Summary Slide
First Invasions
The Beginning of English
Viking Invasions
Middle English
The Great Vowel Shift
Modern English
The Roman Invasions
55 b.C.—Julius Caesar invades Britain.
43 a.d.—Emperor Claudius conquers Britain.
Occupy Britain for nearly 400 years.
Founded cities
Built walls, baths, roads, theaters
Intermarried with Celts.
Place names—Lancaster, Manchester,
Winchester, London, Bath
Latin becomes the prestige
language of education
and social life
Roman Empire is threatened by invading
Germanic tribes.
410 a.d.—Emperor Honorius summons all
Roman troops back to Rome.
Celtic tribes in Britain are left
defenseless against future
So what language is being used
in British Isles at this time?
Celtic languages—the native language of the
Latin—the language of Rome was the
prestige language.
Written language
Anglo-Saxon Invasions
With the Romans gone, a power
vacuum existed
Germanic tribes from the mainland soon
began to fill that vacuum.
450 a.d. By this time Angles, Saxons,
Jutes, and Frisians have a firm foothold
in Britain
Celts are conquered and/or driven out
The Beginning of English
What we know as English today begins
with these Germanic invasions.
The word English comes from Angles
Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is an early
form of German
Old English (450-1150 a.d.)
Four dialects emerge
West Saxon
West Saxon
Most important OE dialect
Most OE literature is in West Saxon
Dialect of King Alfred (d. 899)
Dialect of government and church
Return of Latin
597 a.d. Roman Church sends St.
Augustine to England
England is Christianized
Latin is the language of the church
Latin once again becomes prominent in
Latin is the written language of the time
So what language is being used in
British Isles at this time?
Various dialects of Old English
All these dialects are forms of German
These dialects also adopt some words
from Celtic languages and from Latin
Viking Invasions
Most powerful people of their time
793 a.d. Vikings invade England
Eventually, Vikings control much of
This area is called the Danelaw
Anglo-Saxons continued to control
much of the south
Alfred the Great
So what language is being used
in British Isles at this time?
Various dialects of Old English
These dialects continue to be influenced
by Latin and Celtic
They are also now influenced by
Scandinavian languages
Where do words come from?
Anglo-Saxon words: to, and, for, in, man,
wife, child, fight, love, sleep, eat, house,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Latin words: altar, monk, preach, priest,
hymn, noon, candle, offer
Viking words: lift, take, give, husband, sky,
dirt, skull, leg, rotten, crawl, clasp
Here come the French! Here
come the French!
1066 a.d. William the Conqueror
invades from Normandy, France
Brings 600 ships and 10 to 12 thousand
Defeats King Harold
at the Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings
What Changes?
William the Conqueror was French
He did not speak English
French now becomes the language of
the government and aristocracy
For the next 300 years all English
royalty speak only French
Common folk speak English
Church speaks Latin and French
So what language is being used
in British Isles at this time?
Common folk speak English, which is slowly
simplifying its form (losing tense and verb
endings, etc)
English is also adopting many, many French
Upper class folk speak French
Church speaks French and Latin
Latin and French are also written languages
Middle English (1150-1500)
Grammar is simplified
Case and number endings are reduced
Fixed word order is developed
Word order dictates meaning
Chaucer first major writer to use English
So what language is being used
in British Isles at this time?
Middle English, in various dialects, is
now dominant
French begins to disappear from the
Latin remains prominent among the
French Words: action, adventure,
marriage, power, vision, beef, venison,
honest, prefer, master, court, crown
Almost half of modern English
vocabulary comes from Latin and
The Great Vowel Shift
(1450-1550 a.d.)
Middle English looks a lot like Modern
But it sounds a lot different
Between the mid fifteenth century and
the mid sixteenth century all this
This is called the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift (continued)
Why does this happen?
Nobody knows for sure
What happened?
Six vowel sounds changed pronunciation
For example:
Middle English “five” was pronounced “feeve”
Middle English “house” was pronounced
Middle English “reed” was pronounced “raid”
Great Vowel Shift (continued)
Middle English also pronounced the
vowel e at the end of words
For example: “sweete” was pronounced as
two syllables “swait”-”uh”
The Great Vowel Shift changes all this.
Modern English
By the end of the 16th century, we have
Modern English
William Shakespeare and company are
about to show the world what wonders
can be worked with this language
Spelling has yet to be standardized
But that’s another story entirely!