English language is naturally considered to be one of the oldest languages today.
It is a language not only use in England but also in dominions and colonies incorporated in the British Empire. The language is spoken by over 400 million people around the world. In a recent survey conducted, English-speaking people comprise about one tenth of the world’s population.However, it is not the largest spoken language in the world.
The Chinese hold the most number of people speaking their language (Mandarin) with about 650 million people (Wells, 123).Moreover, the significance of English language is not alone a subject of numbers or territory; it also based on the significance of the people who speak it. The significance of a language is certainly incorporated in the mind of the world with the political role participated by the countries using it and their authority in the international affairs.Today, the English language is considered to be the mother language of languages.
It is combined with political authority, economic reliability, commercial activity, social welfare, scientific research and cultural contributions to civilization that give remarkable support to its numerical superiority (Smith, 5).History of English LanguageHistorically, the English language begins in the British Isles, where the language eventually settled and expanded. During the time when the English language was spoken in Europe, it was know as the ‘pre-Old English,’ for it was only after the English separated themselves from their Germanic cousins.English language settles with the influx of three Germanic tribes who overrun Britain during the 5th century AD (Algeo, 2005). These tribes were the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes who crossed the North Sea (Denmark) and Northern Germany during the period when the natives spoke a Celtic language.But the majority of the Celtics Speakers were moved to west and north by the invaders mainly in now Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Since the Angles came from Englaland and their language their language was named as ‘Englisc’ (derived from the words England and English).The Old English PeriodOld English is a term representing the structure of English language used in England for approximately seven centuries (450–1150 AD). Like Latin, it is a synthetic language rather than analytic one (modern English); it relies on inflections (endings) on words to indicate their meaning in the sentence (Patten, 93).The term Old English, although signifies a distinctive form of English language, covers a broad range of linguistic usage.
This particular period was marked by gigantic changes including social, political and cultural. Thus, the evolution in the use of the vernacular from the orality to literacy was attended by a succession of other transitions affecting Old English.A useful framework to the development of the Old English language is provided by five historical events and each had an importance linguistic allusions. First, the invasion of Britain by the Germanic peoples who became the Anglo-Saxons can be associated to the ensuing dialectal diversity which was said to be a characteristic of this period of language.
Second, the coming of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England in 597 AD made accessible to Roman alphabet for Old English writing.Third, the supremacy of King Alfred the Great in the West Saxon Kingdom (871-99 AD) whom formed culture and civilization in which Old English is renowned as language of prestige and status on its own right. Fourth, the Benedictine Reform on the second half of the tenth century that led indirectly to the establishment of an old English literary language.Lastly, the Norman Conquest (1066 AD) precipitated in the language which would turn it eventually towards the Middle English (Alegeo, 234).The Middle English PeriodMiddle English (Barbara Strang) is the dialectal phase of English language. This is for the reason that the period of dialectal variation was presented in writings and eventually in ideological concerns which have highlighted the writings of dialects in consequent times.
Moreover, it is significant to recognize the developments within the period, and to evaluate also that some elements of Middle English had been manifested in other periods.Consequently, there was type of class division during this period; the family of lower classes used English while the upper classes family spoke French. However, in 14th century, English became the major language again although there are several French words added and this was primarily the language they called the Middle English.The dialects of this Middle English were natural growths of those existing in Old English period.
Instead of Northumbrian, Northern was used in the Middle English period; like Midland took the place of Mercian and Southern. Moreover, Kentish held its name, although it was sometimes included in the more universal name of Southern English.The writings for these dialects were numerous especially in the Southern and Midland since the literature of the Middle English period is broad. This is for the reason that no attempt will be formulated to mention more than a few typical examples like Lives of St. Katherine and St.
Juliana, Ancren Riwle or Rule of Nuns and others.The Period of Early Modern EnglishTowards the last era of Middle English period, an abrupt and discrete transformation in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) began, with vowels being manifested shorter and shorter. At the start of the 16th century, the British had contacted with many peoples all around the world. This period is also renowned as the Renaissance of Classical learning (Roseberry and O’Hanlon).This indicates that many words and phrases had entered into the language.
Moreover, the invention of printers indicates that there was a common language to be used by many individuals. Books and other printing materials became cheaper and more people discovered to read. Printing also conveyed standardization of English language.Spelling and grammar became secured and the vernacular of London was considered to be the most publishing houses standard. Thus, in 1604 the first English dictionary was distributed.The Period of Late Modern EnglishThe primary distinction between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is presence of vocabulary since it has been used all over the world.
It has adapted more words that mainly arise from two major factors: first, Industrial Revolution and advancement in technology built new-fangled words, and secondly, the British Empire was as it height in invading almost one fourth of the earth’s regions. For this reason, the English language was adopted many foreign words from countries they invaded.Varieties of English LanguageThe British Empire colonization in North America resulted in the formation of a discrete American variety of English America. In several means, American English is more similar to the English used by Shakespeare than modern British English.For this reason, some expressions that the British calls as “Americanisms” are considered to be British expressions that were conserved in their colonies (Ammon, 45). A much concrete example of these were; trash was used instead of rubbish, loan was used as verb replacing lend, fall for autumn and many other.
Spanish Language also influenced the English, adopting the words ranch, canyon, vigilante and stampede.The invasion of these Spanish words has entered English through the defrayal of the American West. Moreover, French words also contributed in the English through Louisiana and West African words entered through the slave trade period.Today, two major national varieties of English emerge in historical preference, in number of speakers and influence. These are the United Kingdom and the United States – British English and American English.These two countries are accountable for more than 400 millions of speakers of English; United States leading the number with approximately four times the population of the United Kingdom.
Other nations in which English is the primary language are Canada, Australia, India, the Irish Republic, South Africa and New Zealand.But English is also been an official language in other parts of the Americas such as West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize and the Falklands.In Europe English is practiced in Malta and Gibraltar; in Africa such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mauritius, Malawi, Madagascar, Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, Gambia and Cameroon; in Asia including Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Hong Kong;And in Oceania such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Borneo (Algeo, 210). English also plays an important role in many other countries around the world as a commercial, technical or cultural language.
Despite its enormous geographical spread, English in its entire national varieties has remained extremely uniform. Although there are differences between national varieties, their differences are insignificant compared with the similarities. English is unmistakably one language, with two major national varieties: American and British.ConclusionsIn this research paper, English is noted to be influential today due to the United States dominance of television, cinema, trade, popular music and technology including the internet.Although it originated in Britain, United States surpassed the influence of the language as it is today.
More studies also go beyond description that they attempt to explain today; how prevalence and dominance English has come about.Various historical events were analyzed to show how English became the world modest language of today’s generation. It has a broad amount of words not found in any technical and social nature of other languages. Thus, it can be concluded that English is a very powerful language that every countries are now studying because they are aware of the benefits it will bring to their nations.
Works CitedAlgeo, John. The Origins and Development of the English Language. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning. 6th Ed. 2010.Ammon, Ulrich.
The Dominance of English: Effect on other Languages and Language Communities. Mouton de Gruyter, 2001.English and Mind Development. The Washington Times. April 20 2004.
Patten, Simon N. The development of English Thought: A study of the Economic Interpretation of History. The McMillan Company: 2nd. Ed. 1999.
Roseberry, Celeste and O’ Hanlon, Laureen. Non Biased Assesment of History of English as a Language. Communication Disorders Quarterly. Vol 26, 2005.
Smith, Kweku. A history of English Language. Contemporary Review, Vol. 288, Winter 2006.Wells, John C.
History of English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2007.