English is the third most spoken language the world over. Approximately 400 million people speak it as a first language and over 1.4 billion people speak English as a second language. It is the official language in 53 countries worldwide. English is the official world language and is used by the United Nations and many other international organizations. It is the language that is most often studied as a foreign language and as a result English speaking teachers are in high demand.
The Beginning of the English Language
It is not an easy task to identify when English was first spoken. English as a language belongs to the Indo-European family. This family also includes Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, German, Marathi, French, Italian, Punjabi, and Urdu. English is thought to have developed around the middle of the fifth century on the island that we now know as Great Britain. It originated from a fusion of languages that we now call Old English which were brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers. Due to Viking invasions “Old English” also incorporated parts of the Old Norse Language group. Many English words have Latin roots as this was the language primarily used by the church and intellectual Europeans in the 5th and 6th century. During the 11th century Great Britain was again invaded by the Normans and aspects of the Norman-French language were added to English creating what is now known a Middle English. This English had many of the features of the romance languages (French, Spanish and Italian). Modern English emerged from a historical event known as the Great Vowel Shift, which was a major change in the pronunciation of vowel sounds in Southern England which occurred from 1450 to 1750.
English continues to evolve and change as new words are added via the many new cultures that are using it. English has many words adopted from other languages and it will continue to change as it becomes more widely used.