When was the English language created?
The English language is firmly rooted in its Nordic origins or Anglo Saxon. The language evolved through common useage by Angles (Danes), Saxons(Northern Germans) and Jutes (Danes)whose tribes were in close cultural and physical contact prior to their arrival in England in 449 as invaders. The basic language changed only slightly during the next 500 years although dialects and loan words were absorbed through contact with more recent arrivals from Denmark into the Danelaw in the 9th and 10th centuries.At the time immediately before the arrival of the peculiar patois of Norman French, English was still so closely rooted to its common Germanic stock that Norwegians Icelanders, Danes and English could all communicate reasonably easily. When the cultural oppression that characterised the Norman conquest took over,the only tongue acceptable to the ruling elite was a bastardised French of the Norman variety.
English was thus literally driven underground where it remained for three hundred years kept alive by the commoners only emerging transformed in the 14th century with Chaucer. With notes this is recognisable as modern English and thus has kept its ribald place in the affections of GCSE students throughout the land. The core of any language is based on the most spoken 200 words and all of these are Old English or Anglo Saxon in origin.
From at least the time when the Romans invaded Britain in the first century, until late middle ages many European languages influenced the development of English in quite fundamental ways. After the Latin of the Romans, there was the Germanic languages of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. Then the Scandinavian languages of the Vikings. And then the French of the Normans. England had territory in what is now modern France for much of the later Mediaeval period and many of the Kings, Queens and aristocracy following the Norman conquest (AD 1066) could only speak French. It is also important to remember that these other languages were considerably different to those we know today and have also evolved.
I guess it is more relevant to consider how English has become more standardised. Today, as is probably the case through out history, people in England (and throughout the world) don't speak English in the same way. They both pronounce words differently and use differing sets of vocabulary. In some cases they even have different meanings for the same words. Over time these differences has been sustantially affected by such things as communication (travellers, letters, telegraph, telephone, radio and internet). Other major influences such as books and printing presses have had a major influence on people who can read, as has the theatre and travelling poets etc, moving pictures, radio and television. From the eighteenth century people who went to school have been taught from grammar manuals which undoubtedly has had some influence on how we perceive English should be spoken.
English, as with all evolving languages is always changing. As new discoveries and inventions are made so too must words be found to represent these. All manner of historical and social events contibute to hand have contributed to what must be one of the most interesting languages known.
R.S. Hawsley in his study "The England and their language: fools and kings and players" (1997, 1st Edition, Cantab) states that the first sighting of English can be traced to a Shropshire village in or around 900 AD and, more importantly, to some form of shopping list, which reads:
"Hawlthve apund, turpenech rife. Hawlthve apund, tregoile.";
before leaving the shopper with the instructions:
"Farths thern hauye, ther morney gophes. Poiep, gophes ther waezil."
It was Chaucer who referred to the language thus: "Aer tur fauwle end, wheunce bipute ofne whyene, tur jifferbeth aure lengoidshe frame felds sarme placethe parsd." [And to the end, where to be placed, the conversation our language takes is framed from far off lands.]
I hope that this allows for more insight into the study of the fabulous and interesting English language.