Many countries where English is not the native tongue but is one of the official languages there does exist regional accents or inflictions which is only natural. Thus the same language keeps on changing its form and structure according to different regions where it is spoken
English is spoken and predominant in the erstwhile colonies which were ruled by the British. English is the official language of the Commonwealth countries and the European Council. United nations also recognizes English as one of its official language .
The History and Origin of the English Language
English is a language that can trace its roots to West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects that came to Britain through the Germanic invaders from various parts of what is now North-West Germany and the Netherlands. The origin of English is categorized as the Old, Middle and Modern English.
Old English was a diverse group of dialects reflecting the Anglo-Saxon kingdom’s influence. The Celtics in the North-Western Britain and the Latin from the Roman conquests also blended with Anglo-Saxon domination over the English language.
Germanic languages displaced the native languages of Briton origins in some parts of the British Island. Old English was also influenced by the Norman invasion and during the Anglo-Norman rule of the British Empire. Thus English became a language of great flexibility and extensive vocabulary.
With the changing rulers and the changing political scene the English language also under went a sea tide of changes. The original Celtic languages remained in parts of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall
Old English had neither the dialect nor the script of modern English; although some words like anger, bag, both and pronoun such as they have remained rooted from old English. The period of old English lasted till the 12th or 13th century.
The introduction of Christianity added Latin and Greek to the English language. Till date a wide range of English words can trace its origin to Nordic, Germanic, Celtic, and Latin, Greek and French languages.
The period that historians and linguists term as old English ended with the Norman Conquest starting in 1066 A.D.
Middle English is the language used during the period starting around late 11th century and 1470. Although the nobility still spoke Anglo-Norman, the commoners and the lower grade government officials started to speak English that is much closer to the modern day English language. The first official English language government document to be published in England since the conquests was the Provision of Oxford in 1258. King Edward the Third was the first British king to address the parliament in English.
During the reign of King Henry the fifth the Chancery Standard was the official English language used for government and other official purposes. The Great Vowel Shift is one of the major happenings of these times.
English underwent an enormous change during what is referred to as the early modern English era. The most important contributor to this era was William Shakespeare who is synonymous with English literature.
During this period English was influenced by the French and Industrial Revolutions. Around this time the language had become close to the modern day English in script and in dialect. The first English dictionary, The Table Alphabetical, was published in 1604.
The first English dictionary of significance was published in 1755 by Samuel Johnson. A wide range of vocabulary was developed which did not exist during the period termed as old and Middle English. Late modern English has many more words mainly due to the Industrial Revolution and the many conquests the British Empire was involved in. The invention of new technology and tools required new vocabulary; secondly the British Empire at the peak of its glory covered so many lands near and far. New words from these far away lands also were incorporated into everyday usage which slowly became a part of the English language.
Regional variations and Accents
As the English language traces its origin to many different languages, cultures and countries, the spellings, grammar and usages differ from one place to another. Mispronunciations and incorrect usage of the language is widely prevalent even in countries where it is the one and only language practiced.
English is spoken and predominant in the erstwhile colonies which were ruled by the British. English is the official language of the Commonwealth countries and the European Council.
Even in predominantly English speaking countries like the U.K, U.S. and Australia the accent and usage of the language varies from one place to another. Thus a Texan’s English will most definitely be different to the English spoken by a New Yorker and a Londoner’s English will differ from that of a Yorkshire man’s English.
Local accents are part of any local dialect. Every dialect of English is identifiable by its unique pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Accents denote only the different pronunciations.
Colloquial English and usage of slang pertaining to a certain culture, region or age groups have become the norm these days. Some of these usages have even found their way into the English dictionaries and some have become established English words.
Grammar and Structure of Language
Some words have simple meanings, some several meanings. Some words differ in meaning when the context differs. The understanding of the structure of English involves understanding the functions of the words used. These functions are usually defined as ‘parts of speech’.
Though English is such a widely used language, it is still quite confusing as a number of rules are to be followed in its grammatical usage. Some of the words have different meanings and or different spellings in the US and UK, but grammar is the glue that binds the language together.
One of the significant differences between the British and American English is the way collective nouns are handled. Sometimes the Britons treat collective nouns as plural as opposed to the Americans who address them in the singular form.
A pound of potatoes costs more this year (UK)
A pound of potatoes cost more this year (US)
Spelling differences exist between US and UK English. For instance, Norman-derived words that end in â€“our like color, vigor, honor, favor, etc are spelt as color, vigor, honor, favor and so on in the US. The same applies good with words that end with â€“er; so theatre, centre become theater and center in the US. Sometimes even some spellings vary â€“ mould/mold, man oeuvre/ maneuver, encyclopedia/encyclopedia.
American English is spoken in the USA, Canada and many Pacific countries where America has exerted an influence. British English is spoken throughout the British Commonwealth of 54 countries, the most notable ones being the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with Canada being the exception. Owing to its proximity to the US and being a commonwealth nation, Canadians use a mixture of both US and UK English.
Based on its history and the international usage of the English language, it has been constantly diversified and enriched by words and expressions adopted from all over the world.
Many words and expressions of foreign origin have been so widely and popularly used in English that they have now been incorporated into the language. These words or expressions are sometimes used because they express a useful shade of meaning or have the advantage of being concise than their English translations (a priori, mea culpa, bona fide, prima facie).
Uniqueness of English language
How is it that quick sand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig? There is neither egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.
When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.
If a cook cooks, a teacher teaches, why doesn’t a grocer groce?
The uniqueness and appeal of the language lies in the myriads of possibilities surrounding the understanding of a word and the context in which it is used.
Global and Commercial Appeal
The growing demands of economic growth and the rising popularity of the internet has made the interaction between people of the developed countries, developing and third world countries more global and commercial. To interface in such a condition the knowledge of English language is of immense importance. Even in countries like China and France where English is not an official language, more and more people are learning English.
Even in countries where multiple local languages are spoken English has become the common thread in the smooth progress of day to day activities. For a language that has evolved from multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-geographical entities English has now emerged as the unifying language spoken by a vast majority of world populace.
Some Common words differences between USA English &UK English
rack and ruin
wrack and ruin
sceptic (-al, -ism)
skeptic (-al, -ism)