Development of the English Language

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The settlement of the British Isles by north Europeans followed by Norman French paints the backdrop to this essay which will focus on the period between the early 15th and 17th centuries, when a 'standard' English evolved. It will show that modern-day English is very different to that first introduced to the British Isles, but by identifying changes through time, its continuity can be demonstrated. Finally, it will suggest that present day English is in a position analogous to that which existed before the Norman invasion, when there were many varieties and dialects, and that this may lead to its decline as a global language, due to decreasing intelligibility. The beginnings of English can be found in the occupation of England from the 5th century by north and west German ethnic groups who brought their 'indigenous dialects' (Seargeant, P. 2012, p. 1). The Oxford English Dictionary defines English as 'Of or related to the West Germanic language spoken in England and used in many varieties throughout the world' (Seargeant, P. 2012, p. 7). Invasion in the 9th century by Scandinavians, who settled in the north of England and the establishment of Danelaw in 886 AD defining the area governed by the Danes in the north and east, had a marked effect on the language spoken there (Beal, J. 2012, p. 59). These periods are known as Early and Later Old English (Beal, J. 2012, p. 50). The Norman invasion of 1066 AD began a period of two centuries in which French was the official language of England, resulting in the introduction of many words with French or Latin roots, such as 'baron', 'justice' and 'government' (Beal, J. 2012, p. 64). English was first used in Parliament in 1362 AD and gradually displaced French (Appendix I, in Seargea... ... middle of paper ... ...14, Worlds of English, DVD ROM), Milton Keynes, The Open University. Hepworth, M. D. (2012), Tutorial Notes, '69214339 TMA01', Unpublished Work. Leith, D. and Seargeant, P. (2012), 'A Colonial Language' in Seargeant, P. and Swann, J. (ed.) History, Diversity, Change (U214, English in the World), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 101-149. North, S. (2012), 'English a Linguistic Toolkit' (U214, Worlds of English), Milton Keynes, The Open University. Seargeant, P. (2012), 'English in the World Today' in Seargeant, P. and Swann, J (ed.) History, Diversity, Change (U214, English in the World), Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 5-47. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 'Pygmalion' at, accessed 9 March 2012
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