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English-speaking Europe consists of four nations (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) three former British colonies (Cyprus, Malta and the Republic of Ireland) and a current British colony Gibraltar, plus the Crown dependencies. There are also major pockets of native English speakers to be found throughout Europe, such as in southern Spain and The Netherlands. The numerous American and British military bases in Germany and communities in all the main European cities, eg Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, Paris & Milan.
History of English in England
English is descended from the language spoken by the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, around 449 AD, Vortigern, King of the British Isles, issued an invitation to the "Angle kin" (Angles, led by Hengest and Horsa) to help him against the Picts. In return, the Angles were granted lands in the southeast. Further aid was sought, and in response "came men of Ald Seaxum of Anglum of Iotum" (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes). The Chronicle documents the subsequent influx of "settlers" who eventually established seven kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex.
These Germanic invaders dominated the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants. The dialects spoken by these invaders formed what would be called Old English, which was also strongly influenced by yet another Germanic dialect, Old Norse, spoken by Viking invaders who settled mainly in the North-East. English, England, and East Anglia are derived from words referring to the Angles: Englisc, Angelcynn, and Englaland.
For the 300 years following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Anglo-Norman language was the language of administration and few Kings of England spoke English. A large number of French words were assimilated into Old English, which also lost most of its inflections, the result being Middle English. Around the year 1500, the Great Vowel Shift transformed Middle English into Modern English.
Modern English, began its rise around the time of William Shakespeare. Some scholars divide early Modern English and late Modern English at around 1800, in concert with British conquest of much of the rest of the world, as the influence of native languages affected English enormously.
Classification and related languages
English belongs to the western sub-branch of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest undoubted living relatives of English are Scots and Frisian. Frisian is a language spoken by approximately half a million people in the Dutch province of Friesland (Fryslân), in nearby areas of Germany, and on a few islands in the North Sea.
After Scots and Frisian, the next closest relative is the modern Low Saxon language of the eastern Netherlands and northern Germany. Other less closely related living languages include Dutch, Afrikaans, German and the Scandinavian languages. Many French words are also intelligible to an English speaker, as English absorbed a tremendous amount of vocabulary from the Norman language after the Norman conquest and from French in further centuries; as a result, a substantial share of English vocabulary is very close to the French, with some slight spelling differences (word endings, use of old French spellings, etc.) and some occasional lapses in meaning.
The spread of English
The English language was spread through Europe, as indeed throughout the world, by British colonial expansion. The oldest of the English colonies is Wales and this nation has been subjugated since 1282, when King Edward I of England defeated Llywelyn the Last, Wales's last independent prince, in battle. Edward constructed a series of great stone castles in order to keep the Welsh under control and set in place English domination of the area which was to last until the present day. With English political control came English customs and language. Over the centuries, English has displaced Welsh as the majority language of the Welsh people. However, the Welsh language is enjoying a revival at the moment and is in a healthy position in many parts of Wales.
The second oldest English colony was/is Ireland. The colonisation process started in 1172, when King Henry II of England gained Irish lands, and from the 13th century, English law and language began to be introduced. English rule was largely limited to the area around Dublin known as the Pale initially, but this began to expand in the 16th century with the final collapse of the Gaelic social and political superstructure at the end of the 17th century due to manipulation by the British government that didn't exist at the time, see Act of Union 1707. In September 1607 , Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, set sail from Rathmullan on Lough Swilly in County Donegal with ninety of their followers. They never returned to Ireland . This event, the Flight of the Earls, marked the final destruction of Ireland's ancient Gaelic aristocracy and paved the way for the Plantation of Ulster, bringing with it a deepening of the English language culture in Ireland. As the centuries passed and the social conditions in Ireland deteriorated, culminating in the Great Irish Famine, many parents refused to speak Irish to their children as they knew that the children would probably have to emigrate and Irish would be of no use outside the home country, in Britain, the US, Australia or Canada. For this reason the native (Gaelic) language of Ireland is spoken as a mother tongue by only a very small number of people in the Republic of Ireland, where most of the speakers have learned it at school; and - as a second language - by about 170,000 people in Northern Ireland. English is the only language used in everyday situations for 98% of the population. In November 2004 the Government of Ireland applied for Irish Gaelic, the first official language of Ireland, to be recognised as an official working language of the European Union. Ireland is currently the only member State which is in the Eurozone and which has English as an official language.
