Where Do Accents Come From ?
The Story of the English language

The Story of the English Language

Here at We Love Accents, we want to tell you the story of where all our featured accents came from, how they originated and how they developed. If you want to find the story of a specific accent, then you will find them under the Accents menu, then select the specific accent that interests you. (We have articles for Black Country & Brumme, Cockney, Northern Irish, Scottish and Yorkshire … the rest are on their way !!).

It’s impossible to talk about the accents of the British Isles, without reference to our history, and the historical development of the English language. The different accents of the British Isles all have their roots, in varying degrees, to invasion, isolation and immigration. So, the aim of this article is to provide some background and historical context, which will hopefully make more sense when you come to read the story of each of the individual accents.

Just who were the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans ? Why did they come to our islands ? What was the Great Vowel Shift ? The aim of this article is to tell you a bit about them all, and how they influenced our language, and in turn how they influenced our accents.

The history of the English language is traditionally divided into 3 periods (around these approximate dates).

Old English: 500 AD to 1100 AD
Middle English: 1100 AD to 1500 AD
Modern English: 1500 AD to Present Day

So, lets have a quick look at these periods in the history of the British Isles and in particular, the impact on the development of the English language, and set the scene for a closer look at some of our more well-known accents.

The Anglo-Saxons

Old English Part 1: The Anglo-Saxons

Back in the early 400s A.D, the natives of the British Isles spoke a Celtic language, a language utterly different from English …..


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The Vikings

Old English Part 2: The Vikings

In 793 AD, the Vikings arrived at our shores, initially in a series of bloody raids on monasteries in the North East of England …..

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The Normans

Middle English Part 1: The Normans

Just as the Vikings came to our shores, they also attacked and invaded parts of northern France …..

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The Printing Press

Middle English Part 2: The Printing Press

In 1450, Johannes Gutenberg completed the construction of the world’s first printing press in Germany …..

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The Great Vowel Shift

Modern English Part 1: The Great Vowel Shift

Some time around the period 1400 to 1600 AD, a strange phenonmenon happened to the English language …. we changed the way we pronounce certain vowels …..

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Up To The Present Day

Modern English Part 2: Up to the Present Day

The main change in the English language, between the 1700s and today, is vocabulary …..

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