A Study of English
from 1066 to the present
Prepared by
Brenda White, Communication Arts Dept.
Joplin High School, Joplin, Mo.
July 2006
Topics of Study
Language and Communication
History of the English Language
English: Old, Middle, and Modern
American English
Ozark Dialect
Acquiring Language
Sounds and Sound Production
Do Animals Have Language?
Language and
Seven Characteristics of Language
Use these to decide whether something is a language.
• It can change and adapt as required.
• You can speak to and be understood by others who know
that language.
• It relates sounds or gestures to meanings.
• It can negate, ask questions, and refer to the past or future.
• It is acquired without external instruction.
• It is used creatively rather than in response to internal or
external stimuli.
• It has symbols that have discrete meanings.
Terms and Definitions
Linguistics: the science that is concerned with the natures of
human languages, their grammars and use
Alphabet: a series of symbols where each symbol represents a
designated sound or gesture
Arbitrary: in linguistics, it describes the property of language,
including sign language, whereby there is no natural or intrinsic
relationship between the way a word is pronounced or signed and its
meaning. (i.e., If language weren’t arbitrary, every language would
have the same words for the same meanings.)
Grammar: Everything a speaker knows about a language. It includes
what the speaker knows about syntax, semantics, and lexicon.
Orthography: the written form of a language; spelling
Discussion, Inquiry
? How are language and communication different?
? Which came first and why do you think that?
? How did people communicate before spoken language?
? Is pointing language? Are grunts? Are drawings? Why or
why not?
? Is ASL a language? Why do you think that?
? Who makes the rules?
Types of Communication
•Interactional Language is used primarily to establish and
maintain social relations. You attend a party and begin “small talk”
to those around you. You talk about the weather, sports, etc.
These subjects are fairly predictable conversational topics, and
their primary purpose is to establish and maintain social bridges
and relationships.
•Transactional Language has a much different purpose than
interactional language. It is used to transmit knowledge, skills, or
information. It is message-oriented because its purpose is to
create a change in the listener’s knowledge.
Write down an example of each type of language that you have
experienced recently.
Types of Communication
•Direct (intentional) communication deals with meaning -statements that provide few alternative understandings: “Norm
caught a 5-pound black bass.” “Sally lived in Israel for six months.”
Direct communication is common and offers few challenges.
•Indirect (inferential) communication provides more alternative
understandings. A friend is wearing one black and one brown sock.
What are some possible meanings you can ascribe to this
observation? Your friend is a sloppy dresser? Your friend is
colorblind? Your friend dressed in the dark? Your friend has a pile of
dirty clothes and had only two unmatched but clean socks in the
dresser drawer? Indirect communication often involves metaphors or
idioms. “You’re way off base.” “That assignment is a piece of cake.”
Write down an example of each type of language that you have
experienced recently.
Be a Linguist:
Language and Communication
On the following pages you will find quotes about language
and communication. Your task is to choose two of the
quotes that are similar or opposed so that they can be
discussed. Write a long paragraph that discusses those
quotations, their meanings, their implications, their
applications. Discuss them in terms of communication
and/or language.
Print your work. Be sure your name and hour are on the
This goes into your Linguistics portfolio, which will be
submitted at the end of the course.
A few words about words
1. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
- Anonymous
2. Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing.
- Anonymous
3. Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.
- Anonymous
4. It’s not what you tell them, it’s what they hear.
- Red Auerback
5. Heaven, n: A place where the wicked cease from
troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the
good listen with attention while you expound your own.
- Ambrose Bierce
More words about words …
6. Language is the biggest barrier to human progress
because language is an encyclopedia of ignorance. Old
perceptions are frozen into language and force us to look
at the world in an old-fashioned way.
- Edward de Bono
7. There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we
have contact with the world. We are evaluated and
classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we
look, what we say, and how we say it.
- Dale Carnegie
8. To have another language is to possess a second soul.
- Charlemagne
9. From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is
something up with which I will not put.
