Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Language Change timelines

As promised, here are links to Language Change timelines for use with ENA5. Remember that you are set texts from 1600-1950 as part of your exam, so do not need to know masses of details about pre-1600 change, but I've suggested some broad areas which are important to remember below.

BBC History timeline

British Library timeline

Important areas to have an understanding of in pre-1600 language change:

  • Word order becomes increasingly more important in controlling meaning as Old English (Anglo-Saxon) develops. The Norse influence has a part to play in this but the change is almost complete by Early Modern English.
  • "Layering" of words from other languages is a trend that starts with Norse, continues with Norman and into the present day.
  • Integration is vital to the development of the English Language from Anglo Saxon through to the present day: where peoples intermingle, languages start to influence each other.
  • Technology was changing language as far back as 1476 when Caxton brought the printing press from the Netherlands. This helped to cement the East Midlands and South East dialect as the standard and led to the diffusion of written English around the country.

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