Please forward this error screen to 69. This article is about the early medieval language of the Anglo-Old english letter names. For Elizabethan or Shakesepearean English, see Early Modern English. For the Gothic typeface, see Blackletter.
Scotland, and the eastern fringes of modern Wales. This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. Old English developed from a set of Anglo-Frisian or Ingvaeonic dialects originally spoken by Germanic tribes traditionally known as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Old English is one of the West Germanic languages, and its closest relatives are Old Frisian and Old Saxon. Like other old Germanic languages, it is very different from Modern English and difficult for Modern English speakers to understand without study. Englisc, which the term English is derived from, means ‘pertaining to the Angles’.
The approximate extent of Germanic languages in the early 10th century. Old English was not static, and its usage covered a period of 700 years, from the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain in the 5th century to the late 11th century, some time after the Norman invasion. Anglo-Saxon literacy developed after Christianisation in the late 7th century. The oldest surviving text of Old English literature is Cædmon’s Hymn, composed between 658 and 680. Alfred the Great statue in Winchester, Hampshire.
The 9th-century English King proposed that primary education be taught in English, with those wishing to advance to holy orders to continue their studies in Latin. Norman conquest of England and the subsequent transition to Early Middle English. Old English should not be regarded as a single monolithic entity, just as Modern English is also not monolithic. It emerged over time out of the many dialects and languages of the colonising tribes, and it is only towards the later Anglo-Saxon period that these can be considered to have constituted a single national language. The four main dialectal forms of Old English were Mercian, Northumbrian, Kentish, and West Saxon. Each of these four dialects was associated with an independent kingdom on the island.
Of these, Northumbria south of the Tyne, and most of Mercia, were overrun by the Vikings during the 9th century. Due to the centralisation of power and the Viking invasions, there is relatively little written record of the non-Wessex dialects after Alfred’s unification. Some Mercian texts continued to be written, however, and the influence of Mercian is apparent in some of the translations produced under Alfred’s programme, many of which were produced by Mercian scholars. The language of the Anglo-Saxon settlers appears not to have been significantly affected by the native British Celtic languages which it largely displaced. Old English contained a certain number of loanwords from Latin, which was the scholarly and diplomatic lingua franca of Western Europe. It is sometimes possible to give approximate dates for the borrowing of individual Latin words based on which patterns of sound change they have undergone.
Another source of loanwords was Old Norse, which came into contact with Old English via the Scandinavian rulers and settlers in the Danelaw from the late 9th century, and during the rule of Cnut and other Danish kings in the early 11th century. The influence of Old Norse certainly helped move English from a synthetic language along the continuum to a more analytic word order, and Old Norse most likely made a greater impact on the English language than any other language. Collapse of two consecutive vowels into a single vowel. For more details of these processes, see the main article, linked above.