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The evolution of English language

Look at the timeline of the English language. Read the information and complete the following activities.

1. For sentences 1 – 10, decide if each sentence is correct or incorrect. If it is correct, check Yes. If it is
not correct, check NO. (5pts)
YES NO

1. Old languages come from the English one.

2. Welsh and Scots Gaelic are known as the first languages in the British Isles.

3. Whisky is a word borrowed from a Celtic language.

4. By 60BC The British Isles were invaded by the Romans.

5. Chester was a Roman who invaded some places in the British Isles.

6. The Anglo-Saxons brought the language that is also known as old English.

7. Words like ‘cow’ and ‘house’ come from the old English.

8. Right after the Romans invasion, Vikings invaded The British Isles.

9. Vikings left English words like ‘you’ and ‘husband’.

10. In the Viking era, places ended in ‘by’ were villages.

Timeline of the English language


Introduction
Where did the English we speak today come from? To find an answer we have to look
at the history of the languages spoken in the British Isles because it takes a little while
before it really becomes something we can call English.
Let's take a look at the timeline.
600BC

The Celts

The first languages we know about in the


British Isles are the Celtic ones like
Welsh and Scots Gaelic. These people
probably settled here about 600BC, that
is more than 2500 years ago.

English still has some borrowed Celtic


words like corgi meaning 'little dog' from 55BC
Welsh or whisky 'water of life' from
2. Read the next part of the timeline. For each question 11 – 15, circle A, B, C or D that best answer the
questions. (5pts.)

1066AD

Normans

In 1066 Normans invaded England from


Normandy in France. They spoke an
earlier version of French and this became
the high status language in England. It
1400AD
brought many new words into English
such as cash, age and reward, for Middle English
instance

There were no more invasions of England


and gradually English took over again
from French. The English spoken around
this time is called middle English. A
number of books were published in
Middle English, perhaps the most famous
one being a book of cracking stories
called The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey
Chaucer.

1476AD

The Printing Press

Books have been written in English since


the 9th century, but it was with the
introduction of the printing press by
Thomas Caxton in 1476 that publishing
really took off. With the printing also
came an interest in a standard way of
writing English which had not been 1525AD
present before.
The English Bible

In 1520 the New Testament of the Bible


was translated into English by William
Tyndale. This was quite a big step since
it meant that people who only knew
English could read the Bible themselves.
The church didn't like this at all and so
the first Bibles were printed elsewhere
and smuggled into England.
11. What is the writer trying to do in this text?
A. Describe how the English language evolved.
B. Explain the reasons of the British Isles invasion.
C. Advise children to learn the history of the English language.
D. Describe the differences among languages.

12. What does the writer say about the Normans invasion?
A. French took over English language and made it disappear.
B. French borrowed words like ‘age’ and ‘cash’ from Middle English.
C. English borrowed words like ‘age’ and ‘cash’ from the Normans.
D. Everyone in England spoke an early version of French.

13. What does the writer say about The Canterbury Tales?
A. It helped stop invasions in England.
B. It helped English to be the predominant language again.
C. It was one of the best books according to Geoffrey Chaucer.
D. It was one of the most famous published books according to the author.

14. According to the author, what is the relation between the Printing Press and the English language?
A. People started writing books in English when the Printing Press appeared.
B. English books were standardized due to the Printing Press apparition.
C. The Printing Press helped English books gain people’s interest.
D. The Printing Press has helped people write English books since the 9th century

15. What did the translation of the Bible into English mean?
A. It meant nothing since the Bible was read by people.
B. It was a great help for people who could only speak English.
C. It meant that people could learn to speak English.
D. It meant that the church had to print new bibles.
3. Read the last part of the evolution of the English language. For questions 16 – 25, mark the correct
letter A, B, C or D. (10pts.)

1550AD

Invading words

England wasn't being attacked 1)___


armies anymore, 2)___ words were still
invading. In the 16th century there was
great interest in studying as people read
books written in Latin and Greek and
they borrowed words from these
languages. It is kind of strange since
Latin was a 3)__ language at this stage,
no-one spoke it for day-to-day purposes.

Since this time, words have been coming


into English in dribs and drabs. For
example, the Dutch were pretty nifty
with boats and so words like cruise and 1580AD
yacht 4)___ also borrowed.
Shakespeare

5)___ are many important authors in


modern English, 6)___ one of the most
well-known early writers is William
Shakespeare (1564 - 1616). He deserves
a mention here since many words in
English are first found in his plays. It
could be that he invented words or that
he 7)___ words that were only used in
spoken English and put them in print.

Modern English

English has been 8)___ by many events and has been influenced by many different languages.
One of the people playing a part in shaping English now is actually you! Every time you use a
word or phrase that your parents would not have used you are helping to change English! For
9)___ languages, English is now the cool language to borrow 10)___. French has ‘le weekend’,
the word ‘business’ is often used in Italian, Swedish cars now have an ‘airbag’ and the Dutch word
for ‘goal’ is.. You guessed it – ‘goal’!

Adapted from: The Children’s University of Manchester

http://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/learning-activities/languages/words/timeline-
english-language-2/
1. A for B with C in D by

2. A and B but C so D because

3. A dead B killed C suicide D death

4. A is B are C was D were

5. A they B people C he D there

6. A however B additionally C and D when

7. A lent B took C borrowed D asked

8. A shaped B formed C built D done

9. A many B much C none D too

10. A to B by C from D with