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Language is subject to change overtime. Modern English, as we call it, is actually a blend of various languages! Even the original Anglo-Saxon language consisted of a smorgasbord of different dialects from the West Germanic tribes living on the North Coast.  Did you notice a loanword that has just occurred? Yes – smorgasbord! English borrowed and anglicized the Swedish word smörgåsbord. That explains the slightly different pronunciation in English.

The West Germanic tribes were made up of the Saxons (Germany and eastern Holland), the Jutes (probably from northern Denmark) as well as the Angles (possibly living along the coast and on islands between Denmark and Holland) and the dialects used amongst the different speakers were mutually intelligible. In other words, they could easily guess or understand one another.  English’s closest relatives can be found right across the waters – Holland and Germany. Below is a list of similar looking and sounding words!

    English

Dutch

German

as

als

als

bread

brood

Brot

cow

koe

Kuh

dream

droom

Traum

hear

hoor

Hören

him

hem

ihm

under

onder

unter

Interestingly, English as we see now is a hodgepodge of dialects which explains the similarities shared by it and the other neighboring varieties. With each new power figure or conqueror, there will be new borrowings from the donor language into the recipient language. For instance, William the conqueror and his Norman supporters invaded England in 1066 and brought together with them Norman French which was regarded as the prestigious mode of communication. Although simple daily communication was carried out in English, it was injected with a huge number of French words.

From then onwards, English has been actively absorbing new vocabulary from various sources. For example, vestiges of French, Latin and Greek can still be found in English. In diplomacy, French represents the language of diplomacy across Europe, Latin acts as the language of the church while Greek is the strongest contributor of words related to philosophy and science. Apart from these European languages, The American Indian languages, Australian Aborigine languages and the languages of Africa and India have also donated a tremendous amount of words that refer to species of plants and animals in the world!

 As the number of English speakers increases in societies made up of non-native English speakers, different English varieties spring up. The colloquial English variety of Singapore, otherwise known as Singlish, intersperses English with local dialects such as Malay, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Even though English acts as the main mode of communication in Singapore, foreigners will definitely take time and effort to understand Singlish due to the strong influence of local dialectal loanwords and Chinese sentence final particles (la, lor, leh) borrowed into English.

Language is subject to change overtime. Modern English, as we call it, is actually a blend of various languages! Even the original Anglo-Saxon language consisted of a smorgasbord of different dialects from the West Germanic tribes living on the North Coast.  Did you notice a loanword that has just occurred? Yes – smorgasbord! English borrowed and anglicized the Swedish word smörgåsbord. That explains the slightly different pronunciation in English.

The West Germanic tribes were made up of the Saxons (Germany and eastern Holland), the Jutes (probably from northern Denmark) as well as the Angles (possibly living along the coast and on islands between Denmark and Holland) and the dialects used amongst the different speakers were mutually intelligible. In other words, they could easily guess or understand one another.  English’s closest relatives can be found right across the waters – Holland and Germany. Below is a list of similar looking and sounding words!

English

Dutch

German

as

als

als

bread

brood

Brot

cow

koe

Kuh

dream

droom

Traum

hear

hoor

Hören

him

hem

ihm

under

onder

unter

Interestingly, English as we see now is a hodgepodge of dialects which explains the similarities shared by it and the other neighboring varieties. With each new power figure or conqueror, there will be new borrowings from the donor language into the recipient language. For instance, William the conqueror and his Norman supporters invaded England in 1066 and brought together with them Norman French which was regarded as the prestigious mode of communication. Although simple daily communication was carried out in English, it was injected with a huge number of French words.

From then onwards, English has been actively absorbing new vocabulary from various sources. For example, vestiges of French, Latin and Greek can still be found in English. In diplomacy, French represents the language of diplomacy across Europe, Latin acts as the language of the church while Greek is the strongest contributor of words related to philosophy and science. Apart from these European languages, The American Indian languages, Australian Aborigine languages and the languages of Africa and India have also donated a tremendous amount of words that refer to species of plants and animals in the world!

 As the number of English speakers increases in societies made up of non-native English speakers, different English varieties spring up. The colloquial English variety of Singapore, otherwise known as Singlish, intersperses English with local dialects such as Malay, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Even though English acts as the main mode of communication in Singapore, foreigners will definitely take time and effort to understand Singlish due to the strong influence of local dialectal loanwords and Chinese sentence final particles (la, lor, leh) borrowed into English.

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