From Nomadic Origins to a United Legend
The Birth of the American-English Language
DID YOU EVER try learning a new language? Maybe Russian, or Chinese? Complicating stuff, right? But, did you know that the great American language is not even American at all! Sociology is the study of society and the people who coexist within it. Language plays a huge roll in the creating of societies. As for the nation of America, the people who were forming it decides to borrow a few dialects instead of creating a new one. The American language is unique due to how the German, French, and Spanish cultures combine together in making the American-English vocabulary.
Where did it all begin? Everything in the world has its starting point. History shows that back in the 5th Century A.D., the Germanic Tribes were invading Britain. Their German cultural symbols intermingling with the already present Celtic language, thus giving way to the beginning stages of the American idiom. (EnglishClub.com) The textbook defines a symbol as “anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture” (Macionis, 52). German within itself is a difficult language to understand, yet we as Americans speak a portion of translated German every day in normal conversations. “The Angles came from “Englaland” and their language was called “Englisc” –from which the words “England” and “English” are derived” (EnglishClub.com). Britain and some of the Germanic tribes both spoke the equivalent languages, which eventually merged into what we know as Old English. Old English is a totally different English dialect that would not be recognized in the American-English language of today. However, the majority of current American-English words still share those Old English roots from the 1100’s.
Now that Germany was influencing our language, Old English was the native tongue of Britain until France came. William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy [from France] took over Britain and the Germanic tribes in 1066 (EnglishClub.com). The merging of Old English now with the French culture, was the turning point in the shaping of the Middle English language. Language is defined as a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another. Cultural transmission – the process by which one generation passes culture to the next – is how modern American-English was being handed down (54, 56). Middle English was a time of great difficulty due to the class system that was preventing the lower class English-speakers from mingling with the upper class Frenchmen of the Royal Court. But, how does all these shifting languages effect the current American culture?
The shift from Middle English to Early and Late Modern English was a great transition into what you and I speak every day. At the rise of Early English was the Great Vowel Shift of the 16th Century where vowels were being pronounced shorter and shorter (EnglishClub.com). Some words, such as major, Marlboro and even my own last name: Welborne, were all in the process of changing. The translators began to eliminate vowels, thus altering the spelling variations and sounds of certain words. Britain was booming with foreign interaction which prompts the Renaissance/ Classical Age. With the invention of printing in 1604, Early English was now becoming the standard language of the British people (EnglishClub.com). Entering into the 1800s was the start of Late Modern English when inevitably grows into our common American-English.
Language very much shapes reality. The Sapir-Whorf thesis states that people see and understand the world through the cultural lens of language. This means that the development of language is the very core of how a culture will function in society. Late English is similar to Early English, yet different in their vocabulary. As the British colonies flourish in the Americas, with the Industrial Revolution, so did the expansion of the American-English language. The invasion of Spain also adding its influences to the mixture of culture.
The United States of North America were beginning to take life in present times. Around the 1600s, the colonies were starting to take on a distinct “American” accent that could easily be differentiated from an average British person (EnglishClub.com). Theorist’s Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf saw the changes in reality through the interactions of how diverse cultures were molding the American-English diction (56). Language symbols affect everyday lives. The merging of different symbols in present America led to the American-English becoming one of the top most complexing languages to learn as a non-Native. Our American-English combines conjugations of Spain, France, Germany, and many others. The 21st Century American-English is widely spoken in numerous countries as a Universal Language with five percent of the world speaking our language (Global Map 2-1, 55). Minus the Kanji symbols like the Eastern Oriental culture, American-English is just as difficult with multiple meaning connecting to a single word.
In summary, our vocabulary of America has brought together and divided cultures throughout the Nation. Invasion is wrong, but in this case, it plays a major factor in how you and I communicate with one another. America does not have its own original symbols, but rather a universal set of symbols that are easily recognizable. To us Americans, our tone of voice sounds normal, but what we know as “English” is not really the proper “English” of the United Kingdom. To the British inhabitants under the hierarchy, their accents are very noticeable from that of the accents of the American colonies. Even though America is a diverse culture of its own, it is still uniting many countries under a universal language.
Works Cited Page
What is English? “History of the English Language: A short history of theorigins and development of English.” https://www.englishclub.com./english-language-history.htm (accessed April 14, 2016). Web.
Macionis, John J. Society: the basics. 13th ed. New Jersey: Pearson,