The story of English starts more than a thousand years ago. Richard goes to the British Library to hear – and see – how the language has changed over the years.

Task

Which of these things do Richard and Roger discuss at the British Library?

Exercise

Task 2

Type in the missing words or numbers.

Exercise

Task 3

Can you turn these SMS messages into correct English?

Exercise

Task 4

Choose the best phrasal verb to complete the sentence.

Exercise

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Discussion

Comments

I used to be able to watch the videos, but not any more!!!

Hello houterman,

It sounds as if you may need to install the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player on your device. You could also try viewing the page in a different browser. If neither of these ideas works, please let us know what browser version you're using and we'll look into it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I couldn't play the video on my computer. I don't know why? Anyone can give some help?

Hello Monkey King,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having some problems with the video. I have checked the video and it is working correctly, so I suspect that this is a compatibility issue with your device or your local settings. Do you have problems with other videos on the site or is it only this page? Please try accessing the site via a different device to see if this helps, and let us know the result.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I am not able to see link for videos for most of the Sessions.?

Hello SANDHYA03,

I'm not sure exactly what you mean. Do you mean you cannot see the video player window? Or that you can see it but the video does not start?

It may be a compatibility issue, especially if you are using a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. Please try accessing the site using a different device (a laptop or desktop computer, for example) or using a different browswer to see if that helps. Also make sure that you have Adobe Flash Player installed and updated.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Old Chinese is like a different language. We had to spent time to learn it at school. In modern Chinese, one meaning is usually expressed using one word made up of two or more characters. Old Chinese usually uses only one character to express the same meaning. It was really efficient, wasn't it? Or maybe the spoken language was different from the written one. Since today we only have chances to read old language than to hear them. So we suppose there is no difference. One thing for sure is that it was really hard to get those information on books made of bamboo slips. Maybe our ancestors had to squeeze many information into very limited spaces, so they had to simplify their words by making them shorter?

I can't read Shakespeare. I have tried and given up. I still need to improve my contemporary English. Maybe after I become extremely proficient in my present learning, I will progress to old English? But it is quite unlikely, I have to say.

I hope it won't change much. I find those text messages are quite hard to grasp. Some of the words are substituted by things have the similar sound, like for by 4, but some are simply shortened like holidays by hols.

I think English language is difficult to write because writing, and reading is difference, that's way most people can't write english properly.

Wow! I have never thought of English to be so gorgeous before. The Great Britain library is also magnificent. I wish I could visit there, sitting by the window and reading an old book some day. By the way, I have some questions about your culture. Are those books witten in old English(like the old one shown before the two main characters) accessible to ordinary citizens? Do British kids learn old English at school as we learn old Chinese in China? If so, how do their teachers explain old language to them?
Thank you!

Hello DoctorHiStreet,

Those are good questions! Actually, Roger answered one of them when he said that Old English is 'very, very difficult to read, only a few people can do so.' But of course it depends on how old the language is - the further back you go, the harder it is.

As for your other question, I think it's extrememly rare for British children to learn Anglo-Saxon old English at school, although almost all of them will study the language of Shakespeare. Old English is usually taught first at University to students studying English, but I'm afraid I don't know how common it is.

Best wishes,

 

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

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