• 500

    OLD ENGLISH (c. 500 - c. 1100)

    OLD ENGLISH (c. 500 - c. 1100)
    Old English (Ænglisc, Anglisc, Englisc, pronounced [ˈæŋliʃ]), or Anglo-Saxon,[2] is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066.
  • Period: 500 to 1100

    Grammatical structure

    Old English is a more ‘synthetic’ language than Present-Day English, in that the grammatical functions of sentence components are signalled through their form, and in particular by inflectional endings, rather than through word order as in ‘analytic’ languages. In Present-Day English, a noun such as king has only two main forms: the singular king and plural kings, with an apostrophe used to signal the possessive king’s or kings’.
  • Period: 500 to 1100


    Define OE nouns and verbs in terms of grammatical categories they expressed.
    – gender → masculine, neuter, feminine
    – number → singular, dual, plural
    – case → nominative (S), accusative (Od), genitive (possession), dative (Oi), instrumental (instrument)
    – 2 categories of declension → strong (it declines for case, gender and number), a/o/u stem X weak (less variation between gender and cases).OE VERBS – person → 1st, 2nd, 3rd – number → singular, plural – tense → present, preterite
  • Period: 500 to 1100

    Alphabet and pronunciation (phonology)

    Although some of the letters are written differently, the alphabet is similar to that of Present-Day English, except that <j>, <k>, <q>, <v> and <z> are rarely if ever used, and there are three extra letters that have since fallen out of use. These are <æ>, a vowel pronounced as in cat, and the consonants <þ> and <ð>. Both were used interchangeably for the voiced and unvoiced sounds now written as <th> in words such as them (voiced) and theme (unvoiced).
  • Period: 500 to 1100


    In the lexicon of the Old English language one can more or less exactly stress several certain historical groups separated from each other by their origin. Old English was a language of migrants - Saxons, Angles and Jutes first lived in northern Germany, contacting with certain surrounding, and later moved to the British Isles where they established links with completely different people. Moreover, the language was quite dynamic.
  • 658

    The Anglo-Saxon or Old English Language

    About 400 Anglo-Saxon texts survive from this era, including many beautiful poems, telling tales of wild battles and heroic journeys. The oldest surviving text of Old English literature is “Cædmon's Hymn”, which was composed between 658 and 680, and the longest was the ongoing “Anglo-Saxon Chronicle”. But by far the best known is the long epic poem “Beowulf”.
  • 793

    The Vikings

    By the late 8th Century, the Vikings (or Norsemen) began to make sporadic raids on the east cost of Britain. They came from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, although it was the Danes who came with the greatest force. Viking expansion was finally checked by Alfred the Great and, in 878, a treaty between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings established the Danelaw, splitting the country along a line roughly from London to Chester, giving the Norsemen control over.
  • 871

    Old English after the Vikings

    By the time Alfred the Great came to the throne in 871, most of the great monasteries of Northumbria and Mercia lay in ruins and only Wessex remained as an independent kingdom. But Alfred, from his capital town of Winchester, set about rebuilding and fostering the revival of learning, law and religion. Crucially, he believed in educating the people in the vernacular English language, not Latin.
  • 1066

    MIDDLE ENGLISH (c. 1100- c.1500)

    MIDDLE ENGLISH (c. 1100- c.1500)
    Was a form of the English language, spoken after the Norman conquest (1066) until the late 15th century. English underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English period. Scholarly opinion varies, but the Oxford English Dictionary specifies the period when Middle English was spoken as being from 1150 to 1500.[3] This stage of the development of the English language roughly followed the High to the Late Middle Ages.
  • 1100

    Norman Conquest

    The event that began the transition from Old English to Middle English was the Norman Conquest of 1066, when William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy and, later, William I of England) invaded the island of Britain from his home base in northern France, and settled in his new acquisition along with his nobles and court. William crushed the opposition with a brutal hand and deprived the Anglo-Saxon earls of their property, distributing it to Normans (and some English) who supported him.
  • 1110

    French (Anglo-Norman) Influence

    The Normans bequeathed over 10,000 words to English (about three-quarters of which are still in use today), including a huge number of abstract nouns ending in the suffixes “-age”, “-ance/-ence”, “-ant/-ent”, “-ment”, “-ity” and “-tion”, or starting with the prefixes “con-”, “de-”, “ex-”, “trans-” and “pre-”.
  • Period: 1150 to 1500


