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1. Original, Pure, Simple, or First English (commonly called

Saxon, or Anglo-Saxon); Synthetic, or Inflectional, in its
Grammar, and Homogeneous in its Vocabulary;

2. Broken, or Second English (commonly called Semi-Saxon),

- from soon after the middle of the eleventh century to about the middle of the thirteenth-when its ancient Grammatical System had been destroyed, and it had been converted from an Inflectional into a Non-Inflectional and Analytic language, by the first action upon it of the Norman Conquest;

3. Mixed, or Compound, or Composite, or Third English,-since

the middle of the thirteenth century-about which date its Vocabulary also began to be changed by the combination of its original Gothic with a French (Romance or Neo-Latin) element, under the second action upon it of the Norman Conquest.


1. The Original form, in which the three vowel-endings a, e, and

u are employed in the declension of nouns and the conjugation of verbs;

2. The Second form, in which the single termination e repre

sents indiscriminately the three ancient vowel-endings, but still constitutes a distinct syllable ;

3. The Third form, in which this termination e of nouns and

verbs, though still written, is no longer syllabically pronounced.


1. Saxon, or Anglo-Saxon ; throughout the period before the Nor

man Conquest;

2. Semi-Saxon; from about the middle of the eleventh to the

middle of the thirteenth century; the period of the Infancy and Childhood of our existing national speech;

3. Old, or rather Early, English ; from the middle of the thirteenth

to the middle of the fourteenth century; the period of the Boyhood of our existing speech ;

4. Middle English ; from the middle of the fourteenth to the

; middle of the sixteenth century; the Youth, or Adolescence of our existing speech ;

5. Modern English ; since the middle of the sixteenth century;

the Manhood of our existing speech.



450. Commencement of the conquest and occupation of South

Britain by the Angles and Saxons, bringing with them their ancestral Gothic speech;

1066. Conquest of England by the Normans; Establishment of

French as the courtly and literary language of the country; Commencement of the reduction of the ancient vernacular tongue to the condition of a patois, and of its conversion from a synthetic to an analytic tongue ;

1154. End of the reign of the four Norman kings and accession

of the Plantagenet dynasty ; Beginning of the connexion with Southern France through the marriage of Henry II. with Eleanor of Poitou; Termination of the National Chronicle, the latest considerable composition in the regular form of the ancient language; Full commencement of the intermixture of the two races;

1272. New age of the Edwards; Commencement of the con

nexion of the English royal family with that of France by the second marriage of Edward I. with a daughter of Philip III. ; Employment, at first occasionally, afterwards habitually, of French instead of English as the language of the Statutes; Commencement of its active intermixture with the vernacular tongue ;

1362. Trials at law in the King's Courts directed by the statute

of 36 Edward III. to be conducted no longer in French
but in English; Victory of the native tongue in its new
composite form over its foreign rival, and recovery of its
old position as the literary language of the country, under
the impulse of the war with France, and of the genius of
Minot, Langland, and Chaucer;

1455. Outbreak of the desolating War of the Roses, and complete

extinction for a time of the light of literature in England;


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1558. Accession of Elizabeth; Commencement of a new literary

era, with the native language in sole dominion;

1660. Restoration of the Stuarts ; Noonday of the Gallican age

of English literature;

1760. Accession of George III. ; Complete association in the

national literature of Scottish and Irish writers with those of England.

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