Early modern english

History of English language

  • Period: 500 BCE to 43


    500 BCE-43 CE - The Celtic peoples (descendants of proto-Indo-European) engaged in widespread trade along the Atlantic coast and had expanded their occupation of Western Europe, and thus, a substantial part of Europe spoke varieties of Celtic language.
  • Period: 200 BCE to 200

    What happend next?

    200 BCE-200 CE - Germanic peoples move down from Scandinavia and spread over Central Europe in successive waves.
  • 43 BCE

    Roman occupation of Britain

    Roman occupation of Britain
    Roman colony of "Britannia" established. Culturally and linguistically, however, the Romans did not influence the population. Although, many Celtic Britons became Romanized, especially the local élites in urban towns, it did not happen in the countryside where old-time Celtic persisted. Brittones continued to speak a variety of Celtic languages.
  • 400

    Capture by barbarians

    Capture by barbarians
    406 CE – Bitterly cold winter freezes the Rhine river, allowing foreigner warriors (a combined ‘barbarian’ force) (Suevi, Alans, Vandals and Burgundians) to cross into Rome's continental holdings. Vandals and other foreigners (‘barbarians’) overrun the Roman province of Gaul.
  • 410

    Bad news from Honorius

    Bad news from Honorius
    In 410 the Roman emperor, Honorius (395-423 CE) –the first emperor of the Western Roman Empire–, told the local authorities in Britain that he could not send any reinforcements to help them defend the province against 'barbarian' attacks, and the Romans withdrew their arms and administration from Britain. Despite nearly 400 years in charge in Britain, Latin did not replace the Celtic language; the Romans did not leave much of their Latin language behind, beyond the occasional place name.
  • 449

    The first event: Anglo Saxons

    The first event: Anglo Saxons
    449 CE - The war-like and pagan Germanic tribes, descendants of proto-Indo-European, Angles, Saxons, who were all from northern Germany, begin to arrive. By 500 CE, many of the invaders had settled. Angles, Saxons, and other Germanic tribes brought with them their language[s], which soon dominated the island. Anglo Saxon dialects form the basis of the language we now call Old English, also called the language of the Anglo-Saxons.
  • 596

    The second event: Augustine

    The second event: Augustine
    A monk named Augustine, 596 CE - Christian missionaries arrive from the Continent, led by a monk named Augustine. They move through the land, converting the Anglo-Saxons from their Pagan beliefs to a Catholic Christian faith. Throughout Europe, the language of the Church was Latin, and the missionaries inject hundreds of new Latin words into the English language, but it also went the other way, they accommodate Latin to these pagans’ language to explain their faith.
  • 601

    Anglo Saxon vocabulary

    Anglo Saxon vocabulary
    Approximately one third of Anglo-Saxon words survive into modern English, including many of our most basic, everyday words: I, the, to, is, you, that, it, he, of, was, for, on, are, as, his, they, at, be, this, have, from, or, one, had, word, but, not, what, we, when, your, can, said, your, each, which, she, do, their, if. By the 7th century Latin speakers refer to this country as Anglia - the land of the Angles - a name that will later develop into England.
  • Period: 700 to 750

    Vocabulary - Latin words

    Many of the new words derived from Latin refer to religion, such as altar, mass, school, monk, but others are more domestic and mundane such as fork, spade, spider, tower, rose, cheese, wine.
  • 793

    The third event - The first Viking/Danish attack on Britain.

    The third event - The first Viking/Danish attack on Britain.
    The Viking continue their incursions, stretching over some 250 years, beginning in the eighth century. There were sporadic raids, and subsequent establishment of a permanent army in England during the 9th century. The language scenario inevitably changed due to the Viking activities which took place across the British Isles during the 8th and 9th centuries: the first wave consisting of Danes, and the subsequent wave consisting of Norwegians entering England from Ireland and the Western Isles
  • 800

    Vocabulary - Norse words

    Vocabulary - Norse words
    The Viking raiders and settlers spoke dialects of Old Norse and left permanent linguistic traces on the English vocabulary. By the middle of the 10th century, the Germanic dialects that originally arrived in Britain with the Germanic tribes of Jutes, Angles, and Saxons had developed far enough away from the Germanic languages on the mainland to count as a separate language, even though it was still relatively similar to the other Germanic languages, for example to Old Norse.
  • 1066

    The forth event: Normans

    The forth event: Normans
    The possibly most dramatic event for the further development of the English language took place in 1066. In that year the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada was defeated in what was to be the last major Scandinavian attack on Britain. However, only weeks later came a greater threat to the English king Harold; from the French duchy of Normandy came William the Conqueror, who defeated King Harold in the Battle of Hastings and became king of England.
  • Period: 1100 to 1450

    The fifth event: Middle English

    Middle English - a language in between - on its way from Old English to modern English.
    There was a widespread increase in literacy; universities are established at Oxford and Cambridge. There was an important influx of French words into the vocabulary. In grammar, the inflectional system of grammatical ending is reduced and simplified.
  • Period: 1337 to 1450

