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Brief history of English

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  • 1. Brief History of English José A. Alcalde López
  • 2. Basic questions
    • English is today’s most international language (20% speak it), but…
    • When and where was it born?
    • How did it evolve?
    • How did it spread around the globe?
    • What languages are related to English?
    • What other languages influenced English?
  • 3. The Origins
    • It is impossible to say the exact time and place when a language is born.
    • There are always previous languages that give some material, contacts with other languages, etc.
  • 4. The Celtic Stock
    • The Celtic language was one of the first known to be recorded in Britain before the following invasions of the island.
    • Celtic tribes (coming from Europe) lived in Britain in the Iron Age for over 500 years until the arrival of the Romans.
  • 5. The Celts in Europe
  • 6. The Roman invasion
    • Julius Caesar conquered Britain in 55 BC and Claudius in 43 AD, but it wasn’t permanent or really influential.
    • Latin was never the language of the people, it was only the language of the ruling class.
  • 7. The Roman invasion
    • Rome introduced Latin words in commerce, religion, army, some place names, etc.
    • Christianity introduced more Latin in the English language later on.
  • 8. The Roman Empire
  • 9. The Anglo-Saxon Conquest
    • Different Germanic tribes coming from current Denmark conquered Britain in 449 AD .
    • The Angles and the Saxons were very important and gave English its basic vocabulary and structures . English is Teutonic in essence.
  • 10. The Anglo-Saxon Conquest
  • 11. Old English
    • The Anglo-Saxon language is also known as Old English and it is the primitive form of modern English.
    • The Angles gave the name of the country ( England, “land of Angles”).
  • 12. Old English
    • Some words coming from Anglo-Saxon are:
    • This language also left the “Saxon Genitive” ( Terry’s brother )
    man eat house work woman
  • 13. The Germanic family
  • 14. The Vikings
    • In the 9th and 10th centuries Vikings from Scandinavia occupied the North-East of Britain.
    • Their language, Old Norse (connected with the Anglo-Saxon), gave many words to the English language.
  • 15. The Viking Invasion
  • 16. Old Norse
    • Some basic everyday words in English come from Old Norse:
    sky leg take window call dirty church
  • 17. The Norman Conquest The Normans came from Normandy, Northern France in 1066 . It was the last invasion in England but had an enormous influence in many aspects of British life: habits, language, society, literature, justice, etc.
  • 18. The Norman Conquest
  • 19. French Influence French was the language of the top of society (government, church, justice…) and little by little its influence spread a bit to the rest of the population who always spoke English. This is the birth of Anglo-French .
  • 20. French Influence The Normans brought more than 10,000 words into English, 75% still in use and no longer felt as foreign. By the 13th / 14th centuries only the top class uses French. By 15th century it disappears but always as a favourite foreign language. With French also came a lot of Latin vocabulary.
  • 21. Middle English
    • This is the span from 11th to 15th centuries.
    • Some French words incorporated were:
    court advise mutton govern sovereign duke
  • 22. Middle English
    • The Great Vowel Shift meant the complete dissolution between spelling and pronunciation (the first was kept while the second evolved a lot).
    • English was not a unique language but a collection of dialects ( Southern dialects were more important).
  • 23. Middle English dialects
  • 24. Early Modern English
    • This is the span from 15th to 17th centuries .
    • The use of the printed press helped to fix the language.
    • The Renaissance meant the arrival of many classical terms from Latin and Greek (only at cultivated level).
  • 25. Classical languages
    • These languages gave many words for different sciences and disciplines (not for common language) and grammar rules.
    physics radius history architecture educate algebra
  • 26. The British Isles
    • English is now the official language imposed on the whole of Great Britain and also taken to Ireland .
    • More regional languages ( Welsh and Pictish ) are pushed away and nearly disappeared.
  • 27. The British Empire
    • Britain is now a powerful nation and begins its colonial expansion .
    • North America was the first colony but later many more territories were incorporated to the Empire.
  • 28. The British Empire By 1870 67% of non-European countries are British .
  • 29. Other languages
    • The expansion of English worldwide meant contact with other languages that gave more new words to English:
    tea tornado sauna tattoo yatch futon boomerang pasta
  • 30. Lingua Franca
    • Today English is an international language for communication with more than 1,000 million speakers:
    • 400 m as native speakers
    • 600 m as second language speakers
  • 31. Varieties of English
    • English has different variations in every country (British, American, Australian…) and also more local dialects (Brummie, Geordie, Cockney… in the UK)
    • American English is no doubt the predominant one (TV, cinema, music, the Internet…)
  • 32. Future of English
    • English will probably be the international language in the future.
    • Today’s communication prevents the breaking up of English into different languages.
  • 33. Brief History of English José A. Alcalde López