English is a Germanic language related to German and the Germanic Language family. Originally, the first roots of English were brought over by Germanic peoples, before that, the people in Britain where English originated probably spoke a Celtic language. Whatever language the Germanic peoples brought over evolved into Old English, which was spoken around the Early Middle Ages. Old English is mostly unintelligible to Modern English speakers! Beowulf is in old English! Later on, it shifted into Middle English in the High to Late Middle Ages. The Normans brought some French influence into English around the time. Middle English is hard to read, but you can make out some words! Chaucer wrote in Middle English! Early Modern English comes next in the High Middle Ages into the Renaissance and a little beyond. Shakespeare wrote in Early Modern English!
Some cool facts:
- The reason why so many things are spelled weird is because at one point they phonetically sounded just like their funny spelling! ( English originally was spelled phonetically like other languages.) They were written in a different dialect, but the one we pronounce the words with took over, kept the spelling but changed the pronunciation!
- At one point, English had two forms of “you”, “You” for formal, and “Thou” for casual usage like other languages. Also, Thou is the subject form, Thee is the object form, Thy and Thine are possessives! Don’t use them incorrectly >:(
- English had some archaic letters. Two of my favorite are “thorn” which looks like a P with the loop in the center than at the top, and “the long S” which looks like a lowercase f without the right side of the cross.
See how much you can understand from these texts: