History of the English
Language
History of the English
Language
 A language develops and
changes slowly over
centuries. We do not know
when the English language
started.
Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Around 1900 B.C., Stonehenge was
built. Since the people who built this
huge stone circle did not leave a written
record, we do not know what language
they spoke. These huge stone circles
align with the sun during solstices.
(BBC, British History, timelines)
Dictionary skills:
These people moved huge
stones from miles away, raised
them to a vertical position, and
placed huge cap stones on top.
Stonehenge stands today as an
awesome accomplishment and
could not have been done without
a language. (BBC, British History, timelines)
Stonehenge
Cap
stone
Celtic People
The Celts immigrated to England in
the 5th century B.C. and drove out the
Stonehenge people. Since the Celts
wandered over areas from Spain to
Russia and Britain, the Celtic language
was spoken over a vast area of the
European continent. (BBC, British History, timelines)
Pronunciation guide: Celt (hard c - k)
In Celtic culture,
the Druids were
the priestly class in
Celtic polytheism.
(BBC, British History, timelines)
Dictionary skills:
polytheism
The Celtic language survives today
in the language spoken by the Scotch
Gaelic, Irish, Welsh, and Breton.
Celtic names are used for many
places in Britain. One British town has
this Celtic name: Lian \ vire \
pooll \ guin \ gill \ go \ ger \
u \ queem \ drop \ ooll \
llandus\ illo \ gogo \ goch!
This village wanted to have the longest
train station name in the world! The
name of the village means:
St Mary's Church by the white hazel
tree near the fierce whirlpool by the
Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.
It is said that an innkeeper invented
the name during the last century to get
travelers to buy from the shops in the
village.
Dictionary skills: reputedly
The Romans
In 43 A.D., an army of 40,000
Roman soldiers invaded Celtic Britain
and made it part of the Roman Empire.
In the 400 years the Romans ruled
Britain, they introduced Christianity,
Latin, built roads, established Roman
laws, and protected the Celts from the
fierce Picts and Scots on the north side
of Hadrian’s Wall. Research skills:
The Romans
Internet research skills:
Who was Julius Caesar?
Who was Claudius?
Who was Boudica (also spelled
Boudicca)?
Who was Hadrian?
BBC History of BritainTime Line
Research:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/i
nteractive/timelines/british/inde
x.shtml
Hadrian’s
Wall was
built across
the narrow
part of
England to
keep the
Pics and
Scots from
invading the
south.
Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s
Wall
Romans
spoke Latin. *
Roman soldiers
were exellent
engineers and
built roads to
link Rome with all
the Roman
Empire.
*Research: Why is it
important to the
English language that
Romans spoke Latin?
(BBC, British History,
timelines)
Roman Soldier
The Romans
The Romans (Italy)
Romans soldiers
came from the area we
call Italy today. The
city of Rome is still the
capital of Italy.
After serving in the
army, many soldiers
married Celtic women
and stayed in England.
Rome
Italy and England on a
map of Europe.
England
Italy
End of Roman Rule
410 A.D.
The Romans started pulling soldiers
from Britain in 410 A.D. after 400 years
of Roman rule. Rome, the capital of the
Roman Empire, was under attacks from
barbaric tribes. The Celts were left
without the protection of the Roman
army and with no weapons to defend
themselves. (BBC, British History, timelines)
After
the
Romans
left, the
Picts and
Scots
came
south
into
England.
Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Bands of Vikings
came south from
Scandinavia.
After 400 years of Roman
protection, the Celts were civilized
and accustomed to Roman laws. (Bryson
46-47)
Since the Celts had Roman
protection for 400 years, they
were defenseless against the Pict,
Scot, and Viking raiders. (BBC, British History,
timelines)
The Jutes Come to Britain
Vortigern, a Celtic chieftain, asked
the Jutes, a Germanic tribe, to come to
Britain and fight the Picts and Scots. In
return, Vortigern promised that Jutes
could have the isle of Thanet. The Jutes
defeated the Picts and Scots, but when
they finished fighting, the Jutes stayed in
Kent. (BBC, British History, timelines)
Why did the Jutes want to stay?
Britain is a beautiful island and located in the
path of the Gulf Stream waters. This huge river
of warm water provides a warmer climate than
one would expect at that latitude and excellent
grazing and farm land. (BBC Weather Centre)
• This ocean current warms Britain
•
by 5-8C. This current moves north
from the Gulf of Mexico at the
equator. This air is still warm and
moist when it reaches Britain. Winds
from the sea often bring rain.
