English Language
A2 Unit 3 – Developing Language
Language Change
English Language
A2 Unit 3 – Developing Language:
Language Change
This revision session will cover:
The Exam: structure and requirements
Examiners’ Feedback
A concise history of the English Language
Applying the Linguistic Methods
The Exam
Let’s begin by briefly recapping how you will be examined
…and how you can gain marks
We’ll go through this bit
quickly for now…
but you should download
this presentation and go through
the following pages more thoroughly
in your own time
Unit 3 – ENGB3
Remember how Change fits into the overall A2 Assessment
A2 Language Exam
• 30% of A Level
• 2 hour 30 minutes written examination
• 96 marks
Builds on AS knowledge and skills, with an additional focus on two new areas
of language study: Child Language Acquisition and Language Change.
Unit 3 – ENGB3
You are expected to develop your skills and knowledge
from your AS studies, with an additional focus on two
new topics:
• the acquisition of language by children
• the development of and changes in English
over time.
This unit takes further the study of social contexts,
genres of speech, writing and multi-modal texts first
explored at AS by embedding questions about
language development in particular contexts of use.
Section B – Language Change
This topic area explores historical and contemporary
changes in the English Language from Late Modern English
(1700+) to the present day, alongside explanations of their
causes and impact.
This module will focus on the following areas for study:
• attitudes towards language change and
the impact of language standardisation
• changes in orthography, grammar, lexis and punctuation
• changes in written and spoken style
• the impact of social and political forces
upon language usage and change
• changes in layout and text design
in written texts.
Mode of Assessment
Assessment will be by one written paper of 2 ½ hours. You will be
required to answer two questions based on a selection of data
relating to the topic areas, one on Language Acquisition and
one on Language Change.
You will have a choice of two questions for each topic.
Each question will be worth
a maximum of 48 marks.
The maximum total mark for
this paper is 96.
Questions, Marks and Weightings
(Q1 and Q2)
(Q3 and Q4)
A-Level Total
Assessment Objectives (AOs)
AO1 Select and apply a range of linguistic methods to communicate
relevant knowledge using appropriate terminology and coherent,
accurate written expression
AO2 Demonstrate critical understanding of a range of concepts and
issues related to the construction and analysis of meanings in spoken
and written language, using knowledge of linguistic approaches
AO3 Analyse and evaluate the influence of contextual factors on the
production and reception of spoken and written language, showing
knowledge of the key constituents of language
Quality of Written Communication
In GCE specifications which require you to produce written material
in English, you must:
• ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and
grammar are accurate so that meaning is clear
• select and use a form and style of writing appropriate
to purpose and to complex subject matter
• organise information clearly and coherently,
using specialist vocabulary when appropriate.
In this specification QWC will be assessed
in all units by means of AO1.
The Synoptic Element
This “Synoptic” Assessment in A2 English Language requires
you to synthesise the insights you have developed through the
application of linguistic knowledge to the study of speech and
writing, including multimodal texts.
Critical understanding of meaning and variation in language
will be informed by the appropriate use of linguistic analyses.
You will need to demonstrate your skills of interpretation and
expression in insightful, accurate, well-argued responses.
The Synoptic Element
In Unit 3, Developing Language, you will be assessed on your
ability to analyse and evaluate spoken and written language
in both its immediate and wider contexts.
You will be expected to develop further
your knowledge and understanding of key
concepts and theories about language.
Your will build on your AS study by working
with data on a more demanding level in
order to frame responses to questions.
Questions on language change will require you to work with
data in order to explore historical and contemporary changes in
the English language, alongside explanations of their causes and
their impact.
The Synoptic Element
So, A2 / Unit 3 is designed to stretch
and challenge by asking you to:
• make connections across all units
• demonstrate your knowledge and
understanding of major research ideas
• study language beyond its immediate
context by looking at geographical,
social and temporal contexts
• develop your skills of working with more
demanding data in order to develop critical
insights informed by ideas from language study
Feedback from the Examiners
• The best responses are the ones that take the most interesting
starting points for paragraphs of analysis; these could be
linguistically led, theory led or context led.
• At the highest level students are open minded, tentative and
selective in what they choose to discuss. They have also spent
time reading the data, annotating it carefully to get a sense
of overview and have thought about how to structure their
answers before putting pen to paper.
• Synopticity was evident and many students were writing
convincingly about features of the change data especially
which related to AS topics, such as power, technology and
gender. Students who only concentrated on AS issues,
although gaining credit, perhaps missed out on ‘range’
because they did not demonstrate their A2 knowledge of
change concepts.
