The origins of the English language come from an extinct language known as Proto-Indo-European. This ancient language is actually believed to be the great-grandfather of many European languages, including ancient German and the ancient Latin.

The evolution of the English language is also connected to the many invasions of the islands of Britain, where English grew as a language. Over time the Saxons, Anglos, and Jutes mixed together, and mixed their languages together too. They created the language known as Anglo-Saxon or Old English.

English has been spoken in three forms, Old English, Middle English and Early Modern English. Originally, English was written in Anglo-Saxon runes, but is now written in the Latin alphabet.

Old English is very different from modern English and almost impossible for a native English speaker today to understand. A classic piece of literature from this time is called Beowulf. Beowulf is the story of a great king who fought against monsters.

The next invaders of England and influencers of the English language were the French-speaking people of Normandy. Many English words come from the Norman-French, including: “prison,” “justice,” and “marriage.”

During and after the time of the Norman-French invasions, the English language became known as “Middle English.” It was no longer the Old English of the past, but it still wasn’t the modern English of today. The most famous piece of literature from this time period is called “The Canterbury Tales.” This is a collection of poems about people traveling to the town of Canterbury in England.

From the time of Middle English (1200–1450 CE) to today English has continued to develop. One of the most famous writers in early modern English was Shakespeare. The changes in the English language from then to now are not from invaders. These more recent changes were part of the natural evolution of the language.

Some examples of works or writers in every form of English include Beowulf and Geoffrey Chaucer in Old English, Shakespeare and Jonson in Middle English, and Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and JK Rowling in Early Modern English.

English is now the most widely spoken language in the world, and is official in 67 different countries! English has influences from languages around the world, and as a result has one of the largest vocabularies of any language!

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