Origin of English language

Modern English came into existence only about 500 years ago. One can trace the origins of the language to a mix of old Germanic and Norse dialectic groups, which were spoken by people in the Anglo-Frisian and South Russian regions of Europe.

This primitive language was introduced into Britain in the pre-Christian era through the various invading Viking and Germanic tribes. One of these dialects, known as primitive Germanic or Teutonic began to split up into various dialects during the early Christian era and gave rise to East, West, High, and Low Germanic dialects. Over time, the low Germanic dialects dominated the other prevalent dialects and soon developed into a well-documented language known today as the “Old English” or “Anglo-Saxon”.

Several linguists refrain from calling Anglo-Saxon as a single language and consider it as a diverse cluster of dialects, reflecting the various Anglo Saxon cultures. By 449A.D. the Late West Saxon dialect gained dominance over others and gave way to a language quite similar to the English we know today. The English of this period was, however, more similar to Old Norse and Old High German languages, and would be unrecognizable to modern speakers.

It was not until the 1100A.D. that the modern English started taking shape. Fresh invasions and colonization by the Scandinavian tribes resulted in further simplification of the grammar. The present day English came into use from 1500A.D. onwards.

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