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The History of the English Language

Posted in English Language by Justin on 16 Aug 2011

The English language has a long history of change and progress. Being rooted around 450 AD in what is known as old English, today's modern English has come a long way. Scholars maintain that modern speakers would struggle to understand the basic tenants of old English. However, many of our most common words today (be, water, strong) are based on the earliest forms of the English language.

In the 1600's, the English speaking world experienced a Great Vowel Shift. Words began to be pronounced shorter and shorter, allowing for quicker conversations. This played heavily into the advent of the moveable printing press. Books slowly became a cultural mainstay, allowing more people the opportunity to read. This in turn helped create a centralized English language, while expanding its cultural boundaries. In 1604, the first English dictionary was published, creating a standardized procedure for words and speaking.

As the Americas grew and English spread, it expanded upon itself. More and more cultures were introduced into America, causing the English language to pick up new words, pronunciation, and syntax. Nouns began to replace verbs (lend vs. loan), and new words were being invented and introduced (like canyon and ranch). The affects of the language integration still echoes throughout North America. The English language is filled with words from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Dialects are a prime example of this integration, as places like Louisiana, Texas, and many providences of Canada speak an eclectic mix of English and other inhabiting languages. English continues to be a global force as films, TV, video games, and sports have become international mainstays due to advanced technology and digitized internet. As the English language progresses, more and more countries encourage students to learn the language in tandem with their countries. It is never too late to learn English!