Birth of English: Indo-European Language Study-Old English Overview

"The people of the United States...speak, as a body, incomparably better English than the people of the mother country."
James Fenimore Cooper (1789 - 1851)

Although English is not bound by this geographical boundary and spoken by millions in many other parts of the world, its history as a language is confined almost wholly to England. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  The language , a variant of West Germanic, forefathers came to that country from the lowlands in the north-western part of what is now called Germany, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries of the Christian era, and destroyed or pushed back the Celts the indigenous Celtic-speaking peoples, who had lived there before and who spoke a language much likewise of the present day. The invaders belonged to three different tribes of certain Germanic peoples of the regions comprising present-day southern Denmark and northern Germany, known as Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (or Frisians). Read More Old English Literature History, however, leads us to believe that they were the entire Angle (or English) race, and that, with some slight differences they spoke the same language. This language is rightly called English; for they almost always called themselves Engle, and their language English. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)   Because the English language was brought into English, a England from the country now called Germany, being Latin fielded like the other languages of that country, it is the still like those now spoken there, and is, for this German reason, often called a Germanic (or, which is as a Teutonic) language. As time went on, Old English evolved further from the original Continental form, and regional dialects developed.  Of the Teutonic languages there are three great divisions, based upon their resemblances and differences:

Divisions of the Teutonic sub-family.

English, also one of the Indo-European languages.

(1) Gothic. This division is now extinct.

(2) Norse, or Scandinavian, This is now represented by Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic.

(3) West Germanic. This includes:(a) High German (now known as New High German, the language of modern German literature), at first spoken only by that part of the Teutonic family which lived in the central high lands of Europe; and

(b) Low German, originally spoken by those who lived along the low lying shores of the Baltic and the North Sea. Here belong Old English (or Anglo-Saxon), the ancestor of Modern English; Old Saxon now represented by Low German; Old Frisian, the modern form of which is spoken only in some of the islands off the coast of North Germany; and Old Franconian, spoken originally by the Franks who lived on the banks of the lower Rhine, and now represented chiefly by Dutch and Flemish.3. By comparing the languages and literatures of Europe and Asia, scholars have been able to show that all the Teutonic languages, along with nearly all the others in Europe and some of the most important in Asia, form a great body of languages resembling one another, and hence called a family. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  The existence of such resemblances can be accounted for only on the supposition that these are the languages of peoples whose ancestors' once spoke the same tongue, and, consequently, must have formed one tribe, or kindred tribes who lived near one another. We have no historical records about this ancient race; but we are reasonably certain that they once existed, more than three thousand years ago; and that, at some remote periods in the history of the world, migrations took place, and, in this way, their descendants have become widely distributed from India westward to the Atlantic. These primitive people are now called Arians, the name given them by scholars (Arimi, meaning "honorable' or "noble"). Read More Old English Literature Where, however, their home was is by no means certain. Many scholars have, of late years, come to believe that it was either near the southern shore of the Baltic, or, as seems more likely, about the Black Sea in Southern Russia. Many other scholars, however, still hold the old view that it was somewhere in the table-lands of Central Asia, between the Caspian and the Hindu-Kush Mountains.

The great family to which the Teutonic languages belong is, therefore, known as the Indo-European (or the Arian) family.

4. Besides the Teutonic sub-family, to which, as we other Indo-European have seen, English and German belong, there are a sub-families number of other divisions of the Indo-European family. Two of these are represented in—the Italic (or Italian) and the Greek (or Hellenic). The Italic division includes Latin, now no longer spoken, but seen in Caesar or Virgil; and French, to which (as also to Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and one or two others) the name Romanic is given, as it is the descendant of the ancient Roman tongue. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) The Greek division includes modern and ancient Greek, the latter being now seen in Xenophonor Homer.

5. The English we speak at the present day is by no means the same language as formerly went by that name. When first brought from Northern Germany to England, the language was so different from ours that we should not understand it if we heard it spoken; and we must study it just as we do French or German or Sanskrit, before we are able to read it. And a thousand years hence, if English live so long, it will probably be so unlike what it now is that we, if we were to come to life again, should perhaps not understand it without a good deal of trouble. Read More Old English Literature The reason is that every living language is continually changing; so that the speech of each generation differs somewhat from that of the one before it. In the course of time, some old words go out of use ; new words come into use ; some change their meaning ; all, or almost all, change their pronunciation; and the ways in which we put words together to express our thoughts become more or less changed English, not the same language in all stages of its history by degrees. On the other hand, a language like Latin or ancient Greek, which is only written or printed and is not now spoken, no longer undergoes any change whatever, and is, consequent', known as a dead language.

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