342) has identified that linguists customarily divide the development period of English language in three major periods. First comes the Old English period that remained in vogue from fifth to eleventh century. Then the Middle English period is prominent historically, and which stretched from eleventh to fifteenth centuries. Finally, the Modern English period commenced from the fifteenth century and is in progress still. The history of English language goes back to the time when three tribes, namely the Angles, the Saxon, and the Jutes, invaded Britain and spread Old English or Anglo-Saxon English language. With time, many Greek and French words began to be infused in the English language that was influential among people in those days, and Middle English became the dominant language. It is the general consensus among almost all the historian that French played a dominant role in the development of the English language. Later on, the period of Modern English language commenced, in the earlier part of which, the social communication of British people with the rest of the world increased and English became more modernized and easy as compared to the old or middle English. Gradually, British Empire expanded and many old English words got modified and new words were included in the vocabulary, and this modernized vocabulary differentiates the presently influential English language from the old-fashioned English language styles. There are numerous linguistic evidences spanning more than 1200 years, which are a major source of help for those researching on English language history. All such old documents and literary works highlight the major transformational changes that the English language has gone through from the beginning. For example, meanings of many words became less inclusive than their earlier meanings, and words themselves also shifted or progressed towards new word versions. This is called semantic shift and narrowing. According to Akmajian (2001, p. 344), meaning changes in many individual words in the context of Old English and Modern English can be observed from the Modern English words hound and dog, both of which were known as hund and docga in Old English. Moreover, the word “hund” referred to any kind of dog, while “hound” refers to a particular type of a dog. The word “docga” on the other hand, referred in Old English to the mastiff breed of dogs, while presently, “dog” refers to any breed of dog.
Akmajian, A. (2001). Linguistics: an introduction to language and communication. (5th ed.). USA: MIT Press. Pp. 342-344.
Graddol, D., Leith, D., & Swann, J. (1996). English: history, diversity, and change. Illustrated. London: Routledge Publishers. Pp. 99-119.
Hogg, R. M., & Denison, D. (2006). A history of the English language. Illustrated. Cambridge University Press.
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