The History and Development of English

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English is currently one of the most prolific languages in the world, with recent figures from the British Council showing approximately two billion people speaking it in at least seventy-five countries (British Council, 2014). Often referred to as a borrowing language, English has loaned and continues to loan words from nearly every language it encounters, with a majority of the words coming from Latin, French, and Greek (Durkin, “Borrowed Words” 2014). This lingual promiscuity has led to the English language’s somewhat brutal nickname, “the bastard tongue” (Nordquist, n.d.). In this essay we’ll be discussing the history of English, following its origins in Germanic languages, influence from Latin and other European languages, and the standardization that occurred in Early Modern English. The origins of English have been traced back with relative certainty to the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., when an assortment of three mainland European tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, invaded Britain. While brothers Hengest and Horsa were originally invited to Briton by the king Wurtgern for the purpose of defeating the Picts, a tribe from North Eastern Scotland, they later decided to fight against the Britons for their rich land, deeming the original inhabitants worthless and weak. The brothers then called for assistance in the form of the three major powers of Germany at the time, the Angles, Saxons, and the Jutes; this migration of Germanic peoples to Britain is what most scholars agree was the first step in the genesis of the English language (Ingram, 2008; Durkin, “History,” 2014; English Club, 2014; Merriam-Webster, 2014). While the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’s veracity is dubious because it was written hundreds of years afte... ... middle of paper ... ...ies (Durkin, “History,” 2014; English Club, 2014; Merriam-Webster, 2014). Works Cited Durkin, Philip. "Borrowed Words in English." Oxford Words Blog. N.p., 4 Mar. 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. Durkin, Philip. "The History of English." - Oxford Dictionaries (US). N.p., 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. FAQ's The English Language." BritishCouncil.com N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. "History" Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014. "History of the English Language." English Club. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. Ingram, James H. "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." Http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/657/pg657.html. Douglas B. Killings, 3 Aug. 2008. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. "Interesting Facts about the Ancient Celts." Eupedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. Nordquist, Richard. "Loanwords in English: The Bastard Tongue." About.com Grammar & Composition. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
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