A Short History Of How The English Language Came To Be

The English language has not always been the way it is today. It has developed over hundreds and hundreds of years to reach its current state. If you are already taking English lessons in Singapore, it might also interest you to know a short history on the origins of this language.

English has originated from the language of West Germany and includes some dialects of Anglo Frisian as well. It was first spoken during early medieval England, where “early medieval” meant a period in time. The word “English” has been derived from the word “Angles” which refers to a Germanic tribe that moved from Germany to England.

English can be categorised into five different categories according to their time and pronunciation, and those categories are:

1. Latin English

It is the earliest form of English mainly inspired by Roman Language and the English we speak today are mostly inspired by Latin words.

Some examples are “Human, Animal, Dental, decimal, digital, factory, library, manual and solar”.

2. Old English

It is another form of English, where Anglo-Saxon settlers brought the dialects of Anglo-Frisian into Great Britain during the 5th century. The pronunciation of old English is quite different from modern English that we use today.

About 85% of the words of old English are no longer in use today. A few examples of the words from the Germanic language that are still being used are “above, again, cake, eat and drink”.

3. Middle English

It began in the late 11th century with the victory of Norman tribe from France, who conquered England and during this period the English language got immensely influenced by the French Language.

Some of the words used in English today that have French origin are for example “beef, pork, veal, continue, liberty, justice, people and very”.

4. Early Modern English

This began in the late 15th century together with the introduction of the first printing press in England and the King James Bible which was the most standard form of Bible printed.

5. Modern English

It is the form of English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift that took place in England. It begins in the late 15th century, and it is the latest version of English that we use today.

The English language became famous in the world due to the British Empire that was spread across the globe from the 17th century to the mid-20th century.

During this period, British Emperors formed colonies in different parts of the world, and local personalities learned the English language. But after the 2nd World War, they become weak, and their colonies started to diminish around the globe. However, imprints of the English language remained in places where the colonies were once formed.

The vocabulary of the English language is mainly derived from the Frisian language and was also influenced by three different languages.

The first one is the German language, Norse, and most of the words are originated from that language. The second one is the Latin language, and the third one is the Romance Language or New Latin language, which is not a standard Latin language.

The English language has a vast vocabulary because every year it adopts different words from different languages and makes them a part of the English dictionary.

For example, words like “balcony, bungalow, shampoo and guru” are adopted from foreign countries. The English language also became famous for being the main language of the world’s superpower country, the United States of America. It has now been greatly influenced by American English.

Today, English is one of the most spoken languages worldwide. And now you’ve had a glimpse of its history, you can gain a better appreciation and understanding when taking English courses in Singapore.


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