Feedback from the Examiners
• On the final unit of an A Level English Language paper it is
reasonable to expect high standards of mechanical control
and accuracy; some students do not take advantage of the
time allowed for planning and proof-reading. The fluency and
readability of responses was greatly enhanced where students
had learned the basic techniques of quotation and comment
(eg grouping multiple examples of similar features) and were
able to use appropriate terminology accurately.
• AO1 not only encompasses the application of linguistic
methods and the use of appropriate terminology but also
refers to the need to communicate knowledge with
‘coherent, accurate written expression’.
• If the response is overly descriptive, then it is placed in the 4-9
band (AO1). Students need to offer explanations/analysis of
features to move to the ‘some’ and above bands.
Feedback from the Examiners
• The best responses went beyond the surface features
which were relatively easy to identify and discuss, and
also engaged with the underlying pragmatic and contextual
issues. Most students attempting these questions are able
to make some valid links to their understanding of trends in
language change, with far fewer attempts simply to
reproduce a chronological history of English.
• Responses that scored less highly often included lengthy
digressions addressing either concepts/theories or contexts
which moved away from the data towards much broader
socio-historical-cultural -linguistic theory.
• Less successful students tended to lack overview and focused
on describing isolated examples of dated language use.
Feedback from the Examiners
• There can be a tendency to structure essays with
conclusions but these rarely add to the overall marks, as
they mostly contained repeated information. Students
would be better served by spending their time offering
another analytical paragraph that made new
creditable points.
• Candidates performed best in their Change answers if
they had considered the genre of the texts. This then
assisted them to focus on interesting linguistic features
and select relevant language concepts, instead of
feature spotting. Those candidates with an awareness of
why writers of texts might use certain language features,
or why they might adopt a particular style or tone, could
engage both with linguistic choices and make sensible
comments on changes over time.
A Concise History of the
English Language
The History of English
Before English began - up to ca. 450 AD
British (Celtic) tribes - language related to modern Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish (Erse).
Only real connection with Modern English is in lexis (mostly in place names).
Origins of English - ca. 450 AD to 1066
Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrive from north Germany · Language (Old English) is at first spoken ·
only writing is runes · Written form comes from Latin-speaking monks, who use Roman alphabet,
with new letters (æ, ð and þ - spoken as "ash", "eth" and "thorn") · About half of common
vocabulary of modern English comes from Old English · Word forms vary according to syntax
(inflection, case endings and declension) and grammatical gender · Vikings establish Danelaw ·
some erosion of grammar and addition of new vocabulary.
Middle English Period - 1066 to 1485
Lexis - terms for law and politics from Norman French · General expansion of lexis, esp. abstract
terms · Case-endings, declension and gender disappear · Inflection goes except in pronouns
and related forms · Writers concerned about change · want to stabilize language · 1458 Gutenberg invents printing (1475 - Caxton introduces it to England) · the press enables some
Tudor Period - 1485 to 1603
Rise of nationalism linked to desire for more expressive language · Flowering of literature and
experiments in style · idea of elevated diction · Vocabulary enlarged by new learning
Renaissance) · imports from Greek and Latin · Lexis expanded by travel to New World, and
ideas in maths and science · English settlers begin to found colonies in North America. In 1582
Richard Mulcaster publishes a list of 7,000 words with spelling forms, but this does not become a
universal standard
The History of English
The 17th Century
Influences of Puritanism and Catholicism (Roundhead and Cavalier) and of science · Puritan
ideas of clarity and simplicity influence writing of prose· reasonableness and less verbose
language · English preferred to Dutch as official tongue of American colonies.
The 18th Century
Age of reason · Ideas of order and priority · Standardizing of spelling (Johnson' s Dictionary of
the English Language in 1755) and grammar (Robert Lowth's Short Introduction to English
Grammar in 1762 and Lindley Murray's English Grammar in 1794)· Classical languages are seen
as paradigms (ideal models) for English · Romantic Movement begins · interest in regional and
social class varieties of English.
