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 1

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

Discussion

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Language level

Advanced: C1
Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

This video reminds me what incredible changes the English language has undergone and that It Is thanks to its flexibility if nowadays It Is still amongst the most widespread languages in the world. It Is impossible for me to understand Middle English. As for the Italian language, Its origins are from Latin and many dialects are spoken which are often hard to be understood by the Italian themselves.

Hi, I love this page.

I really loved the video, even though I need to get familiarized more with British English.

I'm Italian, and so I know that my language comes from Latin. Having studied latin and a little philology I found out the evolution of the language due to the various contact through the centuries among population of different culture and language. I think it that this kind of evolution is very fascinating. I use to think of language like a "living being", which changes, develops togther with their speakers.
I've studied English literature and history at University, so I read poems and poetry either in old or in middle English. It was a little difficult but understandble.
I agree with the fact that English will change in the future, most of all because of Internet and of immigration and other social changes.

"There is" with plurals?? Rogers says: "there's lots of reasons", "there's no grammars, there's is no guides".

Hi Ivanhzo,

In informal situations, it's not uncommon for native speakers to use 'there's' with plural nouns. I never recommend that my students speak this way, as they are judged differently as non-native speakers, but it's useful to know that natives speak this way sometimes!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
Spanish is a great language so I was remembering that our language have several greek and latin roots like the best known phrase: -Nosce te ipsum- that means: You have to know yourself, this is the knowlege principle, another phrase that I study when I was a child: vox populi vox Dei, that means: The people voice is the voice of God.
I don't think that I'll be possible to read and understand the Middle English because after I have readed some of phrases that Shakespeare written, I consider is different like the english today and I see other words that I never seen before.
I think that English is a versatile and live language and surely, it will be changing with the step of the years.

Spanish language started around one thousand years ago after the defeat of Roman Empire, so is base in Latin Language and catch many words from other cultures and language, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is as equivalent to Shakespeare in Spanish with his book "El Quijote de la Mancha", in my country nowadays Spanish language was enriched with Native languages as Quechua, some words from it is commonly used in daily basis.

English has gone through remarkable impacts of history and culture. It is not impossible to count the phrases in English but to really get through their meanings we need to get an historical insight into English comprehension. As though it seems that English is the most proficient language of the world but very few people can contextualise their meanings with a sufficient labour.

-Chinese is one of biggest historic languages the belonging to Sino-Tibetan languages, and have been invented for over 5000 years.
-I think I can read Middle English for about 50 percent, because it still have respectable similarity with Modern English from the video.
-I believe that English will be more and more popular in the future. Your know, Chinese is perhaps difficult for non-native people to learn, so it's incovenient to be used as a global language. English is deeply impacted by French in history, and it will be affected by other langhages in the future.

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