Estelle Serpell Memorial Lecture: English: The Evolution of our Language

Ref: C2226475

We shall consider the emergence of the English language in our island after about 500AD and assess the progress it made in the next five hundred years. We then turn to later events that changed our language and the diversity of English that existed in the later Middle Ages. By 1400 English had become the 'first' language in England, even though it existed in a large variety of forms at that time. A series of actions and events subsequently served to introduce greater standardisation in our language, while other influences were leading to further differentiation in its use. Limited educational opportunities before the Victorian era meant that varieties of English were mainly unaffected by prescriptive influences and have only recently been largely eroded, but there are now multiple factors influencing the further development of English to the extent that we must now wonder what our language will be like in the future.

Additional information about this course

Session ends at 16:30 as includes 1hr lunch break and tea breaks. Parking available. Tea and coffee available but please bring a packed lunch.

Course aim

This Day School provides a brief history of the English language from its beginnings to the present day. We shall consider its origins and development to around 1000AD, then look at some explanations for the changes during the last thousand years.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Course participants should be first-language English speakers or other speakers of English of a good standard. It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of the history of English, but a serious interest in language development is desirable.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe, broadly, the origins of English as a 'new' Germanic language.
  • Speak the sounds of English from around the year 1000AD.
  • Identify features of English that reflect different dialects in the later Middle Ages.
  • Explain how certain phenomena in the Early Modern period contributed the process by which English was increasingly standardized.
  • Discuss some of the activities in modern times that have lead to the development of 'standard English'.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • You are recommended to bring with you a pen or pencil and a notebook.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member

Download full course information sheet

Estelle Serpell Memorial Lecture: English: The Evolution of our Language

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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