The 19th Century
Interest in past · use of archaic words · Noan Webster publishes American Dictionary of the
English Language in 1828 · British Empire causes huge lexical growth · English travels to other
countries and imports many loanwords · Modern language science begins with Jakob Grimm
and others · James Murray begins to compile the New English Dictionary (which later becomes
the Oxford English Dictionary) in 1879
The 20th Century and beyond
Modern language science developed · descriptive not prescriptive · Non-standard varieties
have raised status · Ideas of formal and informal change · Modern recording technology
allows study of spoken English · Influence of overseas forms grows · US and International English
dominant · English becomes global language (e.g. in computing, communications,
Language Change - Timeline
Partly as a result of what
happened to the Celts later
People spoke varieties (they were displaced by the
Britain inhabited of Celtic languages,
Anglo-Saxons), relatively few
by Celts, or
the roots of Welsh,
Celtic words survive in modern
century AD
Gaelic, Irish, Manx
English. However, numerous
and Cornish.
place-names (Penrith, Leeds,
York, Thames and Avon) remind
us of our ancient roots.
Language Change - Timeline
1st – 5th
There was some limited
influence from Latin on
the native language
The Romans
during this period. Some
occupied mainly
Latin words have
survived, but the major
Latin influence of English
was to come much later.
Many place names, such
as Manchester, Lancaster,
Chester and Worcester derive
from this period.
A few other words of Latin
origin which survive, such as
street, port, wine and wall may
also date from this period.
Language Change - Timeline
The Celtic language was
displaced except in Wales,
Scotland, Cornwall and
Ireland. Old English developed
from the Germanic dialects of
the invaders, which varied
according to where the
different tribes were settled.
5th – 8th
Invasions of the
Germanic tribes
(Angles, Saxons and
This was the true beginning of
English; many of the basic
grammatical words (the, in
was, etc.) and many everyday
adopted (587)
nouns and verbs derive from
this period.
Old English – a considerable body
of literature from this period
survives. It is very foreign to
modern eyes, and requires special
study to understand it, as in this
example from the poem Beowulf:
Hwaet we Gar-Dena in geardagum,
Peodcyninga pryn gefrunon
Hu da aepelingas ellen fremedon
(So by the Spear-Danes in days gone
And the kings who ruled them had
courage and greatness.
The Latin alphabet was
We have heard of those princes’
adopted and Latin was used by
heroic campaigns.)
the educated elite and in
Language Change - Timeline
8th – 11th
The Vikings’ language
(Norse) was close enough
to the Anglo-Saxon of the
inhabitants to allow
communication between
Viking invasions
the peoples. The Vikings
took over many of the
Anglo-Saxon kingdoms,
particularly I the north
and east of the county.
Many Norse words have
passed into Standard English –
get, take, angry, awkward,
they, she – and even more have
survived in the dialects of the
north where some
pronunciations and
grammatical forms of dialects
are also Scandinavian in
Language Change - Timeline
11th – 14th
1066:the Normans
invaded, led by
William the
Norman French and
English co-existed
This was the beginning of the Middle
English period; there was an
inevitable flow of vocabulary from
Following the Norman invasion,
Norman French (itself heavily based
there was a French-speaking
on Latin) into English. English not
power bas – the court, the church
only survived but was enriched by
and major landowners were
the language of the invaders.
mainly French-speaking, while
the populace spoke English.
This period also saw the loss of many
Old English word endings
During the twelfth century
(inflections), many of which were
English was more widely used
replaced with the prepositions by,
by the upper classes and in 1362
with, from etc.
was used for the first time at the
state opening of parliament. By
Much Middle English literature
1425 English was used
survives and is reasonably accessible
universally in speech and
to patient modern readers. This period
also saw the beginnings of a major
change in English pronunciation:
the Great Vowel Shift.
Language Change - Timeline
Early modern English: In the
period 1500 – 1700 many more
words entered the language than
at any other period.
15th- 17th
Printing invented
(William Caxton
set up his press in
Many Greek and
Latin texts were
translated into
New words were needed for new
concepts and an influx of Latin
and French words resulted.
There was a gradual
acceptance of a standard form
of English, made necessary by
the increasing dissemination
of printed materials.
This period of world exploration
also brought words from the
language of Africa, Asia and the
New World.
The Great Vowel Shift was
completed – and the pronunciation
of English began to stabilise.
This was also the age of
Shakespeare, himself a great
coiner of words.
Language Change - Timeline
The search for a
18th – 19th
standard, pure
form of English
Attempts to define the
vocabulary and grammar
of English led to the
establishment of the
prescriptive ideas about
correctness. Non-standard
varieties were viewed as
inferior; Latin was upheld
as an ideal language and a
model for English
dictionary writers and
grammarians tried to lay
down rules for correct
•This was the age of the
dictionary, when writers tried
to ‘fix’ spellings and
meanings.1721 – Nathaniel’s
Bailey’s Universal
Etymological Dictionary
•1755 – Samuel Johnson’s
English Dictionary
•1762 – Robert Lowth’s Short
Introduction to English
•1762 – Lindley Murray’s
English Grammar
Language Change - Timeline
The Expansion of
19th century
British and
– present
American English
In the nineteenth century, rail
travel colonial expansion, the
spread of literacy and
education and the printed
word extended access to
standard and written forms of
American English was starting to
become noticeably different from
British English.
English continues to absorb loan
words from language across the
world. Grammar and
pronunciation see few major
changes, but in the late twentieth
Electronic media extended
and early twenty-first centuries, a
this process in the twentieth
drift towards more colloquial and
century; meanwhile,
casual styles of language in many
American economic and
contexts reflect major social
political power succeeded that changes.
of the British empire to ensure
the spread of English as a
American English increasingly
world language.
influence British English and
English worldwide.
Change is All Around Us
As society change, so does language. We are living in a world
that has become technical (language and technology).
Are we becoming lazier with language?
Lifestyles have changed and
the pace of life is quicker; we expect
instant communication (text messaging,
e-mails). Features language change
include controversy, resistance and
social values.
Changes in Accent and Dialect
• William Labov study (Martha’s vineyard)
• Urban accents (Estuary English)
• Prestige (BBC English, RP)
• 15th Century – The Great Vowel Shift
Tochter – dochter – daughter
Nacht – night – nite?
Leisure – ‘zh’ pronunciation, also applies to measure,
pleasure and treasure
Swan and man; obey and tea (word that used to rhyme
and few centuries ago but not today.
Interest, every, factory, nursery, cursory, desultory – ‘uh’
sound (ə = schwa)
Attitudes to Language Change
Standard English – right and wrong (National Curriculum, for
example). Should it remain constant or should it change? People
start making judgements about language change.
Prescriptive – laying down rules which are very exact, for
example, compu’er (the ‘t’ must be added). In other words, what
English language SHOULD be like.
Descriptive – language change is inevitable, for example,
Sainsbury’s (some add the apostrophe, others do not). In other
words, what English language IS like.
Golden Age - when did people, speak the same, write in the
same handwriting and spell coherently?
It is almost impossible to stop language changing (evolution)
What is proper English? Issues of race, class, gender and location.
The Beginnings of
Global English
Significant period in English: Middle English – Early Modern English
(15th, 16 and 17th centuries).
There should not have been any reason for language change because
people never travelled far (within three miles) and only talked about
predictable things (weather, money, work, family, food etc).
Over the past thousand years, language change was very slow,
until invaders visited the country.
The Renaissance – rediscovery of learning occurred during the 15th century.
More people were educated and breaking away form the repressive
authority from the church, which controlled learning. People were travelling
frequently, more medical discoveries and freedom of thought.
Many borrowings from Latin, Greek (languages of education
and thought), French (language of luxury and style) and
Italian (language of the arts – growth of theatre encouraged
new words). Words became naturalised in English language.
This is still very consistent in the 21st century.
The Beginnings of
Global English
Shakespeare invented over 3000 words such as lovely, skim milk and mountaineer.
He mainly extended words or put two words together.
16th and 17th centuries were the age of travel. There were borrowings from Spanish
and Portuguese languages (words tended to end with vowel sounds such as
banana, tobacco and canoe) and settlement from America, which was already
settled by the Spanish. Many cigarette companies are named after American
towns, for example, Marlboro (a town in West Virginia).
English was looked down upon and then became as good as Latin when
expressing love, due to Shakespeare’s work. It is beginning to become a global
Lexis was borrowed from explorations, nowadays the main influence is media and
1610 – The Authorised Version of the Bible was published for the masses. Full of
phrases such as eat sour grapes, the skin of my teeth and the salt of the earth.
The main five world languages originate from Indo-European
languages, but have evolved sounds which cannot be understood
in English language, for example, China, Japan and India.
Applying the
Linguistic Methods
• How is cohesion created?
• Is there evidence of contrasting registers?
• Is there evidence of dialogue or narrative structures?
Are there any interpersonal features?
• Is there evidence of different discourse conventions?
• Is there one general viewpoint or several?
• Is the register formal or informal?
• Is there a difference in purpose between the texts or in an
older text compared to your knowledge of modern texts?
• Is the reader expected to recognise and identify
with specific societal roles?