(BBC Weather Centre)
The Angles and Saxons
The Germanic Angle and Saxon tribes
also invaded Britain and drove the Celts
far to the west. King Arthur and his
knights resisted the German invaders.
(Bryson, 49)
Some Celts fled across the English
channel and settled in Brittany where a
form of the Celtic language can be heard
today. (Bryson, 49)
Jute, Angle, and Saxon Invasion
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/who_
were_the_anglo-saxons/#resources-photos
The Jutes,
Angles, and
Saxons tribes
spoke German
although each
spoke a different
dialect. (Bryson, 47)
Dictionary skills:
dialect
The Celts,
renamed Wealas
(foreigners), were
driven west by the
Angles and Saxons,
settled in Wales.
The present day
heir to the English
throne, Prince
Charles, is titled the
Prince of Wales.
Welch is a form of
the Celtic language.
By the middle of the 6th century, the
Jutes, Angles, and Saxons were settled
on the land they had taken from the
Celts. Historians decided that the
Angles’ dialect was the origin of our
language, Angle – ish, English. Our
language could be called Saxon-ish
because of a Saxon king, Alfred the
Great.
Research: Saxon, English, Alfred the Great
(bbc.co.uk/history/trail/conquest/after_viking/sound)
King Alfred the Great was a scholar,
statesman, and general who ruled the
West Saxons from 871 to 899 A.D. He
had the most important Latin books
translated into the Saxon dialect and
collected folk tales and history. King
Alfred’s love of reading, writing, and
language preserved our language during
the Dark Ages .
Research: King Alfred the Great
(http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/alfred_the_great.sht
ml)
Saxons, etc.*
*Etc. (et cetera) – and so forth (L) Latin
The language known as Old English
was spoken 450 A.D. – 1150 A.D.
Most surviving Old English
documents are in West Saxon dialect.
Beowulf is one of these.
Library search: “Beowulf”
King Alfred was also a great
general. Small bands of Viking
raiders had been raiding, burning,
and looting English towns for a
century. Then, they brought large
armies to seize the land. (Bryson, 52) Alfred
dealt them a smashing defeat in 878
A.D. King Alfred is the only English
king with the title “the Great”.
(bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures)
The Vikings
Vikings came from Scandinavia
and Denmark. There were many
places on the British island to beach
their boats and raid the English
countryside.
Internet – Interactive game: Be a Viking Raider.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vi
kings/who_were_the_vikings/
Decide your strategy:
How large will your ship be?
Who will you include in the crew?
In the century following 878
A.D., the Viking invaders kept
coming. Finally, in 1016, a Danish
Viking named Canute (Cnut) was
crowned King of England. Cnut
ruled Denmark and Norway. He
was wise and humble king.
bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/what_happened_
to_the_anglo-saxons/
The following story is told about King
Canute (Cnut).
Once, King Canute took all his
flattering courtiers down to the sea. He
asked, “Am I so powerful that I can stop the
tide from coming in?”
They answered, “Oh, yes!” So, he
commanded the tide to stay out. Of course,
they all got their feet wet.
Dictionary skills: flattering, courtiers
The Vikings gradually stopped
speaking Danish or Norse and
learned English. However, they
gave us such words as:
they, their, them, are, skirt, sky,
skin, scrub, whisk,
and names ending in –son.
bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/what_happened_to_th
e_vikings/
French Vikings, the Normans
Scandinavian Viking bands invaded
the northern coast of France, settled
there, and learned French. They
forced the French king to name their
leader the Duke of Normandy and to
give them the province of Normandy
(Northman lands). They were called
Normans (Northmen).
Meanwhile, England … 1066
Edward the Confessor, a
descendant of King Canute, had no
heir to claim the throne of England.
Two Norman nobles, Harold of
England and William, Duke of
Normandy, said the throne had been
promised to them.
Upon the death of the king, Harold
had himself crowned.
1066, the Battle of Hastings
William, Duke of Normandy, and his
Norman army crossed the English
Channel, invaded England, and attacked
army of newly crowned King Harold of
England. Harold was killed when an
arrow entered his visor and pierced his
eye. William the Conqueror became
King of England.
Norman Fortifications
The Normans built
towers and castles
in a style quite
different from the
old Celtic hill forts.
The Normans
nobles spoke
French with a
Viking accent.
The peasants
spoke the
English of the
German Saxon
tribe.
Normans
(Northmen)
For 200 hundred years after 1066,
French was the language in the
government, church, education, and the
arts. English was spoken, but only by
the lower classes. Modern English has
inherited two different words for the
same item. For example, the peasant
who milked the beast called it a cow
(Engl.), but the Norman lord who ate it
called it beef (FR.).
