History of the English Language

Timeline created by Castellaffron
In History
  • 449

    Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain

    Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain
    The Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain, speaking similar Germanic languages and preferring to speak their own languages rather than the Celtic language spoken by the Britons.
  • Period:
    449
    to
    Jan 1, 1100

    Old English

    The English spoken by Britons as Celtic died out when the Anglo-Saxons invaded in 449, and spoken until around 1100, which was when Middle English began.
  • 597

    Arrival of Christian missionaries in Britain

    Arrival of Christian missionaries in Britain
    Christian missionaries begin to arrive in Britain, bringing with them scripts from the Bible and manuscripts all written in Latin; thereby adding a vast amount of Latin vocabulary to Old English. Scribes began to write manuscripts, writing words the way they sounded as there was no standard spelling - giving proof of the various dialects of Old English.
  • Jan 1, 787

    Viking Raids begin

    Viking Raids begin
    Waves of Viking raids begin.
  • Jan 1, 878

    King Alfred created the Danelaw

    King Alfred created the Danelaw
    King Alfred "The Great" fought back the Danes in their settlements; and created the Danelaw. The Danelaw left the Vikings with land in the North, and the Britons in the South.
  • Jan 1, 980

    The Danes began to retaliate

    The Danes began to retaliate
    The Danes began to retaliate against the Danelaw.
  • Jan 1, 1000

    Beowulf

    Beowulf
    The exact publication date of "Beowulf" is not known, however it is the longest surviving piece of Anglo-Saxon literature, and holds a great importance in the English Language.
  • Jan 1, 1015

    King Cnut conquers England

    King Cnut conquers England
    In 1015-1016, King Cnut came from Denmark and conquered England.
  • Jan 1, 1066

    Battle of Hastings

    Battle of Hastings
    William the Conqueror arrived in Britain and conquered the country; his arrival creating the Doomsday Book, and the insertion of a vast vocabulary bank of French words in the English language.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1100
    to
    Jan 1, 1500

    Middle English

    The English as spoken by Chaucer; which began to die out around 1470. Middle English still had phonetic similarities to Old English, yet is more recognisable to us as a pre-cursor to the English was speak now.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1200
    to
    Jan 1, 1400

    Resurgence of English

    The Resurgence of English was the period in history over which English slowly began to take its place again in England; and would slowly begin to overpower French again.
  • Jan 1, 1204

    Normandy lost to France

    Normandy lost to France
    King John lost Normandy to France, and was left with no more than England and Aquitaine. Because of this development; French nobility residing in England lost contact over time with their relatives and fellow nobles in Normandy. Due to this, French nobility then begun to marry Anglo-Saxons, and eventually begun speaking both French and Anglo-Saxon as well.
  • Jan 1, 1295

    King Phillip IV of France threatened England

    King Phillip IV of France threatened England
    Peculiarly, King Edward I of England responded to the French threat in Anglo-Saxon; which would later result in Anglo-Saxon becoming more widespread in England.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1337
    to
    Jan 1, 1453

    100 Years' War

    Conflict betwen England and France arose; and thereby may have affected the positions of power of language in both French and English in history.
  • Jan 1, 1343

    Geoffrey Chaucer was born

    Geoffrey Chaucer was born
    Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the Cantebury tales nearing the end of the 14th century, at some point during the 100 Years' War. He is often considered as the "Father of the English Language".
  • Jan 1, 1348

    The Black Death

    The Black Death
    The Plague struck England; brought by the rats on trading ships. Much of the French nobility and commonfolk died, resulting in a "boost" of English. The prices of houses and lands were lowered, and wages begun to rise. Peasants were able to afford what they couldn't before, thereby losing their status as they rose in society - taking Anglo-Saxon with them.
  • Jan 1, 1362

    Pleading in English Act

    Pleading in English Act
    As the French language was rather unknown in England, this act allowed people to plead in court in English rather than in French.
  • Jan 1, 1370

    The Canterbury Tales

    The Canterbury Tales
    The exact publication date of "The Canterbury Tales" is not known, other than it was published at the end of the 14th century, written by Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Jan 1, 1385

    English replaced French in Schools

    English replaced French in Schools
    English officially replaced French, which was taught in schools.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1450
    to

    The Great Vowel Shift

    The Middle English pronunciation of words began to shift to what we know as Modern English; the way words were pronounced began to evolve in to more recognisable sounds of English.
  • Jan 1, 1476

    Introduction of the Printing Press

    Introduction of the Printing Press
    The introduction of the Printing Press is what allowed a boom in the number of printing resources in England, thereby allowing the appearance of over 20,000 new titles in England.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1500
    to

    Early Modern English

    The English as spoken and used by Shakespeare; very recognisable to us, however, uses terms which still hold close to Middle English language and traditions.
  • Period:
    Jan 1, 1500
    to

    Renaissance Period in England

    The "rebirth" of Art, Science and Knowledge. At this point in time, the Renaissance period was most prominent in places such as Italy and France, yet it still managed to make its way to England, during which time knowledge, art and science were all embraced.
  • Apr 1, 1564

    William Shakespeare was born

    William Shakespeare was born
    William Shakespeare was most famous for his plays and sonnets, and is remembered today for his influence on English Literature and the coining of hundreds of words in the English Language.
  • King James' VI and I Version of Bible

    King James' VI and I Version of Bible
    King James' VI and I of Scotland and England allowed for the of the Bible.
  • Shakespeare's first folio is published.

    Shakespeare's first folio is published.
    Shakespeare's first collected works allowed for many to read and preserve his plays, which would later have a huge impact on English Literature and Language as we know it.
  • Period: to

    Late Modern English

    The English language as it is currently spoken in English-speaking countries.
  • Johnson's Dictionary

    Johnson's Dictionary
    Samuel Johnson publishes his first English Dictionary, "A Dictionary of the English Language".
  • Lowth's Grammar

    Lowth's Grammar
    The publication of "Lowth's Grammar" allowed for the Middle and Upper Class people who wished to speak "correct" English to standardise their use of grammar.
  • Webster's American English Dictionary

    Webster's American English Dictionary
    Noah Webster attempted to simplify English in its most basic form, such as removing the "u" in "colour" to make "color"; thanks to this, there is now a way to differentiate between American English and British English.
  • Period: to

    Creation of the Oxford New English Dictionary

    The Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1928 was the first dictionary to include old-fashioned, technical and modern terms, including the etymology of each word; totalling with over 178 miles worth of type.
  • British Broadcasting Company

    British Broadcasting Company
    British Broadcasting Company is established (The BBC).
  • Oxford English Dictionary

    Oxford English Dictionary
    The first Oxford English Dictionary is published. It is the first dictionary which analyses the etymology of words, and the different meanings and nature of words.