- Winston Churchill
More words about words …
10. Language is a city to the building of which every human
being brought a stone.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at
any moment.
- Ira Gassen
12. Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body.
- Martha Graham
13. Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce
as those over IBM versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke
versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs. Jack Lynch
14. Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The final words about words
15. England and America are two countries divided by a
common language.
- George Bernard Shaw
16. Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to
- Lily Tomlin
17. Numbers constitute the only universal language.
- Nathanael West
18. English usage is sometimes more than mere taste,
judgment and education -- sometimes it’s sheer
luck, like getting across the street.
- E. B. White
of the Englis
Language Map
oWhere in the world is
oTimeline of English
oBe a Linguist
One of many languages in the world
English is descended from the Germanic branch of the
Indo-European Languages.
• By virtue of the prominence of the countries (chiefly
U.S. and Britain) who speak it, English is currently the
Lingua Franca.
• Lingua Franca refers to the language that is recognized
globally and is used for international travel and
international commerce.
• Many other countries in the world teach English to all
their students as a required subject.
• Before English, French was the Lingua Franca.
Indo-European Language Chart
Germanic Stem
World Map of IE Languages
The nations surrounded by the red line are Indo-European-speaking nations. Many of the
nations were introduced to English when they were British colonies. Some were introduced
to the IE family through France or Spain, however. This is an approximate map. There are,
of course, indigenous languages such as Native American, Australian aboriginal languages
and others. The red border in central Europe excludes Hungary. Finland and Estonia are
not IE-speaking languages, although they are surrounded by other countries who are.
Indo-European Language Tree, Centum
Using the website above, write the answers to the following questions.
How many languages from this branch are extinct?
How is it that Latin is technically an extinct language but is still in use?
How much of Ireland speaks the Irish Gaelic language?
The Hittite language was spoken in what modern country?
True or False. Austrians speak Modern High German.
Afrikaans is spoken chiefly in what part of Africa?
Besides Denmark, Danish is spoken in what country?
True or False. The boot heel of Italy speaks Modern Greek.
Name three countries who once spoke now-extinct Gothic.
True or False. Part of Norway speaks Icelandic.
Cornish was spoken only in what country?
The origin and spread of Proto-Indo-European languages is either hypothetical or substantiated. Which is it?
Spanish is spoken in how many identifiable areas of the world?
Which South American country speaks Portuguese?
True or False. The three Frisian languages are easily understood by all speakers.
Swedish is spoken in what other country’s capital?
Norwegian is spoken on what island?
Provencal is spoken mostly in the southern region of what country?
What entire continent besides North America speaks English?
Name the nine languages descended from Latin that are not extinct.
Modern Greek descends from what major branch of Proto-Indo-European?
Afrikaans, English, Modern High German, and Danish all descend from what main branch of Proto-Indo-European?
What major branches of Proto-Indo-European are extinct?
Name the path of English beginning with Proto-Indo-European.
Is English more like Modern High German or Modern Low German?
1066: the Norman Conquest
or Why We Could Be Speaking French
Back in 1066, the Norman French successfully invaded
England. From that time until the Normans were
defeated a few hundred years later, the aristocratic
class in England spoke French. The working class,
however, stuck with English. Many, many new words
were formed at that time, a mix between French and
English. Many of our words today came from that
mixing and adapting of languages. 1066 is the unofficial
end of Old English and the beginning of Middle English.
Timeline of the English Language
The earliest known residents of the British Isles were the Celts who spoke Celtic languages -- a
separate branch of the Indo-European language family tree. Over the centuries the British Isles
were invaded and conquered by various people, who brought their languages and customs with
them as they settled in their new lives. There is now very little Celtic influence left in English.
The earliest time when we can say that English was spoken was in the 5th century CE (common
era - a politically-correct term used to replace AD).