In 1066 the Norman Conquest shook England to its foundations, and one of the claimants of the English throne opposing William the Conqueror, Edgar, eventually fled to Scotland. Malcolm married Edgar's sister Margaret, and thus came into opposition to William who had already disputed Scotland's southern borders. William invaded Scotland in 1072, riding through Lothian and past Stirling on to the Firth of Tay where he met up with his fleet of ships. Malcolm submitted, paid homage to William, and surrendered his son Duncan as a hostage and from this point on Anglic influence in Scotland increased.
Historically, from at least the reign of David I (ruled 1124 - 1153), Scotland began to show a split into two cultural areas - the mainly Lowland Scots, latterly English-speaking lowlands, and the mainly-Gaelic speaking highlands. This caused divisions in the country where the Lowlands remained, historically, more influenced by the English to the south: the Lowlands lay more open to attack by invading armies from the south and absorbed English influence through their proximity to and their trading relations with their southern neighbours.
In 1603 the Scottish King James VI inherited the throne of England, and became James I of England. James moved to London and only returned once to Scotland. By the time of James VI's accession to the English throne the old Scottish Court and Parliament spoke Lowland Scots. Lowland Scots developed from the Anglian spoken in the Northumbrian kingdom of Bernicia, which in the 6th century conquered the Brythonic kingdom of Gododdin and renamed its capital of Dunedin to Edinburgh. Lowland Scots continues to heavily influence the spoken English of the Scottish people today. It is much more similar to dialects in the north of England, than to 'British' English, even today. The introduction of King James Version of the Bible into Scottish churches also was a blow to Lowland Scots, since it used Southern English forms.
In 1707 the Scottish and English Parliaments signed a Treaty of Union. Implementing the treaty involved dissolving both the English and the Scottish Parliaments, and transferring all their powers to a new Parliament in London which then became the British Parliament. A customs and currency union also took place. With this, Scotland's position was consolidated within the United Kingdom.
Now, almost all residents of Scotland speak English, although many speak various Lowland Scots dialects which differ markedly from Scottish Standard English. Approximately 2% of the population use Scottish Gaelic as their language of everyday use, primarily in the northern and western regions of the country. Virtually all Scottish Gaelic speakers also speak fluent English.
English outside the British Isles
Although originally a fortified Moorish settlement, the town of Gibraltar had been in Spanish hands for almost 250 years when the town was seized by the British Crown. The town had been seized by Spanish forces from the Arabs during Reconquista in 1462. The rock was temporarily owned by the King of Castile, but later taken by the Duke of Medina Sidonia and passed to his son. Queen Isabella of Castile had her army besiege and re-take Gibraltar for the Spanish kingdom in 1501. This period gave Gibraltar its Spanish influence on top of its Arabic base. Later an Anglo-Dutch force led by Sir George Rooke seized the Rock in 1704. The territory was ceded to Great Britain by Spain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Despite early attempts by the Spanish, most notably in the Great Siege of 1783 , the Rock has remained British ever since.
This mix of early influences, along with the influences of the immigrants (Genoese, Maltese, Portuguese, Germans, Sephardim and Hindus) in the colony over the years has lead to the development of a unique English patois existing alongside Standard British English. This creole is called Yanito by the people who speak it in Gibraltar. It is a mixture of English and Andalusian Spanish with influences from Moroccan Arabic , Genoese Italian, and Hebrew, as well as other linguistic impacts. It is often spelt Llanito, but many prefer the spelling Yanito.
In 1914 the Ottoman Empire declared war against Britain and France (as part of the complex series of alliances that led to World War I). The British then annexed Cyprus on November 2, as part of the British Empire, making the Cypriots British subjects. On November 5 the British and the French declared war on the Ottoman Empire. Cyprus gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1960, with the UK, Greece and Turkey retaining limited rights to intervene in internal affairs. The British colonial history of Cyprus has left Cypriots with a good level of English but it is no longer an official language in either part of the divided island.
In 1814, Malta voluntarily became part of the British Empire. Prior to the arrival of the British, the language of the educated Maltese elite had been Italian, but this was increasingly downgraded by the increased use of English. In 1934 English and Maltese were declared the sole official languages. The British associated Italian with the Mussolini regime in Italy, which had made territorial claims on the islands, although the use of Italian by nationalists was more out of cultural affinities with Italy than any sympathy with Italian Fascism. English remains a national language of Malta to this day.
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