One of my favorite things about languages is how they influence each other. English speakers talk about fettucine and schadenfreude; the Italians browse the Internet; Spanish speakers watch a baseball player hit a jonrón.
The Open University produced a 10-minute history of the English language. The video (above) is divided into 10 chapters that focus on various aspects of English’s development. Not surprisingly, the evolution of English was greatly influenced by According to the OU, English began with the migration of Germanic peoples into England.
The Anglo-Saxons had coined words for everyday practical things like “house” and “loaf.” Christians offered words from Latin. And the Vikings contributed around 2,000 English words, including the verbs “give” and “take.” After William the Conqueror came around, French became the official language of conducting business, while the common man spoke English.
Shakespeare gets his own chapter in the video, since scholars attribute 2,000 English words to him. He also gave us clichés such as “to eat out of house and home” and “to be hoisted on one’s own petard.”
Other segments touch on science, colonialism, and the King James bible. The final chapter, on global English, remarks on the incredible spread and influence of English despite its challenging phonetic system.