English origin

Proto English – Starting From The Earliest


English is a West Germanic language, sourcing out from the Anglo-Frisian dialects. It was brought to Britain by Germanic invaders from different parts of northwest Germany and the Netherlands. Initially, Proto English was a varied group of dialects, which reflected the origins of earliest English. Late West Saxon, one of these dialects, eventually dominates the scene.


The original proto English language was influenced further by two waves of invasion: the first was by speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic language family and the second by the Normans in the 11th century. The speakers of the Scandinavian branch triumphed over and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Normans spoke Old Norman and ultimately developed an English variety known as Anglo-Norman.

Living in the same surrounding as the Scandinavians led to a major grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of earliest English. Norman occupation later led to the grafting of a more complex layer of words from the Romance languages and influenced the proto English language through the courts and government. Thus, English was fast developing into a "borrowing" language of great flexibility, gathering a huge and varied vocabulary.

The Germanic tribes gave rise to the origin of earliest English language, the vocabulary of whom incorporated many Latin words for common objects. Some examples are - inch, kettle, kitchen, mile, camp, cheese, cook, noon, pillow etc; Proto English language also received some words from Romans like: copper, dish, sack, anchor, butter, chest, which they had borrowed from other languages.

The ancestors of the earliest English origin, the Germanic people, retained political independence while remaining quite well acquainted with Roman civilization and its economy. We can be sure that Germanic settlement in Britain did not intensify until the arrival of mercenaries in the 5th century.


No East Germanic is spoken today. The only written East Germanic language that survives is Gothic.  North Germanic developed into the modern Scandinavian languages of Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic.  West Germanic is the antecedent of modern German, Dutch, Flemish, Frisian, and English.

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