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English Language & Linguistics

English Language



Major Dates and other Timelines

These dates and events moulded the language as we now know it.

for earlier dates see the Prehistory Timeline.

for later dates see Processes of Change

See also the chart of Indo-European languages.

Roman invasion of Britain under the Emperor Claudius.
150 Germanic speaking settlers from the coast of Germany
410 the Goths sack Rome
436 End of Roman withdrawal. Picts and Scots attack north of England. Angles, Saxons come as mercenaries to help the Britons then take over more and more territory.
449 traditional date for the beginning of Anglo-Saxon settlement.
450-480 First surviving (runic) Old English inscriptions
495 Kingdom Of Wessex established by Saxons.
527 Kingdoms of Essex and Middlesex established
550 Kingdoms of Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria established by Angles.
c700 First manuscript records of Old English
792 Scandinavian raids begin.
793 Scandinavians attack Lindisfarne.
828 Egbert of Wessex becomes overlord of the existing Kingdoms.
865 Danes occupy Northumbria and establish a kingdom at York.
871 Alfred becomes king of Wessex, translates from Latin into English
886 The Danelaw established.
995 Late Anglo-Saxon Bible (extract)
c1000 Date of only surviving manuscript of the Old English epic poem Beowulf.
1066 Norman Conquest. William defeats Harold, England comes under French rule, with French spoken in Court, English by the majority of native people, but also Latin in church and Danish in the north east.
1348 English replaces Latin in schools (but not at Oxford or CAmbridge Universities)
1362 English replaces French as the language of the law. English used for the first time in Parliament
1387 Chaucer writes Prologue to Canterbury Tales - in English in preference to Latin or French.
1389 Wyclif Bible
1476 First English book printed. Caxton sets up printing press in Westminster.
1478 Caxton prints Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
1526 Tyndale Bible
1564 - 1616 life of William Shakespeare.
1611 King James Bible published.
1702 First regular newspaper in English, The Daily Courant.
1755 Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language published.
1911 Concise Oxford Dictionary published.
1922 BBC established.
1928 Oxford English Dictionary published under James Murray.
1938 Photocopying invented.
1961 New English Bible published.
1984 Launch of the Apple Macintosh desktop computer revolutionises publishing.
1992 Oxford English Dictionary published on CD-ROM
1994 The World Wide Web revolutionises personal global publishing and communications