The History of English in 10 Minutes, Annotated
This page is a annotated version of:
The History of English in Ten Minutes By The Open University. At http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/english-language/the-history-english-ten-minutes
The original work are licensed by ©.
Chapter 1: Anglo-Saxon
The Germanic peoples (also called Teutonic or Gothic in older literature) are an ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age. Originating about 1800 BCE …. Germanic peoples
The English language begins with the phrase “Up Yours Caesar!” as the Romans leave Britain and a lot of Germanic tribes start flooding in, tribes such as the Angles and the Saxons — who together gave us the term Anglo-Saxon, and the Jutes — who didn't.
The Romans left some very straight roads behind, but not much of their Latin language.
The Anglo-Saxon vocab was much more useful as it was mainly words for simple everyday things like house, woman, loaf and werewolf.
Four of our days of the week — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were named in honour of Anglo-Saxon gods, but they didn't bother with Saturday, Sunday and Monday as they had all gone off for a long weekend.
While they were away, Christian missionaries stole in bringing with them leaflets about jumble sales and more Latin.
Christianity was a hit with the locals and made them much happier to take on funky new words like martyr, bishop and font.
Along came the Vikings, with their action-man words like drag, ransack, thrust and die, and a love of pickled herring. They may have raped and pillaged but there were also into give and take — two of around 2000 words that they gave English, as well as the phrase “watch out for that man with the enormous axe”.
Chapter 2: The Norman Conquest
The Norman Conquest
1066. True to his name, William the Conqueror invades Britain, bringing new concepts from across the channel like the French language, the Doomsday book and the duty free Galois's multipack.
French was de rigeur for all official business, with words like judge, jury, evidence and justice coming in and giving John Grisham's career a kick-start. Latin was still used ad nauseam in Church, and the common man spoke English — able to communicate only by speaking more slowly and loudly until the others understood him. ✲
Words like cow, sheep and swine come from the English-speaking farmers, while the a la carte versions — beef, mutton and pork — come from the French-speaking toffs — beginning a long running trend for restaurants having completely indecipherable menus.
The bonhomie all ended when the English nation took their new warlike lingo of armies, navies and soldiers and began the Hundred Years War against France.
It actually lasted 116 years but by that point no one could count any higher in French and English took over as the language of power. ✲2
Thanks to Brennan Young for deciphering “galois's multipack”.