English - An Interesting Journey

The History of the English language is a very interesting one. It has evolved via 3 major languages that were brought here during the various invasions from European tribes and is separated into 3 categories. The first being termed as Old English, which came to the Eastern Coast of Great Britain with the Anglo Saxon invasion. In fact the word English is derived from the word Angle. Then of course came the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries, by which time a significant number of English words were Latin in nature, due to the influence of the Christian Church and was used in European intellectual life. Add to this the Old Norse from the Vikings and it becomes even more interesting or stranger, however you like to see it. This period of the language evolved into what became known as Middle English, which was widely spoken in Medieval England. We evolved to the modern English that is spoken today via the Norman invasion during the 11th century, which gave rise to many borrowings from the Norman French.

The emergence of Modern English was first established in the 15th century, when a major vowel shift took place in Southern England. The pronunciation of the English language was already evolving again, particularly between 1350 and 1700 and the famous Danish linguist, Otto Jesperson, (1860-1943), studied the English language with much enthusiasm and specialised in English Grammar.

Due to the influence of other European tribal languages, the English language now contains a very large vocabulary, which lends itself to complex spellings of words, particularly of vowels. In fact, having looked more closely at my mother tongue, I wonder how it is that I learnt to speak it at all! What we have left today in the English language is mostly based on the old Norman. Of course, as we know, our language is still evolving with the introduction of new words and meanings every year, which are not always included in the Oxford English Dictionary due to their 'slang' status. For instance the word 'sick' for something that is meant to be awesome, still does not sit very well in my mind as a meaningful expression. It just shouts contradiction!

English is now a dominant global language, due in part to the existence of the British Empire from the 16th to 19th centuries and is the official language of the European Union and the United Nations. English also replaced German in the scientific community during the second half of the 20th century. In fact English is required to be spoken now in most of the medical/ technical and scientific communities of the world. We have one of the largest and most complex languages on the planet, which in my view, as a writer, can only mean one thing: that I am truly blessed to have such an extensive selection of verbal expressions to draw from, when sitting down with pen and paper in hand to compose my next amazing story!