Unit 2: Language change
In this unit, students focus on language change. Languages are dynamic and language change is an inevitable and a continuous process. Students consider factors contributing to change over time in the English language and factors contributing to the spread of English. They explore texts from the past and from the present, considering how all subsystems of the language system are affected – phonetics and phonology, morphology and lexicology, syntax, discourse and semantics. Attitudes to language change vary considerably and these are also considered.
In addition to developing an understanding of how English has been transformed over the centuries, students explore the various possibilities for the future of English. They consider how the global spread of English has led to a diversification of the language and to English now being used by more people as an additional or a foreign language than as a first language. Contact between English and other languages has led to the development of geographical and ethnic varieties, but has also hastened the decline of indigenous languages. Students consider the cultural repercussions of the spread of English.
Proto Indo-European language tree
The history of the English Language online resources
English Language interactive timeline - click to launch flash timeline
Timeline of the English language (English Club)
History of the English Language - University of Toronto
Studying the History of English - Duisburg Essen University, Germany
Are there more than 26 letters in the English alphabet? (Oxford dictionaries)
Language Change Across Subsystems
Factors driving language change - English Works
How social media is changing language - Oxford Words blog
Word origins - Oxford English Dictionaries
Language change and orthography