The evolution of language


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The evolution of language

  1. 1. The Evolution of Language Old English to Middle English to Today
  2. 2. Beginnings of the English Language <ul><li>England was originally part of the Roman Empire, so Latin and Greek were spoken in the area </li></ul><ul><li>When the Empire collapses, the native Britons go back to using their own regional dialects </li></ul><ul><li>In the 400s, each group of people living in what is now England had their own language; the dialects were close enough for each to understand the other </li></ul>
  3. 3. Settlements in Britain (approx 600 AD) Jutes Saxons Angles Native Britons
  4. 4. A Change is Coming <ul><li>In the 800s, the Vikings arrive (mostly from Denmark) and settle with the Anglo-Saxons on the east coast </li></ul><ul><li>Their language was different enough for two things to happen: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Many Old Norse words entered into English (like “they” and “them”) </li></ul><ul><li>2. Complex structure of language becomes more simplistic, because people now argued about which form of the language to use </li></ul>
  5. 5. Elements of Old English (approx 400-1050) <ul><li>Anglo-Saxon or Old English was pronounced quite differently from Modern English </li></ul><ul><li>P, b, t, d, m, n, l, and r were pronounced as they are today </li></ul><ul><li>The letters k, q, v, x, and z were not used </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion of distinctly unmodern letters thorn ( þ ) and eth ( ð ).  Both were pronounced like the “th” in thin, unless between vowels, in which case they were pronounced like the “th” in then.   </li></ul>
  6. 6. Examples of Old English <ul><li>Min nama is Michael -- My name is Michael. </li></ul><ul><li>Hwæt eart þu? -- Who are you? </li></ul><ul><li>Wel þu writst -- You write well. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Side by Side Comparison <ul><li>Old English Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>ic      </li></ul><ul><li>wé    </li></ul><ul><li>þú      </li></ul><ul><li>gé       </li></ul><ul><li>hé      </li></ul><ul><li>héo     </li></ul><ul><li>hit    </li></ul><ul><li>híe </li></ul><ul><li>Modern Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>I </li></ul><ul><li>we </li></ul><ul><li>-- </li></ul><ul><li>you </li></ul><ul><li>he </li></ul><ul><li>she </li></ul><ul><li>it </li></ul><ul><li>they </li></ul>
  8. 8. Beowulf <ul><li>Old English secular poem </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymous author </li></ul><ul><li>Set in Denmark </li></ul><ul><li>Danish king sent for the hero Beowulf to save his people from the vicious attacks of a monster named Grendel. </li></ul><ul><li>Only surviving manuscript of its time period (approx 1010 AD) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Page of Beowulf Manuscript
  10. 10. The Most Important Date - 1066 <ul><li>William the Conqueror invades from Normandy (the Norman Invasion); he brings with him a dialect of French </li></ul><ul><li>French words are introduced into the language (like “maison”) </li></ul><ul><li>The grammar rules get easier still </li></ul>
  11. 11. Middle English (approx 1150-1475) <ul><li>Change in language from Old to Middle English caused partially by William the Conqueror’s invasion </li></ul><ul><li>French is a big influence </li></ul><ul><li>Spelling remains inconsistent – based on writer’s dialect </li></ul>
  12. 12. Who Speaks What? <ul><li>English = commoners </li></ul><ul><li>French = aristocracy, monarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Latin = clergy </li></ul><ul><li>Greek = philosophers, scientists, medical practitioners </li></ul>
  13. 13. Side by Side Comparison <ul><li>Late Middle English Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>I      </li></ul><ul><li>we      </li></ul><ul><li>thou    </li></ul><ul><li>ye      </li></ul><ul><li>he      </li></ul><ul><li>she    </li></ul><ul><li>hit     </li></ul><ul><li>they </li></ul><ul><li>Modern Pronouns </li></ul><ul><li>I </li></ul><ul><li>we </li></ul><ul><li>-- </li></ul><ul><li>you </li></ul><ul><li>he </li></ul><ul><li>she </li></ul><ul><li>it </li></ul><ul><li>they </li></ul>
  14. 14. Geoffrey Chaucer (early 1340s – 1400) <ul><li>Made a crucial contribution to English literature in using English at a time when much court poetry was still written in Anglo-Norman or Latin </li></ul><ul><li>Born in London to prosperous wine merchants </li></ul><ul><li>Educated and spoke a variety of languages – French, Latin, and Italian </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Canterbury Tales <ul><li>Written mostly between 1392-1395 </li></ul><ul><li>Depicts a pilgrimage of about 30 travelers on their way to shrine of St. Thomas á Becket </li></ul><ul><li>On the way, they amuse themselves by telling stories </li></ul><ul><li>Stories are linked by conversations between travelers that reveal a lot about the characters </li></ul>