FYI, “England” from “Enga Land” from “Angle Land” (Land of the Angles, a people of northern
Germany). Their name lives on in the district of England named East Anglia and also in the
Anglican Church.
There are many different types of dictionaries. The
ones we are most familiar with give us information
about particular words. Reading a dictionary entry
gives us:
Part(s) of speech
Common usage
Type of word
Oxford English Dictionary entries are somewhat
different. Besides all the above information, the
OED gives the complete history of the word all the
way back to its first recorded use.
Be A Linguist
History of the English Language
•This class has access to the OED online.
•Choose a word. The more interesting the word, the
better. Do not choose an everyday word.
•Your task is to find that word in the OED, and write a
short report (one page or less) including all the following
information about the word: original use, meaning; current
use, meaning; etymology; use in a sentence with current
•Put this document in your Linguistics portfolio. Be sure
to include your name and hour.
•Your word should be interesting and appropriate.
Old, Middle, and Modern
Beowulf to the Internet
New Words
Be a Linguist
Middle English
English in History
Old English - mid-fifth century to mid-twelfth
Old English
Middle English - approximately 1066 to the
mid- to late-15th century Middle English
Modern English is continually changing.
New Words in English
Why does Language Change?
There are no exact times for the end of one era of English and the beginning of another. The
language gradually melded from one to the next. People didn’t wake up on New Year’s Day,
1200, and start speaking Middle English. Let’s take William Shakespeare as an example. He
lived during the infancy of Modern English, and that is one thing that makes his works
sometimes difficult for us understand: he is using mostly Modern English, but there is enough
Middle English leftover in his word endings and sentence constructions that it sometimes throws
us off. But Shakespeare didn’t sit around and wait for the language to change. He invented
thousands of new words which he used in his plays.
What shapes the change of one language period to another? The speakers do. New words are
coined. New inventions spark new vocabulary. New people invade your country and take over.
People do new things; new stuff happens. Some changes are subtle, some aren’t.
New Words that have entered the
language in the last 50 years
HINT: What happened in history that might have contributed new words?
Do NOT use commercial words (e.g., iPhone)
Integrated Circuit
Be A Linguist
Old, Middle, and Modern English
Image search “Old English Manuscripts”
Print the best example. Label it.
• Image search “Middle English Manuscripts”
Print the best example. Label it.
• Image search “Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales”
Print the best example of writing and your
favorite art work. Label them.
• Image search “Modern English Manuscripts” and
find a modern translation alongside an older
type of manuscript. Print and label it.
•Save this document to your Linguistics portfolio.
Pidgin and Creole
Be a Grammarian
Be a Linguist
Dialect Vocabulary
IDIOLECT – The unique characteristics of an individual speaker
DIALECT – Mutually intelligible variety of a language that differs in
systematic ways from other varieties
DIALECT AREA – A geographic area defined by the predominant use of
a particular variety of language
DIALECT LEVELING – Movement toward greater uniformity or decrease
in variations among dialects; regularization of dialects
COMMUNICATIVE ISOLATION – Describes limited or no contact
between speakers of the same language
ACCENT - Characteristic of speech that conveys information about a
person’s dialect; characteristic of the speech of someone who is not a
native speaker
Idiolect? Dialect?
speakers can talk and be understood by other
English speakers, yet no two speak exactly alike.
Each has their own IDIOLECT.
might be based on age, sex, size,
speech rates, emotional state, state of health, or
whether English is a first language (L1).
dialect is not an inferior or degraded form of a
language. In fact, a language is a collection of
How do dialects develop?
develop when people who all speak one language are separated
geographically or socially.
•Dialects develop when the linguistic changes that occur in one area do
not necessarily spread to another.
•Dialects occur within a group, linguistic changes occur, and those
changes spread and are then learned by the next generation.
•When a physical or social barrier exists – mountain, river, ocean,
political, racial, or religious – linguistic changes do not spread easily and
dialect differences are reinforced.
