Timelines to Visualize History

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

Overview for "Early Modern English Period"

Begin End Event Description Keywords
1400 1800

The Great Vowel Shift

The Great Vowel Shift is a systematic sound shift in which all long stressed vowels were raised to higher positions, and those which could not be raised became diphthongs. As a result of the GVS, and the process of standardisation that began simultaneously, there is now a difference between spelling and pronunciation in English. The first phase of the change was nearly completed by 1500 and the last stages of the Great Vowel Shift were completed by 1800.
Linguistics, Middle English Period, Standardisation, Early Modern English Period
1500 1750

The Early Modern English Period

The Early Modern English Period describes a linguistic, historical and literary period. By 1500, English had already evolved to resemble Modern English more closely, though is still retained some inflections that were lost in Modern English. The period is marked by standardisation as a result of the printing press, renewed Latin influence during the Renaissance and the ongoing process of the Great Vowel Shift.
Linguistics, Standardisation, Early Modern English Period, Language Contact
1500 1600

Latin, Greek, Italian

The English Renaissance caused a renewed interest in classical languages and a flourish in culture, but it also caused another wave of language contact for the English language. Again, Latin was a popular source for new words, particularly in the field of religion and science. But many words were also adopted from Greek (also in the field of science) and from Italian (primarily in the field of architecture).
Linguistics, Early Modern English Period, Language Contact
1712 -

Swift and Defoe's Language Academy

Many writers of the 16th and 17th complained about the state of the English language, as it had became such a mess due to The Great Vowel Shift and numerous Language Contact situations. This idea came to its peak in 1712, when Jonathan Swift published his Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue. But as you might have guessed, there has never been a successful reform of the English language.
Linguistics, Early Modern English Period, Standardisation