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HAPPY-go-LUCKY ENGLISH

The Exciting Evolution of a Global Language

Tutor: Dr. ALEC GILL MBE BSc. MSc. Author, historian, university lecturer, video producer, free-lance writer, psychologist and public speaker.

As a writer, I believe words are wonderful. As a Yorkshireman, I am blessed to have English as my mother tongue. As a historian, I am magnetically drawn toward the origins of the words I use. As a reader of my website, I hope that you too possess an enthusiasm for the English language as a mode of human expression and communication.

My research soon showed that the roots of  English are both humble and exciting. English is a beautiful and unique fusion of Teutonic and Latin tongues. Nowhere else in the Europe did this strange linguistic alchemy taken place. Perhaps being an island made the chemistry possible. The initial Teutonic input came from Angles, Saxons, Jutes (c.450+AD) and Viking (c.800+AD) invaders. Then came 1066 with the Norman-French invasion and their vast vocabulary of Latin-based words.

This hapless vernacular language was  subsequently battered into shape by Chaucer, The Bible, and Shakespeare. During the Old and Middle English periods, the linguistic rules of gender, inflexion and logic were broken or abandoned. European scholars often dismiss English as a lazy, illogical tongue - fit only for the plebs. Being an island race, the British became buccaneers who conquered other lands.  The English tongue then lashed many shores, but it was also a sponge which eagerly absorbed foreign words. It still does this today in our multi-cultural Britain.

When I taught this exciting topic, I adopted a humorous approach - one of discovery by students - as we re-traced the early days and funny ways of the English-speaking people whose colourful evolution led to the creation of a global tongue.

I taught the whole topic mainly at weekend residential colleges around the UK. My course used to follow this outline:

TOPICS INCLUDE

WELCOME: To each other and the topic. Debate plan: Purpose / Structure / Benefits.

INHABITANTS and INVADERS:
British Bedrock, Internal/External forces. Celtic/Roman Latin. River names tended to remain unchanged by the Teutonic invaders. English, however, absorbed very few British Celtic words from the indigenous population. Ironically, when the Germanic invaders settled in Britain they called the inhabitants 'foreigners' - thus that is how we have the original words 'Wales'.

TEUTONIC TRIBES:
Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, and Danes. Goodbye gender and inflexion. Hello alliteration and abridgement. Place names point to the roots of English before these Pagans put pen to paper.

1066 AND ALL THAT:
Latin Lesson Two; Shotgun Wedding of Anglo-Saxon Ruffian and Norman-Latin Lady. The unique fusion of Teutonic and Latin enriched the English vocabulary.

MIDDLE ENGLISH:
Their wayward off-spring was reared by Chaucer, Caxton and blessed by The Bible. William Shakespeare then transformed this vernacular tongue into an artistic language.

TRADE IN WORDS:
English words were exported to the 'four corners of the globe'! Idiotic Idioms Rule O.K; Scholars: "It's Greek to Them". English Dictionaries were produced by odd-ball eccentrics.

LEECH LANGUAGE:
Sponge tongue laps up foreign words. American / Hollywood films project English around the world.

TO BOLDLY GO:
English in the Age of Star Trek as new words explode in a chain reaction of global lingo.

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