Sejarah Perkembangan Bahasa Inggris

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Berikut ini adalah tulisan mengenai sejarah perkembangan bahasa Inggris. Sekitar 1500 tahun yang lalu, bahasa ini muncul di Pulau Britania yang menandai sejarah bahasa Inggris kemudian. Dan dalam waktu 300 tahun terakhir perkembangan sejarahnya ini, bahasa Inggris telah berkembang dari bahasa regional menjadi bahasa internasional.

Bahasa Inggris telah digunakan oleh oleh 300 juta penutur asli dan lebih dari 1,5 milyar pengguna di seluruh dunia. Sejarah perkembangan bahasa Inggris sejak sebelum kedatangan bangsa Inggris hingga sekarang ini setidaknya dapat dibagi menjadi 5 periode sejarah:

1. Periode Bahasa Inggris Purba (The Beginning English Period): sebelum kedatangan bangsa Inggris

2. Periode Bahasa Inggris Kuno (The Old English Period): antara tahun 600 – 1100 M

3. Periode Bahasa Inggris Pertengahan (The Middle English Period): antara tahun 1100 – 1500 M

4. Periode Bahasa Inggris Modern Awal (The Early Modern English Period): antara tahun 1500 – 1700 M

5. Periode Bahasa Inggris Masa Kini (The Present Day English Period): antara tahun 1700 M – sekarang


Silakan ditonton video yang berjudul Sejarah Bahasa Inggris (The History of English Language – An Overview) berikut ini:



Below is the transcript of the video:

This is the introduction of development of English language for those students with little or no background in linguistics. The development of English can be subdivided into five periods. They are; the Beginning period that is the time before the English arrived. The old English period from 600 to 1100. The Middle English period from 1100 to 1500. The early modern English period from 1500 to 1700. And the period of present-day English from 1700 until today.


The Beginning Period of English Language

Let’s move back in time and start more than two thousand years ago. The first Indo-European speakers to arrive on the landmass now called England were probably the Celts. We do not know exactly the date of their arrival, but they were already on the British Isles several centuries before the birth of Christ.

Beginning in 55 before Christ, Julius Caesar -the Roman Emperor- made several attempts to invade Britain. But it was not before 50 after Christ that most of the land was under Roman domination, except for the northern part which remained unconquered.

Hadrian’s Wall represents the borderline. England became Rome’s westernmost outpost and was gradually romanized in 410 after Christ. The Roman legions were withdrawn from Britain leaving chaos.

The Picts raided from the north and the Scots from Ireland while the Jutes and the Saxons attacked the eastern coasts. Throughout the 5th and 6th century the Britons were slowly driven back into the mountain areas of Cumbria and Wales. Germanic speaking tribes replaced the Celtic peoples.


The Old English Period

The earliest period in the history of the English language is referred to as The Old English period. The origin of this Old English period goes back to the 5th century after Christ when Germanic tribes invaded Britain. These tribes were the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes.

Linguistically, the Old English period is generally defined as from 600 to 1100 after Christ. Due to the strong Germanic and especially the strong Saxon influence, the Old English period is often also referred to as Anglo-Saxon English. Its geographical extension was approximately identical with today’s area of England.

Like its ancestor languages, Old English was synthetic with numerous gluten aiding tendencies. It inherited most phonological and morphological properties from Germanic and had a relatively free world order. Let’s listen to an example… (please watch the video above).


The Middle English Period

The beginning of the Middle English period coincides with the Battle of Hastings, the key event in the Norman conquest of England when William Duke of Normandy -after the battle known as William the Conqueror defeated the English under King Harold II in October 1066. The Norman Conquest brought massive changes to England’s political and social structures and it had an enormous impact on the English language.

After the Norman Conquest, England’s social and political structures underwent dramatic changes, such as an almost complete replacement of the English aristocracy by a Norman aristocracy. English largely lost its status and became the language of the lower classes, especially among the nobility in literature, law and in official documentation. It essentially disappeared as a written language.

The year 1204 marks the turning point when King John nicknamed John Lackland lost his English possessions in France leading to a gradual decline of French as an official language. In England by the 13th and 14th centuries even the children of the English nobility no longer learnt French as a native language. English had become the new medium of instruction although French remained the official language of England well into the 14th century.

Two events of that time sealed its fate. The first was the Black Death when between 1348 – 1351  one-third of the people in England died. This led to enormous labor shortages and an increase of the prestige of English which was the language of the working class. Another event was the Hundred Years War from 1337 to 1453 which led to a loss of all Continental Holdings without which the English no longer had important reasons for learning and using French.

The end of the Middle English period is marked by several historical incidents where the first two had an enormous impact on the development of English. The introduction of the printing press to England in 1476 by William Caxton which led to a standardization of the English language. Another one was the beginning of colonization after 1500.

Aafter the discovery of America in 1492 which eventually led to a global spread of the English language and then of course the inauguration of Henry VIII in 1509 who eventually cut the links to Rome and the Catholic Church. So by 1500 English had begun to obtain a new position from a Regional European language to a global system of communication.

Due to Latin and French influences a new language had involved by the mid 14th century. Middle English was Germanic at the core but had an extensive Roman vocabulary. Furthermore in Middle English the structural complexity of Old English had disappeared.

Many linguistic developments which identify by the Middle English period our most evident in the poetry and prose of the second half of the 14th century. Let’s listen to an example from Middle English from The Canterbury Tales written by Geoffrey Chaucer…. (Please refer to the video above).


The Early Modern English Period

The beginning of the Early Modern English period coincides with the ascendancy of Henry VIII to the throne in 1509. The end of the Early Modern English period is marked by the completion of the great vowel shift and the beginning of the scientific age at around 1700. Most influential with regard to Early Modern English were the works of William Shakespeare.

For this reason Early Modern English is often alternatively referred to as Experian English. By the end of the Middle English period most of today’s syntactic and morphological patterns had been established. Early Modern English was fairly analytic. The word order had already become quite fixed to subject-verb-object due to reduced inflectional system.

And of the five Old English cases only two had survived the great change that classifies Early Modern English as a new period mainly phonological enchain in nature. Between 1450 and 1640 five of the seven long vowels of middle English were raised and two became diphthong guised.

This great vowel shift finally made English intelligible to the modern ear. The revival of classical scholarship during the Renaissance brought Latin and Greek long words into the language. Scientific writers were often in need of new words and thus borrowed in abundance from these languages. Not all of these borrowings though survived.

Anyway let us illustrate Early Modern English using an example from Shakespeare’s set of sonnets… (Please refer to the video above).


The Present Day English Period

By about 1700 the English language differed only slightly from present-day English. The most important development was external. It concerned the position of the English language among the languages of the world. From a regional language it developed to the most widely used language of our time.

The first significant step in the progress of English to status as a global language did not take place before the end of the sixteenth century. By the end of the reign of Elizabeth I in 1603 literature had boomed through the works of Spencer Marlowe, Shakespeare, Francis Drake, and Walter Raleigh. They had laid the foundation for expanding the English influences in the new world today.

The spread of English around the world is often defined in terms of three concentric circles. The inner circle refers to traditional historical and social linguistic origins of English where it is used as a first or native language. The outer circle includes countries colonized by Britain and the United States where English is spoken as a second language and where it plays an important historical and governmental role in multilingual settings. The countries in the expanding circle did not institutionalize English as an official language but recognized the important of English as a foreign language.

As there has ever been such a thing as a world language, English during less than 300 years developed from a regional language to a global language. Today English constitutes the most widely used individual language with more than 300 million native speakers and more than 1.5 billion official users.


Source: The Virtual Linguistics Campus Channel on Youtube


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