English is a West Germanic language that originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain in the mid-5th to 7th centuries AD by Germanic invaders and settlers from what is now northwest Germany, west Denmark and the Netherlands.
Some of the most important surviving works of Old English literature are Beowulf, an epic poem; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a record of early English history; the Franks Casket, an inscribed early whalebone artefact; and Cædmon’s Hymn, a Christian religious poem.
Latin, including modern scientific and technical Latin: 28.7% Germanic languages: 24% ,Greek: 5.32% Italian, Spanish and Portuguese: 4.03%
In 865, however, a major invasion was launched by Scandinavians, which eventually brought large parts of England under their control. Scandinavian raids resumed in the late 10th century, Sweyn Forkbeard was declared king of England in 1013, followed by the longer reign of his descendants until 1042.
The Scandinavians spoke dialects of a North Germanic language known as Old Norse. The Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavians thus spoke related languages from different branches (West and North) of the Germanic family.
In all, English borrowed about two thousand words from Old Norse, of which several hundred survive in Modern English. The spread of phrasal verbs in English is another grammatical development to which Norse may have contributed .
Early Modern English – the language used by Shakespeare – is dated from around 1500. It incorporated many Renaissance-era loans from Latin and Ancient Greek, as well as borrowings from other European languages, including French, German and Dutch.
English underwent extensive sound changes during the 15th century, while its spelling conventions remained largely constant. Modern English is often dated from the Great Vowel Shift, which took place mainly during the 15th century. By the time of William Shakespeare (mid 16th – early 17th century), the language had become clearly recognizable as Modern English. In 1604, the first English dictionary was published, the Table Alphabetical.
It was the beginning of a new era in the history of English. An era of linguistic change in a language with large variations in dialect was replaced by a new era of a more standardised language with a richer lexicon and an established literature. England had a strong tradition of literature in the English vernacular, which gradually increased as English use of the printing press became common by the mid 16th century.
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. In particular, he expanded the dramatic potential of characterisation, plot, language, and genre. In Shakespeare’s day, English grammar, spelling, and pronunciation were less standardised than they are now, and his use of language helped shape modern English.
Shakespeare’s influence extends from theatre and literature to present-day movies, most importantly, the English language itself. Shakespeare’s writings have also impacted a large number of notable novelists and poets over the years and continue to influence new authors even today. Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world. Many of his quotations have passed into everyday usage in English and other languages.
Modern English proper, similar in most respects to that spoken today, was in place by the late 17th century. The English language came to be exported to other parts of the world through British colonization, and is now the dominant language in Britain and Ireland, United States and Canada, Australia & New Zealand. In some countries where English is not the most spoken language, it is an official language; these countries include Botswana, Cameroon the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Malta, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Also there are countries where in a part of the territory English became a co-official language, e.g. Colombia’s San Andrésy Providencia and Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast. This was a result of the influence of British colonization in the area.
We can estimate that there are definitely above 1.5 billion speakers of English globally. In 2015, out of the total 195 countries in the world, 67 nations have English as the primary language of ‘official status’. Plus there are also 27 countries where English is spoken as a secondary ‘official’ language.
By the late 18th century, the British Empire had facilitated the spread of Modern English through its colonies and geopolitical dominance. Commerce, science and technology, diplomacy, art, and formal education all contributed to English becoming the first truly global language. English also facilitated worldwide international communication. English was adopted in North America, India, parts of Africa, Australasia, and many other regions. In the post-colonial period, some of the newly created nations that had multiple languages opted to continue using English as the official language.
India has the largest number of second-language speakers of English ; Crystal claims that, combining native and non-native speakers, India has more people who speak or understand English than any other country in the world.
English is one of the eleven official languages that are given equal status in South Africa. It is also the official language in current dependent territories of Australia , Norfolk Island, Christmas Island, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico , and the US Virgin Islands, the former British colony of Hong Kong.
Linguists argue whether the simplicity of the English language is the main reason of it becoming a global language. Nothing is considered to be easy. It generally depends on who the learner is. Success depends on the learner and not on the language that one is learning. Motivation, Age, Aptitude, Cognitive Style and Personality are some factors that have a significant role in making a person learn a foreign language. English is a very effective and friendly language, that it is proved by the many native and non-native speakers all over the world.
Happy Learning to You !