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Events that have shaped the English language

My last post explored some ideas about the future of the English language. Now it’s time to look to the past – a new project aims to find 100 events that shaped the English language.

The English Project, a charity dedicated to promoting the language, has started to compile a list of important events that made English what it is today. Starting in 475, the list includes the Undley Bracteate medallion which is the first evidence of written English. The most recent entry on the list is from 2003, when apparently more people said “I luv you” by text than said “I love you” by post.

The project has so far made 20 entries and is looking to the public to help fill the remaining slots.

Bill Lucas, a trustee of the English Project and professor of learning at the University of Winchester, said: “This is a wonderful way of engaging people in a wider conversation about the English Language.

“We want to get the nation really thinking about the stories behind our evolving language.

“How, for example, do you rate the relative significance of Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, versus London’s part in the birth of the world wide web?

“English has now become the lingua franca of the world. It is the most exciting and exotic language partly because of its capacity to incorporate so many elements of other languages, and somehow to make these dynamic, descriptive and always exciting.

“The history of Britain and the history of the English language are also very closely intertwined.

“We’re excited about hearing people’s ideas about the places and events they think have shaped the language.” (Source: Telegraph)

Sadly it seems that they are only looking for places in the British Isles that are important to the history of the language – I wonder if this will extend to include the rest of the English-speaking world?