    Middle English came to be written in a wide variety of scribal forms, reflecting different regional dialects and orthographic conventions. Later in the Middle English period, however, and particularly with the development of the Chancery Standard in the 15th century, orthography became relatively standardised in a form based on the East Midlands-influenced speech of London. Middle English generally did not have silent letters. For example, knight was pronounced [ˈkniçt].
  • Period: 1150 to 1500


    THE MAIN CHANGES!! Are Emergence of the voiced fricatives /v/, /ð/, /z/ as separate phonemes, rather than mere allophones of the corresponding voiceless fricatives. Reduction of the Old English diphthongs to monophthongs, and the emergence of new diphthongs due to vowel breaking in certain positions, change of Old English post-vocalic /j/, /w/ (sometimes resulting from the [ɣ] allophone of /ɡ/) to offglides, and borrowing from French.
  • Period: 1150 to 1500


    Middle English retains only two distinct noun-ending patterns from the more complex system of inflection in Old English. The Early Middle English nouns engel ("angel") and name ("name") demonstrate the two patterns: Strong (engel) Singular Plural Weak (name) Singular Plural
    Nominative engel engles Nominative name namen
    Accusative Accusative
    Dative engle engle(n)/englem Dative namen namen/namem
    Genitive engles[18] engle(ne)[19] Genitive namen(e)
  • 1167

    Middle English After the Normans

    During these Norman-ruled centuries in which English as a language had no official status and no regulation, English had become the third language in its own country. It was largely a spoken rather than written language, and effectively sank to the level of a patois or creole. The main dialect regions during this time are usually referred to as Northern, Midlands.
  • 1500

    EARLY MODERN ENGLISH (c. 1500 - c. 1800)

    EARLY MODERN ENGLISH (c. 1500 - c. 1800)
    Early Modern English, Early New English (sometimes abbreviated to EModE,EMnE or EME) is the stage of the English language from the beginning of the Tudor period to the English Interregnum and Restoration, or from the transition from Middle English, in the late 15th century, to the transition to Modern English, in the mid-to-late 17th century.
  • Period: 1500 to


    The orthography of Early Modern English was fairly similar to that of today, but spelling was unstable. Early Modern English, as well as Modern English, inherited orthographical conventions predating the Great Vowel Shift. Early Modern English spelling was similar to that of Middle English. Certain changes were made, however, sometimes for reasons of etymology (as with the silent ⟨b⟩ that was added to words like debt, doubt and subtle)
  • Period: 1500 to


    Today's "silent" consonants found in the consonant clusters of such words as knot, gnat, sword were still fully pronounced up until the mid-to-late 16th century and thus presumably by Shakespeare, though they were fully reduced by the early 17th century. The digraph <ght> in words like night, thought, and daughter, originally pronounced [xt] in much older English, was probably reduced to simply [t] (as it is today) or at least heavily reduced in sound to something like [ht], [çt].
  • Period: 1500 to

    Grammar "Pronouns"

    Early Modern English had two second-person personal pronouns: thou, the informal singular pronoun, and ye, the plural (both formal and informal) pronoun and the formal singular pronoun. "Thou and "ye" were both common in the early-16th century (they can be seen, for example, in the disputes over Tyndale's translation of the Bible in the 1520s and the 1530s) but by 1650,"thou" seems old-fashioned or literary.
  • Dictionaries and Grammars

    he first English dictionary, “A Table Alphabeticall”, was published by English schoolteacher Robert Cawdrey in 1604 (8 years before the first Italian dictionary, and 35 years before the first French dictionary, although admittedly some 800 years after the first Arabic dictionary and nearly 1,000 after the first Sanskrit dictionary).
  • The Bible

    wo particularly influential milestones in English literature were published in the 16th and early 17th Century. In 1549, the “Book of Common Prayer” (a translation of the Church liturgy in English, substantially revised in 1662) was introduced into English churches, followed in 1611 by the Authorized, or King James, Version of “The Bible”, the culmination of more than two centuries of efforts to produce a Bible in the native language of the people of England.
  • The English Renaissance

