The History of the 4 English Language

The History of the English Language Brigit Viney ... 2 The American English spelling of colour. 2 ... Should students have to learn Chinese rather tha...

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STAGE

4

The History of the English Language Brigit Viney

Introduction

This ungraded summary is for the teacher’s use only and should not be given to students.

Chapter summary Chapter 1 (A world language) looks at the combination of factors that make English a world language: the numbers both of first-language speakers (eg. in the US and Canada) and of second-language speakers (eg. in India), its use in international business, and its worldwide prevalence in entertainment and the media.

Chapter 7 (Bringing order to English) explores

Chapter 2 (The beginnings of English) shows that

how widespread anxiety about the changing language

around the fifth century BC, Celts from central Europe

made books about ‘correct’ spelling and grammar very

came to Britain. The Roman invasion had little effect on

popular. The most important of these was Samuel

their language but later, as the Anglo-Saxons arrived in

Johnson’s comprehensive dictionary of 1755.

large numbers in the south-east, the Celts migrated

Chapter 8 (Modern English grows) looks at English

to the northern and western areas of the British isles,

grammar and how it has been relatively stable for the last

and the Germanic dialects of the new settlers replaced

two centuries, but there have been enormous changes

the Celtic languages.

in vocabulary, particularly in the areas of science and

Chapter 3 (Old English) describes the spread of

technology. Also, a new, informal type of writing has

Christian monasteries, churches and schools in Anglo-

developed for use in chat rooms and text messages.

Saxon Britain. This made Latin an important language,

Chapter 9 (English in the US) looks back four

and many Latin words were introduced. However, King

centuries when European settlers started to arrive in

Alfred, in resisting the Viking threat, emphasised the

America. With independence in 1776, the Americans

importance of English in education and literature. At

wanted to feel proud of their own variety of English,

the same time, the presence of the Vikings brought

and Webster’s dictionaries of American English were

many Scandinavian words into the language.

very popular.

Chapter 4 (The Normans in England) shows that

Chapter 10 (All kinds of English) describes all

with the crowning of the Norman King William in

English-speaking countries as having their own

1066, French immediately became the language of the

Standard English. In addition, there are many regional

governing classes. However, in the following centuries,

dialects all over the world, and new varieties of English

as the Normans and English intermarried, and England

are constantly being created, often through interaction

lost its French territory, French declined in importance.

with local languages.

Chapter 5 (Middle English) is about the Norman

Chapter 11 (Jargon and slang) shows how people

Conquest and how it resulted in major changes to

with the same hobby or profession often use jargon

English. Thousands of French words came into the

when discussing details or complicated ideas between

language, and its grammar became simpler. However,

themselves. Slang, on the other hand, is a colourful

dialects and spelling variations proliferated. The East

way of talking about more everyday things, and enables

Midlands dialect, used in Oxford, Cambridge and

people to show that belong to a particular group.

London, gradually became standard.

Chapter 12 (The future of English) looks forward.

Chapter 6 (Modern English begins) describes how

English will remain important for first-language speakers.

exploration and trade in the 16th century meant that

But will it remain a world language – or will other

words started to come into English from all over the

languages become more important? Will some countries

world. And with the help of the newly introduced

stop teaching English in order to preserve their own

printing press, English started to overtake Latin as

language? Will a World Standard English develop, or will

the language of learning. There was a great flowering

there be more and more varieties? Only time will tell.

of language and literature, as seen in the work of Shakespeare and the King James Bible.

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The History of the English Language

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Pre-reading activity Word search Look at the definitions and find the words in the word search below. A

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DEFINITIONS: 1 a word that describes a person or thing (for example tall) 2 an online diary 3 you can communicate with other Internet users in a ______ room 4 a variety of language which is spoken in one area 5 improvement of knowledge, for example at school or university 6 the rules of a language 7 to enter another country by force in order to take control of it 8 pieces of writing, especially novels, plays and poems 9 a word that refers to a thing, person or place (for example teacher) 10 to put words on paper using a machine 11 the sound of a word or letter 12 to make your home in a new country 13 a word that expresses an action (for example write) 14 the letters a, e, i, o and u, and the sounds they represent 15 a place on the Internet where you can find information To the teacher Aim: To encourage students to predict the content of

are taken from the glossary). Go through the words

the book and to introduce key vocabulary

and deal with any remaining difficulties over meanings.

