Start Date
Place
Notes
Source
2050
Africa
The Portuguese-speaking African countries are
expected to have a combined population of 83
million by 2050.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_lang
uage June 2011
2011
International
No one gets angry at a mathematician or a
physicist whom he or she doesn't understand, or
at someone who speaks a foreign language, but
rather at someone who tampers with your own
language.
Derrida in
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/j
acques_derrida.html February 2011
2011
International
Man acts as though he were the shaper and
master of language, while in fact language
remains the master of man.
Heidegger in
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/
m/martin_heidegger.html February 2011
2011
International
In Umberto Eco's clever formulation, 'a sign is
anything that can be used to tell a lie.'
Eco in
http://www.uvm.edu/~tstreete/semiotics_and
_ads/the_sign.html January 2011
01 Sep 2009
Slovakia
In Slovakia a new language law was scheduled to
come into force to promote the use of Slovak in
public. Hungarian speakers, who numbered
about a fifth of the population, viewed this as a
direct attack on their right to speak their mother-
tongue.
http://timelines.ws January 2010
23 Apr 2006
Sweden
It was reported that Sweden has allowed the
letter 'W' into the mainstream of the Swedish
language. The Swedish language, according to
the Swedish Academy, now has 29 letters
instead of 28.
http://timelines.ws December 2009
Mar 2006
Brazil
The Museum of the Portuguese Language, an
interactive museum about the Portuguese
language, was founded in São Paulo, Brazil, the
city with the greatest number of Portuguese-
language speakers in the world.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_lang
uage June 2011
Jul 2003
France
The French Ministry of Culture banned the use of
the word "e-mail" by government ministries, and
adopted the use of the more French sounding
"courriel.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2008
2003
International
Saussure (1857-1913) maintains that the
meaning of a linguistic sign (e.g. 'red) does not
depend upon any intrinsic quality to which the
sign refers (or which causes a particular kind of
sensation that supposedly gives meaning to the
sign), He holds that the meaning of any linguistic
sign is, at bottom determined through its contrast
to other signs within the linguistic system. The
fundamental meaning of the sign 'red' is
determined through its contrast to other signs
such as 'not-red,' 'non-red,' 'green,', 'orange,'
'crimson,' 'pink,' 'rose,' etc.
Wicks, Modern, P. 108 (2003)
2003
International
Published posthumously in 1916 as Course in
General Linguistics, Saussure's linguistic theory
... was instrumental in inspiring French
structuralist thought of the 1950s. By adopting
Saussure's view on language, and operating
under what became a leading structuralist
assumption that all social phenomena are
understandable as languages, theorists such as
Claude Lévi-Strauss (in anthropology), Jacques
Lacan (in psychoanalysis), and Roland Barthes
(in literary theory), pursued 'structuralist' methods
to understand human social practices and
psychological conditions. They interpreted these
broadly ranging phenomena as having structures
comparable to languages, and they tried to
discern in them elements which serve as a
'vocabulary,' and which, in turn, could be
organized according to a 'syntax,' or set of
definite rules.
Wicks, Modern, P. 100 (2003)
2002
UK
Hwerow Hweg (Bitter Sweet), the first film made
in Kernuak, the Celtic language almost extinct in
Cornwall, England, was released.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk August 2006
2002
International
The German historian and writer Reinhard
Markner founds the Forschungsgruppe Deutsche
Sprache ("Research Group German Language")
in an effort to reject the reforms. Popular opinion
in Germany has almost 80 percent of the
population opposed to the reforms. The German
Swiss, who long ago got rid of the ß letter that
lies at the heart of the reforms, tend to go their
own way, wondering why the Germans are in
such a frenzy. In Austria most people are
opposed to the reforms, but they are not as
worked up as the Germans seem to be.
http://german.about.com/library/blreform.htm
Jun 2012
2001
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan switched from Cyrillic to the Latin
alphabet, angering Russians.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk January 2007
31 Oct 1996
Ireland
TG4 (Telefis Na Gaeilge) launched in Ireland as a
predominantly Irish-language television service,
modeled on the UK's Welsh-language S4C.
About 41 per cent of the Irish population can
understand the language to some extent.
http://www.terramedia.co.uk March 2007
1996
Latvia
A coalition government was formed under Prime
Minister Andris Skele. It was noted that the
Russian language was still the primary school
language and the language of communication
between all non-Latvians.
http://timelines.ws November 2006
1992
US
At Bell Labs, an English-Spanish translator
recognizes 450 spoken words.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
1989
US
AT&T claims speech recognition machine
understands 300 billion sentences.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
1985
US
Synthetic text-to-speech computer pronounces
20,000 words.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu November
2006
1984
Japan
Machine translates basic Japanese into Basic
English, but with mistakes.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
1981
International
Juergen Habermas, held to be one of the most
important students of the Frankfurt School, put
forth his Theory of Communicative Action in
1981. In this, he claimed that rationality was
located in the structures of communicative
linguistics and not within the thinking subject. He
described an ideal speech situation in which all
participants would be equal and could thus
produce rational discourse and actions ...
