Some Facts about the English Language.
English is a member of the Indo-European family of languages. This broad family includes most of the European languages spoken today. The Indo-European family includes several major branches:.
• Latin and the modern Romance languages.
• The Germanic languages.
• The Indo-Iranian languages, including Hindi and Sanskrit.
• The Slavic languages.
• The Baltic languages of Latvian and Lithuanian (but not Estonian).
• The Celtic languages.
The influence of the original Indo-European language can be seen today, even though no written record of it exists. The word for father, for example, is vater in German, pater in Latin, and pitr in Sanskrit. These words are all cognates, similar words in different languages that share the same root.
It all started in 449 AD when Britannia, a name which was given to the island by the Romans, was taken over by the Anglo Saxons and renamed it: England. During the next few centuries four dialects of English developed:.
• Northumbrian in Northumbria, north of the Humber .
• Mercian in the Kingdom of Mercia .
• West Saxon in the Kingdom of Wessex .
• Kentish in Kent .
During the 7th and 8th Centuries, Northumbria's culture and language dominated Britain. The Viking invasions of the 9th Century brought this domination to an end (along with the destruction of Mercia). Only Wessex remained as an independent kingdom. By the 10th Century, the West Saxon dialect became the official language of Britain. Written Old English is mainly known from this period. It was written in an alphabet called Runic, derived from the Scandinavian languages. The Latin alphabet was brought over from Ireland by Christian missionaries. This has remained the writing system of English. At this time, the vocabulary of Old English consisted of an Anglo Saxon base with borrowed words from the Scandinavian languages (Danish and Norse) and Latin.