Modern English: The Evolution Of The English Language

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Walt Whitman once said, “Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.” This is evident in its fifteen hundred year history, as many entities of the language have been adapted, added, and altered. The English that was spoken in 500 AD would be completely indecipherable to a modern day English speaker. Today, the English language’s many forms have developed through centuries of changing and evolving to become the diverse and dynamic language that it is today. Etymologists divide the English language into three main sections or eras: Old English, Middle English, and Modern English. Old English was first recorded around 500 AD to 1100 AD; Middle English was spoken from roughly 1100 AD to 1400 AD; and Modern English is the language that is spoken today. This has been further divided by etymologists into early modern English, spoken from 1500 to 1800, and late modern English, spoken from 1800 to present (Korich 3). Though each era is called the English language, each is distinct and very unique in grammar, pronunciation, and usage (Brief History). Old English, and thus the English language as a whole, was first spoken in the fifth century AD in Britain. At the time, Britain was a former province of the Roman Empire, and most of its inhabitants spoke a Celtic language (Brief History). Around the year 500 AD, three Germanic tribes invaded Britain by crossing the North Sea from what is now Denmark and North Germany. The three tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes entered Britain on the east and south coasts. Most of the native Celtic speakers of the land were pushed north to modern-day Scotland or west to modern-... ... middle of paper ... ...e. With the addition of modern technology and social media, hundreds of new words are added every year. As the language spreads and grows, it continues to change, adapting to fit the needs of new generations and people. The English language has evolved and changed to become the language it is today. The first manuscript writings of Beowulf are almost incomparable to the language used in novels like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The language has not only evolved but also diversified to become what it is today. As it reached new parts of the globe, new influences helped shape and change the language to reflect the lives and experiences of new speakers. The English language encompasses many different backgrounds, dialects, accents, and variations and would not be the dynamic language it is without every alteration it has had over the last fifteen hundred years.
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