English, a West Germanic language has developed for many centuries England. It started in south eastern Scotland at the height of the Anglo-Saxon era. The language has been shaped through interaction with other languages and cultures over time to become what we know today. Various historical occurrences also served to shape the language contributing to its grammar and vocabulary through the 18th to the 20th century. Such included economic, scientific and military developments. Currently, English enjoys a good global position among other language and many believe that it is on its way to becoming a world lingua franca. This paper will discourse the various stages that English went through to become what it is today.
Proto-Indo-European, the ancestry of the Indo-European languages was not a natural language that existed. An indo European root is a kind ancestry language that is believed to have lead to the development of the current European languages (Raikes, 1854). It is actually believed the languages spoken in Europe together with Iranian language spoken in Asia and India have a common ancestry. From instance in the early forms of English, the world “early” was written as “ayer” or rather the word early can be derived from ayer. According to Sekikawa (2003) Various differentiated pronunciations of this word and other is common in this languages hence pointing out to a common ancestry. Researches conducted previously indicate that up to 80% of the English words have their origin in the Indo-European roots. The Indo-European language is a virtual language created by use of comparative linguistics that was formed very fast in Europe during the 19th century. This was done through theorati-calre-construction which makes use of regular phono-rhythmic changes that were present in Indo-European languages. Recent researchers however are more focused on determining social organization of the original users of the Indo-European roots. Actually, it is thought that Proto-Indo-European was brought into Europe from Asia about 7, 000 year back. The Proto-Indo-European segment had prearranged prototype segments known as Indo-European-Roots. In total there were about 12 categories of these Indo-European-Root derivatives. These included Germanic, Italic, Armenian, Albanian, Celtic, Tochar-ian, Indo-Iranian, Anatolian, Greek (Hellenic), Balto-Slavic among others. Presently, the populations of people speaking these languages occupy half of the world. There are about 70 languages with this root of which English is one of them.
Sekikawa (2003) also observe the influence of Proto-Indo-European language is sill visible in languages such as English. Although no recorded evidence exits, the words spoken clearly tells use this. For example the English word father, is vater in Germany, pitr in snskrit, and pater in Lating. Clearly the words are cognates, meaning the same thin in different language but share a common ancestry or root.
Of this roots, two are important to the study of the development of English since the virtually influenced the English to most of what it is today. These are Germanic and Romance. English belongs to the group of Germanic languages (Algeo & Pyles, 2010). This group started developing as a common language in 3000 year back in the Elbe river region. at about the second century BC the Germanic language split into three autonomous subgroups. The East Germanic version of the language was spoken by those who migrated to Southeastern Europe. The second subgroup which is no longer in existence, it is only remnant is the remnant survive is the Gothic. The third and last group is the North Germanic which evolved into the modern Scandinavian languages namely Danish, Icelandic, Swedish, and Norwegian. Finish though Scandinavian is not Germanic or Indo-European. It is related to Estonia. The last category of the language, west Germanic provided the ancestry to present day German, Dutch, Flemish, Frisian and English (Krysstal, 2010).
This period started with the invasion by West Germanic invader who cam from Southern Denmark and Jutland. These were made up of the Saxons, the Jutes and the Angles whose name gave rise to the names English and England. In the fifth and sixth century these groups stated populating the British Isles (English Club, 2010).
The groups spoke a common comprehensible language that was similar to the modern Frisian (a language spoken by the in habitants of the northeastern region of the present day Netherlands). This was the old English and had four basic dialects Northumbrian in the north of England, West Saxon in the south and the west, Mercian in the Midlands and Kentish in the Southeast. As a result of this inversion the original inhabitants, Celtic-speakers were forced out of what is presently known as England into Wales, Ireland, Cornwell, Wales and Scotland. These inhabitants migrated leaving behind Celtic words that formed part of English. In the present day, the Celtic language is in existence in the Scottish, Ireland and Wales Gaelic Languages. Cornish, another language of the original inhabitants, is now extinct with the last native speaker Dolly Pentreath having died in 1777 in Mousehole, Cornwall.
Another formidable force influencing English at this particular time was the Vikings. At around 850, the Norse inversions imported many Germanic words into English especially in the northern England. A good example of these words is “dream” which at this time meant “joy” but got it current meaning from the Vikings who associated it with the Scandinavian synonym “draumr.” “Skirt” I yet another which however continues to stay with its native English alike “shirt”.
Evidently, majority of the words that make up modern English are foreign word with no foundation in the old root of the English language. About half or the words most used toady have their origin in the old English. Such word include words like be, strong and water. The poem by Beowulf dated about 1100 is a good example of the old English.