Folium: The History of The English Language via YouTube

Creative Commons Media via Flickr User woodleywonderworks

Creative Commons Media via Flickr User woodleywonderworks

Folium: The History of The English Language via YouTube

Here at LEAF, we tend to discuss the benefits of learning foreign languages from the perspective of the reasonably curious monolingual American. It’s the point of view that suits us best, but offers us little room to take a good long look at ourselves.

So, what would English look like if we studied it like we studied other world languages?

Since we know that English already has a nasty habit of “borrowing” elements from other languages, maybe it’s time to take a short break and refresh ourselves with a history lesson.

(Edit: 05JULY2014)

This used to be on YouTube, but was removed due to copyright issues. The Open University then split the video into 10 parts. All 10 parts are still open and free to watch, just not here…

I’m going to try embedding another copy. If it doesn’t work or gets removed again, please follow the link below.

I’m sure that most people don’t ponder upon the history of the English language on a regular basis, however this brief blast from the past gives us a new point of perspective.

Think about it! In the time that entire civilizations were born, raised, and languished in obscurity, English marched steadily onward. It adapted, borrowed, stole, and did whatever it could in order to survive. Today, English thrives as the language most suited to adapt to new ideas, philosophies and technologies.

English Doesn't Borrow ...

Click to Embiggen!

This is one of the major reasons why English is such a difficult language to master for non-native speakers. We merge all of these different backgrounds together, borrow some rules while completely ignoring others, and we end up with a system of communication that resembles nothing ever conceived before!

Have you ever reached a point in language studies when you realize that you’re learning more about how English really works? When else would you learn about concepts like verb tenses and noun agreement, differences between the future tense and conditional mood? When do you last remember using the past subjunctive when making a declarative “if” statement?

So, in your language studies, take some time to think about the English that we all know and love. No doubt it’s a mess, but it’s our mess, and it doesn’t look like it’s cleaning up it’s act any time soon!


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