History of the English Language:

INDO EUROPEAN Language Origins

I Greek (ancient Greek) Modern Greek


II Armenian -Armenian


III Albanian -Albanian


IV Baltic

    A. Lithuanian

    B. Letish

    C. (Old Prussian)


V Indo Iranian

    A. Indic

            1. Hindi

            2. Urdu

            3. various

            4. (Sanskrit)

    B. Iranian

            1. (Old Persian)

            2. Persian

            3. Kurdish


VI Celtic

    A. Gaulish

    B. (Goidelic)

            1. (Old Irish)

            2. (Middle Irish)

            3. Irish

            4. Scots Gaelic

    C. (Brythonic)

            1. (Cornish)

            2. Welsh

            3. Breton


VII Slavonic

    A. West Slavic

            1. Polish

            2. Czech

            3. Slovac

    B. South Slavic

            1. Slovene

            2. Serbo-Croatian

            3. Bulgarian

    C. East Slavic

            1. Russian

            2. Ukrainian


    A. (Oscan)

    B. (Umbrian)

    C. Old Latin

            1. (Latin)

            2. French

            3. Italian

            4. Spanish

            5. Portuguese

            6. Rumanian

            7. various


    A. East Germanic -(Gothic)

    B. North Germanic

            1. Old West Norse

                    a. Icelandic

                    b. Faroese

                    *c. Norwegian

            2. Old East Norse

                    a. Sweedish

                    b. Danish

                    *c. Norwegian


            1. Anglo - Frisian

                    a. (Old English)

                                    i. (Old English)

                                   ii. English

                    b. (Old Frisian)

                                    i. Frisian

            2. German

                    a. High German

                                    i. (Old & Middle High German)

                                    ii. Bavarian

                                    iii. German

                                    iv. Yiddish

                                    v. Pennsylvanian German

                    b. Low German

                                    i. (old Low Franconian)

                                    ii. Dutch

                                    iii. Flemish

The Days of the Week:

Sun -Old English ‘Sunnentag’
Moon -Old English
Tew / Tiu (Old English god of sky and war)
Woden (Anglo Saxon chief god, Oden -Scandinavian)
Thor  (Scandinavian god of Thunder, rain, and farming -the guy with the war hammer.)
Freya (Teutonic  goddess of health, beauty, and fertility) 
(Teutons -4th century BC Germanic tribe &Teutonic Order -German Crusaders of apx. 1200)
Saturn -Roman God of Agriculture


Geoffrey Chaucer


Middle English:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote

the droghte of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour

of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth the tendre croppes,

and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye

(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,


When in April the sweet showers fall

and pierce the drought of March to the root,

and all the veins are bathed in liquor

of such power as brings about the engendering of the flower.

When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath

exhales an air in every grove and heath

Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun

his half-course in the sign of the Ram has run,

And the small fowl are making melody

that sleep away the night with open eye

(So nature pricks them and their heart engages),

then people long to go on pilgrimages …

Geoffrey Chaucer

Supremely gifted as a poet, Geoffrey Chaucer (? - 1400) chose to write in the language of native speakers of English, rather than in French, the language of the 11th century Norman conquerors and in his time, still the language of the court and of courtly literature.

The common tongue was by then very different from Old English, or Anglo-Saxon. Middle English, as it’s known, had absorbed much of the French vocabulary - and its pronunciation. So the final ‘e’ characteristic of so many words of French origin, was pronounced, though not for much longer. But for a poet concerned with scansion, as Chaucer was, that weak ending the final –e offered was a blessing.

Who was the man behind this benign expansive voice? We don’t know much at all about him other than that he was a sophisticated cosmopolitan of the merchant class whose father was a vintner. An accomplished scholar and translator, he spoke French and Italian, was familiar with Ovid, Virgil, Boethius, Boccaccio, Dante and the French romances. A Renaissance Man well before the Renaissance got under way, he was also a diplomat, businessman, politician and a Justice of the Peace



Quiz re. History of the English Language                     KEY


1. Who wrote Canterbury Tails? Geoffrey Chaucer


2. What God gives us "Wednesday"? WODEN (Anglo Saxon) or ODEN (Scandinavian)


3. What God gives us "Thursday"? THOR


Name two languages -spoken in America- that have West Germanic origins:

5. English

6. Pennsylvanian Dutch


7. What do the Icelandic and Dutch languages have in common? (Their common origin.)


Both languages derived / evolved from NORTH GERMANIC


8. What do the Polish and Russian languages have in common? (Their common origin.)


Both languages derived / evolved from SLAVONIC


9. What do the Frisian and Persian languages have in common? (Their common origin.)


Absolutely nothing but the broad category "INDO-EUROPEAN"


10. Draw a quick Venn diagram for the topic, "Clothing".