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Why?  Why is English a Germanic language?  Why is it the prominent language?  What is the cause of multiple English accents?

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Presentation on theme: "Why?  Why is English a Germanic language?  Why is it the prominent language?  What is the cause of multiple English accents?"— Presentation transcript:


2 Why?  Why is English a Germanic language?  Why is it the prominent language?  What is the cause of multiple English accents?

3 English Speaking CountriesEnglish Speaking Countries

4 English ColoniesEnglish Colonies

5 English v. FrenchEnglish v. French  The English defeated the French in the 18 th century for control of the American colonies, which solidified English as the language of America.  England further diffused English as a dominant language to:  Ireland (17 th century)  South Asia (mid 18 th century)  Southern Africa (late 19 th century)  In each case English became an official language (sometimes one of a few.)

6 American EnglishAmerican English  More recently the U.S. has diffused English to the Philippines (1899).  In 1946 when they gained independence it retained English as an official language along with Filipino.

7 Diffusion  The diffusion of English is mainly due to migration since the 17 th century in addition to colonization.  But it doesn’t explain the existence of English, especially as a Germanic language with Latin and French influence.  While England had been inhabited for thousands of years little is known of the people or language until the Celts around 2000 B.C.

8 Invasion  In A.D. 450 the Celts were invaded and pushed back to areas that became Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. (All places known for their distinct accents & languages.)  The tribes that invaded were the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons. (All Germanic)  Angles (southern Denmark)  Jutes (northern Denmark)  Saxons (northwestern Germany)


10 England As We Know ItEngland As We Know It  Most English people today trace their roots to Anglo- Saxons, the two largest tribes of invaders.  Modern English has evolved as a result of the 3 forms of German spoken by those tribes.  The word England is derived from “Angles’ land” written in old English “Engles’ land.” The language of the Angles was known as “englisc.”  The Angles came from a corner, or angle, of Germany.

11 Other influencesOther influences  In addition to the German tribes that settled Vikings invaded and many stayed behind, influencing the language.  In A.D. 1066 England was invaded by the Normans (from Normandy) who spoke French.  This is why English is very different from German today.

12 Normans  When the French invaded they made French the official language of England for over 300 years. All nobles, royals and clergy spoke French.  However, most common people continued to speak English because they were not educated in French.  When England and lost control of Normandy (the invaders having been in England so long had really become English) the country began a long history of conflict with France.

13 Constant ConflictConstant Conflict  During those 300 years of French the languages spoken by the people and the nobles began to mix.  This resulted in a new language.  German influences words:  Sky, horse, man, woman  French influenced words:  Celestial, equestrian, masculine, feminine

14 Language vs. DialectLanguage vs. Dialect Language A mutually agreed- upon system of symbolic communication that has spoken & usually written expressiondialect A distinctive local or regional variant of a language that remains mutually intelligible to speakers of other dialects of that language

15 Problems with determining exact number of languages  Languages are not always easily treated as discrete entities with clearly defined boundaries  Not all scholars agree on distinction between “languages” and “dialects”

16 Dialects  Most dialects reflect features of the environments where groups live, which is why geographers are interested in them.  The boundaries of certain words used in a country are the isogloss, and they can be constructed for many different words.

17 Pop/Soda IsoglossPop/Soda Isogloss

18 Isogloss  Every word has an isogloss, but many have overlapping boundaries.  The development of dialects is why American English is different from British English.  When there are multiple dialects one is often the standard language and widely recognized as the most acceptable.  The standard form of British speech is British Received Pronunciation, which is used by the “upper crust.”


20 “The rain in Spain falls…”“The rain in Spain falls…”  However, not all English people speak that way.  Because of the invasion and subsequent division of land into regions 5 different dialects emerged.  Northern  East Midland  West Midland  Southwestern  Kentish


22 Arbitrary GrammarArbitrary Grammar  One dialect emerged as dominant. Obviously, it was the language spoken by the upper class residents of London and those at Oxford and Cambridge.  These people eventually wrote the books on proper grammar, arbitrarily deciding that their version of English was “correct.”

23 British or American EnglishBritish or American English  In the 17 th century the Atlantic Coast was settled by the English who established English as the language of colonial America.  Even though the United States has been a destination for many immigrants, people found English firmly established when they arrived.  These people became acculturated into a society that already spoke English.

24 U.S. English Differs in 3 Ways  Vocabulary: differs because of the exposure to new objects and experiences that needed to be given new names.  Native Americans also influenced the creation of new words for American English.  As new objects were invented they had new names in each place: flashlight:torch, elevator:lift, hood:bonnet.

25 Spelling  Webster.  Aaron Webster (creator of the American Dictionary) with an agenda to develop an American dialect.  He removed the u from words like honour and colour and replaced the c in many words with an s, like defence.

26 Pronunciation  Since the British and Americans didn’t interact easily or often the pronunciation deviated over time.

27 American DialectsAmerican Dialects  New England: Puritans from southeastern England not many from the north of England.  Southeastern: Diversity of people from southeast England, including deported prisoners, indentured servants, and political and religious refugees.  Middle Atlantic: more diverse, Quakers, Scots & Irish, German, Dutch, and Swedish immigrants as well.

28 Mutually Unintelligible Languages  Languages that do not preclude knowledge or familiarity of another.  English & Russian are mutually unintelligible.

29 Mutually intelligible languagesMutually intelligible languages  Languages of different places that can be understood by each other without specific effort or study.  Dutch & German are separate languages but can be understood by each other  Does this make them languages?  Or dialects?

30 Geographer’s Perspective on Language Geographer’s Perspective on Language  Language is an essential element of culture, possibly the most important medium by which culture is transmitted.  Languages even structure the perceptions of their speakers. Attitudes, understandings, and responses are partly determined by the words available.  Languages are a hallmark of cultural diversity with distinctive regional distributions.

31 Where are you if…Where are you if…  Babies wear nappies  Cars have bonnets & windscreens  Pencils have rubbers  In order to slow traffic a road has “sleeping policeman”  People end a list of instructions with “Bob’s your uncle.”

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