Evolution of the English Language From Caesar to Shakespeare
Summary Slide • First Invasions • The Beginning of English • Viking Invasions • Middle English • The Great Vowel Shift • Modern English
The Roman Invasions • 55 b.C.—Julius Caesar invades Britain. • 43 a.d.—Emperor Claudius conquers Britain. • Occupy Britain for nearly 400 years.
Roman Influence • Founded cities • Built walls, baths, roads, theaters • Intermarried with Celts. • Place names—Lancaster, Manchester, Winchester, London, Bath • Latin becomes the prestige language of education and social life
Romans Leave Britain • Roman Empire is threatened by invading Germanic tribes. • 410 a.d.—Emperor Honorius summons all Roman troops back to Rome. • Celtic tribes in Britain are left defenseless against future invasions.
So what language is being used in British Isles at this time? • Celtic languages—the native language of the people. • Latin—the language of Rome was the prestige language. • Education • Government • Written language
Anglo-Saxon Invasions • With the Romans gone, a power vacuum existed • Germanic tribes from the mainland soon began to fill that vacuum. • 450 a.d. By this time Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians have a firm foothold in Britain • Celts are conquered and/or driven out
The Beginning of English • What we know as English today begins with these Germanic invasions. • The word English comes from Angles • Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is an early form of German
Old English (450-1150 a.d.) • Four dialects emerge • Northumbrian • Mercian • Kentish • West Saxon
West Saxon • Most important OE dialect • Most OE literature is in West Saxon • Dialect of King Alfred (d. 899) • Dialect of government and church
Return of Latin • 597 a.d. Roman Church sends St. Augustine to England • England is Christianized
Latin • Latin is the language of the church • Latin once again becomes prominent in education • Latin is the written language of the time
So what language is being used in British Isles at this time? • Various dialects of Old English • All these dialects are forms of German • These dialects also adopt some words from Celtic languages and from Latin
Viking Invasions • Most powerful people of their time • 793 a.d. Vikings invade England • Eventually, Vikings control much of England • This area is called the Danelaw • Anglo-Saxons continued to control much of the south • Alfred the Great
So what language is being used in British Isles at this time? • Various dialects of Old English • These dialects continue to be influenced by Latin and Celtic • They are also now influenced by Scandinavian languages
Where do words come from? • Anglo-Saxon words: to, and, for, in, man, wife, child, fight, love, sleep, eat, house, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday • Latin words: altar, monk, preach, priest, hymn, noon, candle, offer • Viking words: lift, take, give, husband, sky, dirt, skull, leg, rotten, crawl, clasp
Here come the French! Here come the French! • 1066 a.d. William the Conqueror invades from Normandy, France • Brings 600 ships and 10 to 12 thousand men • Defeats King Harold at the Battle of Hastings
What Changes? • William the Conqueror was French • He did not speak English • French now becomes the language of the government and aristocracy • For the next 300 years all English royalty speak only French • Common folk speak English • Church speaks Latin and French
So what language is being used in British Isles at this time? • Common folk speak English, which is slowly simplifying its form (losing tense and verb endings, etc) • English is also adopting many, many French words • Upper class folk speak French • Church speaks French and Latin • Latin and French are also written languages
Middle English (1150-1500) • Grammar is simplified • Case and number endings are reduced • Fixed word order is developed • Word order dictates meaning • Chaucer first major writer to use English
So what language is being used in British Isles at this time? • Middle English, in various dialects, is now dominant • French begins to disappear from the scene • Latin remains prominent among the educated
Vocabulary • French Words: action, adventure, marriage, power, vision, beef, venison, honest, prefer, master, court, crown • Almost half of modern English vocabulary comes from Latin and French
The Great Vowel Shift (1450-1550 a.d.) • Middle English looks a lot like Modern English • But it sounds a lot different • Between the mid fifteenth century and the mid sixteenth century all this changes • This is called the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift (continued) • Why does this happen? • Nobody knows for sure • What happened? • Six vowel sounds changed pronunciation • For example: • Middle English “five” was pronounced “feeve” • Middle English “house” was pronounced “hoose” • Middle English “reed” was pronounced “raid”
Great Vowel Shift (continued) • Middle English also pronounced the vowel e at the end of words • For example: “sweete” was pronounced as two syllables “swait”-”uh” • The Great Vowel Shift changes all this.
Modern English • By the end of the 16th century, we have Modern English • William Shakespeare and company are about to show the world what wonders can be worked with this language • Spelling has yet to be standardized • But that’s another story entirely!