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Adrienne Harris August 20 2001 The History of the English Language The English language is one of the major languages of the world Over 320 million people all over the world speak English Most schools teach in English or teach English as foreign language It is used in international business and scientific research English was not always so popular During the early 19th century hardly 15 million people spoke the language How did English become so popular and where did it get its start There were three periods in the English Language The first period is known as Old English Old English began in 449 AD and ended 1100 Old English is a result of migration and invasion It began with Germanic tribes the Angles the Saxons and the Jutes invading England The language of the three tribes blended forming Old English The next invasion to affect Old English was the Norman Conquest The Normans spoke French As a result French became the dominant language However the common people continued to speak English The introduction of Christianity resulted in parts of Latin being added to the language in 597 AD There were four main dialects of Old English North Umbrian Mercian Kentish and West Saxon North Umbrian was the most popular and was the language the epic poem Beowulf was written in Most of the Old English samples that exist today are written in West Saxon The English language regained popularity in its second period called Middle English Old English became Middle English around 1200 The French language had a big influence of Middle English This change caused many grammatical changes From a rather highly inflected language English changed to one of few infections and as inflectional endings were lost so was grammatical gender which gave way to natural gender Grammatical structure went an increase in vocabulary and idiom principally under the influence of the French language -Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia Since Middle
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