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  4. History of English - Wikipedia

They consisted of dialects from the Ingvaeonic grouping, spoken mainly around the North Sea coast, in regions that lie within modern Denmark , north-west Germany and the Netherlands. Due to specific similarities between early English and Old Frisian , an Anglo-Frisian grouping is also identified. These dialects had most of the typical West Germanic features, including a significant amount of grammatical inflection. Vocabulary came largely from the core Germanic stock, although due to the Germanic peoples' extensive contacts with the Roman world, the settlers' languages already included a number of loanwords from Latin.

The Germanic settlers in the British Isles initially spoke a number of different dialects, which would develop into a language that came to be called Anglo-Saxon, or now more commonly Old English. Old English was first written using a runic script called the futhorc , but this was replaced by a version of the Latin alphabet introduced by Irish missionaries in the 9th century.

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The most famous surviving work from the Old English period is the epic poem Beowulf , composed by an unknown poet. The introduction of Christianity from around the year encouraged the addition of over Latin loan words into Old English, such as the predecessors of the modern priest , paper , and school , and a smaller number of Greek loan words.

Most native English speakers today find Old English unintelligible, even though about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The language had demonstrative pronouns equivalent to this and that but did not have definite article the. The Old English period is considered to have evolved into the Middle English period some time after the Norman conquest of , when the language came to be influenced significantly by the new ruling class's language, Old Norman.

Vikings from modern-day Norway and Denmark began to raid parts of Britain from the late 8th century onward.

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In , however, a major invasion was launched by what the Anglo-Saxons called the Great Heathen Army , which eventually brought large parts of northern and eastern England the Danelaw under Scandinavian control. Most of these areas were retaken by the English under Edward the Elder in the early 10th century, although York and Northumbria were not permanently regained until the death of Eric Bloodaxe in The Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians thus spoke related languages from different branches West and North of the Germanic family; many of their lexical roots were the same or similar, although their grammatical systems were more divergent.

Probably significant numbers of Norse speakers settled in the Danelaw during the period of Scandinavian control. Many place-names in those areas are of Scandinavian provenance those ending in -by , for example ; it is believed that the settlers often established new communities in places that had not previously been developed by the Anglo-Saxons. The extensive contact between Old English and Old Norse speakers, including the possibility of intermarriage that resulted from the acceptance of Christianity by the Danes in , [12] undoubtedly influenced the varieties of those languages spoken in the areas of contact.

Some scholars even believe that Old English and Old Norse underwent a kind of fusion and that the resulting English language might be described as a mixed language or creole. During the rule of Cnut and other Danish kings in the first half of the 11th century, a kind of diglossia may have come about, with the West Saxon literary language existing alongside the Norse-influenced Midland dialect of English, which could have served as a koine or spoken lingua franca. When Danish rule ended, and particularly after the Norman Conquest , the status of the minority Norse language presumably declined relative to that of English, and its remaining speakers assimilated to English in a process involving language shift and language death.

The widespread bilingualism that must have existed during the process possibly contributed to the rate of borrowings from Norse into English. Only about or Norse words, mainly connected with government and administration, are found in Old English writing. The borrowing of words of this type was stimulated by Scandinavian rule in the Danelaw and during the later reign of Cnut. However, most surviving Old English texts are based on the West Saxon standard that developed outside the Danelaw; it is not clear to what extent Norse influenced the forms of the language spoken in eastern and northern England at that time.

Later texts from the Middle English era, now based on an eastern Midland rather than a Wessex standard, reflect the significant impact that Norse had on the language. In all, English borrowed about words from Old Norse , several hundred surviving in Modern English. Norse borrowings include many very common words, such as anger , bag , both , hit , law , leg , same , skill , sky , take , window , and even the pronoun they.

Norse influence is also believed to have reinforced the adoption of the plural copular verb form are rather than alternative Old English forms like sind. It is also considered to have stimulated and accelerated the morphological simplification found in Middle English, such as the loss of grammatical gender and explicitly marked case except in pronouns. The spread of phrasal verbs in English is another grammatical development to which Norse may have contributed although here a possible Celtic influence is also noted.

Middle English is the form of English spoken roughly from the time of the Norman Conquest in until the end of the 15th century. Merchants and lower-ranked nobles were often bilingual in Anglo-Norman and English, whilst English continued to be the language of the common people.

