I will be posting some reactions that I wrote for a course of diachronic linguistics during 2007. The reactions deal with the origin of English, a little bit of its history and its evolution thru the years. I hope this contribution might help those students who are learning English as a second language.
Reaction Paper 9: Present-Day English
The chapter starts mentioning the importance of Queen Victoria since literature adopted her name to baptize this period of literary history. The telecommunications had an indispensable change with the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. First of all, we need to understand that history during this period was influenced by revolutions, wars and imperialism. The French Revolution along with the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution brought permutations on the political and social levels. On the other hand, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the British Empire continued as a period of colonialism that later brought imperialism. In addition, the happenings of the two world wars produced changes in all levels. The biggest change after World War II was how the United States increased its influence in the rest of the world.
The agriculture had by purpose to eradicate hunger from Europe and since it had an increase in the production many people did not continue working in farming. From this time, lots of people took work in industry, commerce and finance, so the proportion of individuals living in the country declined dramatically. During this time, the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution caused the large-scale movement of people away from the country into town and cities, showing demographic changes to patterns that had been standard for thousands of years.
In terms of syntax, certain structures took importance in the PDE period, for instance, the get-passive, that is used in sentences like he got beaten up. This structure developed in the nineteenth century; however, many speakers find this construction somewhat colloquial. The lexicon received a huge transformation due to the scientific and technological changes. The book presents an important categorization of some loan-words from different tongues into the English language. Then, we have the concept of neologism that is remarkable because it introduces combining or existing words.
Finally, the chapter shows some texts in which we can notice the linguistic character of English being used in computer manuals and popular science fiction.
The circumstances that surround the Present-Day English period are surprisingly important because they marked a tremendous change in world history. It is true that English as a linguistic unit received noticeable transformations, but it is in the level of society, economy, culture and politics where we can find and admire the most unexpected permutations. It was in the twentieth century that humankind experienced the saddest moments in world history.