• facebook
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

History of English Language

           English is a member of Indo-European family of languages. This family is of three hundred years old consisting of many branches. Germanic is one major branch of this family from which English language originated. The other branches of this family are: Slavic, Baltic, Celtic, Romance and Indo-Iranian.

         The History of English Language can be studied in three different periods viz;

 
 

OLD ENGLISH: (500 - 1100 AD)
         In this fifth century a tribe called 'Angles' came from South of Denmark to occupy British Islands. Another tribe called 'Saxons' also joined the Angles to occupy the island.
         The 'Celts' were the local inhabitants dwelling in the islands before the advent of these two tribes.

          The people of these two tribes developed a friendship and started living together and the common language they spoke was called 'Anglo-Saxon'. This Anglo-Saxon language now is called 'Old English'. Anglo-Saxon language gradually came to be called as Englisic and the land where this language was spoken came to be recognised as 'Engla-land' and now called as England.
          As Old English (Anglo-Saxon) began to evolve four major dialects emerged.

 

          Old English did not sound or look like English of present day. Native speakers would have great difficulty in under standing Old English. Any how about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong water for example derive from Old English.

MIDDLE ENGLISH: (1100 - 1500)
        The second phase of the history of English is Middle English. In 1066 William, the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (Part of Modern France) invaded and conquered England. The new rulers called Normans spoke 'Anglo-Norman' (Norman French) which was also a product of Germanic. After the invasion of Normans there prevailed a distinction in the use of languages. The lower classes (Peasants, slaves) spoke English and the upper classes spoke Norman French. In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again with many French words added. Thus a blending of Anglo-Saxon, the language of the ruled and Anglo-Norman, the language of  the rulers gave birth to Middle English.
         The most famous example of middle English is Chaucer's "Prologue to Canterbury Tales". The Middle English period came to a close around 1500 A.D. with the rise of Modern English.

MODERN ENGLISH: (1500 - TO DATE)

The Modern English Period can be studied in two phases:
1) Early Modern English
2) Late Modern English.

 

1) Early Modern English: The Renaissance movement brought a tremendous change in the English Language during this period. Many classical Latin and Greek words took a place in the language.
           William Shakespeare who has chronicled the history of England has used examples of early Modern English in his play "Loves Labour's Lost" through a character called Holofernes.
           Two other major factors influenced the language and served to separate Middle and Modern English. The first was the 'Great Vowel Shift'. This was a change in pronunciation that began around 1400. This Great Vowel Shift distinguishes Modern English from Middle English. The Middle English has words with vowels which are predominantly pronounced from the back of the mouth, where as the words in Modern English are pronounced from the front of the mouth. The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Jesperson, a Danish linguist and Anglicist who coined the term.

The last major factor in the development of Modern English was the advent of the printing press. William Caxton brought the printing press to England in 1476. Consequently many works were published in English. The Bible was written in Modern English for the benefit of common people during the rule of king James. Further the first Purely English Alphabetical dictionary " A Table Alphabeticall" was written by Robert Cawdrey in 1604. Later in 1755 Samuel Johnson's Dictionary was published. All these developments stabilised the English language to a large extent.
 

2) Late Modern English: 1800 - Present
The English language development received a further impetus with the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of British Empire. The British invasion led to the language borrowing words from Greek and Latin and adopting them to suit the English Phonology and Morphology.

 

KEY POINTS OF THE TOPIC

*  English belongs to the Germanic branch of Indo - European family of languages.
* Celts were the local people in the British Islands before the advent of Angles and Saxons.
*  Old English is the other name for Anglo - Saxon language.

*  Four major dialects of Old English are:

North Umbrian (Northern Part), Mercian (Midlands) West - Saxon (West and South) and Kentish (South - East)
*  "Beowulf" is the rich source of Old English.
*  William, the Duke of Normandy invaded England in 1066.
*  A combination of Anglo - Saxon and Anglo - Norman gave birth to Middle English.
*   Chaucer's "Prologue to Canterbury Tales" is the famous book in Middle English.
*   Great Vowel Shift attributes to change in pronunciation.
*   Great Vowel Shift was studied by Jesperson and coined the term.
*   "A Table Alphabeticall" is the first dictionary in English written by Robert Cawdrey.
*   William Caxton brought printing press to England in 1476 which led many works published in English.
*  Many Greek and Latin words found a place in English Language on the eve of Industrial Revolution and the expansion of British Empire.