Until the 14th century, Anglo-Norman and then French were the language of the courts and government. Even after the decline of Norman, standard French retained the status of a formal or prestige language , and about 10, French and Norman loan words entered Middle English, particularly terms associated with government, church, law, the military, fashion, and food [15] see English language word origins and List of English words of French origin.

The strong influence of Old Norse on English described in the previous section also becomes apparent during this period. The impact of the native British Celtic languages that English continued to displace is generally held to be much smaller, although some attribute such analytic verb forms as the continuous aspect "to be doing" or "to have been doing" to Celtic influence. English literature began to reappear after , when a changing political climate and the decline in Anglo-Norman made it more respectable.

The Provisions of Oxford , released in , was the first English government document to be published in the English language after the Norman Conquest.

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The Pleading in English Act made English the only language in which court proceedings could be held, though the official record remained in Latin. Anglo-Norman remained in use in limited circles somewhat longer, but it had ceased to be a living language. Official documents began to be produced regularly in English during the 15th century. Geoffrey Chaucer , who lived in the late 14th century, is the most famous writer from the Middle English period, and The Canterbury Tales is his best-known work.

The English language changed enormously during the Middle English period, both in vocabulary and pronunciation, and in grammar. While Old English is a heavily inflected language synthetic , the use of grammatical endings diminished in Middle English analytic. Grammar distinctions were lost as many noun and adjective endings were levelled to -e. The older plural noun marker -en retained in a few cases such as children and oxen largely gave way to -s , and grammatical gender was discarded.

English underwent extensive sound changes during the 15th century, while its spelling conventions remained largely constant. Modern English is often dated from the Great Vowel Shift , which took place mainly during the 15th century. The language was further transformed by the spread of a standardized London-based dialect in government and administration and by the standardizing effect of printing, which also tended to regularize capitalization.

As a result, the language acquired self-conscious terms such as "accent" and "dialect".

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  • By the time of William Shakespeare mid 16th - early 17th century , [21] the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English. In , the first English dictionary was published, the Table Alphabeticall. Increased literacy and travel facilitated the adoption of many foreign words, especially borrowings from Latin and Greek from the time of the Renaissance. In the 17th century, Latin words were often used with their original inflections, but these eventually disappeared. As there are many words from different languages and English spelling is variable, the risk of mispronunciation is high, but remnants of the older forms remain in a few regional dialects, most notably in the West Country.

    During the period, loan words were borrowed from Italian, German, and Yiddish. British acceptance of and resistance to Americanisms began during this period. The first authoritative and full-featured English dictionary, the Dictionary of the English Language , was published by Samuel Johnson in To a high degree, the dictionary standardized both English spelling and word usage.

    Meanwhile, grammar texts by Lowth , Murray , Priestly , and others attempted to prescribe standard usage even further. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from the Industrial Revolution and technologies that created a need for new words, as well as international development of the language.

    The British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the Earth's land surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries. British English and North American English, the two major varieties of the language, are together spoken by million people. The total number of English speakers worldwide may exceed one billion. Over the last 1, years or so, English has undergone extensive changes in its vowel system but many fewer changes to its consonants.

    In the Old English period, a number of umlaut processes affected vowels in complex ways, and unstressed vowels were gradually eroded, eventually leading to a loss of grammatical case and grammatical gender in the Early Middle English period.

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    Consonants were more stable, although velar consonants were significantly modified by palatalization , which produced alternations such as speak vs. The Middle English period saw further vowel changes. Most significant was the Great Vowel Shift c. This occurred after the spelling system was fixed, and accounts for the drastic differences in pronunciation between "short" mat, met, bit, cot vs.

    Other changes that left echoes in the modern language were homorganic lengthening before ld , mb , nd , which accounts for the long vowels in child , mind , climb , etc. Among the more significant recent changes to the language have been the development of rhotic and non-rhotic accents i. The following table shows the principal developments in the stressed vowels, from Old English through Modern English C indicates any consonant :. The following chart shows the primary developments of English vowels in the last years, in more detail, since Late Middle English of Chaucer 's time.

    History of English - Wikipedia

    The Great Vowel Shift can be seen in the dramatic developments from c. For details, see phonological history of English as well as the articles on Old English phonology and Middle English phonology. The vowel changes over time can be seen in the following example words, showing the changes in their form over the last 2, years:. The English language once had an extensive declension system similar to Latin , modern German and Icelandic. Old English distinguished among the nominative , accusative , dative , and genitive cases, and for strongly declined adjectives and some pronouns also a separate instrumental case which otherwise and later completely coincided with the dative.

