The Evolution of English

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What language replaced Old English as the language of the upper classes after the Norman conquest?

Which language had a significant influence on the English language due to the invasion of Vikings from Norway and Denmark?

What was the official language of England in the 14th century?

What was the influence of Old Norse on Middle English?

What event transformed the pronunciation of all long vowels in English during the 15th century?

What language family does English belong to?

What was the grammar of Old English like compared to modern English?

What was the influence of the Renaissance-era on Early Modern English?

What was the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire on Late Modern English?


History of the West Germanic Language:

  • English is a West Germanic language that developed from Ingvaeonic languages brought to Britain by Anglo-Saxon migrants from northwest Germany, southern Denmark, and the Netherlands.

  • Old English reflected the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms established in different parts of Britain, and the Late West Saxon dialect eventually became dominant.

  • After the Norman conquest in 1066, Old English was replaced by Anglo-Norman (Anglo-Norman French) as the language of the upper classes, which led to much lexical borrowing and grammatical simplification.

  • Early Modern English incorporated many Renaissance-era loans from Latin and Ancient Greek, as well as borrowings from other European languages, including French, German, and Dutch.

  • Modern English proper, similar to what is spoken today, was in place by the late 17th century.

  • English as we know it today came to be exported to other parts of the world through British colonization and is now the dominant language in many countries.

  • The grammar of Old English was much more inflected than modern English, combined with freer word order, and was grammatically quite similar in some respects to modern German.

  • Vikings from Norway and Denmark invaded parts of Britain, and their North Germanic language, Old Norse, had significant influence on the English language.

  • Middle English was spoken from the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 until the end of the 15th century, and it was influenced by both Anglo-Norman and Anglo-French.

  • Middle English was also influenced by Old Norse, and about 10,000 French (and Norman) loanwords entered Middle English, particularly terms associated with government, church, law, the military, fashion, and food.

  • The strong influence of Old Norse on English becomes apparent during the Middle English period.

  • English has a deep connection to Romance languages due to the comingling of Norman French and Old English, resulting in Middle English, a language that evolved into the English we speak today.A Brief History of the English Language

  • Theories of Celtic influence on English have been criticized by many linguists.

  • English literature reappeared in the 13th century due to the changing political climate and the decline of Anglo-Norman.

  • English became the official language of England in the 14th century.

  • The English language changed substantially during the Middle English period, with a shift from heavily inflected to analytic grammar.

  • English spelling was influenced by Norman French, leading to the use of "th" instead of the Old English letters "thorn" and "eth".

  • The Great Vowel Shift in the 15th century transformed the pronunciation of all long vowels in English.

  • The first English dictionary, A Table Alphabeticall, was published in 1604.

  • Late Modern English has many more words than Early Modern English, due to the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire.

  • The English language has over 400 million speakers of British and North American English, and over one billion speakers worldwide.

  • English has undergone extensive changes to its vowel system over the past 1,200 years, but fewer changes to its consonants.

  • English used to have an extensive declension system, but this was simplified during the Middle English period.

  • The modern form of English pronouns has lost many of the distinctions found in Old English and Middle English.


Test your knowledge of the history of the West Germanic language with this informative quiz! From the origins of Old English to the modern form of English, this quiz covers a wide range of topics including the influence of Vikings and Norman French, the Great Vowel Shift, and the evolution of grammar and vocabulary. Perfect for language enthusiasts, linguistics students, and anyone interested in the fascinating history of the English language. Are you ready to put your knowledge to the test?

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