Introduction to Linguistics
  09. 11. 06 Development of English

09. 11. 2006 Development of English – Germanic roots and influences, the spread of English

  • Roman occupation ( Hadrian's Wall)

  • Celts: vocabulary ( luh "lake" loch, lough)

  • origin of place name „London“: a celtic tribal name ( The Cambridge Encyclopedia od the English Language, David Crystal, page

  • East Germanic

  • The gothic Bible: The bible of bishop Wulfila ( first translation of the Bible) ( 500 AD)

  • project Wulfila: digital library dedicated to the study of the Gothic language and Germanic languages in general

  • language died out about 1000 years ago

  • East- Germanic speaking people migrated to the south (France, ...)

  • North Germanic

  • The horns of Gallehus

  • The Golden horns of Gallehus were two golden horns, one shorter than the other, discovered in North Slesvig, or Schleswig, in Denmark. The horns were believed to date to the fifth century (Germanic Iron Age).


  • runes transcriptions

  • greek alphabet

  • used in north Europe

  • Saxons, Norsemen, Vikings

  • the external history of a language : the social, political, military, ... environment

  • Celtics were pushed back to Scotland, Wales and Cornwall by the Saxons

  • 600 AD the Norsemen settles islands like Scotland, Iceland, some parts of Northamerica, the west coast of Britain

  • Irish city names like Belfast or Galway

  • Vikings came from Sweden and Denmark

  • in France: Normans, big influence in 1066 (legal- and upper class language)

Old English

  • About 600 - 1000 AD

  • Task: Find out who or what “Beowulf” is

  • Find the text and a translation

  • Figure out the vocabulary and the grammar of two or three lines, by comparing the text with the translation

  • Beowulf (c. 700-1000 A.D.) is a heroic epic poem. At 3,182 lines, it is notable for its length in comparison to other Old English poems. It represents about 10% of the extant corpus of Old English poetry. The poem is untitled in the manuscript, but has been known as Beowulf since the early 19th century. In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of a Germanic tribe from southern Sweden called the Geats, travels to Denmark to help defeat a monster named Grendel. He later returns to Geatland, where he becomes king, and when he is old he kills a dragon and dies. Although dealing primarily with Scandinavian matters, the work has risen to such prominence that it is sometimes called "England's national epic".


  • Hwæt! Wé Gárdena      in géardagum

    Listen! We --of the Spear-Danes      in the days of


    þéodcyninga      þrym gefrúnon·

    of those clan-kings--      heard of their glory.

    hú ðá æþelingas      ellen fremedon.


    how those nobles      performed courageous deeds.

    Oft Scyld Scéfing      sceaþena þréatum


    Often Scyld, Scef's son,      from enemy hosts

    monegum maégþum      meodosetla oftéah·


    from many peoples      seized mead-benches;

    egsode Eorle      syððan aérest wearð


    and terrorised the fearsome Heruli      after first he was

    féasceaft funden      hé þæs frófre gebád·


    found helpless and destitute,      he then knew


    for that:-

    wéox under wolcnum·      weorðmyndum þáh


    he waxed under the clouds,      throve in honours,

    oð þæt him aéghwylc      þára ymbsittendra


    until to him each      of the bordering tribes

    ofer hronráde      hýran scolde,

Him se yldesta      andswarode·


He the eldest      answered,

werodes wísa      wordhord onléac:


the crew's captain,      he unlocked his word-hoard:

'Wé synt gumcynnes      Géata léode


'We are of the tribe      of the Geat people

ond Higeláces      heorðgenéatas·


and Hygelac's      hearth-companions;

wæs mín fæder      folcum gecýþed


my father was      known to the folk,

æþele ordfruma      Ecgþéow háten·


a noble vanguard-warrior,      called Edgetheow,

gebád wintra worn      aér hé on weg hwurfe


who saw many winters      ere he passed away,

Him: he , se: the, yldesta: eldest, andswarode: answered, onléac: unlock, wé: we, synt: are (German sind) , gumcynnes: tribe, Géata: great ( German großer), léode: people (German: Leute), ond: and (German und), Hygeláces: Hygelac's, heordgenéatas: hearth companions, waes (was, war), mín (my, mein), faeder (father, Vater), folcum (folk), gecýped (known)

was my father folk known : my father was known to the folk

1st part present participle – subject- object- 2nd part present participle

( text, translation :

Middle English

  • The Canterbury Tales

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote

The droghte of March hath perced to the


And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete


Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge


Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open eye

(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);

Thanne longen folk to goon on


When April with his showers sweet with fruit

The drought of March has pierced unto the


And bathed each vein with liquor that has


To generate therein and sire the flower;

When Zephyr also has, with his sweet


Quickened again, in every holt and heath,

The tender shoots and buds, and the young


Into the Ram one half his course has run,

And many little birds make melody

That sleep through all the night with open


(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and


Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

ME Glossary

  • soote: sweet

  • swich licour: such liquid

  • Zephirus: the west wind (Zephyrus)

  • eek: also

  • holt: wood

  • the Ram: Aries, the first sign of the Zodiac

  • yronne: run

  • priketh hem Nature: Nature pricks them

  • hir corages: their hearts

Old English Dialects

  • Northumbrian

  • Mercian ( Swedish, Danish)

  • Kentish

    Middle English Dialects

  • Northern

  • Westmidland

  • Eastmidland

  • Southern

  • Kentish

Modern English Dialects

  • Lower North

    - /lang/

  • Western Central

    - /long/

    - /bath/

  • Northern Southwest

    - /ba:th/

  • Eastern

    - /a:m/

  • Western

    - /arm/


Learner's diary

Today's lecture was about the development of the English language and about written examples of every chapter of the history of English language. First of all we revised the Celt's important role which they played in the history of English and still do. There are still a lot of common English words which have their origin in the Celtic vocabulary.

