August 15 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
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The Evolution of the English Language
In the aftermath of the Norman invasion of 1066, Old English went from the proud tongue of the Anglo-Saxons to the despised speech of a conquered people. Once the Normans seized power, the language of law, government and courtly life became French—but the Norman overlords had no interest in learning their servants’ tongue, and it might have seemed that English was doomed to slow extinction. How did English recover? How did English rebound from foreign domination to become a vibrant language of literature and global power? And how did English become the “lingua franca” of the modern world? In this seminar we will trace the history of English after the Norman conquest, and explore how the influence of French and medieval Latin shaped what had been Old English into the resurgent Middle English. From there we will explore how new developments in printing, urbanization and seafaring technology contributed to the broadening scope of the English language, from early trading voyages to Russia to the first colonies in a strange New World. We will conclude by considering how modern English has diversified around the globe—and what forms future English might take on worlds yet unknown.
Please note: This class or event will be held online (using Zoom or a similar live platform). To participate, students or attendees should have a stable internet connection. Class participants: you should have a computer or device with a webcam and microphone; and your Zoom link will be automatically sent to you after you register.