I recently stumbled upon this video, “the History of The English Language in 10 Minutes,” that explains our language evolution from the Anglo-Saxons in 400 a.d. through King James Bible’s influence, Shakespeare, the Internet and finishing with Global English today.
I just wish I could translate it for my Italian students flabbergasted by English words, sayings and rules … or lack thereof.
Religion, wars, rulings and necessities of the times formed and shaped our language over the course of centuries and this video sketches how we acquired words like judge and jury, pig and swine and sayings like “the salt of the earth.”
Language, even our native language, changes every day through media, technology and, perhaps most commonly, simply through people. It makes learning a second language particularly daunting but never boring.
Learning a second language grows your native language’s vocabulary and grammar exponentially, and teaching English has grown my knowledge of my own language even more. When a student asks why we pronounce words one way but spell them completely different, I come back the next time with print outs explaining Old, Middle and Modern English. When I try to explain phrasal verbs I realize how intricate connotation and usage is, and when asked about certain expressions or slang I’m often stumped.
The proof of English’s complexities is in the video… now I better start translating if I ever want to fully explain it to my students!