Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Begin End Event Description Keywords Related Events
900 1300

Typological Change

In the typological change, English changed from a synthetic, highly inflectional, to an analytic language that relies on a stricter word order. The change was likely caused as a result of language contact with Old Norse, as Old English and Old Norse had similar roots but different inflections.

Due to the close relationship of Old Norse and Old English, speakers of the two groups were likely to have dropped inflections in conversion, which might have led to a simplification of Old English, making most inflections obselete and relying on a stricter word order to convey meaning.

The typological change is impossible to date – it is a process that likely began sometime in the late Old English period. A lot of inflections have been lost by the Middle English period, but it can be argued that the typological change is still taking place today.
Linguistics, Language Contact, Middle English Period, Old English Period