Modern English: The Four Phases Of The English Language

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“Ær þæm þe Romeburg getimbred wære iiii hunde wintrum 7 hundeahtatigum, Uesoges, Egypta cyning, wæs winnende of suðdæle Asiam, oð him se mæsta dæl wearð underþieded.” Perhaps the previous statement looks as if its author fell asleep on the keyboard. One might be surprised to find that this is not the case, and even more surprised to find that the the bewildering phrase is the same language that is being read right now: English. How this all came to be can be understood with a brief glance at the history of the language. The English language has experienced four major phases. They are Old English (Anglo-Saxon), Middle English, Early Modern English, and Modern English. Old English was the language spoken in England from about 500 to 1100. It is a Germanic language derived from a common Germanic which was originally spoken in Scandinavia and arrived in England during the fifth century after two Germanic tribes invaded the country. The language did not travel very…show more content…
A richer lexicon and changing pronunciation standardized the language. During this time, the number of English words more than doubled and the first single-language English dictionary was published. Robert Cawdrey published Table Alphabeticall in 1604, and it contained about 3,000 words. This new standardized language made it easier for governments to keep records and conduct business. Additionally, Early Modern English spread from Europe to British colonies. Where British invaders went so did the English language. In terms of literary works, this period is perhaps most famously characterized by William Shakespeare. “Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love,” he writes in the famous tragedy Hamlet. Many people still find this form of English to be convoluted and difficult to interpret, but this does not stop many literary works in this style from appearing on required reading

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