How English Became Classy Again
In 1204, the Anglo-Normans
and the French king fought once
more for possession of
Normandy. The Anglo-Normans
lost the battle and their
possessions in Normandy to the
French king.
English Became Classy
The King of France added insult to
the English king’s loss of Normandy. He
said, “The King of England can’t fight or
speak French well.”
The English king was angry! He
ordered all his subjects to speak English.
English was the official speech of
England.
The Anglo-Normans spoke English,
but more than 10,000 of their French
words remained in the English
vocabulary.
Old English + Norman French =
a new combination called
Middle English.
Geoffrey Chaucer
The most famous writer of Middle
English (1150 – 1500) is Geoffrey
Chaucer. The next slide has an
excerpt of a Chaucer poem.
What does it say?
Dictionary skills: excerpt
(Classroom Chart, no source cited)
“The Pardoner’s Tale”
(an excerpt, Geoffrey Chaucer)
“Now, sires,” quod he, “if that ye be so leef
To fynds Deeth, turne up this croked wey,
For in that grove I lafte hym, by my fey,
Under a tree, and there he wole abyde;
Noght for youre boost he wole him no thyng hyde.
Se ye that ook? Right there ye shal hym fynde.”
(Translate.)
(Classroom Chart, no source cited)
Translation into modern English:
Three foolish men set out to kill
Death. A mysterious old man in a
long black cloak helps in the search
for Death.
Who was the mysterious old
man?
What do you predict happened when
the foolish men found Death?
Interesting Facts about modern English
•
Our language has over 600,000
words.
•
Words from German origins are
those we use most frequently because
these are about us and our immediate
world. (Bryson
•
Words from Latin and Greek form
most of the words in the English
dictionary.
We use Germanic words when we
talk about everyday, essential things of
life, such as the parts of the human
body, the sun, moon, and stars, and
home.
German words are the most
frequently used, but words from
German make up only one fifth of our
total vocabulary words.
.
About three fifths of our vocabulary
came originally from Latin and Greek…
usually passing through French on the
way.
The rest of the English word stock is
borrowed from dozens of other languages.
(Glencoe Writer’s Choice Grammar and Composition Grade 6, 542-556)
The Language Family Tree
The Indo-European languages are called
a language family because they are believed
to be the descendants of a parent language
spoken in Central Europe in the late Stone
Age. There are no written records; but
similar words in many languages have made
it possible to reconstruct the possible original
forms. On the next slide there are some
common Indo-European words.
(Classroom chart, no origin)
Indo-E
Sanskrit Russian Greek
Modern
Latin
Germ
Early
Engl.
Modern
Puhter
Pita
…..
Pater
Pater
Fadar
Father
Treies
Trayah
Tree
Treis
Tres
Threis
Three
Kmtom
Satam
Staw
E-katon
Centum
Hund
Hundred
Ed-
Admi
Yest
Edo
Edo
Ita
Eat
Yugom
Yugam
Yarmo
Dzugon
Jugum
Juk
Yoke
Bhero
Bharami
…
Fero
Fero
Baira
Bear (verb)
(Classroom Chart, no source cited)
Works Cited
Amory, , Tucking, and Cartwright. The First 1,000 Words in German. Edc
Publishers, 1988. Print.
Bryson, Bill. Mother Tongue, English & How It Got That Way. New York, NY:
HarperCollins Publishers, 2000. Print.
Classroom Chart. “History of the English Language”. No source cited.
"Glencoe Writer's Choice Grammar and Composition Grade 6." Ed. Columbus,
OH: Macmillan/McGraw-Hill Glencoe, 2009. Print.
"Holt Elements Of Language Grade 6." Ed. Robert R. Hoyt. Austin, TX: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 2004. Print.
BBC, British History, Timeline, Interactive Games. Web. 3 May 2010.
shtml>.
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/timelines/british/index.
BBC, Britain Weather. The Gulf Stream, Web. July 2009.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/climate/impact/gulf_stream.shtml
Thomas, Jeffery L. Castles of Wales. Web. 2009.
Works Cited
BBC Primary History
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/who_were_the_an
glo-saxons/#resources-photos Nov. 5, 2009
BBC Sound of the Saxons
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/trail/conquest/after_viking/sound_saxons_01.sht
ml
BBC Historic Figures
ml
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/alfred_the_great.sht
BBC What Happened to the Anglo-Saxons?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/anglo_saxons/what_
happened_to_the_anglo-saxons/
BBc What Happened to the Vikings?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/what_happe
ned_to_the_vikings/
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History of the English Language