History of the English Language


Bill was tonight’s Toastmaster with a theme of “The History of the English Language.” Bill first discussed origins of the English language, how it originated out of Britain in 450 AD, and has been around for 1,600 years. The English language is influenced by Latin, Greek and Romance languages. Bill talked about how the English language has evolved through three separate time periods – Old English, Middle English, and the Modern English periods.

The Old English time period occurred from 400-1000 AD and was a time of Germanic and Norwegian languages. It had Scandinavian and Old Norse influence (790-865 AD), with words such as skirt and kilt. The Middle English period occurred from 1000-1500 AD, at a time when there was very little literacy in the era. During the Norman Conquest of 1066, the Norman French invaded England. It was during this time that a lot of French and Latin words entered the language, and there were a lot of writings in Latin. As a consequence, much of the northern and southern parts of the country couldn’t understand one another. Notable contributions during the Middle English period include Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and John Wycliffe’s translations of The Bible into Middle English.

The Modern English period from the 1500’s on was/is a time where the English language has been exploding. During the early part of this era, Shakespeare wrote at a time when the language was becoming fully expressive. Also, the King James Bible (1611) had a full translation into English. Coming into more modern times and the Information Age, there was the proliferation of newspapers, the Jazz Age of the 1920s, television and cinema from the 1950s and 60s, and the Internet in the 1990s. Congrats to Bill on his first lead as Toastmaster!

Harry was our speaker for the evening with his speech titled “Reflection on my Path.” Harry talked about how he chose the Presentation Mastery path on a gut instinct out of the 11 paths available. He mentioned that it took him two years to complete his path and he chose it to help refine his presentation skills. Regardless of what pathway a member chooses to complete, there are five levels to it. Harry described how the first level is for getting used to Toastmasters, it’s where you complete your Icebreaker speech, and it shows you how to receive/utilize feedback. Level 2 is understanding your communication style and how to use body language in an effective way. For instance, for Harry that meant using concise bullet points for his speeches and rehearsing beforehand. Level 3 is about persuasive speaking and it’s a level that introduces electives. Harry chose presentation software and active listening as electives. Level 4 is about managing a difficult audience, and level 5 is about lessons learned, a review and path completion. Harry concluded by mentioning his path taught him about presenting in terms of structure, audience, and technique, how to choose speech topics, and that he learned things about himself.

Kathrine led the debate session with the question, “Are emoticons an acceptable addition to the English language?” There was a tie in the debate, with members equally split on whether emoticons are an acceptable addition. Jamie was our Table Topics Master and had four great questions: What language would you like to learn and why?; What was your favorite place you’ve lived and why?; What is a luxurious item or experience you’re willing to splurge on for yourself and why is it special?; and, What is your favorite and least favorite thing about camping?

Our word of the day was awesome sauce, which is completely awesome sauce.

We had 9 attendees, including one guest. Thanks so much for joining in!