    The sixth event: 100 Years' War

    100 Years’ War fought between England and France. The background of this bloody conflict was whether many of the nobility in England owed their allegiance to England or to France.The French king, Charles VI, had ordered all English nobles who had estates in France, to surrender their land in England and return to France, or to forfeit their French holdings. Any noble who had given up his French lands, for the sake of his English possessions, would naturally now consider himself to be English.
  • 1362

    The seventh event: English in the Law Courts

    The seventh event: English in the Law Courts
    English in the Law Courts – As early as the late Middle English period, the language goes through a cultural and literary renaissance. English was becoming the language of government. Edward III ordered, ironically in French, that English should be used in the law courts and Parliament, ‘because the French tongue is much unknown.
  • 1397

    “ The Canterbury Tales”

    “ The Canterbury Tales”
    In 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the famous “ The Canterbury Tales”, a series of concise yarns, narrated by a variety of individuals from different walks of life.
    Fourteenth-century English was spoken (and written) in a variety of dialects. This unusual situation, in which the common people spoke one language, and the aristocrats another, was due to the Norman Invasion in 1066. The English language needed a standardization.
    The English language was at this point on the eve of Modern era.
  • 1399

    Henry IV

    Henry IV
    By the time Henry IV came to the throne in 1399, English had become so customary that no-one was surprised when he became the first king to take his Coronation Oath in English. In so doing, he settled the fate of French in England. The French language withered and died and English became the norm.
  • 1476

    William Caxton and the printing press

    William Caxton and the printing press
    The merchant, writer, diplomat, and printer William Caxton greatly influenced what is now Standard Written English.
    In 1476, William Caxton introduces the printing press to England. The arrival of the printing press is a major step towards a standard writing system – and initiates an enormous boom in the production of printed resources in English.
    William Caxton prints all kinds of texts: mythic tales, popular stories, poems, phrasebooks, devotional pieces & grammars.
  • Period: 1476 to

    The eighth event: Renaissance

    The dominant cultural development in Europe.
    This is a time of great cultural and intellectual development in studies relating to medicine, science and the arts. People want to expand their knowledge inspired by Columbus' 'Discovery' of the New World.
    Over the next 200 years wonderful discoveries and innovations are made in the fields of art, theater and science. There is a fresh interest among scholars in classical languages. The first folio of Shakespeare’s plays is published in 1623.
  • 1558

    An ineteresting fact

    An ineteresting fact
    When Elizabeth I, in 1558, was crowned, there were in the world approximately less than five million English speakers, and all of them lived in the British Isles.
  • Period: to

    The tenth event: Colonization

    ‘Discovery’ and the Colonization of the New World, 1584-1900s - A time for Modern conquest.
    It was during the Elizabethan period, in the late 16th century, when Walter Raleigh’s expeditions lead to the first settlement in America.
    Britain was an Empire for centuries and English language continued to change as the British Empire moved across the world - to the USA (1620), Australia, New Zealand, India, Asia and Africa.
  • ‘A Table Alphabeticall’

    ‘A Table Alphabeticall’
    In 1604, Robert Cawdrey's ‘A Table Alphabeticall’, listing the meanings of over 2,500 'hard words', is published. It is the first dictionary of the English language. Robert Cawdrey's ‘A Table Alphabeticall’ Cawdrey's primary audience was unskilfull female readers. The title page states that the Table Alphabeticall has been they may the more easilie and better vnderstand many hard English wordes, which they shall heare or read in Scriptures, Sermons.
  • Samuel Johnson and his dictionary

    Samuel Johnson and his dictionary
    Samuel Johnson
    At this time, books teaching 'correct' grammar, pronunciation and spelling are increasingly popular. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) publishes his famous dictionary in 1755: A dictionary of the English language : in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers : to which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar.
  • Period: to

    The ninth event

    Dictionaries, grammars, rules and regulations, 1700s; Industrial Revolution, 1760-1830s – Human knowledge continues to stretch into new areas, with discoveries in the fields of medicine, astrology, botany and engineering. The English language continues to undergo great changes. Many scholars believe that the English language is chaotic, and in desperate need of some firm rules. Standard English emerged slowly over a period of some three-and-a-half centuries.
  • At the time of American Revolution

    At the time of American Revolution
    At the time of the American Revolution, in 1776, most of the English speakers in the world still live in the British Isles, but by the late 19th century, the largest English-speaking population lived in North America.
  • The last event

    The last event
    ‘Global English, today – All Empires fall. The 20th century sees the British Empire slowly fall apart; today, the days of the British Empire are only a distant memory. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is established in 1922, broadcasting first to the Empire, then the Commonwealth from 1931.
  • The more interesting fact

    The more interesting fact
    In 1953, however, when Elizabeth II came to the throne, 250 million people spoke English around the world, and what is more surprisingly, four out of five did not live in the British Isles.
  • Great progresses

    Great progresses
    In 1972 the electronic revolution begins with the sending of the first network email.
  • The World Wide Web

    The World Wide Web
    The creation of the World Wide Web (WWW), in 1991, diversifies communication – much of it in English - on an unprecedented scale.
  • Period: to


    In the 21st century, two out of three English-speaking people speak English with an American accent