English is a West Germanic language. It is now the most widely used language in the world. It is spoken as a first language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and number of Caribbean nations. It is an official language of the European union, many Commonwealth countries and the united nations.
The history of the English language really started with the arrival of Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. The language of these Germanic tribes developed into Old English. Old English was spoken until 1100. Many everyday expressions have remained from that time; most words having their similar equivalents in German, for example: water, father, food, day, man, have, house, work.
The Scandinavians influenced English in the 8th century and introduced words like sky, skin, they, their, them. In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, invaded and conquered England. At that time French language influenced English. In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words, for example: government, people, army, crown, nation and parliament. This language is called Middle English.
From the 16th century the British had contact with many countries around the world. A lot of new words and phrases entered the language. Later the printing was invented and many people learned to read. The time of Modern English began. Modern English borrows words from many languages nowadays; denim from French, graffiti from Italian, cargo from Spanish, hamburger from German, sputnik from Russian and there are even two words from Czech: robot and pistol.
Varieties of English language:
English language has many varieties. The American English tends to simplify grammar and spelling. Here are a few examples of differences between American and British English:
- In vocabulary: secondary school X high school
pavement X sidewalk
underground X subway
Rubbish X trash
Lift X elevator
- In grammar: I have just seen her. X I just saw her.
I haven’t got much time X I don’t have much time.
- In spelling: travelled X traveled
colour X color
Dialogue X dialog
Programme X program
- In pronunciation: Car [ka:] X car [kar]
City [siti] X city [sidi]
Australian English uses a lot of shortenings, for example: brekcie for breakfast, footy for football. There are also differences in vocabulary: station for a farm, good day instead of good morning/afternoon/evening.
In British English there are many different Access and dialects. While an accent is just a different way of pronunciation, a dialect includes changes in the language itself (such as vocabulary).
But there are many other varieties of English around the world, including for example New Zealand English, Canadian English, South African English, Indian English and Caribbean English.