whilst we talk approximately English, we frequently think about it as a single language
however what do the dialects spoken in dozens of countries round the arena
have in not unusual with each other,
or with the writings of Chaucer?
and the way are any of them related to the extraordinary phrases in Beowulf?
the solution is that like maximum languages,
English has developed through generations of audio system,
undergoing fundamental modifications through the years.
by way of undoing those adjustments,
we can hint the language from the modern-day
again to its ancient roots.
while modern-day English stocks many comparable phrases
with Latin-derived romance languages,
like French and Spanish,
maximum of these phrases had been now not initially a part of it.
instead, they began getting into the language
with the Norman invasion of england in 1066.
while the French-speakme Normans conquered England
and became its ruling class,
they introduced their speech with them,
including a large amount of French and Latin vocabulary
to the English language formerly spoken there.
today, we call that language old English.
this is the language of Beowulf.
It in all likelihood would not look very acquainted,
however it is probably more recognizable if you understand a few German.
it truly is due to the fact vintage English belongs to the Germanic language circle of relatives,
first added to the British Isles inside the 5th and sixth centuries
with the aid of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes.
The Germanic dialects they spoke would become called Anglo-Saxon.
Viking invaders inside the eighth to 11th centuries
added greater borrowings from old Norse into the combination.
it is able to be hard to look the roots of current English
below all of the words borrowed
from French, Latin, vintage Norse and different languages.
however comparative linguistics can help us by using focusing on grammatical shape,
styles of sound adjustments,
and certain middle vocabulary.
as an example, after the 6th century,
German words beginning with "p," systematically shifted to a "pf" sound
even as their antique English opposite numbers kept the "p" unchanged.
In some other break up, words which have "sk" sounds in Swedish
developed an "sh" sound in English.
There are nonetheless a few English words with "sk,"
like "skirt," and "skull,"
however they are direct borrowings from vintage Norse
that got here after the "sk" to "sh" shift.
these examples show us
that just as the various Romance languages descended from Latin,
English, Swedish, German, and plenty of other languages
descended from their personal common ancestor known as Proto-Germanic
spoken round 500 B.C.E.
because this historical language became by no means written down,
we will handiest reconstruct it with the aid of comparing its descendants,
that is possible thanks to the consistency of the adjustments.
we will even use the same technique to go lower back one step in addition,
and hint the origins of Proto-Germanic to a language referred to as Proto-Indo-eu,
spoken about 6000 years ago
on the Pontic steppe in current day Ukraine and Russia.
that is the reconstructed ancestor of the Indo-european family
that consists of almost all languages historically spoken in Europe,
in addition to large elements of Southern and Western Asia.
And although it requires a piece greater paintings,
we are able to discover the identical systematic similarities, or correspondences,
between associated words in one-of-a-kind Indo-european branches.
comparing English with Latin,
we see that English has "t" wherein Latin has "d",
and "f" wherein latin has "p" on the begin of words.
a number of English's extra distant spouse and children encompass Hindi, Persian
and the Celtic languages it displaced in what's now Britain.
Proto-Indo-eu itself descended from a fair greater historical language,
but lamentably, this is as some distance again as ancient and archeological evidence
will allow us to move.
Many mysteries remain just out of reach,
consisting of whether or not there is probably a hyperlink between Indo-european
and other principal language households,
and the character of the languages spoken in Europe previous to its arrival.
but the first-rate truth stays that nearly three billion humans round the sector,
a lot of whom can't understand every other,
are although talking the equal words formed with the aid of 6000 years of records.