English is a Germanic language (western branch of Germanic languages) that is part of the family of Indo-European languages. Before the 5th century AD, the inhabitants of Britain spoke the Celtic language. The history of the English language began with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Great Britain during the 5th century DC. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today it is Denmark and northern Germany and they pushed the Celtic peoples to the parts to the west and to north – especially towards what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Old English (450-1100 AD)
The Germanic tribes were the invaders who spoke similar languages, which in Great Britain they turned into what is today called Old English. Ancient English was very different from today’s English. However, about half of the words most commonly used in modern English they have roots derived from Ancient English. Ancient English was spoken until around 1100 AD.
Ancient English was written in an alphabet called Runic, deriving from the Scandinavian languages. The Latin alphabet was imported from Ireland by Christian missionaries who introduced Latin words in English. Thus the Old English vocabulary consisted of an Anglo-Saxon base with terms borrowed from the Scandinavian languages (Danish and Norwegian). Even some Celtic words they survived, especially in the names of places and rivers (Devon, Dover, Kent, Trent, Severn, Avon, Thames). Around 600 AD, Augustine of Canterbury and later the monks arrived in England introducing the Latin language into the people.
Late Modern English (1800-Present)
The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is the vocabulary. The late Modern English has many more words, which is due to two main factors: first, the industrial revolution and technology created a need for new words, and secondly, the British Empire (which at its peak covered a quarter of the earth’s surface). Because of these influences the English language adopted words from many countries.