•A change that occurs in one region and fails to spread to another
region gives rise to REGIONAL DIALECT. Each regional dialect has its
own “character” or “flavor”
•Changes in grammar take place gradually and spread slowly. Change
takes place over several generations of speakers.
•Dialect differences tend to increase proportionately to the degree of
COMMUNICATIVE ISOLATION. Today, even far-flung groups are
more likely to communicate than earlier in history.
U.S. Dialect Regions
Dialects: the American Way
By the time of the American Revolution, there were three
main dialect areas in the Colonies: Northern dialect, spoken in New
England and around the Hudson River; Midland dialect, spoken in
Pennsylvania; and Southern dialect, spoken in areas south.
The characteristic dropped r (car – cah; farm – fahm) was
carried into these three dialect regions and remains today in Boston,
New York, and Savannah. These regions maintained close ties to
Southern England, who also had the dropped r in their dialect.
As settlers came from Northern England, where they did not
drop their r’s, and as westward expansion began in the United States,
the dialects merged and DIALECT LEVELING occurred in the West.
More waves of immigrants brought non-English speaking groups to the
United States who settled in various parts of the country. Their native
languages affected the dialect in that region.
“A language is
a dialect with
an army and a
navy.” – Max
Dialect? Language?
The rule of thumb is that when dialects become mutually
unintelligible, that is when the speakers of one dialect group can
no longer understand the speakers of another dialect group,
these dialects become different languages.
Mutually unintelligible is not easy to characterize.
---Danes (Danish), Norwegians (Norwegian) and Swedes (Swedish) can
all speak and be understood, although their languages have different
grammatical structures and are in different countries.
---Hindi (India) and Urdu (Pakistan) are about as different as British
English and American English.
---On the other hand, China’s two mutually-unintelligible main
languages, Mandarin and Cantonese, are often referred to as dialects
since they are spoken in the same country and share an alphabet.
---How about Cajun?
Which word is “correct”?
Regional dialects may differ in the words people use for the same
object, as illustrated by the following.
Do you call it a pail or a bucket? Do you draw water from a faucet or
a spigot? Do you pull down the blinds, the shades, or the curtains
when it gets dark? Do you wheel the baby, or do you ride it or roll it?
Is it a baby carriage, a buggy, a pram, a coach, or a cab?
People take a lift to the first floor in England, but an elevator to the
second floor in the United States. They get five gallons of petrol (not
gas) in London; in Britain, a public school is “private” (you have to
pay), and if a student showed up there wearing pants instead of
trousers he would be sent home to get dressed.
If you ask for a tonic in Boston you will get a drink called soda or
soda-pop in Los Angeles. A freeway in Los Angeles is a thruway in New
York, a parkway in New Jersey, a motorway in England, and an
expressway or turnpike in other dialect areas.
Language, like an alphabet, is ARBITRARY.
Banned Languages: You can’t say that!
Because of the belief that some languages are better or more desirable
than others, from time to time languages have been banned.
Cajun English and French were banned in Louisiana by practice until the 1980’s.
People report being punished in school for using these languages.
For many years, American Indian languages were banned in federal and state
schools on reservations.
A ban on speaking Korean in Korea was imposed by the Japanese during their
occupation of Korea between 1910 and 1945.
As recently as 2001, the New York Times reported that Singapore wanted its
citizens to speak English, not Singlish, a form of English with elements of Malay,
Tamil, Mandarin Chinese and other Chinese dialects.
A number of years ago in France, where an academy of scholars determined what
constitutes the “official French language”, they enacted a law forbidding the use
of Franglais (combination of French and English).
Revived Languages: Oh, yes I can!
Some languages have come back from the dead or near-dead.
Quebec speaks almost entirely French although the rest of
Canada speaks English.
Gaelic, or Irish, is making a comeback in hundreds of schools in
Ireland and Northern Ireland after being nearly gone from
regular use.
The Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel undertook the
most massive revival of a language ever in history. They sought
to resuscitate an ancient written language to serve the daily
everyday needs of the people. Twenty-three lexicologists worked
with the Bible and the Talmud to add new words to the language.
Pidgin & Creole
When people from different-speaking countries want to trade and need
to communicate, they use elements of both languages and create a
PIDGIN language, sometimes called a trade language.
Usually, a pidgin language takes on the grammatical rules of one or the
other of the two languages.
Although pidgin languages are used to communicate, they are generally
not good at expressing fine distinctions of meaning:
“I include pidgin English … even though I am referred to in that
splendid language as ‘Fella belong Mrs. Queen’.” – Prince Philip, husband
of Queen Elizabeth II
When a pidgin language is adopted by a community, forms its own
lexicon, grammatical structures and rules, and children learn it as their
first language, it is called a CREOLE language.
Be A Grammarian
Follow the link below where you will find a
website that has several articles about
dialects and language.
Choose one article. Print it if you need to.
Identify the main purpose of the article.
Identify all the main points of the article.
Comment on the contents of the article.
Compile your analysis in a logical, easy-toread format.
Be A Linguist
Listen to the NPR report.
DARE online.
A portion of the Dictionary of Regional American English
(DARE) is online. The majority of the dictionary is only
available in print, to which we do not have access.
You will be given a word/term that can be researched
online. Your task is to discover and report on the word’s
meaning and its origin. Tell the first known origin and the
current usage, including dialect region(s) involved. Include
pertinent information or interesting stories about the
word. Present your material in a logical, understandable
manner. This report should be logical and informative.
Include it in your Linguistics portfolio.
Shakespeare’s English:
Appalachia to
The Ozark Hills
Be a Linguist
Ozark Dialect Origins
was Vance Randolph, and why
did he care?
•Communicative Isolation is the key to
understanding the development of
Ozark dialect.
•Good luck, bad luck omens
•“Hidden in the Hills”
Be A Linguist
Ozark Dialect
pairs, you will compile a list of Ozark words
that you can identify.
•Use family members, friends, others who might
know about how it “used to sound around here.”
•Note the common modern word that is now
used in its place, and tell whether it has
changed in meaning.
•Present in an informative, understandable
format. Each person needs his or her own copy.
of Language
•Be a
Stages of Language Acquisition
Appears about 6 months or so. All infants coo using all
the sounds from every language. Even congenitally deaf children
•BABBLING: Appears around 9-10 months. Infants are starting to
selectively use the sounds from their native language
•HOLOPHRASES: One-word utterances. At around 12 months,
children start using words.
•TELEGRAPHIC SPEECH: Children start making multi-word
utterances that lack function words at about 2 years of age.
•NORMAL SPEECH: By about 5 or 6 years of age, children have
almost normal speech.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Nature v. Nurture: Critical Period Hypothesis; Second Language Acquisition, Universal Grammar
Hypothesis Theory; Imitation and Modeling Theory
Hypothesis Theory:
• As children are exposed to language, they form
hypotheses. Then, they modify language appropriately.
Imitation and Modeling Theory:
• Children will sound like the adults around them. They
will share the same accents and idioms. Adults use
child-directed speech to make themselves understood
to children. Motherese is child-directed speech.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Hypothesis Theory; Imitation and Modeling Theory;Critical Period Hypothesis; Second Language Acquisition
Nature v. Nurture: NATURE
Humans perceive speech sounds better than other
•Congenitally deaf children learn sign language at about
the same rate that other children learn spoken language,
and they go through roughly the same stages.
•Parts of the brain seem to be specialized for language
(Brain Scanning Techniques and Basics of Brain Imaging)
larynx seems to have no other purpose except to
facilitate speech.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Hypothesis Theory; Imitation and Modeling Theory; Second Language Acquisition; Universal Grammar
Nature v. Nurture: NURTURE
Critical Period Hypothesis
The Critical Period Hypothesis explains the Nurture argument.