History of English Language - 2

     English is a member of Indo-European Family of Languages. Germanic is one of the major branches of this family from which English language originated. The History of English language can be studied in three different periods Viz.,

1) Old English (500-1100 AD),
2) Middle English (1100-1500 AD),
3) Modern English (From 1500).

Nature of Language

“The most impressive of human abilities is that of language” - John D Barrow
Language is an integral part of human life. It serves as a means to express our thoughts, beliefs, ideas and emotions. Language is an outstanding trait of human beings.

 Important Definitions of Language

'Language is purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.' - Sapir
Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication. - Ward Haugh
'Language is a set of human habits, the purpose of which is to give expression to thoughts and feelings and to import them to others.' - Otto Jesperson

 

 Origin of Language

     Several theories have been expounded in support of its origin of language and its nature but all are based on speculation and guess.  According to Divine Gift theory, language is the gift of god. Not only in India but in many countries the people believe that divine is the source of origin of language. Another view is that the cries of animals, noises of birds served as a source of inspiration to the primitive man to express himself through speech. This theory  is known as 'Bo-bo theory'. It is also called invitationtheory. Another theory with regard to the evolution of language concerned is 'Ding-dong theory'.

The sound ding-dong is associated with the ringing of the bell. This theory believes that there is an inherent quality in certain objects to force the man to elicit certain sounds resembling the sounds of those objects.  
     The 'Yo-he-Ho theory' is one which assumes certain kind of physical exertions produce certain sounds which give a feeling of relief to our system. The uttering of sounds like ‘Hayi- Sha’ helped the man to evolve the language. 

 

Distinctive Features of Language

     A clear understanding of various features of language is necessary for the understanding of the nature of language. The following are some distinctive features:
a) Language is Systematic: Language is a kind of code. It has a complex system with many sub systems

 

Just as various Systems of our body - Heart, Lungs, Hands, Eyes etc., though different yet work in co-ordination. Similarly the system of language functions with the co-ordination of sounds, words, structures and finally gives a message.  

b) Language is Arbitrary: The meaning of the term ‘arbitrary’ can be understood as ‘illogical’. Language chooses its own system of speech sounds and has words for different objects. There is no direct connection between the sound or form of any word and the object it represents. The following illustration reflects the arbitrariness of language.  

 
      It is evident from the above illustration that the English name ‘Cat’ given to that animal is not the same in other language. Hence words and their meaning have no natural connection and it is arbitrary.   

 

c) Language is creative: The word ‘creative’ refers to the capacity of  language users to produce and understand an indefinetly large number of sentences most of which we have not heard or used before.

     Language is creative or productive. This means that with language we can produce and understand any number of sentences which we might have never heard before. The units of language are combined to form various meaningful sentences.  

d) Language exhibits Redundancy: The repetition of the same idea or item of information within a phrase or clause of sentence is called redundancy in language. Language has the ability to repeat an idea without using same words and structures.
 

e) Displacement: Language exhibits displacement. Displacement means an ability to express or speak about things that are not physically present. We can talk about fairies, angels, heaven, hell etc., which we have never seen and not sure of their existence. 
 

f) Language transmits culture: Language is said to be an agent or custodian of culture. It is the most important tool for transmitting culture from one generation to the other. Infact culture and language are thoroughly interwined, that the loss of one leads to the loss of the other. We have all learnt English and hence we use terms/ phrases like thank you, sorry, yes, no, ok, sure etc., frequently than others who have not learnt English. Using expressions like these is a sign of acquiring the culture of language we have learnt.

g) Language exhibits prevarication: Language helps us to be imaginative and creative. We can tell fairy talks and fables which are not really true. Lot of imagination and creativity take place while narrating these type of stories. Hence human language provides a scope to give false messages. The ability of giving false messages or telling lies is called prevarication. 

         

 Importance of Learning English as a Second Language:

"A traveller who can speak English will find somebody who can understand him wherever he may go; any one who can read English can keep in touch with the whole world without leaving his own house'' - FG French
    English is being learnt and used all over the world not out of any imposition but through the realisation that it has certain inherent advantages. English is no longer the language of Great Britain, it is the language required by the world for greater understanding. The following are some reasons which can be attributed to the need of learning English as a second language. 
*  English has become the global language. In many countries this is being used as the mother tongue. It is one of the six official languages of UNO and the link language of Common Wealth Countries. A Knowledge of English helps to make a person a citizen of the world. To quote Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru "English is our major window on modern world".   
*  About 70% of books by way of newspapers, magazines, periodicals are available in English.
*  Most sophisticated material and knowledge pertaining to Medicine, Engineering, Law etc., are available in English. The Kothari Education Commission (1964 - 66) had given the status of 'library language' to English.

