History Of England Documentary
History of England Documentary PART 2: a complete history of England After William took over Britain in 1066, the French started sneaking into the English language. French words were spoken more by the upper class, the wealthy people, and Old English was spoken more by common people, by people in the lower classes.
So today we have pairs of words that have almost the same meaning, one from Old English and one from Old French. Words like lawyer and attorney, deem and judge, hunt and chase, pig and pork, cow and beef, freedom and liberty, weird and strange. I could go on for days. Now we don’t make the distinction, but the Norman Conquest resulted in a much more colorful language that allowed for more creative expression. Over 7,000 English words that we use today are from French, basically, the Norman Conquest. History of England Documentary
So this invasion gave us what we now call Middle English. Let’s listen to a bit of “The Canterbury Tales” from about 1400. (speaking foreign language) – [Instructor] Next is Early Modern English, and there’s no real invasion here, only important people and events. History of England Documentary
First, Shakespeare. Shakespeare is credited with creating a huge number of English words and phrases, and his plays are extremely influential to this day.
From him, we get words like assassination, cold-blooded, manager, uncomfortable, and many, many more. Whether you know it or not, you’re probably quoting Shakespeare on a daily basis. Here’s a little Shakespeare. – A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
– [Instructor] The other really important event that helped to shape Modern English was the Great Vowel Shift, which was in the 15th century.
Now, this was essentially a change in English pronunciation. Vowels are A, E, I, O, and U and you can say them in different ways. Sometimes we say A as ay and sometimes we say A as ah. Well, it didn’t use to be like that so there was a major shift in the way that vowels and many other sounds in English were pronounced.
A word like a knave, K-N-A-V-E, would’ve been pronounced something like ke-nah-veh, ke-nah-veh. Now we have a silent K, so we don’t say ke-nah, we say n, know, knowledge, knave, knives. We say just n. And we also have long vowels like ay instead of ah, and we have a silent E, which makes no sound, but changes the short A to a long A. The rules of spelling were being written down around the same time, and unfortunately, the writing people, the spelling people didn’t seem to be talking to the pronunciation people.
So the pronunciation changed, but the spelling hasn’t really changed. We say K-N-A-V-E, knave, like the nave, N-A-V-E, but still, spell it in the most ridiculous possible way. I have a feeling that’s starting to change, but if you ever get confused with English spelling and you want to shout at someone about it, get in a time machine and yell at someone writing down words in the 15th century.
I would be remiss not to mention the influence of the King James translation of the Bible as well. Apart from strengthening these strange word spellings, many new phrases and idioms were created for that translation and we still use those today, phrases as by the skin of your teeth and a broken heart and a sign of the times.
There are a ton of modern expressions that come from the King James Bible. Finally, we come to Modern English, and an ironic reverse invasion as Britain began to explore the world by sea and colonize.
As English spread to places like India, Africa, North America, and Australia via trading and colonization, some words began to trickle back slowly to England. We get pajamas from India, trek from Africa, and ketchup from China. Of course, English also spread to those colonies and new dialects began to take shape in those places. History of England Documentary
So who knows, maybe California English will become a completely new language someday. I think it’s pretty close. – My American accent that you heard on The Terminator kinda changes a little bit into Cali from the Valley. It’s like this, she’s like this whole, like, situation. (audience laughs) That was amazing.
– [Instructor] The English language continues to evolve, and someday, the words I’m speaking right now will sound as old and strange to future listeners as Old English sounds to me. That’s just how it goes. – You make me sad. History of England Documentary