English / English History
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Autor: anton 10 January 2011
Words: 645 | Pages: 3
English is an Indo-European, West Germanic language originating in England, and is the first language for most people in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the Anglophone Caribbean. It is used extensively as a second language and as an official language throughout the world, especially in Commonwealth countries and in many international organizations.
Modern English is sometimes described as the first global lingua franca. English is the dominant international language in communications, science, business, aviation, entertainment, radio and diplomacy. The influence of the British Empire is the primary reason for the initial spread of the language far beyond the British Isles. Since World War II, the growing economic and cultural influence of the United States has significantly accelerated the adoption of English.
A working knowledge of English is required in certain fields, professions, and occupations. As a result, over a billion people speak English at least at a basic level (see English language learning and teaching). English is one of six official languages of the United
Main article: History of the English language
English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers and Roman auxiliary troops from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Northern Netherlands. Initially, Old English was a diverse group of dialects, reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, Late West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. The original Old English language was then influenced by two waves of invasion. The first was by language speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family; they conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The second was the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke Old Norman and ultimately developed an English variety of this called Anglo-Norman. These two invasions caused English to become "mixed" to some degree (though it was never a truly mixed language in the strict linguistic sense of the word; mixed languages arise from the cohabitation of speakers of different languages, who develop a hybrid tongue for basic communication).
Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English; the later Norman occupation led to the grafting onto that Germanic core of a more elaborate layer of words from the Romance branch of the European languages. This Norman influence entered English largely through the courts and government. Thus, English developed into a "borrowing" language of great flexibility and with a huge vocabulary.
Classification and related languages
The English language belongs to the western sub-branch of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest living relative of English is Scots, spoken primarily in Scotland and parts of Northern Ireland, which is viewed by linguists as either a separate language or a group of dialects of English. The next closest relative to English after Scots is Frisian, spoken in the Northern Netherlands and Northwest Germany. Other less closely related living West Germanic languages include German, Low Saxon, Dutch, and Afrikaans. The North Germanic languages of Scandinavia are less closely related to English than the West Germanic languages.
Many French words are also intelligible to an English speaker (though pronunciations are often quite different) because English absorbed a large vocabulary from Norman and French, via Anglo-Norman after the Norman conquest and directly from French in subsequent centuries. As a result, a large portion of English vocabulary is derived from French, with some minor spelling differences (word endings, use of old French spellings, etc.), as well as occasional divergences in meaning, in so-called "faux amis", or false friends. The pronunciation of French loanwords in English has become completely anglicized and follows a typically Germanic pattern of stress. Native speakers of Romance languages, for example, who do not understand any Germanic languages, often still cannot distinguish between spoken English and Dutch.
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