*  It is the link language among the states and also between the states and the central government. In the absence of English each state would become a water tight compartment. 

 PRINCIPLES OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

Some of the principles that must be kept in mind while teaching English as second language.
 

i) Principle of Naturalness:  The mother tongue is learnt more easily because a natural environment exists English as a second language. An effort be made to provide the child a natural environment for learning/ acquiring English.
 

ii) Principle of Exposure:  A child learns his mother - tongue more rapidly because he is exposed to it. Since it is spoken around him so he listens to it and then he tries to speak it. While in Teaching English the teacher has to take umpteen measures to create proper exposure to pickup the target language. Forming of English club, displaying of charts with slogans written in English, minimising the use of mother tongue, giving commands and instructions in English are some of the measures helpful for the creation of proper exposure.
 

iii) Principle of habit formation:  Language learning is essentially a habit forming process, a process during which we acquire new habits (Palmer). In the learning of mother tongue we form speech habits.

In learning English also the speech habits are to be formed consciously. Habit of listening, Habit of speaking, Habit of repeating, Habit of imitating, Habit of silent reading, Habit of correct pronunciation, Habit of looking up the dictionary are some language habits to be inculcated.
 

iv) Principle of motivation: Motivation to learn a language plays very important role in learning a language. Motivation is the core of learning. Special techniques like giving away prizes, praising, driving out frustration, arousing curiosity with narrative techniques can be used in the class room to arrest the attention of the pupils. We can make use of audio-visual aids (pictures, charts, tape recorders etc.,), material relating to every day life etc to arouse interest. According Wren lessons can be made interesting by utilising objects and pictures interesting to the class, by allowing all the pupils to do something as well as to say something.
     The behavioural psychologists stressed on the principle of motivation in teaching and learning process.

 

 Problems of Teaching/ Learning English

"Teaching of English is in a chaotic state today" - Prof. Gokak
     The teaching of English in our schools is in chaotic stage today.

Pupils are taught English for about six periods a week for six years. But it has been estimated that they hardly know 1500 words by the time they join a university. This means that they have hardly been able to learn english words at the rate of one word per period. They do not know how to use the commonest structures of English (V.K. Gokak). Some of the problems/ short comings in our programme of teaching English are as follows:
 

a) Lack of clear-cut policy:  After Independence the policy regarding the place of English in India has not been well defined. It has been changing from time to time. In certain states it is no longer essential for the students to pass in English to get through the High School Examination.
 

b) Dearth of Competent teachers:  Many teachers in schools who are teaching English neither have enough knowledge of English nor are familiar with the latest and for reaching developments in English. Robert Lado says ''The language teacher must be educated, at least to the level of his peers. He must know the target language well enough to be imitated by his students". According to Wilking a teacher who himself has the difficulty in speaking the language he teaches is not going to succeed in giving his pupils a command of spoken English.
 

c) Faulty methods of teaching English:  In Indian schools, teachers are still using the old faulty ''Grammar-cum- Translation Method of teaching. Grammar and Composition has occupied an important place in the school curriculum. Teachers waste their time by teaching grammar.

Undue emphasis on grammar do not develop the four basic skills of language learning. So such type of teaching should be curbed and teachers must try to enable the child to speak, read and write English perfectly.
     EG French permits the use of mother-tongue for explaining the meanings of words, provided we get back into English as quickly as possible. Oral work is totally ignored and the students do not get any opportunity to listen to or speak the language.

 

d) Unsuitable Text - Books:  The text-books which are prescribed for our students are not suitable and attractive. Students read them to pass the examination. The topics which are in the syllabus do not give any practical knowledge to the students. Whatever the students learn from their books they do not use it in their day-to-day life.
    The standard of text-books can be improved if they are written by teachers teaching English in schools. In the words of Gay Boas ''The only person equipped to choose these text books or school teachers to really know the folder, suited to their flock".

 

e) Faulty Examination System:  The questions set in the examination generally aim at testing the cramming power of students. They fail to test the student's real attainment in language skills. It is possible for the students to get through the examination just by memorising answers to certain set of questions. These are no means for testing aural comprehension and speaking ability of the students.

f) Over Crowded Classes: The classes are over crowded. The rooms are literally over flowing with students. A teacher can only lecture in such a situation and the student has to be a passive listener.

