From the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the Celtics are believed to have lived in the place where we now call Britain. Britain first appeared in the historical records as Julius Caesar campaigned there in 55-54 B.C. Britain was conquered by Claudius I (Claudius Germanicus) of Rome in 43 A.D. and had been under the Roman occupation for 400 years before the Romans left there in 410 A.D.
Then came from the European Continent the Germanic tribes, who spoke the languages belonging to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. First the Jutes from Jutland (present-day Denmark) moved into Kentshire and the Isle of Wight in the third century A.D.; then in the fifth century, the Saxons from Friesland, Frisian Islands and northwest Germany moved to the south of the Thames River, and the Angles to the north of the Thames. The words, England and English, come from the word, Angles. During the Old English period of 450-1,100 A.D., Britain experienced the spread of Christianity, begun by St. Patrick in Ireland in 432, and, from the eighth century, the invasion and occupation of the middle eastern part of Britain by the Vikings, called the "Danes."
The most important event of the Middle English period (1100-1500 A.D.) was the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Normans were the North Men, meaning the Vikings from Scandinavia settled in the Normandy region of France from the ninth century, who had assimilated themselves to the French language and culture. English was much influenced by French during this time. Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote "The Canterbury Tales" and other stories also lived during this period.
During the Modern English period (1500- ), English spread to the world as the British Empire colonized many lands. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) lived in this period, and in 1755 Dr. Johnson (Samuel Johnson) completed "A Dictionary of the English Language" with about 40,000 entries, which contributed to the standardization of the English language.
The English language which spread to the world created many of its variants, the most prominent of which is American English. Compared to British English (or U.K. English or the Queen's English), "a" in "fast" is pronounced as in "bad," "r" of "author" is pronounced, "wh" in "which" as "w." It, of course, has its own variations, such as Northeastern English and Southern, and is not a monolithic language.
The American English writing system is said to owe much to Noah Webster's "An American Dictionary of the English Language" which was completed in 1828. American English is considered "made simple," using "labor" for British English "labour," "check" for "cheque," "standardize" for "standardise," and "program" for "programme," but actually at times it simply uses different words, such as "railroad" for British English "railway" and "eggplant" for "aubergine," The date which is often expressed as "1 May 1996" in British English is considered in American English as "for military use" and preferred to be written as "May 1, 1996."
The English language is only one of more than three thousand languages in use in the world. It is related to about a hundred of these which together constitute the Indo- European (IE) family.
The term Indo- European is expressive of the geographical extent of the family, from India to western Europe. The original home of the Indo- Europeans is believed to have been somewhere in east central Europe.
The original IE language was later broken up into various dialects which underwent separate linguistic development.
Since there are no written records to tell us what the original IE language was like, it is supposed that the original speakers of IE did not know the art of writing.
By using comparative methods, historical linguists have been able to make a plausible reconstruction of the original language. Toward the end of 18 th century , European scholars studying Sanskrit noted its resemblance to the classical languages. Latin, and Greek with which they were familiar. The comparison was extended to other languages, and soon the theory of common origin was established.
The Germanic Branch of Indo- European . The characteristics English shares with Dutch, Flemish , Frisian, German,Gothic and Scandinavian languages point to their origin in a single dialect of the IE family which is reconstructed as Proto –Gernanic.
With the scattering of the Germanic tribes, Proto-Germanic broke up into three branches : East – Germanic , North – Germanic and West Germanic, to which English belongs.