Period Name: Old English (450 – 1150)
Grammar: Words can be marked by being the subject or object of the sentence and plural or possessive by inflectional markers (which are also called grammatical endings), this is indicative of it being a synthetic language. Four sounds changes – voicing and palatalization (effect consonants) – breaking and fronting (effect vowels). Verbs occur at the end of the sentence. It is a relatively free word order. The general rules are pronouns generally occur near the beginning of the sentence and verbs at the end.
Lexicon: The lexicon is very Germanic (~95%)
Spelling: Use of prefixes such as ge- or -ofer- and suffixes such as -ung.
Period Name: Middle English (1150 – 1500)
Grammar: Word order is still relatively free. However, grammaticalization of prepositions, demonstratives, and some verbs – which become indicators of case, definiteness, and tense – a stricter order is established.
Lexicon: Many borrowing and influences from other languages occurred in the change from Old to Middle English. The most significantly influential languages include Celtic (druid, story, clan), Latin (candel ‘candle’, camp ‘battle’, cest ‘chest’), French (government, royal, feat), and Scandinavian (anger, sky, and many place names)
Spelling: Many spelling changes occur such as: ᴂ becomes a respectively, ᵭ à th/p. Qu enters the language to replace cw in words like cwene (becoming queen, or queen), many u’s (like mus) changes to uo, hw changes to wh (hwat à what). V and W are both introduced.
Period Name: Early Modern English (1500 – 1800)
Period Name: Modern English (1800 – Present)
Grammar: Nouns and verbs are not marked for case agreement. Verbs occur in the middle of the sentence, separating the subject and the object. It is an analytic language, meaning much more emphasis is placed on word order and prepositions.
Authors and Texts
Old English Period Caedmon-Caedmon’s Hymn
Beowulf- Anonmyous Anglo-Saxon poet
Peterborough Abbey(most recent)-Anglo-Saxon Chronicles
Middle English Period Goeffrey Chaucer-Canterbury tales
John Wycliffe-Wycliffe’s Bible
Early Modern English Robert Barker – King James Bible
Period William Shakespeare-sonnets, plays
Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan
Modern English J.R.R. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings
Michael Crichton – Jurassic Park
There are multiple contributing factors such as:
Great Vowel Shift
Loan words from other languages
Plural words changed in spelling over time
Stabilizing effect of the printing press on spelling
Old English had no silent letters, much different today
Royal Chancery in 15th century
Sociolinguistic/ Dialects: Mercia, Northumbrian, Kentish & West Saxon. Latin Influence; Anglo-Saxon’s are converted to Christianity and Latin speaking priests are widespread. Danelaw
Extralinguistic Pressures: Anglo-Saxon invasion. Latin, Celtic, Scandinavian loan words, Norse Influence. Vowels from Germanic to OE.
Sociolinguistic/Dialects: Language and rise of the Middle Class; Loss of inflections, Lengthening and shortening. Development of standard English. Dialects= Kentish, Southern, Northern, East-Midland, West-Midland.
Extralinguistic Pressures: Norman conquest (Edward I). The beginning of social stratification. Middle English Literature. The beginning of French reigns in England. The loss of most inflectional endings.
Early Modern English
Sociolinguistic/Dialects: Progressive verb forms.
Extralinguistic Pressures: The Printing Press (caxon). The Renaisscance. Protestant Reformation. The Great Vowel Shift.
Sociolinguisitic/ Dialects: The rise of the London Standard. Dialects; British English. American English. Australian English. Canadian English. Carribean English. South Afrian English. New Zealand English. Nigerian English. Philippine English. Etc.
Extralinguistic pressures: Colonialism. Urbanization. Industrialisation. Social stratification. The Age of Revolutions, War and Imperialism.