Other Free Encyclopedias » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia » 21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Eilat to ERA

English language

words native 8th varied

English language, native language of more than 400 million people in the United States, the British Isles, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages and is most closely related to Dutch, Flemish, and German. Old English originated when the languages of the Angle and Saxon tribes replaced those of the native Britons in invasions from the 6th to the 8th century. Only about one-fifth of modern English vocabulary comes from Old English, but this includes many words in frequent use, such as, eat, drink, child, and house. Scandinavian invasions from the 8th to the 11th centuries contributed Norse elements to the language. Old English evolved into Middle English largely as a result of the Norman invasion of 1066. The old inflectional endings of words began to disappear, and many thousands of French words were introduced. Early modern English began to emerge in about 1500, with major shifts in the pronunciation of vowels and drastic changes in the verb system. Greek and Latin words were absorbed into the language, partly as a result of the influence of the Renaissance, and spelling began to be made uniform. By the early 17th century, the language had attained something like its present form. American English evolved from the language of the early settlers, which varied according to their origin and social status. In some cases English words took on a new meaning; in others, Americans continued to use words no longer in use in England. Mostly because of its varied origins and international influences, the English language today has the largest vocabulary of any language. It has the second-highest number of native speakers (after Chinese), and the widest geographical influence.

English literature [next] [back] English horn

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or