Based on the situations presented, determine whether the
language change in English was caused by geographic/social
isolation, language privileging (overt or covert prestige),
cultural change, or language contact.
 Single ancestral
 6,000 – 4,000 BC
 Europe and India
 Nomadic
Over time, nomadic
groups of these
speakers slowly
separated from each
other moving in
different directions.
Over many generations
they began to develop
their own unique
What was the cause of this language change?
 Germanic
 Celtic
 Romance
 Slavic
 Baltic
 Albanian
 Greek
 Armenian
 Indo-Iranian
 Italic
 Slavic
Over time, the
Germanic speakers
subdivided and moved
to different locations.
Some Germanic
speakers eventually
found their way into a
land that we now call
What was the cause of this language change?
 Germanic tribes called the Angles,
Saxons, and Jutes were hired by the
Celts to move into this land
(England) and protect them in
 The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes saw
how weak the Celts were and
decided to stay permanently.
 There were two Indo-European
languages being used in this land
before the Germanic tribes arrived:
Celtic and Latin.
 The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes spoke
West Germanic.
 The Celts could not defend
themselves against the
Germanic tribes.
 Over the next hundred years,
more and more Germanic tribes
arrived eventually taking over
the whole land.
 Soon, the Angles, Saxons, and
Jutes ruled all of what we now
call England and their language
developed into Old English.
 Old English became the
language of the land and not
Celtic and Latin.
 The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes developed their
language into Old English which was the first form of
English ever recorded.
 They were more powerful than the Celts and therefore
their languages died out.
What was the cause of this language change?
 Just like there are different
varieties and dialects of
American English, there
were different varieties of
Old English.
 Northumbria, Mercia, East
Anglia, Essex, Wessex,
Kent, and Sussex
 597 AD the Romans spread
Christianity in England
Romans spoke Latin at that time
Romans taught Anglo-Saxons
Latin words so that they could
keep up in church services
Also taught them words about
products and practices in their
Old English’s vocabulary grew a
lot to include Latin words they
learned from missionaries
Words in English adopted during time spent with
Latin-speaking Romans in 597 AD:
Church words
Other words
What was the cause of this language change?
In modern American English today we typically add an -s or an
–es onto the end of words to show that they are plural (e.g., dogs
and busses). Latin uses an –i to signify this. This Latin form is
still in some modern words today.
Latin plural ending
American English pattern
Many speakers now are beginning to use modern American
English endings like –es instead of the Latin –i.
What was the cause of this language change?
 The Normans took control of all of England in 1066
 The Normans spoke Norman French.
 End of Old English period
 Normans were upper class, English were lower class
 English did the work and Normans ruled the land
 Many Englishmen who worked with the upper class
Normans were forced to learn French to survive and
find work
What was the cause of this language change?
 English was not outlawed and was
still spoken in the homes of the
 Out of the Norman invasion,
MIDDLE ENGLISH developed as
French and English were spoken in
such close proximity to each other
 English today has many words and
influences of French because of this
What was the cause of this language change?
 200 years later the first king to speak English fluently
is crowned
 By 1489, French is eliminated as the language of
 This begins the Early Modern English period
English emerged as the
national language of
 Literature translated into speech of everyday people
 People began to learn how to read
 Printing press invented making inexpensive printed works for
everyone to read
 Englishmen began to become proud of their country and their
 The middle class rose to be more active in local and national
What was the cause of this language change?
 In the 1500s many Europeans, including Englishmen,
Spaniards, and Portuguese, began exploring the New
World (modern day United States)
 In 1607 they established the colony in Jamestown and
there began the first colony in the United States of
 This began the formation
 The English colonists then lived an ocean away from
their homeland, England.
 They began associating only with each other and
forming their own variety of language.
What was the cause of this language change?
 In the New World, English colonists were constantly
exploring new plants, animals, foods, people, and ways
of life like farming.
 The world of England that the colonists once new was
replaced with new sights and smells that they would
need to learn to describe because the language they
had in English was not adequate enough to explain it.
What was the cause of this language change?
 One of the ways they described these new things were
by borrowing words from the Native Americans.
 Words like chipmunk, Eskimo, moose, opossum,
pecan, and raccoon described animals, food, and
people that the colonists had never come in contact
with before. They had to learn new words to describe
the new world around them.
What were the THREE causes of this language change?
 Each team will be asked to answer 2 of the previous 10
questions at random.
Please select one member of the group to provide the
Right answer = 10 points
Wrong answer = -5 points
If a group answers the question wrong, the first team
to raise their hand may steal the question for 5 points
by answering it correctly.
 Geographic and social isolation
 Proto-indo-european nomadic groups of people moved
away from each other and formed their own languages,
communities, and cultures
 Geographic and social isolation
 Indo-european groups of people moved away from each
other and formed their own languages (Germanic,
Celtic, Slavic), communities, and cultures
 Language privileging
 Because the Germanic tribes were stronger and more
power, the use of Celtic and Latin died out and Old
English was formed to become the language of the land.
 Language contact
 Old English acquired many words and forms from Latin
because of close contact
 Latin became the formal language of education and
reading in England
 Internal Change
 The use of –i to signify plural nouns is a Latin form
dying out in modern American English.
 Speakers have unconsciously begun to abandon this
form because using –es to signify plural nouns is more
logical, regular, and fits the pattern of modern American
 Language privileging
 French was forced on the English during the Norman
Conquest because the Normans overtook England
 French was the privileged language in government
institutions because the Normans had the power
 Language Contact
 The English were not forced to give up their language so
French and English were spoken in the country
 Cultural change
 Changes such as English nationalism and the printing
press encouraged middle and lower classes to read and
have a voice in society using the everyday language as
the Standard
 Geographic & Social Isolation
 The explorers settled in the New World and set up
colonies to begin a life here. This distanced themselves
thousands of miles away from other English speakers.
 Cultural Change
 They also had an entire new landscape to explore, new
customs to create, and a new way of life to describe.
 Language Contact
 The settlers came into contact with Native Americans
who had their own way of describing life in North
America and the colonists integrated this language into
their own.
 Name any TWO things that could have influenced
American English since the 1600s into what it has
become today.
 You must identify THE CAUSE OF THAT LANGUAGE
 Think of languages with which it has come in contact.
 Think of cultural changes that have changed the way we
 Think of the privileging of one social group, one
language or one dialect over another.
 Think of the geography of the United States and what
divides social groups.
 Think of language patterns that have irregularities that
speakers are beginning to abandon.
Geographic/Social Isolation
• Movement into mountains or coastal
areas (islands)
• Movement out West (Gold Rush)
Cultural Changes
• Immigration (Chinese, Irish, Italian,
African, etc.)
• Technology (radio, TV, internet, cell
phones, etc.)
• Fashion (t-shirt, jeans, mini-skirts,
shoes, etc.)
• Politics (prohibition, political parties,
laws, constitution, etc.)
• Education (integration, public v.
private schools, etc.)
Language Privileging
• Privileging American English over
British English (after American
•Privileging American English over
immigrant speech (Spanish, Irish, etc.)
•Privileging current Standard English
over other varieties (African American
English, Appalachian English, etc.)
Language Contact
• African languages (slavery)
• Spanish (Spanish – American war,
• Native American languages
(exploration of New World)
• German (immigration)
• Italian (immigration)
Internal Change
• Plurals (oxen v. oxes, deer v. deers)
• Third person singular –s absence (she walks v. she walk, he stops v. he stop)

Name That Language Change Culprit!