Which Languages Contributed to the Origin of the English Language?


Quick Answer

Modern English originated as a Germanic language during the early middle ages, gradually evolving over the centuries with the introduction of elements of Norse, French, Latin, Scottish and other languages. The earliest roots of Germanic languages trace to an unknown Indo-European language from which nearly all European languages descend.

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Full Answer

English gradually split from other Germanic languages during the eighth century A.D., prompted in large part by the settlement of the Angles in what is now called England. The development of the language included the influence of Scandinavian languages spoken by the Vikings and the Celtic languages spoken by the indigenous populations of Britain. Due to the prior Roman occupation of the island, the Celtic languages included elements of Latin. By the 10th century, the language now known as Old English was spoken.

In the 11th century, the Normans held power in England, bringing with them the French language, which gradually melded with Old English to create Middle English, which was spoken until roughly the 15th century. Heavily influenced by Latin, the language of the Catholic Church and a majority of written works during the Middle Ages, Middle English gradually evolved into Modern English.

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