The most important example for the east Germanic language is the "Gothic Bible" which you can find on the internet as there is a project Wulfila which helps to conserve this relict. The Gothic Bible was probably written about 500AD.

An example for north germanic inscription is the horn of Gallehus.

Going on with the history of English, the Saxons, Norsemen and Vikings arrived. The Saxons came from the western part of Germany and conquered a big part of England. The Norsemen cam from the coast of Norway and conquered some parts of the west and north or Scotland and some parts in Ireland which are now big cities like Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Finally the Vikings cam from Sweden and conquered some eastern parts of England and Scotland.

One example of Old English is "Beowulf" which was written about 600- 1000 AD.

In Middle English times, Chaucer wrote the Canterbury tales.

I liked today's lecture, it was interesting and well structured. What I liked especially about the slides were the ones which show you at what stage you are actually, for example slide no 15, there is a big yello box, with all important stages of the development and there is an arrow pointing on the stage you are actually talking about.


Colonal language spread

    Check the main colonial periods of ...

  • Portuguese

  • 1415 – 1999

  • Spanish

  • 1402 – 1975

  • Dutch

  • 1602 – 1975

  • French

  • 1555 – 1960

  • English

  • 1496 – 1997 (Hong Kong)

  • Spread to


  • North America

    1607 first permanent English settlers ( -> Jamestown, Virginia)

    1620 Mayflower 35 members of English Separatist Church ( -> Plymouth, Massachusetts)

    1640 25.000 immigrants


  • Australia

    1770 James Cook

    1790 first penal colony at Sidney -> relieve overcrowded prisons in England

    British Isles main source of settlers -> main influence on language


  • West / East / South Africa; India, ...

  • West Africa

    1517 importation of African slaves to work on sugar plantations „Atlantic triangle“

    hips from Europe -> West African coast

    black slaves -> Caribbean islands,

    American Coast sugar, rum, molasses -> England

    Beginning of 19th century : increase in use of English

  • South Africa

    British colony in 1795, English official language 1822

  • India

    1600 East India Company ( London merchants who were granted monopoly by Elisabeth 1.)

    power of Mughal emperors decline -> company's influence grows

    1858 power to the crown

Learner's diary

As I am not very interest in general history for me the first part of the lecture was a bit boring ( project wulfila and the Horns of Gallhus) but I liked the second comparative part of today's lecture as I am very interested in the comparison of languages.







Development of English:

  • What are the most important stages?

  • Anglo Saxon

  • Old English

  • Middle English

  • Early Modern English

  • Modern English

  • What is the significance of Celtic / Latin?

  • Base of today's English, a lot of borrowings

Which major changes happened between

  • Old English and Middle English?

  • Rise of french (Norman influence 1066)

  • Middle English and Modern English?

  • Great Vowel Shift

English today

  • What are the main English dialects in Britain?

  • Received Pronunciation (Queen's English, BBC English)

  • Northern English

  • Tees speak

  • Geordie (spoken in Northumberland)

  • Mackem (spoken in Sunderland)

  • Pitmatic (spoken in Durham)

  • Cumbrian

  • Tyke (Yorkshire)

  • Lancashire

  • Mancunian (or 'Manc')

  • Scouse (spoken in Merseyside)

      • East Midlands English

        • Derbyshire

  • Nottinghamshire

  • Lincolnshire

  • Leicestershire

      • West Midlands English

        • Black Country (Yam Yam)

  • Brummie (spoken in Birmingham)

  • Potteries (North Staffordshire)

  • Herefordshire

  • Warwickshire

  • Worcestershire

      • East Anglian English

        • Norfolk dialect (Broad Norfolk)

  • Suffolk dialect

      • South East England

        • Estuary English

  • Cockney (London)

      • West Country dialects

        • Somerset

  • Devon

  • Cornwall

  • Dorset

    • Scotland

      • Scottish English

  • Highland English

  • Glaswegian

    • Wales

      • Welsh English

  • North East English a toned down Scouse/Manchester accent due to English population

  • Pembrokeshire dialect

  • Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland)

    • Hiberno-English

  • Mid Ulster English

  • Isle of Man

    • Manx English


  • Where is English spoken today as a native language?

    Australia, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain, USA, India, New Zealand, ...

  • Why is English spoken all round the world?

  • British empire- commonwealth

Check Google for works by Jennifer Jenkins - what do

you find?


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