The Beginnings of English language
English emerges out of a mix of Germanic languages and dialects in the period roughly around the 6th and 7th centuries.
Our earliest recorded documents in the British Isles are from the late 7th and early 8th centuries, but they give us insight into the kind of language spoken and written up to a century earlier.
This form of English, which we know as Old English (OE), was spoken and written by the settlers from the Continent: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes (possibly the Frisians). Their culture came to be known as Anglo-Saxon.
We may define the language known as Old English in four ways:
Geographically - as a language spoken by the Germanic settlers in the British Isles.
Historically - from the time of the settlement in the 5th century until the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Genetically - as a Lowlands branch of the West Germanic group of languages.
Typologically - as a language with a particular sound system (phonology), grammatical endings (morphology), word order patterns (syntax), and wocabulary (lexis).
Old English is bounded by geography
The earliest inhabitants of the British Isles, whose language we can reconstruct, were Celtic speakers who migrated from Europe sometime in the second half of the first millennium B. C.
The Romans colonized England under Julius Caesar and kept it as a colony until the middle of the 5th century A. D.
Latin became the prestige language of administration, education and social life.
During the last decades of Roman colonial rule in England, groups of Germanic - speaking tribes and raiders began to settle portions of the British Isles.
By the middle of the 5th century, raids and settlements became more frequent and by the end of the century, settlements began to spread from the south and southeastern coasts into the southwest (in the area known now as Wessex).
By the year 547, a kingdom was established in the north of England, north of the Humber river, by groups descended from the Angles, a Germanic tribe (they became known as Anglians).
By the middle of the 7th century, small kingdoms were being established throughout England.
Some of the kingdoms were small outposts, really little more than extend villages; others were larger, with rulers of great power and wealth.
As these settlements developed, Old English emerged as a distinctive language, but it also developed four major dialects.
Each dialect here, as well as subsequent dialects in England, had both natural and man - made borders.
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