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The history of the English language

The English language began to develop with the Anglo-Saxons. Before that, the Roman had brought Latin and the Celtic language was spoken in country places and still remains nowadays in some parts of Wales and Scotland (Welsh and Gaelic). Following the invasions of the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, England was divided in several kingdoms and this political partition led to the development of different dialects. During the 9th and 10th century, Wessex became the main political country within England and the majority of written records from that time is therefore in the Wessex dialect.
The history of the English language can be conveniently divided into three steps: Old English, Middle English and Modern English.
Old English used a lot of words from Scandinavian and from Latin but all together this “adopted” or foreign words where much less when compared with Modern English. Old English was enriched in several ways and its speakers were ever finding new uses for the words they had already in store. Besides, with Christianity, new ways of forming new words became available. For example several words were borrowed from the Latin language and then used to form new words. And example is the word “bishop” from the Latin “episcopus” and the Old English “biscop”, from which new words were formed like “biscoplic”, now “Episcopal”.

Many letters used in Old English differ in shape from Modern English although their pronunciation is still in use. Characteristic of Old English were for example the “–an” ending of infinitive verbs (for example the verb “to go” was “gongan”) and the stress of words (as much at the beginning of the word as possible).

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