    The next wave of innovation in English vocabulary came with the revival of classical scholarship known as the Renaissance. The English Renaissance roughly covers the 16th and early 17th Century (the European Renaissance had begun in Italy as early as the 14th Century), and is often referred to as the “Elizabethan Era” or the “Age of Shakespeare” after the most important monarch and most famous writer of the period.
  • Great Vowel Shift

    A major factor separating Middle English from Modern English is known as the Great Vowel Shift, a radical change in pronunciation during the 15th, 16th and 17th Century, as a result of which long vowel sounds began to be made higher and further forward in the mouth (short vowel sounds were largely unchanged). In fact, the shift probably started very gradually some centuries before 1400, and continued long after 1700.
  • LATE MODERN ENGLISH (c. 1800 - Present)

    LATE MODERN ENGLISH (c. 1800 - Present)
    It is now normal to divide the time since the end of the Middle English period into the Early Modern English period (1500-1700) and the Late Modern English period (1700-1900). The latter period starts with the Augustan Age – called after the reign Augustus (63 BC - AD 14), a period of peace and imperial grandeur – which begins after the Restoration period (1660-1690) and ends in the middle of the 18th century.
  • Period: to

    Changes in grammar

    The nominal area MAXIMISING DISTINCTIONS The demise in English morphology which one observes in the history of the language should not be interpreted as an abandonment of grammatical distinctions. Quite the opposite is the case. The introduction of northern, originally Scandinavian forms they, their, them (to replace OE hi, hir, hem) and the development and acceptance of she (from OE hēo).
    The woman —— he knows has come.
    The woman —— lives here has come.
  • American Dialect

    In 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter: "The new circumstances under which we are placed call for new words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects. An American dialect will therefore be formed".
  • Colonialism and the British Empire

    British colonialism had begun as early as the 16th Century, but gathered speed and momentum between the 18th and 20th Century. At the end of the 16th Century, mother-tongue English speakers numbered just 5-7 million, almost all of them in the British Isles; over the next 350 years, this increased almost 50-fold, 80% of them living outside of Britain. At the height of the British Empire (in the late 19th and early 20th Century).
  • Present Day

    According to one recent estimate, it is expanding by over 8,500 words a year (other estimates are significantly higher), compared to an estimated annual increase of around 1,000 words at the beginning of the 20th Century, and has almost doubled in size in the last century.
  • The Industrial and Scientific Revolution

    The dates may be rather arbitrary, but the main distinction between Early Modern and Late Modern English (or just Modern English as it is sometimes referred to) lies in its vocabulary - pronunciation, grammar and spelling remained largely unchanged.
  • Second edition of the “Oxford English Dictionary”

    Second edition of the “Oxford English Dictionary”

    Today, English is the second or third most popular mother tongue in the world, with an estimated 350-400 million native speakers. But, crucially, it is also the common tongue for many non-English speakers the world over, and almost a quarter of the globe’s population - maybe 1½-2 billion people - can understand it and have at least some basic competence in its use, whether written or spoken.
  • Period: to

    Who Speaks English?

    It should be noted here that statistics on the numbers around the world who speak English are unreliable at best. It is notoriously difficult to define quite what is meant by “English speaker”, let alone the definitions of first language, second language, mother tongue, native speaker, etc. What level of competency counts? Does a thick creole (English-based, but completely incomprehensible to a native English speaker).
  • Period: to

    Reverse Loanwords

    Although a huge number of words have been imported into English from other languages over the history of its development, many English words have been incorporated (particularly in the last century) into foreign languages in a kind of reverse adoption process. Anglicisms such as stop, sport, tennis, golf, weekend, jeans, bar, airport, hotel, etc, are among the most universally used in the world.
  • Period: to

    Modern English Spelling

    Largely as a result of the vagaries of its historical development, modern English is a maddeningly difficult language to spell correctly. The inveterate borrowing from other languages, combined with shifts in pronunciation and well-meaning reforms in orthography have resulted in a language seemingly at odds with itself.
  • English as a Lingua Franca

    Any number of other statistics may be quoted, none of them definitive, but all shining some light on the situation. However, absolute numbers aside, it is incontrovertible that English has become the lingua franca of the world in the fields of business, science, aviation, computing, education, politics and entertainment (and arguably many others).