The history of the English language is a long and interesting one, influenced by various invasions and migration, and like most other languages was only fully codified and standardized through the work of writers and poets. Understanding the English language and English translations requires understanding its history, so let’s take a brief look at the forces shaping the international tongue.
English is a Germanic language, more specifically a West Germanic language that originated in recognizable form within the Anglo-Saxon British Isles. The earliest form of the language which looks and reads similar to modern English was known as Old English, a language arriving in Great Britain during the 400’s. More than many other Indo-European languages Old English was a fusion of a large number of different dialects and language families, taking on huge influences from German, Latin and the ancient language of the Norse peoples.
Though an island Britain came into regular contact with a number of other countries, often through invasion. The most notable early invasion of the British Isles occurred in the 11th century when the Normans invaded the lands and brought with them an early form of French. It was during this time and through this direct influence that English began to take on a number of the structures and assumptions of the continent’s Romance languages. During this time and through these influences Old English adapted into the language we classify as Middle English. It wasn’t until the 1500s that what we recognize as Modern English emerged.
Interestingly enough these three forms of the English language (Old, Middle and Modern) were largely codified and standardized through a few important literary works. Old English was codified under the dialect that Beowulf was written in, The Canterbury Tales codified Middle English, and Shakespeare’s works (as well as the King James Bible) are thought to be the major influence setting Modern English in place. It was at this time that Britain became a major colonial force and began to spread its political influence, and Modern English, around the globe, a charge later taken up by the United States after the decline of the British Empire.
At the moment English is likely the most commonly spoken language in the world, largely through adoption as the vast majority of English speakers are secondary users of the language. English is also the primary language spoken in a number of fields, especially technical, computing and scientific fields, and is the primary language of international relations and diplomacy. The majority of international governing and trade institutions use English as their official language, as do a growing number of countries (53 at the time of writing).
Due to its present (and assumed continuing) dominance English translation remains the most requested and necessary form of translation in the world today. Whether you’re translating to or from English, it’s important that you hire the correct professionals to aid you in your work.