 KEY POINTS OF THE TOPIC

*  English belongs to the Germanic branch of Indo-European family of languages.
*  Old English is the other name for Anglo-Saxon language.
*  A combination of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman gave birth to Middle English.
*  Great Vowel shift - a change in the pronunciation was studied by Jesperson and he also coined the term.
*  "A Table Alphabeticale" is the first dictionary in English written by Robert Cawdrey.
*  Language is primarily speech. It is purely human and non-instinctive.
*  Language is a macro system consisting of four micro systems - Phonology (sounds), Morphology (words), Syntax (structure) and Semantics (meaning).
*  Language has many distinctive features such as creativeness, arbitrariness, displacement, redundancy and prevarication.

*  English is being considered as a global language, link language, library language and a language of status.
*  Principles of Naturalness, motivation, exposure habit formation should be kept in mind while teaching English as a second language.
*  Lack of clear cut policy, dearth of qualified teachers, inadequate methods, faulty examination system, unsuitable text books are some stumbling blocks in the deterioration of standards in English.

History of English Language - 3

Nature of Language:

        "The most impressive of human abilities is that of language"      - John D. Barrow.
* Language is an integral part of human life. It serves as a means to express our thoughts, beliefs, ideas and emotions. Language is an outstanding trait of human beings.

 

History of English Language
* English belongs to Indo-European family of languages.
* English originated from Germanic branch of Indo European language family.
* The history of English language can be studied in three different periods.
Viz:    1. Old English (500-1100 AD)
        2. Middle English (1100-1500 AD)
        3. Modern English (1500 - Present)

Salient features of the different periods of English Language 

Old English: In the 5th century two important tribes namely 'Angles' and 'Saxons' settled in the British islands.
* The people of these two tribes developed a friendship and the common language they spoke was called 'Anglo-Saxon'.
* This 'Anglo-Saxon' language gradually came to be called as Englisic' and the land where this language was spoken came to be recognised as 'Engla-land' and now called as England.
Old English had four major dialects:
       1. North Umbrian        2. Mercian         3. West Saxon          4. Kentish
* Old English did not sound or look like the English of present day.

 

Example:

 

* 'Beowulf' is the only source available written in old English.

Middle English Period: In 1066 William, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France) conquered England. The new rulers called Normans, spoke Anglo - Norman.
* After the invasion of England the rulers and the upper class spoke Norman French where as the ruled (common people) spoke Anglo - Saxon (old English).
* Thus a blending of Anglo-Saxon, the language of the ruled and Anglo-Norman, the language of the rulers gave birth to Middle English.
* The most famous example of Middle English is Chaucer's "Prologue to Canterbury Tales".

 

Modern English Period: Modern English period can be studied in two phases namely Early Modern English and Late Modern English.
* In the period of Early Modern English, the Renaissance Movement brought a tremendous change in the English language. Many classical Latin and Greek words found place in the language.
* William Shakespeare in his play "Love's Labour's Lost" had used early Modern English.

Example:

* Great Vowel Shift was the distinct feature of the early Modern English phase. Great Vowel Shift distinguishes Modern English from Middle English.
* The Middle English has words with Vowels which are pronounced from the back of the mouth, where as the words in Modern English are pronounced from the front of the mouth.
* The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jesperson, a Danish linguist and he coined the term.
* In the phase of modern English the first purely English Alphabetical dictionary "A Table Alphabeticall" was written by Robert Cawdrey in 1604. Later in 1755, Samuel Johnson's dictionary was published.
* In the late Modern English phase, the Industrial Revolution and expansion of British empire resulted in the development of English language borrowing many words from several languages. It is still in progress and continues to progress.

Key Points of The Topic 

* English belongs to the Germanic branch of Indo-European family of languages.
* Old English is the other name for Anglo- Saxon language.
* A combination of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo- Norman gave birth to Middle English.
* Great Vowel Shift - a change in the pronunciation was studied by Jesperson. He was instrumental to coin the term.
* "A Table Alphabeticall' - the first English dictionary was written by Robert Cawdrey.
* Language is primarily speech, human and non-instinctive.
* Language is a macro system consisting of four micro systems - Phonology, Morphology, Syntax and Semantics.
* Language has many distinctive features - such as - creativity, asbitrariness, redundancy and prevarication.

