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The three phases of the English Language


The history of the language in England is divided in three phases : Old English (from the 5th to 1066),Middle English (from 1066 to 15th century) and Modern English (from 15th century to present).Old English was a thoroughly Germanic language and contains a few words of Latin and Greek. Old English has little in common with Modern English, in fact it is as if it were another language, for example most contemporary“irregular” verbs are regular Old English verb forms.
The Middle English is simplier for modern reader: the main difficult is the spelling because it is different from that of Modern English.The system of spelling can be described as phonetic .The passage from Old to Middle English did not begin immediately.Language evolves steadily and Middle English slowly emerged from Old English. It was not a standardised language but it consists of several dialects : for example the MiIdlands dialect was very different from the dialect of the West of England.The most important masterpiece in Middle English was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

During the Renaissance the English acquired its modern form, usually called Modern English .Three factors contributed to giving stability: printing press, the spread of popular education and the means of communication. In the 16th century, English had to face three big problems: 1)it had to be accepted in fields where Latin was still predominant; 2)the establishment of a uniform orthography ; 3)the vocabulary had to be enriched if English was to take the place of Latin as a learned language. English increased its popularity over Latin by the end of century. Consistent spelling was felt to be of paramount importance because to many English spelling seemed chaotic. Subsequently English had acquired a fairly consistent spelling system and its vocabulary had been enormously enriched by loans from Latin and by a huge number of translation from Italian.
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