Historical Dictionary of British Radio (Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts)
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Over time the dialects of the various invaders merged, giving rise to what we now call " Old English. The Middle English period saw the breakdown of the inflectional system of Old English and the expansion of vocabulary with many borrowings from French and Latin.
Distinctions are commonly drawn between the Early Modern Period and Late Modern English to the present. Share Flipboard Email. Richard Nordquist is a freelance writer and former professor of English and Rhetoric who wrote college-level Grammar and Composition textbooks. The first Germanic tribes arrive in Britain. Early 5th century —With the collapse of the empire, Romans withdraw from Britain. Britons are attacked by the Picts and by Scots from Ireland.
Angles, Saxons, and other German settlers arrive in Britain to assist the Britons and claim territory. Celts retreat to distant areas of Britain: Ireland, Scotland, Wales. Late 6th century —Ethelbert, the King of Kent, is baptized. He is the first English king to convert to Christianity.
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Augustine and Irish missionaries convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, introducing new religious words borrowed from Latin and Greek. Latin speakers begin referring to the country as Anglia and later as Englaland. Late 8th century —Scandinavians begin to settle in Britain and Ireland; Danes settle in parts of Ireland. Early 9th century —Egbert of Wessex incorporates Cornwall into his kingdom and is recognized as overlord of the seven kingdoms of the Angles and Saxons the Heptarchy : England begins to emerge.
Mid 9th century —Danes raid England, occupy Northumbria, and establish a kingdom at York. Danish begins to influence English. He uses the English language to foster a sense of national identity. England is divided into a kingdom ruled by the Anglo-Saxons under Alfred and another ruled by the Scandinavians. The Battle of Maldon becomes the subject of one of the few surviving poems in Old English. The Danish king Canute rules over England and encourages the growth of Anglo-Saxon culture and literature.
Over succeeding decades, Norman French becomes the language of the courts and of the upper classes; English remains the language of the majority. Latin is used in churches and schools.
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For the next century, English, for all practical purposes, is no longer a written language. About this time the University of Oxford is founded. These documents, though annulled a few years later, are generally regarded as England's first written constitution. English becomes the dominant language of all classes.
The Black Death kills roughly one-third of England's population. English becomes the official language of the law courts and replaces Latin as the medium of instruction at most schools. John Wycliffe's English translation of the Latin Bible is published. The Great Vowel Shift begins, marking the loss of the so-called "pure" vowel sounds which are still found in many continental languages and the loss of the phonetic pairings of most long and short vowel sounds.
Parliament is opened with its first speech delivered in English. Literacy rates increase significantly, and printers begin to standardize English spelling. Early 16th century —The first English settlements are made in North America. William Tyndale's English translation of the Bible is published. The British defeat the Spanish Armada, boosting national pride and enhancing the legend of Queen Elizabeth. The war leads to the execution of Charles I, the dissolution of parliament, and the replacement of the English monarchy with a Protectorate —59 under Oliver Cromwell's rule.
The transatlantic telegraph cable is completed.
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