    In addition, the dual number was distinguished from the singular and plural. Nouns in Modern English no longer decline for case, except for the genitive. Pronouns such as whom and him contrasted with who and he , are a conflation of the old accusative and dative cases, as well as of the genitive case after prepositions while her also includes the genitive case. This conflated form is called the oblique case or the object objective case , because it is used for objects of verbs direct, indirect, or oblique as well as for objects of prepositions. See object pronoun.

    The information formerly conveyed by distinct case forms is now mostly provided by prepositions and word order. In Old English as well as modern German and Icelandic as further examples, these cases had distinct forms. Although some grammarians continue to use the traditional terms "accusative" and "dative", these are functions rather than morphological cases in Modern English.

    That is, the form whom may play accusative or dative roles as well as instrumental or prepositional roles , but it is a single morphological form, contrasting with nominative who and genitive whose. Many grammarians use the labels "subjective", "objective", and "possessive" for nominative, oblique, and genitive pronouns.

    Modern English nouns exhibit only one inflection of the reference form: the possessive case , which some linguists argue is not a case at all, but a clitic see the entry for genitive case for more information. Old English also had a separate dual , wit "we two" etcetera; however, no later forms derive from it. The two different roots co-existed for some time, although currently the only common remnant is the shortened form 'em. Beowulf is an Old English epic poem in alliterative verse. It is dated from the 8th to the early 11th centuries.

    These are the first 11 lines:. Which, as translated by Francis Barton Gummere , reads:. Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls. Since erst he lay friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve, till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate, gave him gifts: a good king he!

    This is the beginning of The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan , a prose text in Old English dated to the late 9th century. The full text can be found at Wikisource. Ohthere said to his lord, King Alfred , that he of all Norsemen lived north-most. He quoth that he lived in the land northward along the North Sea.

    He said though that the land was very long from there, but it is all wasteland, except that in a few places here and there Finns [i. Sami ] encamp, hunting in winter and in summer fishing by the sea. He said that at some time he wanted to find out how long the land lay northward or whether any man lived north of the wasteland. Then he traveled north by the land.

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    All the way he kept the waste land on his starboard and the wide sea on his port three days. Then he was as far north as whale hunters furthest travel. Then he traveled still north as far as he might sail in another three days. Then the land bowed east or the sea into the land — he did not know which. While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that contrary to their hypothesis mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.

    Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhism where one tries to notice present thoughts, feeling and sensations without judgement. What was once a tool for spiritual exploration has been turned into a panacea for the modern age — a cure-all for common human problems, from stress, to anxiety, to depression. Mindfulness has been sold to us and we are buying it. After all, thousands of studies suggest that it produces various kinds of measurable psycho-biological effects. However, despite what is commonly propagated, the idea that science has unequivocally shown how meditation can change us is a myth.

    After examining the literature from the last 45 years on the science of meditation, we realised with astonishment that we are no closer to finding out how meditation works or who benefits the most or the least from it. The few available meta-analyses report moderate evidence that meditation affects us in various ways, such as reducing anxiety and increasing positive emotions. However, it is less clear how powerful and long-lasting these changes are — does it work better than physical relaxation for example?

    Or than a placebo? The evidence on this is contradictory and inconclusive. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an eight-week group therapy programme blending cognitive education with mindfulness techniques. It was designed specifically as a treatment to help prevent individuals who have experienced recurrent depression from further relapse. As well as weekly group sessions, participants are encouraged to engage in daily mindfulness meditation at home throughout the course. This mindfulness therapy is growing in popularity, with recent calls for it to be more widely available on the NHS.

    Is it the meditation itself that causes the positive effects, or is it more to do with learning to step back and become aware of our thoughts and feelings in a supportive group environment? And why does it only work for some? Mindfulness is presented as a technique that will have lots of positive effects — and only positive effects. It is easy to see why this myth is so widespread. After all, sitting in silence, focusing on your breathing or being aware of the flow of thoughts and feelings would seem like a fairly innocuous activity with little potential for harm.

    Yet the potential for emotional and psychological disturbance is rarely talked about by mindfulness researchers, the media, or mentioned in training courses. And here we come to an important point. Buddhist meditation was designed not to make us happier, but to radically change our sense of self and perception of the world.

    Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that some will experience negative effects such as dissociation, anxiety and depression.