Inglés/Anexo/Breve historia del inglés

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Brief history of English[editar]

The English language has changed considerably during its history. According to the Venerable Bede, northern tribes - Angles, Saxons and Jutes - invaded the British Isles in AD 450. Each of these tribes settled in different areas and spoke different Germanic dialects. However, it is believed that during the ninth and tenth centuries, one of those languages was standardised. We now know this standard as Old English. English was also influenced by: Latin, which was used in Christian services; by Danish, brought by Vikings to the north; and certain Celtic words were taken from the natives who were living in the British Isles before the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

In 1060, the Normans invaded the island. They spoke a French dialect which became the language used by the new aristocracy. This change meant that Old English was no longer a prestigious language, and so it broke into multitude of dialects. The language that was spoken and written at this time is referred to as Middle English. Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, was written in vernacular Middle English during the fourteenth century.

Toward the end of fifteenth century, Gutenberg's printing press helped the English dialect used by the London aristocracy to spread throughout the country and to become the standard. In this Modern English, there were more than ten thousand words taken from French. (This influx of French vocabulary is due to the earlier Norman influence.) The order of the words in the sentence became more rigid, very similar to the way it is today.

The global reach of the English Language today is largely due to the successful expansion of British sovereignty. For example, English became the dominant language in North America (the US and most of Canada), Australia, and New Zealand. It has also become the language of business in India, Pakistan, and parts of Africa. Today it is often referred to as the 'lingua franca', meaning that it is the language most likely to be used among people who do not share a native language.

The English language has continued to grow by taking words from other languages whenever they seem suitable, and regularly inventing new words. There is no official body that attempts to restrict the growth of the language and, consequently, the English spoken today has an enormous number of distinct words. Besides this, the language has developed slightly differently in each of those countries where it is the majority or official language. There exist words that are familiar to an Australian English speaker that cannot be understood by an American citizen and so on. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to the English language student. In truth, the differences in the English used around the world are very small and the similarities are enormous - a woman from Ireland will have no trouble understanding a man from the deep south of the United States. The beauty of the large vocabulary is that one can almost always make himself understood.


AD =Anno domini después de Cristo

century siglo