English, the linguistic powerhouse we know today, has its roots in the intricate annals of history. It’s a West Germanic language, with its very name going back to the ancient Germanic people who ventured to the shores of Great Britain – the Angles. As time rolled on, English became the dominant language not just in the UK but also in Ireland, the USA, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and beyond, reaching the tongues of a staggering 1.5 billion people worldwide. Behold the untold story of English!
In the video above, Linguist Olly Richards dives deep into the annals of history to uncover the influences that shaped English into what it is today. The Anglo-Saxons, the indelible impact of the Church, waves of immigration, and the Viking invasions all left their marks on the evolution of this common tongue. But that’s not all; luminaries like Chaucer and Shakespeare played their part by introducing new words, enriching the lexicon.
And then, there was the Great Vowel Shift, a phenomenon that began in the 15th century. It announced a profound transformation in the way people pronounced their vowels, paving the way for early modern English. Simultaneously, the invention of the printing press revolutionized communication, making it easier for common English to become the lingua franca. Standardized spelling, punctuation, and grammar became the norm, putting an end to the haphazard spellings of words.
So there you have it, the untold tale of English, a language forged through migrations, invasions, literature, and linguistic shifts, and finally polished to brilliance by the printing press. A language that has, over time, become a global force connecting people across continents and cultures.