It’s turning out to be a literary day. By which I don’t mean I’ve done any writing but I present to you The History of English in 10 minutes, which proves that the chaps at England’s The Open University are geniuses. This is a superb set of 10 videos that are neatly animated and contain some truly insightful observations, like the following.

From Chapter 1: The Anglo Saxon, or Whatever happened to the Jutes?

The English language begins with the phrase ‘Up yours, Caesar’ as the Romans leave Britain…

Four of our days of the week were named in honour of Anglo-Saxon gods. They didn’t bother with Saturday, Sunday or Monday as they’d all gone off for a long weekend.

From Chapter 2: The Norman Conquest, or Excuse my English.

True to his name, William the Conqueror invades England, bringing new concepts from across the Channel like the French language, the Doomsday Book and the duty-free Gauloises multipack.

Words like cow, sheep and swine come from the English-speaking farmers while the a la carte versions, beef, mutton and pork, come from the French speaking toffs, beginning the long-running trend of restaurants having completely indecipherable menus.

One of my favourite illustrations from the series is this one (from Chapter 4):









Love “*Hand not included”.

Parts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 can be found in the sidebar. They don’t always show up in chronological order so let your mouse hover before clicking. Then watch, and be delighted.

Me, I’m feeling an overpowering need to watch “My Fair Lady“.

2 thoughts on “The History of English

    • Work ethic shmethic. Ratan Tata has already pronounced that Brits have terrible work ethic. You owe it to him, out of bawa solidarity, to prove him right.

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