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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

English descends from a set of Germanic dialects spoken 4,000 years or so ago in a small area of the far south of Scandinavia. The arrival of Germanic speakers on the island of Britain a millennium and a half ago led to the growth of the language we now call English. This language remained confined to this island for most of its history and, indeed, was not spoken in all parts of the island until extremely recently. During the last five centuries native-speaker English also spread to the Western Hemisphere and then to the Southern Hemisphere, leading to the development of new varieties of the language in the colonised areas, but also to the massive loss of indigenous languages in the Americas and Australia.

Keywords: Germanic, Celtic, spread, language shift, language death, settlement, colonisation

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