A Short History Of English Language

by | Dec 2, 2022 | Industry Updates

English is a language spoken in many countries. It is the native language of the United States, Canada, and some other areas of North America as well as the former British Empire. English is also used in some other Commonwealth nations and it has developed into a global lingua franca with ties to both Western culture and Eastern culture. The origins of this language are rather interesting in that it grew from the Anglo-Saxon dialects of Germanic languages spoken by settlers in Great Britain from approximately 450 A.D. onwards. And so, it should come as no surprise that even though there are many variations on written English going back centuries, today we can all understand one another when speaking.

Now, one thing that has changed over time is the degree to which people speak each language on a global scale. In its earliest forms, English was only spoken primarily by the ruling class in England and very few city dwellers had any exposure to it. But by the 19th century as literacy spread across Great Britain and then later England, more people were able to read and write in English. By 1900, most of the population was speaking it daily in communities with a high literacy rate because that demographic was more likely to be literate than those who were illiterate. In addition, the vast majority of children went to school; and so those who were taught in English could choose to speak it, or not. As a result, most people of this era spoke some form of English.

However, even though at the beginning of the 20th century there really was a large variety of dialects and accents (with some more pronounced than others), by the latter part of that century they had all been standardised into American Standard English. Anyone who reads some British literature from that period is likely to notice that they often contain many words and phrases that cannot actually be found in any American vernacular, such as “old maid”. American English of the late 19th century had developed and become more distinct, but still retained some elements of English that originated in varieties or dialects that were spoken before it came to be the widely used standard throughout the United States.

All through the 20th century, American English had little or no history and except for a few regions (such as Appalachia and New Mexico), it was a strictly vernacular variety. But we have also seen a trend towards regional variation in American English ever since we entered into the European power vacuum after World War II. The aging of public schools is another contributing factor to this, as children learn their accents from their elders growing up rather than from formal education. Of course, in a country that was born out of immigrants, this is to be expected. Still, many people have wondered what happened when the last of their parents died and they were left with only their children to learn the language from.

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, American English was virtually identical to British English (there were some minor variations). Even during World War II, though there was a rise in American patriotism after Pearl Harbor, most Americans continued to use British terms such as “duty” or “sir” just as they did before they went into battle. But with the onset of American self-rule following the war, there were numerous attempts at reviving regional variants of English for American use.

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