The history of the English language shows the influence of successive waves of wars, occupation and colonisation of England. Discuss.

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Topic: ‘The history of the English language shows the influence of successive waves of wars, occupation and colonisation of England.’ Discuss.

English as a language was developed through impact of the events that occurred in England and thus reflected the many changes in lifestyle with which its inhabitants were presented. Various aspects of the phonology of modern English resemble the proto-Germanic language spoken by its Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Old Norse, the language brought to England by the Vikings, greatly affected the syntax of Standard English. The versatile nature of the English Language allowed its lexicon to increase significantly with the invasions, expanding to include the Germanic languages and some Romance languages such as French and Latin. Instead of perishing into extinction, English adapted different aspects of the many invaders of England.

English phonology has been significantly impacted by the colonisation of England by the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Germany and the French. The consonant clusters (eg. /kn/, /gn/ and /sp/ and used in Old English, a language brought to England by the Anglo-Saxons, are still present today, while some may not be pronounced, for instance in the words
gnaw and knowledge. Many of the consonant phonemes from Old English have prevailed to Modern English. Sounds such as /t/, /l/, /p/ and /b/ have barely changed in pronunciation. Moreover, the French invasion during Norman Conquest altered English phonology.  Voiced phonemes such as /v/ and /ð/ as counterparts to Old English fricatives /f/ and /θ/, were introduced. Other phonetical changes such as the diphthong /ɔy/ (boy) were also adapted into the English Language. The occupation of England is reflected by the changes in sounds as the language evolved, inherently adapting features of the phonology of its conquerors.

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The syntax of Modern English was vastly constructed by Old Norse, the Language imposed by the Scandinavian invaders of Britain in the mid ninth century. Old English, spoken by the British prior to Viking occupation, used a system involving inflection endings (similar to that of Latin) and word order was unimportant. Old Norse significantly impacted the syntax of the of the English Language by simplifying case endings and omitting prefixes such as ‘ge’ and ‘v’, which were used to indicate the past participle of certain verbs. The decline of the inflectional system followed the pattern of Viking raids, first in ...

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