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Who Invented the English Language and What Were We Speaking Before It Was Invented?

Updated on December 17, 2017
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It is wonderful to investigate, gain knowledge and know how before making major decisions in life. Knowledge is power.

A person from North Dakota speaks the exact same set of words differently than a person from North Carolina. It is amazing and complicated all at once.

Anyone not a native born American learning to speak the English language is able to admit how difficult it is. It is one of the hardest languages to write, verbalize or learn when compared with others around the world today. As it continues to change and grow it becomes even more difficult a task to master it.

The simple explanation for the struggle is the words combined to make it's form originate as a combination of many spoken forms of communication from countless peoples. The evolution seen today has taken centuries to build. Therefore, what did people speak before it was invented?

What influenced the words?

Countless people believe the contributions to the tongue was acquired from the country's melting pot. Tons of individuals from all over the glove make up the country. There had to be a common form of communicating in order to live together, trade with one another and other things to survive.

Imagine immigrants emerging from everywhere holding on to an attitude of communication being a life source in some circumstances. Failure to see this happen is at times the difference between living or dying. It is as important to keep peace or avoid wars with others.

Is there a failed communication or a breakdown in the ability to understand. There had to be a singular type of verbal interaction where a concrete idea or notion is expressed and understood. There was a necessity to engage in an alternative. Discovering a single one understood by everyone.

Common speak among peoples

There were certainly some common verses of different tongues. Words or sounds appearing similar to the ear, but dissimilar among meanings. There were also those resonating nearly the same, but only a bit of a difference to the ear. These are words with the same meaning. The current terminology is synonyms and homonyms. Not all were dismissed when creating verbiage used today.

More importantly there are those which are entirely distinct in spelling and sound but hold the same definition. An example is the word tree appearing among 2 tribes with a slight difference on emphasizing the beginning of the word. Yet one means an actual tree while another stands in for words like bush, weed or tree. Though both are capable of standing in for the meaning as tree.

Fortunately, the representation in this example was for a single thought. In other words, these were comparable and like one another. A majority of semantics were created to form a singular word in some situations. Describing a river using more than one sound or word with one group was confusing for another were only a short term did the same thing.

There was an undeniable need to get on the same page to identify and label an item with the same linguistic form. This qualification became a necessity for anything and everything. Getting it right helped to ease trade, avoid wars and survive in certain situations.

Coming up with the lingo was only half the battle. The other half was determining a means of spelling . This proved to be more of an issue than speaking it.

All the same it eventually got to where it needed to be. Despite part of evolution including pantomiming, it all came together to create the spoken and written form of what is called English.

Getting everyone to agree on every piece of exchange was a hurdle. There were several items where there was no common ground. This accounts for moments of uncertainty or a variety in pronunciation.

Evolution labels these differences as accents depending on where a person lives in the country. An individual from Arkansas utters the same word distinctively different from his countryman in North Dakota.

Why so complicated?

More than a few things set it apart from other spoken forms of expressions. Tons of other modes of linguistics have simple straight forward rules continuous throughout the language. Yet this is not the case when it comes to this method of interacting with each other.

When people attempt to Check out some interesting facts on common themes creating a diversity from other languages.

  • Pronouns

In the English phonetics we have he, she, them, us and variations for these. Why not have a simple two or three? This is one of the most difficult aspects foreign speaking people encounter and get wrong.

  • Silent letters

Why do we use silent letters? Letters which are written when printing out a word but never spoken. These are sitting alone or in combinations. Phonetically there is no sound. This rule of thumb is very confusing.

How about butter or bookkeeper? The letter T is used twice in butter and letter as well as the letter k and e in bookkeeper. It is not double pronounced.

  • Letters never found without the other

The letter Q is never used without the letter U. Why? There are other examples where one or two letters come together, but there is only the sound of one when saying the word out loud.

Rules are a pain in the you know what

Students in grade school receive the basics of reading and writing the verbal communication of English. The lessons focus on the “rules” of the English language. These are taught to never be broken. Most teachers stress the fact. Yet, nearly all of these have an exception.

I before E except after C

We all remember the "i" before "e" except after “c”. It is broken several times in the grammatical form of speaking as well as written content. There are basically very few if any of these rules not broken and all of those none make sense.

The words piece and receive tell two different stories of the I before E except after C.

Singular vs. Plural

For instance, a single moose is moose. More than one is also moose. There is no singular form or plural form of moose. All words have a singular and plural, but there are exceptions and moose is one.

Spelling is not part of this exceptions of singular and plural. One mouse is mouse, but more than one is mice. A lonely goose is goose, but a family of goose is geese.

An exception of speaking of goose as a singular is the plural of geese.Even though moose and goose are identical writing with the exception of the first letter. We say house and houses but we say mouse and mice, not to mention goose and geese (?)

Where a person lives affects speech

There is a difference in the American language depending on where a person lives in the country. Folks drinking a can of Pepsi identifies it in more than one way. For example, some people say they are drinking a soda others say it is a pop or soda pop. Pop is typically verbalized in the Midwest while the Southern states and the East coast say soda.

What is an accent and how does it affect the words?

