The earliest form of English, was spoken in the middle ages between the 5th-15th century. Some vocabulary exists because of invasions- when one country enters and controls another. The history of English is the history of invasions- roman invasion in Britain, Norse-speaking vikings and Germanic saxons. The language spoken in the middle ages was called old English, but you might see it being referred to as Anglo-Saxon. An example sentence:
Godne mergen! Me licap pe to metanne! Good morning, pleased to meet you! - For German speakers the beginning of the sentence might sound familiar, because in German “good morning” is “guten Morgen”.
There are a lot of words that have survived from old English like beer, wine, drink, fish, bread, butter, eye, ear, mouth, head, hand, foot, life, love, laughter, mother, daughter, sister, son, brother, father. As a matter of fact in speech we use 80% of Old English, but in written much less.
What’s more, when it comes to William Shakespeare, who was mentioned earlier, he has added a lot of new words into the English language, he has had a big impact on the evolution of the language, which is also the reason why the 23rd of April was chosen for the national day. It is believed that he introduced around 1,700 new words to the English vocabulary, many of which we still use today, despite the language being changed over time due to wars and invasions following Shakespeare’s contribution. At the time that Shakespeare wrote his plays, the English language was constantly changing and absorbing new words, often as a result of exploration and war. Nouns were turned into verbs, verbs were changed into adjectives, prefixes and suffixes were added to alter the meaning of a particular word.
As we have gotten a bit more insight into the English language and the formation of it, we can surely say that English is an interesting language that is also widely spoken in the whole world. Since it connects people from all over the world, it has become the lingua franca of international relationships.
Lingual franca- also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a language or dialect systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both of the speakers' native languages.
I myself included, use English a lot in my daily life, because I work in an international environment and have made connections from various countries, therefore English being the common language we use for communication. I believe that speaking English opens so many doors for you in different areas of life, which is why it has always been important for me personally to have a high knowledge of English.
In conclusion English language is constantly growing, evolving and changing. One new word is added to the English dictionary every 2 hours, which is why the language never really stops it’s growth.
Here are some more fun facts of the English language:
“I am” is the shortest complete sentence in English.
The english dictionary has “ghost words” that mean nothing.
The shortest, oldest and most commonly used word is “I”.
The word “girl” was initially used to refer to “a child” or “young person” regardless of the gender.
The phrase “long time no see” is believed to be a literal translation of a native american or chinese phrase, as it is not grammatically correct.
The original name of the butterfly was flutterby.
“Month”, “orange”, “silver” and “purple” don’t rhyme with any other word. So if you are writing poetry, keep that in mind.
Karolin is an Estonian volunteer in Praxis organisation involved in the English Language Day campaig.