Why are we here?
Throughout history, the English language has undergone massive changes. From its humble origins as an obscure West Germanic dialect, it would eventually grow and spread over the globe, becoming the most successful lingua franca in human history.
Today, Modern English wields undeniable worldwide influence, permeating international communication in academia, diplomacy, business, entertainment, and more. Remarkably, over 90% of scientific journal research and nearly 60% of web content is currently written in English.
To put things into perspective, in 2022, native English speakers numbered around 373 million, a mere 4.6% of the world’s population. However, when factoring in those speaking English as a second language, the figure skyrockets to approximately 2 billion, nearly 25% of the global populace.
Due to the advent of the internet and globalization, the English language has even started making its way into the vocabulary of other languages. Look no further than words like “okay,” “internet,” or “shopping,” which pop up in conversations all over the world, whether we’re talking Japanese, Romanian, or Arabic.
Indeed, English is the most popular language in the 21st century, surpassing linguistic giants such as French, Spanish, and Mandarin in both the number of speakers and sociopolitical reach.
How did this happen? Well, it’s a long, complex, and fascinating story.
English is a unique example of dynamism and adaptability. Despite its Germanic roots, it’s been heavily influenced by Latin and French. Moreover, its vocabulary comprises up to 80% loanwords adopted from a total of 350 languages, including Dutch, Italian, German, Norwegian, Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin, Swahili, and more!
These unique traits have made English a flexible and accessible language for learners all over the world. But the history of English is not just a collection of grammatical changes and phonetic shifts.
It’s a narrative that weaves together culture, politics, art, science, and technology.
Throughout its centuries-long evolution, English has been influenced by key historical moments– the Norman conquest, the invention of the printing press, Shakespeare’s works, the Cold War, and the invention of the internet are only a few such examples.
Its past is filled with ups and downs, with quirky stories and with complex political intrigues. Whether you’re a language enthusiast, a history buff, a sociology geek, or simply someone who loves to learn about the world, the history of English promises to be an exciting adventure filled with surprises and revelations.
Get to Know Us
We are a small team of English teachers, linguists, and writers brought together by our passion for language and history. This website is a collaborative effort meant to make the history of English fun and accessible to learners from all walks of life.
Richard is an English teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has dedicated his life and career to his passion for English, literature, and pedagogy, guiding multiple generations of students on their journey to discovery.
When he isn’t grading papers or thinking of new ways to make his classes fun and engaging, Richard likes to share his love for the English language and its history with the rest of the world through his writing.
Diana is a trilingual ESL teacher and writer with a M.A. in Translation and Terminology. She has spent over 10 years studying English, German, and philology, and now wants to share her knowledge and passion with other linguistics enthusiasts.
As a self-taught language nerd, she is especially interested in grammar, pragmatics, and everything technical. Whether you’re curious about phonetics, morphology, or obscure words and idioms, Diana always strives to offer the most comprehensive and straightforward explanation.
Linguistics is a fascinating interdisciplinary field that can teach us a lot about history, culture, communication, and society at large. Unfortunately, this field is often cloaked in cold academic jargon and endless technical words. We seek to change that, by offering a fresh and learner-friendly perspective on the topic.
We hope you find this resource helpful in your learning journey!
What You’ll Find Here
The History of English website covers the evolution of English in separate chapters, focusing mainly on Old, Middle, and Early Modern English. We also set these chapters into a wider historical context, so you’ll be learning a bit about the history of Europe, its geography, tribes, and the first Indo-European languages of the Old Continent.
We’ve made sure to provide graphs, political maps, as well as a section of texts and audio recordings in Old and Middle English. Head to our section of audio recordings to listen to the epic poem “Beowulf” in Old English, or William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in Early Modern English. Besides English history, we also cover more technical topics, including:
- Old English words and their evolution
- The origin and meaning of English idioms and proverbs
- Interesting facts about English language grammar, demographics, and other historical trivia
For more answers or information on linguistics and grammatical terms, make sure to check our Glossary section.
Join Us on An Exciting Learning Journey!
Are you passionate about English? Do you often wonder why the English language is the way it is? Then, you’ve come to the right place!
The History of English covers this question and all its intricacies in an accessible and engaging way.
Regardless of your prior grammar or linguistic knowledge, our content is easy to digest without skipping any of the most important facts you don’t want to miss!
Join us to discover all the details about English, its origins, its influences, and its global historical impact.
A wealth of fascinating information awaits. From the first Indo-European tribes to renowned political figures, playwrights, and inventors, the history of English encompasses a complex web of unexpected events that worked together to create one of the most influential languages in the world.