Type: History
Pages: 4 | Words: 1069
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Modern English has two categories of development: Early Modern English and Late Modern English. Early Modern English (1500-1800).

This wave of development in English took place during the Renaissance period. The revitalization of orthodox learning injected numerous classical Greek and Latin words into English language. Though the adoption of these new words was deliberate, it did not go well with many as they did not like the adoption of the “inkhorn” words. However many of them still survive up to today. Shakespeare in Love Labor Lost depicts a character he calls Holofernes as a passionate schoolmaster who is very fond of Latinisms.

Many people find it difficult to understand Shakespeare, but surprisingly he wrote in modern English. Elizabethan English has more similarity to our English than it has with that written by Chaucer. Certainly, many familiar words were first formed or coined by Shakespeare.  Around 2000 words and even more phrases owe their origin to Shakespeare. Fist time readers of his writing are normally surprised by the overwhelming number of clichés present in his plays not knowing that he coined them and they were letter adopted or became part of English. Examples of such phrases are vanished into thin air, one fell swoop, and flesh and blood. He furthermore, he donated many words to English among them, leapfrog, dwindle, critical, majestic, and pendant.


The Advent of the printing press and The Great Vowel Shift a are two other major developments that served to differentiate Modern English from Middle English. The Great Vowel Shift was the change in the pronunciation which began at about 1400. Though the speaker of Modern English can read Chaucer although with some difficulties, the pronunciation is total different and the modern speaker definitely find it difficult or unintelligible. Conversely, Shakespeare English would be accented and would still be accented. In Early Modern English, vowel sounds that were long ware made higher in the mouth. Also, the letter “e” was made silent whenever it appeared at the end of a word. The modern language life was written as Lyf and pronounced as “leef” in Chaucers writing or Middle English.  Also, I Chaucer writing the word down was pronounced as “doon.”

From the linguistic point of view, the shift was very sudden with eve major changes occurring within a century. This shift however is still not yet over since the vowel sounds are still being shortened even though the rate of these changes currently is negligible.

The development of the printing press also impacted positively on this change. In 1476, William Caxton introduced the printing press in England. As a result, books became cheaper and accessible. This increased the levels of literacy in England. Also publishing books for the masses developed into a very profitable enterprise and made available texts written in English for the first time. This meant that the English could now read something written in their language as opposed to Latin. The printing press contributed greatly to the standardization of English. The dialects of English that were spoken in the areas where the printing houses were located were widely published and as a result became English with spellings and grimmer becoming fixed. Latter in 1604 the first English dictionary was published

Late-Modern English. There is little distinction between Early and Late Modern English.  The main source of difference between the two is the vocabulary. Otherwise, the grammar, spellings, and pronunciations are more or less the same. Late-Modern English is an improvement to Early Modern English since it contains more words. These words developed due to historical factors. For instance, the rise of the technological society and industrial revolution lead to the invention of new word or names for new ideas and things that had never existed before. The second historical factor that also contributed new word to English was the British Empire. The British Ruled almost half of the world and during this period English came in contact with many languages adopting new word these languages and making them its own (Crystal, 2003).

The scientific and industrial revolutions paved way for the need for neologisms to facilitate the discoveries and new creations. English could not have achieved this on its own and there depend heavily on Greek and Latin to improve its vocabulary. This resulted in the adoption of many words that were never present in the classical languages. Such words as nuclear, oxygen, vaccine, and protein among other were developed from Greek and Latin roots. Neologisms are not exactly products of classical roots. However, English roots were used in many terms such as typewriter, horsepower and airplane. Currently, the neologisms are still being created as evidence in the fields of computer and electronic. A good example of these words is cyber, hard-drive, byte, bios and microchip (Crystal, 2003).

The rise of the British Empire and development of trade at a global scale serve to introduce English to the rest of the world and also contribute new word to English. The languages of the Indian subcontinent such as Hindi donated many words such as shampoo, pundit, juggernaut and pajamas. The best conclusion that can be made on the development of English is that every language of the world contributed to its development and yet more are still contributing. Whether the contribution was small like the japans tycoon to Finnish sauna it is still recognizable as the contribution made by Latin and French

Also noble is the maritime nature of the British Empire which contribute to brought about the nautical terms on the development of English phrases and words such as scuttlebutt and three sheets to the word were formulated on board ships.

The last great influence on this language took place in the 20th century which was characterized by two major wars that took a global outlook and were thus named World War I and World War II respective. The wars coupled with military activities had a great influence on English more so in the latter half of the century. Before the wars, the English people’s military service was very small and mostly formed on voluntary basis. In both America and Britain military slung existed although it never influenced the Standard English. During this century almost every American and British man served in the military. During this time, military slung found its way into the Standard English dictionary. Among the words that found their way into the dictionary include nose dive, roadblock, landing strip, spearhead, camouflage, blockbuster and radar (Crystal, 2003).

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