Whose Language is it Anyway?

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EAP stands for English for Academic Purposes, but what is academic English and why is it important?

*College: Students need specialized vocabulary in college classes. Academic subjects vary in

their vocabulary and expressions,

the types of text used (for instance essays, reports, research articles or summaries),

their texts’ structure and organization.

*Job: One of the trends for employers is to give candidates a word list to describe themselves and the job they are applying.

– strong vocabulary

– reading and understanding your study materials,

– writing about your subject.



–          About 1.5 billion people speak English (25% are native speakers, 25% speak it as their second language, and the rest know some of it)

–          There are approximately 600,000 words in English.

–          Many English words come from German or French.

–          Every-day speech is often Germanic.

–          Academic and government language is French-based.

–          A survey by Joseph M. Williams in Origins of the English Language of 10,000 words taken from several thousand business letters gave this set of statistics:

o French 41%

o Latin: 15%

o Old Norse: 2%



The foundation of the English language is Germanic. In the 5th century, English was brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic settlers: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. Like many other languages, English has gone through many changes due to many factors, but mainly because of various invaders of the British Isles. The history of the English language was affected by three big invasions: the Christianization (7th century), the Vikings (597-1066), and the Normans (1066-1500). The Christianization of England introduced Latin starting in the 7th century, and Latin words were used in the realm of educated people. Latin became the official language of the administration. The list includes words like altar, angel, candle, disciple, palm, pope, priest, relic, rule, shrift, shrine, shrive, cap, silk, radish, doe, oyster, lobster, marshmallow, circle, legion, talent, and many more. The Vikings, stereotypically described as violent brutes, pirates, merchants, worriers, and explorers, spoke Old Norse (modern Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish). Notwithstanding Old Norse and Old English have a similar Germanic origin, Vikings brought many new words from the Old Norse language to England in medieval times. Vikings lived in the North (Scandinavia); consequently, the “loan” words in English reflected their lifestyle and origins: anger, bag, dirt, fog hell, hit, husband, knife, raft, scare steak, and many more. Most English words beginning with th (thrift, thrust, they, there, then) and words starting with sk (skirt, sky, skill, skate, skull, skin) originate from Old Norse. Many common English names come from the impact on the spoken and written English and left the most extensive collection of borrowed words because of much longer occupation. The upper class adopted the French language, whereas the poor retained the Germanic. For centuries French was used as official language in England. Here is a brief list of areas that have French borrowings:

state: alliance, authority, crown, empire, emperor, power, realm, reign, sovereignty…

business: bargain, change, commerce, computer, count, enterprise, market, merchant, pay, purchase

literature: chapter, lay, parchment, poet, preface, prose, rime, romance, story, volume…

art: beauty, color, figure, paint, sculpture, tone…

social status: citizen, marry, peasant, serf, slave, subject…

foods: bacon, biscuit, mutton, pork, potage, prune, raisin, veal, vinegar…

the verbs in -ish: establish, finish, furnish, punish


Based on what you just read, answer the following questions:

1. What group of language does the English language belong to?

2. Name three groups of settlers that brought the language to England:

3. When and how was the Latin language brought to the English language?

4. What type of words was brought to English by the Vikings? Why?

6. Who adopted the French language? Why do you think it happened?



Study the following words and choose 5 words from the list to use in your writing prompt below.




Watch both videos and choose one writing prompt to write about.

VIDEO 1. The World’s English Mania


VIDEO 2. How Languages Evolve


WRITING PROMPT 1: How many languages do you speak? What are the pros and cons of linguistic diversity? Do you think it’s important to know English? Why?

WRITING PROMPT 2. What are some ways that people can be enabled to communicate on a broader level in the modern world while also maintaining the unique cultural and historic content of surviving languages?

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