• Case studies have indicated that if children are not exposed
to language by their early teens, they will never be able to
fully learn it.
• Much of this information refers to children who were born
deaf to hearing parents who were not aware the child was
• Children exposed to ASL before age 6 did much better with
complex signs than those not exposed until after age 12.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Hypothesis Theory; Imitation and Modeling Theory; Nature v. Nurture, Critical Period Hypothesis; Universal Grammar
Second Language Acquisition
•Children exposed to a new language before the
age of 3 will be able to learn that language and
speak without an accent. However, if a person
learns the new language later, he or she can learn
to speak it, but with an accent.
•There’s something about puberty, researchers
think, that changes the way a person acquires a
new language.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Noam Chomsky, LAD, and Universal Grammar
in 1928, Noam Chomsky is a 30-year linguistics professor
at MIT and a widely-respected linguistic scholar and author.
He is still alive.
•He says that humans are hard-wired for language. He also
says that humans have in their brains a built-in system called a
Language Acquisition Device to facilitate their learning of
language. Within this LAD is all the information that is
common to all languages in the world, and when children learn a
language they only learn how to speak the specific words; they
already innately know the constructions.
NOTE: PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans confirm the presence of an area in the brain
that appears to govern language.
Theories of Language Acquisition
Noam Chomsky, LAD, and Universal Grammar
To support his hard-wired theory, Chomsky says
that it is impossible for humans to acquire language
through imitation or through any other known method
other than an innate ability. Chomsky developed this
theory that includes Universal Grammar.
• Universal Grammar states that every language has
common properties, e.g., nouns, verbs, a way to
modify, a way to ask a question or negate. Those
qualities, he says, are innate to all humans and play a
key role in language acquisition.
Be A Linguist
Acquiring Language
Test a baby or child 2 months to 3 years to see how many words
that child recognizes.
Your task is to first make a list of at least 30 words you
want to test for; make them age appropriate.
Next, make a device and/or a design a procedure to test for
word recognition. Design a chart to record results.
Chart your results using at least one, or two, children.
In a report, describe the stage of language acquisition and
its characteristics that were observed.
Write an essay that compares, contrasts, and discusses
the at least two theories of language acquisition.
Sounds and
Physical structures
International Phonetic Alphabet
Be a Linguist
Saying and Seeing Sounds
shape of your mouth, whether or not you
have all your teeth (especially front ones) or
whether you have nasal congestion all affect
the way you speak. Every structure in your
mouth as well as some in your throat govern
your speech.
•All those various sounds that you make have
been isolated, and an alphabet based on those
sounds has been developed called the
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).
All sounds are
produced in your
head -- specifically
your mouth, throat,
and nasal cavity.
The International Phonetic Alphabet
is a set of symbols that represent
sounds produced in the English
language. Other sounds are produced
in other languages which are not
represented here.
Chart 1
Chart 2
Be A Linguist
Using the IPA, write your name, the name of
your favorite song or band, and a sentence
about yourself. Remember, use only IPA
symbols in your work.
Do Animals
Language Review
Animal Communication
Animal Research
Be a Linguist
Seven Characteristics of Language
Use these to decide whether something is a language.
 It can change and adapt as required.
 You can speak to and be understood by others who know that
It relates sounds or gestures to meanings.
It can negate, ask questions, and refer to the past or future.
It is acquired without external instruction.
It is used creatively rather than in response to internal or external
 It has symbols that have discrete meanings.
Be A Linguist
Read what linguists and researchers had to
say about language in animals using the link
below. Then visit the website below and see
what researchers are doing today in this
interesting field. You decide: do animals
have the capacity for language? Why or why
not? Write a paper that explains your
considered opinion, and give support for
your conclusions.
Linguists say …
New research says …
Linguistics Portfolio
Gather all your projects, quizzes,
assignments and notes. Put them in
order. Design a linguistically-themed
cover page. Bind them together and
turn your portfolio in to me.