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Old English 5th-11th century
Development of English from the linguistic influence of Germanic and Viking invaders.
Invasion of Germanic tribes- Angles, Saxons and Jutes
Old English developed from these tribes displacing Celtic language
Latin alphabet adopted and Latin was used by the educated and the elite.
Missionaries sow the first seeds of literacy, adapt Latin alphabet to suit old English
sounds.
Danes rules most of eastern England, language of the Danes exerts immense and long
lasting influence, more than 1,500 place names, regular English pronouns, `they' and
`them'.
Grammar of old English relied heavily on inflections, prefixes and suffixes.
Inflections- addition of an affix, dogs from dog, spoke from speak.
Prefixes- To put or attach before or in front of, an affix, such as dis- in disbelieve
Suffixes- added to the end of a word such as -ness in gentleness, -ing in walking, or -s
in sits.…read more

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Middle English 11 -14 century
The mixing of French with English after Norman conquest.
Following Norman invasion, class division, aritocracy, law and givernment= French,
common people= old English,. church, education =Latin, trilingual country.
Universities of Cambridge and oxford established.
Word order becomes increasingly important in conveying meaning rather than word
endings, loss of inflections, subject-verb-object.…read more

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Early Modern English 15th-17th century
William caxton 1476- Printing press helped to standardize English, spread of literacy.
There was a gradual acceptance of a standard form of English, made necessary by the
increasing forms of printed materials, giving it a feeling of permanence and prestige.
Many Greek and Latin texts were translated into English.
Spelling still wasn't consistent, as words were still spelt differently according to dialect and
personal choice of the writer.
End if 16th century, first guides to spelling were published by richard mulcaster- 8000 words
no definitions.
Three basic punctuation marks; punctus (.), colon and forward slash, (virgule) which
functioned like a comma.
Exclamation marks and semi colons started to be used in 16th century.
The renaissance sparked fresh interest in classical languages and their literature and led to
development in studies of medicine, science and the arts, ransacking 50+ languages to find
terms to describe new concepts.
English vocab continues to expand with borrowings, new words from Latin and Ancient
Greek, Italy and Spain, Africa and Asia- period of world exploration.
1400-1600 change in the pronunciation of all long vowels, the great vowel shift, major
phonological difference between middle English and early modern English- pronunciation of
English began to stabilize.…read more

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Late modern English- 18 -19 century
Attempts to define the vocab and grammar led to the establishment of prescriptivist rules
that lay down the correct usage of language.
Non standard varieties viewed as inferior; Latin viewed as ideal language and a model for
English dictionaries.
Age of the dictionary where writers tried to fix the language.
Lexicography craze- (compiling dictionaries)
Grammar; Robert Lowth's short introduction to English grammar, 1762
Spelling; Samuel Johnson's a dictionary of the English language, 1755, 40,000 words.
Laid down rules for spelling and meanings of words.…read more

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19 century- present
Expansion of the British empire brought new words into English from the countries
that came under British rule, e.g india
Advancements in science and medicine led to inventions of new words
Social, cultural and political development have contributed to lexis e.g hippie
Improved communication and increased mobility people were exposed to a wide
range of accents and dialects
Industrial revolutions-major development in science and technology 1760-1830
1922 BBC established- RP accent
Electronic revolution 1972
www- 1991
Invention of railway and cars led to increased mobility, regional dialects are no longer
self contained, become diluted.
Late 20th centruy- drift towards more colloquial and casual styles of language in many
contexts reflecting great social change.
English emerges as a world language…read more

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