Timelines to Visualize History

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

Overview for "Standardisation"

Begin End Event Description Keywords
871 899

Alfred the Great

Alfred was the so-called first King of England, accepted by all the English that had not submitted to the Vikings. He defeated the Vikings multiple times and made a treaty with them to establish the Danelaw. Alfred's kingship extended beyond mere military leadership; his non-military achievements include his initiative to restore Latin learning and education in England.
Old English Period, Political, Religious, Standardisation, Vikings, Danelaw, Kings + Rulers, History
959 975

King Edgar and the Benedictine Revival

King Edgar's most prominent achievement in non-military activities was his massive support of the revival of monastic life in England. He installed the three leading reformers Dunstan, Æthelwold and Oswald, increased the number of reformed monasteries, expelled secular clerics and replaced them with reformed monks and abbots. It re-inspired cultural life in late Anglo-Saxon England and lead to a revival of education in Latin and English.
Old English Period, Political, Religious, Kings + Rulers, Standardisation, History
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
1417 -

English becomes official language

Since the Norman Conquest, French had been the official language in England. However, when Henry V became king, he made English the official language again. Henceforth, the parliament was held in English and the royal Chancery wrote in English as well, spreading the London variety.
Linguistics, Standardisation, Middle English Period
1476 -

William Caxton's Printing Press

William Caxton brought the printing press from Germany to Westminster. The introduction of the first printing press enhanced the use of a supra-regional standard form of the language and standardisation began. Printed books from London became available all over the country, and with their distribution, a written standard was further established. Thus, while the Norman Conquest from 1066 and its consequences marks the beginning, Caxton's printing press at Westminster denotes roughly the end of the Middle English period.
Linguistics, Middle English Period, Standardisation
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
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
1755 -

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary is the first and most important dictionary of the English language, which played an important role in the standardisation of the English language. With the publication of the two-volume dictionary in 1755, he laid the foundation to all later historical lexicography.
Linguistics, Standardisation