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Do you ever wonder where the English language came from? Or why English includes so many foreign words? Whether you’re a casual English learner or an advanced speaker, exploring the history of the English language is an incredibly exciting journey. From its humble beginnings to its modern-day forms, the English language has gone through many changes and adaptations. Let’s take a look at how it all began!
Are you ready to explore the captivating origins of the English language? With the help of this podcast, you will
get a comprehensive introduction to the fascinating history of English and the many influences that have shaped it over centuries.
As an English language learner, you will understand why this ancient language is not only still alive and well today but also why it is still so popular. You will discover some interesting facts about the English language, and why English is the official language of more than 50 countries and with over 400 million native speakers.
🤓 Did you know the English language is a mix of Germanic, Latin and French tongues? 🤯 From Old English to Middle, the history of our language is fascinating! #EnglishLanguageHistory 📖 #EnglishListeningPractice
This podcast will provide you with an insight into the many cultural and linguistic influences that have shaped the English language over time. Before the modern English that we know today, the language began as a form of Germanic dialects spoken by the Anglo-Saxons. The language then went through many changes during the Middle Ages, as Latin and French influences began to take hold. This period also saw the emergence of the early English dialects, such as Old English and Middle English. By the end of the Middle Ages, the English language had evolved into a form that would be recognizable to modern-day speakers.
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You will gain a deep appreciation for the language and become a more confident communicator. You will also learn why listening to native English speakers is so important and how it can help you become more fluent. Along the way, you will learn strategies to help you overcome the challenges and obstacles of increasing your spoken English fluency.
Subscribe to this podcast and learn how to better understand and appreciate the English language. Listen and get one step closer to fluently speaking a language that has been around for centuries!
Most Unusual Words:
Inconsistent Consonants Originated Invade Latin Feminine Fabulous Maternal Lunar Solar Vikings Husband Normans
Most common 2 word phrases:
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Transcript: British English Listening-The Fascinating History Of The English Language
Let's do a history of the English language today
Hi there. Today let's do something different. Let's talk about the history of the English language. This will help you understand perhaps why English can be a difficult language to learn. Why English is inconsistent. It's because it's made up of quite a few other languages.
In this podcast, I will give you the history of that and some examples of the different languages that make up English.
If your own language is western European, you'll probably be familiar with some of this. But if your first language doesn't share the same roots as English, it may not be obvious. Let's have a look today at the origins, the history of the English language. This is a massive topic and one of my favourites! But let's just do a quick history in today's podcast.
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English is an inconsistent language
Now, one of the problems in learning English, it's such a mix of different languages. English is inconsistent. ' Inconsistent' I N C O N S I S T E N T. That word means 'not regular, not logical, containing parts which do not match one another'.
I'm sure you recognize this if you're learning English. It's not consistent.
In our Adept English Consonants Pronunciation Course, I apologise quite a few times! I say sorry for English because it's so illogical and inconsistent.
In many languages, when you learn how to pronounce a series of letters, it's always the same. And it's just not like that in English. That's because English has its roots in many different languages.
English originated in Britain
Today, I'll cover the main ones. Let's have a little look at history as well to help us here. So the UK or United Kingdom is where English originated. Of course, English is spoken all round the world, notably in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and many other countries.
But Britain is where English began. And I'm using 'Britain' because this was way before the idea of 'the United Kingdom' was thought of. And throughout history Britain has been invaded so many times.
Lots of invasions in British history
As a country, if you're 'invaded', that's 'to invade', I N V A D E, that means a foreign army comes in and takes over your land. You become 'an occupied territory'. The foreign army come and they are in charge. And this has happened to Britain so many times in history. And this is what has influenced the English language.
The Romans invaded and left us with 29% Latin words
So first of all, came the Romans, from Rome in Italy. Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor, first landed in Britain in 55BC. Julius Caesar didn't conquer Britain, but the emperors who followed Julius Caesar were all interested in conquering Britain. The Emperor Claudius took it a little further in 43AD. And within a hundred years, much of Britain was occupied by the Romans.
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And of course with them came their language, Latin, L A T I N.
And the result of that is that modern English is 29% Latin words or words with a Latin origin. So many words have Latin origins, particularly words you come across in formal or official English.
And examples there? The word 'formal' and the word 'official' are both Latin origin words. Any of the words which end T I O N are Latin in origin. There are a lot of those. Some more examples? The word 'feminine', F E M I N I N E, meaning 'of a woman', comes from the Latin 'femina', meaning 'a woman'.
The word 'fabulous', F A B U L O U S comes from Latin for 'a story' - 'fabula'.
The word 'maternal', M A T E R N A L, comes from the Latin 'mater' for 'mother'. 'Paternal' comes from 'pater' in Latin - 'father'. And 'fraternal' comes from 'frater' in Latin, meaning 'brother'.
The word 'lunar, L U N A R comes from the Latin for 'the moon', L U N A. And the word 'solar', S O L A R in English, meaning 'of the sun', comes from the Latin 'sol', S O L.
Many of these words aren't the most common words. But if you're needing to use detailed, specific, technical or formal English, it will be full of Latin origin words. There are many thousands of examples. In that sentence alone, ' origin' and 'example', both come from Latin!
