History of English Language: Episodes 1-5

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Episode 1 - An English Speaking World
An English Speaking World is said to explore the development of modern English, and it illustrates English as the language of choice for technology, diplomacy, business and popular culture for many nations. Brief piece on a conference of French speaking countries to create French words for invading English words. At the end of the video, they promote the idea of English bubbling up from below.

Episode 2 - The Mother Tongue

Surveys the history of the English language from the Anglo-Saxon invasion and its impact on the language to the Norman French influence on Chaucer and the English language as a whole. The impact of Old Norse and Scandinavian place names is discussed. The impact of William Caxton's first printing press in England is discussed, especially with respect to standardization of spelling. The following notables are mentioned: Sir William Jones.

Episode 3 - A Muse of Fire

Shows the enormous influences that Shakespeare (diction of common life) and the King James Bible had on the development of the English language. The King James Bible, translated by a committee, had more influence than Shakespeare. Puritans limited their use of language to the 8000 words found in the King James Bible. Examines Shakespeare's creative use of the language and the varieties of English that spread to America's colonies. Also explores the expansion of the English language through borrowing from numerous other languages, including Latin, Greek, and American Indian languages. Mentions the creative freedom in spelling and usage that were part of the early use of modern English and illustrates how Shakespeare's pronunciation is different from today's. Mentions that there was no idea of standard speech in Shakespeare's time. Provides a little on some of the accents still heard in the English countryside.

Episode 4 - The Guid Scots Tongue

The Guid Scots Tongue traces the influence of Scottish and Irish Gaelic on the English language. James I's move from Scotland to London put an end to Scottish as a fully independent language. Many Scots-Irish came to North America, adding to the American accent and playing a big role in spreading English in the US. Discusses the English spoken in the Appalachian region of the US.

Episode 5 - Black on White

Probes the roots of Black English, including the American slave trade, plantation life, the Creole influence, and Harlem's jive talk. Discusses influence of this variety of English on white American speech and literature, particularly that of the south. Mentions the use of different kinds of speech in different situations. Notables are: J.L. Dillard on plantation creole. Numerous speech samples of English-based pidgins and creoles in Africa. Ends with modern manifestations of African-American tradition of the man of words.