 

Important Definitions 

* Language is purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols .  - SAPIR

* Language is a system of arbitrary symbols used for human communication.      - WARDHAUGH
* Language is a set of human habits the purpose of which is to give expression to thoughts and feelings and to import them to others.      - OTTO JESPERSON

 

Origin of Language 

       It is almost difficult to say anything about the origin of language. Several theories have been expounded in support of its origin and nature but all are based on speculation and guess.
* According to 'Divine Gift theory', language is the gift of god. Not only in India but in many countries the people believe that divine is the source of origin of language.
* Another view is that the cries of animals, noises of birds served as a source of inspiration to the primitive man to express himself, through speech. This theory is known as 'Bo-bo theory'. It is also called imitation theory.
* Another theory with regard to the evolution of language concerned is 'Ding-dong theory'. The sound ding-dong is associated with the ringing of the bell. This theory believes that there is an inherent quality in certain objects to force the man to elicit certain sounds resembling the sounds of those objects.

* The ‘Yo-he-Ho theory' is one which assumes certain kind of physical exertions produce certain sounds which give a feeling of relief to our system. The uttering of sounds like 'Hayi-sha' helped the man to evolve the language.

Distinctive Features of Language 

       A clear understanding of various features of language is necessary for the understanding of the nature of language. The following are some distinctive features:
 

a) Language is systematic: Language is a kind of code. It has a complex system with many subsystems.
 

* Just as various systems of our body - heart, lungs, hands, eyes etc. though different, yet work in coordination. Similarly the system of language functions with the coordination of sounds, words, structures and finally gives a message.

b) Language is arbitrary: The meaning of the term, 'arbitrary' can be understood as illogical.
Language chooses its own system of speech sounds and has words for different objects. There is no direct connection between the sound or form of any word and the object it represents. The following illustration reflects the arbitrariness of language. 'CAT' in Different Languages:

Language                Name

Telugu                    Pilli (పిల్లి) 

Kannada                  Bekku 

Tamil                     Punai 

Arabic                    Quitte 

Chinese                   Miu 

* It is evident from the above illustration that English name 'Cat' given to that animal is not the same in other languages. Hence words and their meanings have no natural connection and so it is arbitrary.

c) Language is creative: The word 'creative' refers to the capacity of language users to produce and understand an indefinitely large number of sentences of which we have not heard or used before.
 

d) Language exhibits redundancy: The repetition of the same idea or item of information with in a phrase or clause of a sentence is called redundancy in language. Language has the ability to repeat an idea without using the same words and structures.
Eg: Cut it out! ('out' is redundant) advance planning ('advance') added bonus ('added')

 

e) Displacement: Language exhibits displacement.
Displacement means an ability to express or speak about things that are not physically present. We can talk about fairies, angels, heaven, hell etc. which we have never seen and learnt only from the scriptures.

f) Language transmits culture: Language is said to be an agent or custodian of culture. It is the most important tool for transmitting culture from one generation to the other. Infact culture and language are intrinsically intertwined that the loss of one leads to the loss of the other. We have all learnt English and hence we use terms / phrases like - thank you, sorry, yes, no, OK, sure etc. frequently than others who have not learnt English. Using expressions like these is a sign of acquiring the culture of language we have learnt.

g) Language exhibits prevarication:
Language helps us to be imaginative and creative. We can tell fairy tales and fables which are not really true. Lot of imagination and creativity take place while narrating these type of stories. Hence we can assume that human languages provide a scope to give false messages.

Writer: S. Rahamathulla 


 

Posted Date : 10-09-2023

గమనిక : ప్రతిభ.ఈనాడు.నెట్‌లో కనిపించే వ్యాపార ప్రకటనలు వివిధ దేశాల్లోని వ్యాపారులు, సంస్థల నుంచి వస్తాయి. మరి కొన్ని ప్రకటనలు పాఠకుల అభిరుచి మేరకు కృత్రిమ మేధస్సు సాంకేతికత సాయంతో ప్రదర్శితమవుతుంటాయి. ఆ ప్రకటనల్లోని ఉత్పత్తులను లేదా సేవలను పాఠకులు స్వయంగా విచారించుకొని, జాగ్రత్తగా పరిశీలించి కొనుక్కోవాలి లేదా వినియోగించుకోవాలి. వాటి నాణ్యత లేదా లోపాలతో ఈనాడు యాజమాన్యానికి ఎలాంటి సంబంధం లేదు. ఈ విషయంలో ఉత్తర ప్రత్యుత్తరాలకు, ఈ-మెయిల్స్ కి, ఇంకా ఇతర రూపాల్లో సమాచార మార్పిడికి తావు లేదు. ఫిర్యాదులు స్వీకరించడం కుదరదు. పాఠకులు గమనించి, సహకరించాలని మనవి.

 

సెకండరీ గ్రేడ్ టీచర్స్

 

విద్యా ఉద్యోగ సమాచారం

 
 

లేటెస్ట్ నోటిఫికేష‌న్స్‌