The dialect is the same but the semantics change the words. This is what happens when an accept is focused on speaking English. For example, North Dakota and Minnesota have a different accent than someone in New Jersey. There is an alteration of the emphasis placed on a syllable within a word.

Expressing a simple word like car is spoken with a singular tongue from a New Jersey native, an Illinois dweller and even the South Dakota farmer. The letter R is the most recognized difference. Voicing this letter of the alphabet is also expressed distinctive in other languages.

Accents coming from other places

When English is a second language the spoken word is really tangled up. Identifying the rules is one obstacle while pronunciation is another. How a word is spelled phonetically is different than how it is said. Additionally, other tongues around the world articulate the same letter combination with a unique idiom or even emphasis.

When absorbing these other words into English from various tongues the expression is changed. Yet another spoken word adopted from other places is actually expressed as intended. This makes things even more of a jumble.

Northern states bordering Canada typically have citizens with a Canadian accent but southern citizens don’t have a Mexican accent.

England speaks old English when compared to American versions of the same. In fact, we continually alter the slang and meaning of various words in the United States.

It pays to have some accents

Did you know in the Midwest the chances of being on television or broadcasting increase substantially? Television producers advised Midwestern “accents” are desired because individuals from this area of the nation speak faster when compared with others around the country.

Not only is the speech more pronounced and understood, but there is the least amount of inflection when articulating a variety of words and phrases.

Actors from other countries with accents are sometimes requested to speak with one of the many found in America. Coaches which help with this skill are paid handsomely. An Australian having issues grasping a New York accent hires a unique acting coach to aid him in making it happen.

Changing a word over the years to have a different meaning

There was a time when a doll was a toy little girls played with. Then it was a description of a grown lady during the 1920s. Now we are back to defining it as a plaything for children.

As we evolve as a people so does how we communicate and speak to one another. This will continue for years to come.


Slang is a great example of a language within a language. Articulating thoughts and feelings among generations is sometimes difficult because of it. Slang spoken in the 80s is totally irrelevant from how it was used in the 90s or currently. Events went from cool, to sweet and now they are off the chain or hook.

Surprisingly the same terms emerge again in a decade or so. Therefore, cool will come back around to mean something is nice and not just cold to the touch. Nonetheless these are found in a variety of countries around the world. Yet, America still has the most with the most difficult to understand and use correctly.

These are words with the most changes in the shortest amount of time when compared with others in the same language. There is a typical alteration made to the same one with each generation.

More than a few are retained, but the meaning changed. The word bad meant great in the 80s, but before and after it meant something spoiled or filthy.

Being politically correct using some words

Words change but mean the same thing over the years because we have to be politically correct. The disabled are now challenged is an example of this English language encounter. The words colored and black are synonymous with African American.

Politically correct does not mean satisfying all of the folks involved or touched by the expression. However, it does take into account the offensive feelings most folks experienced when these are used.

Borrowing from other countries

Another great example is comparing the English spoken in Great Britain with America. A fag is a cigarette in Britain and a derogatory name in the US. They identify a french fry as a chip. A chip is a piece of paint or an item used in a casino for placing a bet.

These alterations from the true original form of English to accommodate this country are traced back hundreds of years. The changes were made for some unknown reason in most cases. Is it as simple as a misspelling which has never been corrected?

Getting it from other peoples

In the Midwest almost all of county names are taken directly from the American Indian language. Why is the pronunciation of Arkansas and Kansas different? Kansas is part of the word Arkansas; shouldn’t the articulation be the same?

The state of Iowa is a Native American word. It has not been changed in the pronunciation or spelling. The state has 99 counties which have all been named with the same cause. Take the county of Kossuth or Keokuk, both fall under the same umbrella as how the word Iowa is conveyed.

Tech is touching how a person speaks

Technology has even affected written content. The tech language of speaking to each other on the computer is confusing and not related to anything learned in school when it comes to writing and conversing with one another.

Because writing altered, like in texting, there has been more than a few things missing. Capitalization, punctuation and other rules of writing are gone. With changes in writing there have been alterations to reading went as well. The library is a lonely place. Acronyms have taken the place of countless word groups. BTW and NP are easily recognizable.

Texting and speaking on social networking sites has created a shorthand method of verbal conversation with its own rules and regulations.

Emails received and sent in foreign tongues are able to be deciphered without delay or assistance. A computer or smart phone handles it with ease.

In conclusion

English is a combination of every language ever spoken, written or thought of. It’s the hardest language to learn, read, write or speak, but alas, it’s ours. It will continue to evolve, sometimes not for the better as we move on.

Imagine the nation before we "civilized" the country. There were people traveling all the way from Christopher Columbus' day from Italy and Spain and exchanging words with the natives inhabiting this great country. This is how a common form of talking came together which is alive till this day.

Accents identify where a person learned to speak

Every area of the country has an “accent” so we are pronouncing the same phrase or word with different emphasis on various syllables making it difficult to communicate at times. A New York native pronounces a word as easy as mother quite differently from a native from Georgia.

Articulation is a tool used to identify what part of the country a person originates from. It actually conveys where an individual learned English.

