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English is a language that is widely used all over the world, and English as a language has developed through history, and it has changed from its basic origins, when it was referred to as 'Old English' to the modern English that is used today, which is referred to as 'Modern English'. What is important is that the language displays continuity through the ages, and this adds to the interest about the evolution of English as a language. It must be remembered at the very outset that English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages, which is a family that includes a large number of European languages being spoken today. The branches of this Indo-European language include Latin and the modern Romance languages, the Germanic languages, the group of Indo-Iranian languages, which would include Hindi and Sanskrit, the various Slavic languages, the Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian, but not Estonian, Greek, and other Celtic languages. The influence that the original Indo-European language is obvious even today, even though there is no written record to substantiate the fact. For example, when the word for 'father' in English is taken, it is 'pitr' in Sanskrit; it is 'vater' in German, 'pater' in Latin. These words are all referred to as cognates, meaning that they are all similar words in different languages that share the same root of origin. (A (Very) Brief History of the English Language)
However, it is often stated that the history of the English language started when the three Germanic tribes, the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes arrived in Britain in the fifth century A.D, from across the North Sea from what is today known as Denmark and Northern Germany, and invaded the country. This was the time when the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language, but soon after the invasion, these people were pushed into what is today known as Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Interestingly, the Angles arrived from Englaland, and the language that they spoke was known as Englisc, and it is from this word that the words English and England have been derived. (What is English? A short history of the origins and development of the English language) All Indo-European languages, it is often stated, have a tendency to inflect words rather than add endings to them, and this would be done by changing their root vowels, a system referred to as 'gradation', and this system exists even today in Modern English. However, the tendency to inflect words by shifting the stress from one syllable to the next is evident only as traces in both Old and Modern English. (Begon; Baker, 2003, p. 8)
It must be noted that conventionally, the history of English is divided into three separate and distinct periods: Old English, Middle English, and Modern English. The earliest period begins with the migration of certain Germanic tribes from the continent to Britain in the fifth century, as mentioned earlier, and these influences continued until the end of the eleventh century or even later, and by this time, Latin, Old Norse and the Anglo-Norman French which became prominent after the Norman Conquest in 1066 had all started to show their influences on the existing English language of the time, especially on the inflectional system and the grammar of Old English. These in fact had begun to break down completely, and this is exemplified in this verse from Aelfric's 'Homily on St. Gregory the Great', "Eft he axode, hu ðære ðeode nama wære þe hi of comon. Him wæs geandwyrd, þæt hi Angle genemnode wæron. Þa cwæð he, "Rihtlice hi sind Angle gehatene, for ðan ðe hi engla wlite habbað, and swilcum gedafenað þæt hi on heofonum engla geferan beon."
It must be observed that a few of these words do have their similar Modern English equivalent to this day, like for example, he, and him, of, for, and on. Perhaps, too, 'nama' can be taken to mean 'name', and 'comon' to 'come'. Some other words like 'asked', for example, have managed to survive, but in an altered form, in this case, 'axode', 'how' as 'hu', 'rightly' as 'rightlice', 'angels' as 'engla'. Some other words have unfortunately vanished without trace from the old English lexicon, and they are 'eft' which meant 'again', 'oeode' which meant 'people or nation', 'gehatene' which meant 'called or named'. The recognition of most of these words may not be possible for an average person, unless he has studied Old English as a subject, and this is made especially difficult because of the existence of two special characters in the language: 'þ', called 'thorn,' and 'ð', called 'edh,' which served in Old English to represent the sounds that are now spelled with ''.
Another important fact is that at that time, in the tenth century, the pronoun system did not yet include the third person plural forms that began with 'th', and instead, 'hi' appears wherever 'they' is supposed to be used. Yet another aspect of Old English during the tenth century, which is no longer in popular existence toda
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