Norman Conquest: 1066 AD
Great Moments in the History of the English Language: Although not quite sure of the reason, William's fellow printers were vaguely disturbed by his curious experiments.
In a manner of speaking, yes. It certainly has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to spelling. Consider, for example, the “f” sound. Although pronounced the same in each of these words, it is spelled far differently:
Over the years there have been several movements to simplify English spelling, but they've had little overall effect. Following the American Revolution there was a renewed interest in spelling reform as Americans attempted to disassociate themselves from England. This endeavour enjoyed a modest success, dropping the “u” from words like “colour,” and changing the voiced “s” to a “z” in words like “realise,” but aside from these relatively minor changes it did little to create a new spelling system.
As for the reason behind this long-established chaos, we need look no further than Britain's historical tendency to get invaded.
Although the British Isles are fairly well protected from the mainland by means of the English channel, over the course of the millennium they have been invaded on a semi-regular basis by various nations speaking various languages. As a result, the English language isn't so much a single language as it is an amalgam of different languages, each with its own separate spelling and grammatical rules.
In our first class we deal with this history, although it does not make up an official part of the course ─ in other words, no, you won't be tested on it. On the other hand, you will find that knowing the background of the language helps enormously in dealing with it in a more efficient manner.
Wikkipedia Entry on History of the English Language
A History from Anglik.net
HEL (History of English Language) - Virginia Tech
Illustration above from Grow A Brain Blog by Hana Levin.
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