The Anglo-Saxons left us with 26% German words
Next invasion of Britain? Around 450AD came people from the area now known as Germany. So into the English language came Germanic language influence. And Anglo-Saxon developed. This accounts for another 26% of the English language. And what's interesting is many of our short common words come from German languages. Thousands of examples. There you are - 'thousand' from 'Tausend' in German.
'Das Jahr', J A H R gives us the English word 'year', Y E A R. ' Guten Morgan', 'good morning' is another example. A 'cow', C O W in English is 'die Kuh', K U H in German. A 'sheep', S H E E P, in English, ' das Schaf' in German. It's the same word and these are important words, if you're a farmer or you want to eat in 450AD!
Modern German can sound very similar to English. Couple of sentences to illustrate perhaps? ' Ich habe meine Haare gewaschen' means 'I have washed my hair'. The word order's different, but you can hear that some of the words are very similar.
'Ich aß einem Apfel' - 'I ate an apple', 'Während ich mein Buch laß' - 'While I read my book'. Different word order, but you can hear that 'Apfel' and 'Buch' are similar words, same origin.
Christianity brought more Latin and left us with 6% Greek
Next influence? The arrival of Christianity into Britain. That's the religion Christianity. The Roman Emperor Constantine was of course a Christian, but this really gathered pace with the arrival of Augustine in 597AD. Augustine, or later St Augustine is credited with bringing Christianity to Britain.
Very quickly, Britain changed from being a Pagan to a Christian country. And lots more Latin arrived into our language at this point, as well as Greek. The Bible was of course, all in Latin to begin with. But the Greek influence also came. Take the word 'Bible', B I B L E, for instance. It comes from 'Βιβλίοs' in ancient Greek or 'Βιβλίο' in modern Greek meaning 'a book'.
And of course there are many, many words of Greek origin in English, particularly in science. 6% of English words have a Greek origin. Some examples? Words like photograph, democracy, phobia. Even the name of our continent, Europe, E U R O P E, is from the Greek. And you get really interesting , 'hybrid' words - that means 'a mix'. Like 'television' - 'tele', TELE means 'far' in Greek. And 'vision', V I S I O N is from the Latin, from the verb 'video' - 'I see'. Which is also where our word 'video' comes from as well, of course! So 'television' - from two different languages.
The Vikings left with 'old Norse'
The next influence? Another invasion. This time the Vikings, V I K I N G S. And they came from the countries now known as Scandinavia - modern day Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. And the language that they brought with them? Old Norse, that's N O R S E. Now, 'old Norse' was already similar to English because it shared common origins. So it's easy to see how these two languages mixed up even more.
The Vikings came in their long boats between around 800AD and 1066. Words like 'arm', A R M, 'husband', H U S B A N D, ' knife', K N I F E, 'sister', S I S T E R. And 'sky', S K Y all come from old Norse.
Days of the week in English show our inconsistencies!
If you look at something like the days of the week in English, you get a sense of the mix, the inconsistency. Perhaps this is a separate podcast in its own right! Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday come from Norse, old Norse language. Sunday and Monday are Germanic. And Saturday comes from the Latin. What a mixed bag we have!
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The Normans invaded and left us with 29% French words
The last influence I'm going to talk about today on the English language came in 1066. 1066 is a historical date that most British school children will know. That's the date of the Norman invasion. The Normans, N O R M A N S came from Normandy in northern France. And William the Conqueror, their leader, beat poor old Harold, our King Harold in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. And that's when the Norman occupation of Britain began.
So we went from being ruled by Scandinavians to being ruled by French.
French was the language of the ruling class. The common people still spoke a version of Anglo-Saxon. And anything to do with the church was in Latin at this point. Gradually, of course, French words made their way into English and now words with a French origin account for around 29% of the English language. So as big a percentage as Latin.
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There are so many French words in English, and often their origins are also from Latin, so it can be hard to tell them apart. Words like 'rendez-vous' and 'cul-de-sac' are very common in English and definitely French.
Some more? Attaché, aperitif, avant-guarde, risqué, baguette, chic, connoisseur, cliché, eau de toilette, en route, faux pas, gateau, hotel, maisonette, menu, parasol, premier, rich, silhouette, souvenir. So many words from French, and it's really interesting to notice - they tend to be associated with the more luxurious side of life!
This is one of my favourite topics - French, German and Latin!
This is one of my favourite topics. When I was young, I studied Latin, French, and German. So this understanding, this way of seeing English and its origins is automatic for me. That's a really quick history today, but I hope that it gives you some good English learning practice, but also a sense of where our language comes from. And it perhaps helps explain some of the inconsistencies in English.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com
- Popularity of English
- Percentage influence of foreign languages on English
- Viking influence on the English language
- Why are the English days of the week named as they are?
- The Norman conquest of Britain
- Latin words in the English language
- German words in the English language
- Old Norse English
- French words in the English language
- Germanic dialects spoken by the Anglo-Saxons
- Many changes during the Middle Ages
- The Renaissance period
- The industrial revolution
- The primary language used in many countries
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