English is a West Germanic Language. English language actually started with the advent of three Germanic tribes namely , the Angels, the Saxons and the Jutes who conquered Britain during the 5th century AD. The invading Germanic tribe spoke a language which was somewhat similar to English. This particular language matured in Britain and became famous as Old English. Old English was quite different from Modern English. Old English was spoken until around 1100 AD. However many words used in Modern English like be, strong, water etc. have their origin in Old English.
In 1066AD, Duke William of Normandy (now a part of modern France) “the conqueror" attacked and conquered England. The Normans or the new conquerors introduced a language which was somewhat like French. In the 14th century English containing several French words became prevalent in Britain. This language is known as Middle English. The great poet Chaucer used Middle English for writing. Precisely speaking, the era of Middle English was from 1100 to 1500.
When the Middle English era was about to end, all of a sudden a noticeable change in pronunciation occurred which is known as The Great Vowel Shift. From the 16th century, Britishers started establishing contact with various people around the world which resulted in the Renaissance of Classical learning. In this period new words and phrases were introduced in English. Printing in English was invented which brought stabilization and normalization in English. More and more people started reading books as books became cheaper. Grammar and spelling became permanent. English became the standard language of London where most of the publishing houses were located. The first English Dictionary was published in 1604. This Language is known as the Early Modern English (1500-1800). William Shakespeare wrote the famous lines of Hamlet TO BE OR NOT TO BE in Early Modern English.
The era which marked the end of Early Modern English also marked the beginning of Late Modern English. Late Modern English started in 1800 and is continuing at present. The variance between Early Modern English and Late Modern English was in their vocabulary. Numerous new words entered in Late Modern English mainly because of two major factors.
1. The Industrial Revolution and Technology developed called for the requirement of many new words.
2. Many foreign words were added in English Language as the British empire was at its peak covering almost one fourth of the world.
In the period around 1600, the English settlement in North America gave birth to the very noticeable American variety of English or American English as we call it today. American English is more like the English followed by Shakespeare. Few terms, like trash for rubbish, loan as a verb instead of lend etc. which the Britishers namely call as Americanisms, actually have their origin in Britain. These terms were conserved in the British colonies but ceased to exist in Britain. Spanish words like stampede, canyon entered English as the Americans started inhabiting in the west. Thus we can say that Spanish influenced American English and successively British English to a large extent. Through the practice of slave trade West African words influenced American English. French words became a part of American English. It made its way through Louisiana . Both French and West African words influenced British English to a certain extent.
There are lots of other varieties of English like Indian English, New Zealand English, Australian English, Caribbean English, Canadian English but American English has gained predominance in today’s world , the reason being USA’s supremacy over internet, cinema, music, trade and most importantly technology.
At present or in today’s world English can be termed as the global “lingua franca" or common language. Almost sixty sovereign states has declared English as its official Language. English happens to be the third most universally spoken native language of the world besides Spanish and Mandarin.