How does it differ from other forms of linguistics

A great example of a large distinction is in the form of pronouns. English has 2 types. One for male and one for female. For example, there are numerous vocalized words in other tongues containing 3 kinds.

When utilizing 3 there is more to consider than simply male and female. These are used for he, she or an inanimate object. An inanimate item example is a desk.

Three distinctive ones are found in French and Portuguese. English complicates things even further depending on the adjective, verb or noun used in a sentence. We run into things such as connectors like and, but and or. The list is extensive and for countless folks something never given a second thought.

© 2011 smcopywrite


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    • visionandfocus profile image


      5 years ago from North York, Canada

      Anyone who thinks English is difficult should be made to learn Russian. They will run screaming back to embrace the English language with open arms.

    • profile image

      larry willson 

      6 years ago

      English is the easiest language in the world and it nice to learn but has to have way to many rule. And it has way to many thing to learn and rule in the english books.

    • smcopywrite profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from all over the web


      thank you for your comments. what facts were you searching for? can i ask what details you perceive as wrong? you didn't provide any details or information to support your viewpoint. shame on you for leaving a general comment about not finding research for your book and dinging an article that many found very useful and informative.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I ran across this as I was doing research for a book. This is a terrible article. Almost every detail is wrong and apparently guessed at by someone who doesn't have a basis for writing about language. Shame on you for trying to pass this off as fact.

    • DorthyJanes profile image


      6 years ago

      Couldn't have said it better myself (ha, ha) and apparently didn't. I hear that Mandarin Chinese is all the rage in nursery schools. Yikes, I'm still trying to conquer English.

    • kallini2010 profile image


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada


      You don't have to apologize at all. It is my fault for leaving a negative comment - I am afraid I am too frustrated and I just could not help myself. I really should know better. But it has nothing to do with you, so please accept my apologies and feel free to delete my comment, I think it is the best you can do with it.

      I don't look down on people who speak only one language, yet to understand your own language you must know at least one more. Everything can be learned and known only in comparison. People who compare a foreign language to their own - of course, they will be under impression that English is SO! difficult. But what they essentially compare? Ease of mother tongue to the nightmare of a foreign language? Because it is a sheer torture not to be able to express yourself with ease.

      Add to it another foreign language. German or French or Russian (I only take those, because Russian is my mother tongue, I learned German and some French). In all three - every noun has a gender, from one language to the second to the third - they are not the same. Memorize everything.

      You are lucky you don't have to deal with declension. In Russian, nominal declension is subject to six cases. Meaning you have to memorize 6 variations of the same noun (on top of its gender) and coordination as well with verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Everything changes.

      Do I blame Americans they don't want to study foreign languages? I don't. It is a nightmare. And I speak lovingly because I love languages. They say Japanese is really tough. I have no idea, but I believe it.

      But again I apologize. It is a fairly difficult subject to discuss.

      But to lighten things up, I will give a link on Intolerance (of course, I am laughing at myself - being the one who came first)

      All the best,

    • smcopywrite profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from all over the web

      i apologize. i didn't mean to exclude or offend.

      i suppose my content was related to the type of english spoken in america. english spoken in american is not the english that is taught in other countries.

      i speak only 3 languages total if you dont count languages such as "tex-mex" which is another english language variation. i enjoy hearing other languages spoken, such as russian, italian and spanish.

      can i ask why that is relevant?

      my nationality is of mixed origin and i have many languages spoken at my families table depending upon which member of my family i have dinner with.

      my hub was more satire than factual and i apologize if i offended you.

      the only reason that english would be spoken as a national language is if america bullied the world into accepting it.

      its similar to the way that we were supposed to go metric with the rest of the world and chose not to. America typically does what it wants without regard to other countries.

      i have spoken with several people that have english as a second or third language and they have advised me english is the most difficult language they have had to learn.

      thank you for leaving your thoughts on this hub. please do so again.

    • kallini2010 profile image


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Smcopywrite, I am afraid your hub does not answer the question asked. Not even remotely. When you say "our country", you forget that people who write on HubPages are not all Americans. Far from it.

      To say that English is the most difficult language to learn - that is a judgment call. How many foreign languages do you speak?

      English is a living language. What? Other languages are dead? Every language is a living organism with rules and exceptions to them.

      Pronouns? You need to have a really good command, no not of Enlgish, but of grammar and grammar is something you should know if you learn another language. You can get away without really understanding grammar in your own language, but when you start learning another language it is a must. I mean understanding is a must.

      There is no war between languages, French wanted to rule the world - well, too bad. Now English is the dominant language. But who knows? One day it might be Arabic, Chinese, Hindu.

      Who could foretell? Same rules apply. There are origins, there is development and history of every language and they are interconnected, nothing wrong with that. There is no purity in any language or bastardization, only history.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 

      7 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      English is a living language that will always change. It is actually a derivative of the old Germanic tribes, but filled with Latin, French, Spanish, etc.

      English is the lingua franca, a French word, but that's because the French wanted to rule the world--the only problem was they lost the wars against the English.

      English is a bastardized result of the history of humanity. I could say hub, smcopywrite.


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