Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brief History of The English Language


"Stole" this interesting information from here:

A brief chronology of English

BC 55

Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.

Local inhabitants speak Celtish

BC 43

Roman invasion and occupation. Beginning of Roman rule of Britain.


Roman withdrawal from Britain complete.


Settlement of Britain by Germanic invaders begins


Earliest known Old English inscriptions.

Old English


William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invades and conquers England.


Earliest surviving manuscripts in Middle English.

Middle English


English replaces Latin as the language of instruction in most schools.


English replaces French as the language of law. English is used in Parliament for the first time.


Chaucer starts writing The Canterbury Tales.


The Great Vowel Shift begins.


William Caxton establishes the first English printing press.

Early Modern English


Shakespeare is born.


Table Alphabeticall, the first English dictionary, is published.


The first permanent English settlement in the New World (Jamestown) is established.


Shakespeare dies.


Shakespeare’s First Folio is published


The first daily English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant, is published in London.


Samuel Johnson publishes his English dictionary.


Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of Independence.


Britain abandons its American colonies.


Webster publishes his American English dictionary.

Late Modern English


The British Broadcasting Corporation is founded.


The Oxford English Dictionary is published.


  1. Webster beat Oxford by a full century???!!!

  2. According to Wiki, English is a West Germanic language originating in England. Thats like saying Hokkien is a Mainland Chinese language that originated in Penang. Made me see stars for a second.

    The Roman withdrawal may have created conditions for the Germanic invaders to come but I don't know if they had a hand in developing the English language. Latin was the medium for the bible but the Romans hated Christianity so maybe Latin-derived English words were invented later rather than introduced by the Roman occupation itself.

    In other words, English may have been an invention of the north rather than the East (where the Romans came from).

  3. So, it seems my friend wasn't being funny when he said, "I ke-nocked my ke-nuckles with my ke-nife (I knocked my knuckles with my knife)". It was the correct way those words were pronounced back then...

  4. And another, " It's a bra moon nit to nit." Meaning, "It's a bright moon night to night." Ya, good to dig up for laugh.

  5. Change takes place whether you accept or are aware of it and language seems to go first. Take Hokkien e.g. In Penang you say, "Lu mana eh ka gua kongsi" (You won't be able to share with me). Tell that to a Taiwanese, he'll scratch his head in confusion.

    Wherever we go we add local words to our vocab and we infuse our words into the environment. Is it a beauty or is it a bane? That depends on a person's point of view.

    I think it's interesting.

  6. I have a Malay client who told me he could not identify one word in his language that is not borrowed from other languages. He also could not find one dish that was not borrowed from other cultures. I thought wow, now that's truly a melting pot.

  7. Talking about this, once my korean-1119 tituion teacher greets us "Good Die" means "Good Day" i was wonder, this is British slang? America Slang? or Korean Slang?

    and once my Japanese friend say "I am har-pi to see you" means "i am happy to see you".. it think this is just influences by their slang.

    What you think?

  8. Japanese and Koreans learn their English mostly from the Americans, so I suppose they'd pick up the accent (not slang) as well. But that Korean with the 'Good Die' seems to come from Australia. So, if an Aussie asks you, 'You arrived here to die?' don't be alarmed. He doesn't mean you any harm....