• Is the reader expected to share social codes and values?
• Is the reader expected to accept particular roles
and responsibilities?
• Is the reader expected to accept particular
social attitudes/ cultural assumptions?
• What attitude is expressed about language:
prescriptive or descriptive?
• Are assumptions made about the readers’
knowledge and understanding?
• Is there evidence of changing
values or ideologies?
• Is there obsolete lexis for old roles and practices?
• Is there archaic language or archaic slang?
• Is the lexis Latinate, or of classical derivation, or polysyllabic
or formal? Are the collocations archaic or unfamiliar?
• Are there unusual allusions e.g. classical or religious?
• Are there any unexplained references?
• Are there differing specialist terms?
• Is there evidence of borrowing, clippings conversion,
neologisms or coinages?
• Does lexis suggest technological development?
• Are there any emotive overtones to the lexis?
• Is there evidence of colloquial or slang lexis?
Is the lexis of Old English origin or short words or informal?
*Is it largely intelligible and familiar?
• What influence has technology had?
• Identify the semantic fields
• Are there specific connotations, metaphors,
innuendo or figurative language?
• Is there evidence of semantic shifts or changes
• Is there any pejoration or amelioration?
• Is there anything significant in the terms of address,
are there politeness markers?
• Is there any difference between the texts in the
degree of implicitness?
• Is the text accessible and easy to understand?
• Is there any relevance in how much authority the text has?
• Are there examples of special
collocations or metaphors?
• Are grammar choices formal or informal?
• Does syntax seem outdated? Does it suggest a classical style?
Are there any complex or Latinate grammatical structures?
Is there any unfamiliar syntax?
• Comment on the verb forms, adverbs, pre-modification.
• Are prepositions used differently?
• Are there differences in conjunctions/punctuation?
• Do the texts use modal auxiliaries? What do they convey?
• Does the text use pronouns for immediacy of address
• Are any questions used without auxiliary verbs?
• Are minor sentences used?
• Are there any variations in sentence length and complexity?
• Is there use of syntactic parallelism or
repeated sentence structures?
• Do the texts use the forms of informal speech?
Grammar (cont.)
• Does the text use a lot of imperative, declarative,
exclamative or interrogative sentences?
• Orthography
• Are capital letters used differently?
• Do texts use different letter forms e.g. the long “s”
• Are words abbreviated in a familiar way?
• Are there any differences in spelling or punctuation?
• Are there competing or unusual spellings?
• Are spellings similar to modern English?
• Are there approximations of foreign spellings
or unusual letter strings for English spelling?
• Are plurals formed differently?
• Does the spelling in the texts relate to your
knowledge of standardization?
• Are conventions related to technology?
• How are fonts used, for example - to assist discourse
structure/for emphasis?
• How are illustrations used?
• Are there different design or layout conventions, for example bar code, price and logo slogans?
• Is there a greater use of
graphological devices to
signal text structure, for example
- space-shifting, textboxes,
bullet points; or systematic,
colour coded layout, headings.
Bring In Your Wider Knowledge
• Stronger answers will place the text within a sociolinguistic and
socio-cultural perspective.
• Some students will be able to make connections between this
text and other texts they have encountered.
• There may be references to other developments relevant to
language change including those in education, economic
development and popular culture.
• Can you show differences in situational as well as temporal
variation- you are aware of how the situation in which this
text is produced influences the
language as well as when it was
Try to Ask Yourself
What sort of societal roles are implied?
How does the text position the reader?
What attitudes to the text are assumed?
Is there an authoritative tone?
Is there a religious context assumed?
Is there an assumption about the reader’s
• Is there evidence of a prescriptivist attitude?
Try To Ask Yourself
What can be assumed about the audience?
What is the social and linguistic context?
What evidence does it supply about attitudes to language change?
What evidence is there of attitudes to gender, class and ethnicity?
What evidence is there of the society’s different technologies and
What sort of situation produced this text?
What are the genre conventions of this text?
Does it reflect specific economic or
scientific priorities of the time?
What comparisons can you make
to modern texts/use of language?
Does the text represent the views
of a particular section of society?
Remember the Following
• The pre-eminence enjoyed by English in the world today
is a result of political and economic factors – first, the
extension of the British Empire, and in the twentieth
century, the power of the USA.
• Observable changes in accent can take place over
a relatively short period of time, and are closely related
to questions of social class and identity.
• Linguistic change is constant and
inevitable, but can also be the
subject of complaint and controversy.

English Language RA2