Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Charity seeks origins of language

A charity is stepping up its global search for locations that may at some time have shaped the way English is spoken and the words used today

A charity is launching a bid to track down the geographical origins of the English language and is asking for the public to nominate places.

The English Project is stepping up its global search for locations that may at some time have shaped the way English is spoken and the words used today.

The search for locations comes on the eve of English Language Day tomorrow - with this year's theme focusing on English as the global language.

The organisation has already published a book called A History Of The English Language In 100 Places that charts the origins of the language from Undley Common at Lakenheath, Suffolk, in 475 where arguably the first use of English was found on a bracteate, to text English which originated in Helsinki, Finland, in 1993.

"Our rich language has developed and continuously evolved since its beginnings, some time in the early fifth century. And we are very keen to explore just how significant a role geography has had in these changes," said Professor Bill Lucas, of The English Project.

"We are keen to know about significant individual writers and speakers - and where they live or lived, where did English arrive in a new country? Where can a social or political trend best be marked? And where were important battles fought?

"What began as the language of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes on a small island has become a global property. It is owned and shaped by almost two billion English speakers across the Earth. Through an extraordinary combination of accidents, conquests and technological advances, English is now the language of the world."

"We have made an excellent start by publishing the new book," added Professor Christopher Mulvey, also from the project. "But there is so much more to know - and we want people to contribute by contacting us through our website."

Anyone wishing to contribute to the project can visit www.englishproject.org to share facts and locations.

The English Project is a national charity seeking to create the first ever museum for the English Language in Winchester, Hampshire. It is backed by well-known figures such as Melvyn Bragg and Jeremy Paxman.

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