span of Modern English words in
dictionaries do not come from the Old English
Only one-sixth of known Old English words are
“water”, “strong”, “the”, “of”, “a”, “he”, “no”
and many other basic modern English words
derive from Old English
In 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of
Normandy, invaded and conquered England and
Class distinction - “beef” vs. “cow” and “pork” vs.
French words replacing Old English words such as
“uncle” replaced “eam” and “crime” replaced
French and English also combined to form new
words, such as the French “gentle” and the
Germanic “man” forming “gentleman”, “grape”
and “fruit” forming “grapefruit” and “lay” and
“person” forming “layperson”
- King John lost the province of
Normandy to the King of France
Begin to lose interest in their properties in
France and began adopting the modified
English as their native tongue
Taxing system of the Old English was cast
Early Modern English
Borrow from different languages such as Latin,
Greek, French, Italian, Spanish and
Some writers were so keen in reviving obsolete
English words which were sometimes called
Chaucerisms and use words of which are
rarely used such as “algate” which means
“always” and “sicker” which means
William Caxton introduced the technology of
printing into England in 1476.
Standardise, Influence and Dominate
Soon English spelling and grammar were fixed and
the first English dictionary was published in 1604.
The works of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and
the King James Bible (the Authorised Version)
really impacted and transformed the English
Some Biblical expressions that can be found are
“in sheep‟s clothing” (Matthew 7), “an eye for an
eye” (Exodus 21) and “go from strength to
strength” (Psalm 84). To add on, Shakespeare‟s
vocabulary contains more than 20000 different
words while the Bible only provides 8000 words
differences between sixteenth century and
modern English grammar. For instance, many
irregular verbs are found in their older forms such
as “digged” (dug), “spake” (spoke), “holpen”
(helped) and “sware” (swore).
During the sixteenth century, people from East
Anglia and the Midlands who moved to London
did not want to sound like fools or outsiders and
therefore tried to emulate the local accent and
ending up exaggerating and overemphasising the
sound they wished to make. For example, they
overemphasise by putting an „h‟ before vowels, as
in “whonder” and “whay”
Late-Modern English period
drew on Latin and Greek words
to create new words such as “oxygen,”
“nuclear,” and “protein.” Scientific and
technological discoveries are still ongoing
and neologisms continue to this day,
especially in the field of electronics and