Time: 15–-20 minutes

Finally, ask students how some of the words (such as

Organization: Give one copy of the word search to

settle, print and blog) might be used in a book about the

each student or put the word search on an overhead

development of the English language.

projector. Give the students five to ten minutes to find

Key:

as many words as possible. (Words go from left to right

5 education, 6 grammar, 7 invade, 8 literature,

or top to bottom.) Then ask them to match the words

9 noun, 10 print, 11 pronunciation, 12 settle, 13 verb,

they have found with the definitions (most of which

14 vowel, 15 website.

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1

adjective,

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blog,

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chat,

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dialect,

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The History of the English Language While reading activity Order the events

EVENT

ORDER

a

Jutes, Angles and Saxons started to settle in southern and eastern Britain.

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King Alfred learnt Latin so that he could translate important books into English.

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The Romans invaded Britain.

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The Anglo-Saxon King Alfred won an important battle against the Vikings.

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Some British Celts moved north and west to Scotland and Wales, or across the sea to France.

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Many French words started to come into the English language.

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The Romans left Britain.

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The Celts left their homeland in central Europe.

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The Anglo-Saxon King Harold was killed, and William became King of England.

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England was separated into two parts, with one part controlled by the Vikings and the other part controlled by the Anglo-Saxons.

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The Celts settled in Britain.

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The Vikings came to Britain and destroyed some important centres of learning.

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William of Normandy came to England with his army.

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Some British Celts learnt to speak and write Latin.

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The Anglo-Saxons organised themselves into seven kingdoms.

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To the teacher Where: At the end of chapter 5

completed the re-ordering exercise, and it has been

Aim: To revise, order and summarize some of the key

checked, ask them to talk about some of the events

facts and events so far

and their implications in more detail. You could also ask

Time: 10–20 minutes

students to try to connect some of the sentences using

Organization: Give out the worksheet to pairs of groups

suitable linking words or phrases.

of students and ask them to put the events in the right

Key: 1h, 2k, 3c, 4n, 5g, 6a, 7e, 8o, 9l, 10d, 11j, 12b, 13m,

order, 1–15. (Note that it is not necessary to remember

14i, 15f.

dates of events, just the sequence.) When they have

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The History of the English Language After reading activity Word grid

Find the answers to the clues below and fill in the word grid. When you have finished you will find another word running down the middle. What is the word? 1

______ has more first-language speakers than any other language.

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The American English spelling of colour.

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Augustine came to Britain with a group of ______ to teach the Anglo-Saxons about Christianity.

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Bread and honey is ______ slang for money.

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In Australian English, full as a boot is an expression that means very ______.

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In an Internet chat room, thx usually means ______.

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The variety of English used in air traffic control.

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Shakespeare had a ______ of at least twenty thousand words.

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This means autumn in American English.

10 Samuel Johnson spent nine years working on a ______.

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11 After ______ won the Battle of Hastings, French became a very important language in England.

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12 The ______ brought roads, baths and theatres when they invaded Britain.

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13 Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a long poem about a group of people who travel to ______ together.

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To the teacher Aim: To revise and discuss some of the main characters,

than English at school? Has your country’s language

themes and events in the book

changed over history – if so, how? Are there different

Time: 20–25 minutes

dialects and varieties of your own language? Which are

Organization: Give each student, or group of students,

the most famous plays and poems in your country, and

a copy of the word grid. Ask the students to read the

what are they about?

clues, write in the words and find the word running

Key: 1 Chinese, 2 color, 3 monks, 4 rhyming, 5 drunk,

down the centre. Go through the answers as a class and

6 thanks, 7 Airspeak, 8 vocabulary, 9 fall, 10 dictionary,

see how much the students can remember, and what

11 William, 12 Romans, 13 Canterbury. Hidden word:

they think, about some of the topics mentioned. For

communication.

example: Should students have to learn Chinese rather PHOTOCOPIABLE

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