Habermas in Knowledgebook, P. 341 (1981)
1979
US
Speech recognition machine has a vocabulary of
1,000 words.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu November
2006
1977
International
In 1977, in an interview on 'The History of
Sexuality,' Foucault made a remark that has often
been quoted and often misinterpreted. He stated
that he was well aware that he had never written
anything but fictions. Standing by itself, this
suggests that Foucault did not believe in 'truth,'
and that his outlook is nihilistic. He continued in
the next breath, however, to reveal a very different
meaning by stating that he did not intend to say
that truth is therefore absent. Which is to suggest
that truth is expressible through fictional
discourse, or, stated differently, that artistic,
figurative, mythic, metaphoric, and literary
expression can express truth equally as well, or
perhaps even better, than purely literalistic
language. This was also Nietsche's position. It
can also be attributed to Derrida.
Foucault (1977) in Wicks, Modern, P. 234
(2003)
1974
Japan
The Japanese are about to launch a multi-billion
dollar program to impose Western phonetic
literacy on the whole of Japan. This program will
scrub off the entire face of Japan, eroding its oral
culture ... The ripping-off of the entire Japanese
iden-tity will release a fantastic flood of violence
and corporate quest for new identity on a
competitive scale unimagined in human history.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 284-85
(1974)
1974
International
Phonetically literate man, from the Greeks to the
present, has been consistently aggressive with
his environment. His need to translate his
environment into phonetic, literate terms turns
him in a conqueror and a cultural bulldozer, or
leveller.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 285
(1974
1973
International
When does a mechanical code of transmission
of information itself become a language? Under
what conditions does a language revert to a code
of transmission? With our new coding devices
today [such as the movies] we are setting about
to establish whether these means of transmission
have themselves so deeply altered human
sensibilities and reshaped human institutions and
attitudes as to have acquired the status of new
languages.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 283
(1973)
1973
International
The phonetic alphabet is unique in being formed
by phonemes, or meaningless bits. All other
alphabets consist mainly of morphemes, or
meaningful bits. The extreme abstraction of
meaning from the formal sign … releases the
visual faculty from its embodiment in the other
senses. In separation from sound and touch, and
semantics, both Euclid and logic become
simultaneously possible.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 284
(1973)
1972
International
Although we think of speech [in mother tongues]
as near and private, there is nothing about us that
is so corporate and public. Speech in its
subliminal resonance unites us with the most
distant ages, as well as with the present
multitudes.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 284
(1972)
1970
International
Poetry is the means of opening the doors of
perception on areas of experience otherwise
inaccessible. The press provides the individual
with pap and packaged opinions. In its corporate
design of invisible patterns, however, the daily
press also provides new dimensions that are only
revealed in poetry. Byron's Don Juan is an early
newspaper mock epic. Browning's Ring and the
Book is explicitly a newspaper poem, as Ezra
Pound acknowledged in his Cantos. The Waste
Land is a newspaper epyllion, or little epic, using
newspaper discontinuity and mosaic to include
East and West, past and present in a single
moment.
McLuhan, Culture is our Business, P. 270
(1970)
03 Oct 1969
US
Reports indicate that researchers are making
progress in deciphering the ancient Mayan
language.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
1968
US
Noam Chomsky influences linguistics with
Language and Mind.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu November
2006
1967
Wales
The Welsh Language Act gives the Welsh
language equal validity with English in Wales,
and Wales is no longer considered a part of
England.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm March 2009
21 Mar 1965
Italy
Pope Paul says Mass in Italian in a working class
quarter in Rome.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
1965
International
The mother tongue is propaganda.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 283
(1965)
29 Nov 1964
US
Newly approved liturgical reforms, including a
change from Latin to English in most of the mass,
becomes effective at all Roman Catholic
churches in the US.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
24 Aug 1964
US
The full Roman Catholic mass is celebrated in
English for the first time in the US at the opening
of the 25th Liturgical Conference in St. Louis,
Missouri. The singing of Protestant hymns,
another innovation, opens and closes the service.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
07 Dec 1962
International
The first chapter of a draft constitution on sacred
liturgy - granting bishops more power to authorize
the use of modern languages in worship is
approved by delegates at the Vatican II
ecumenical council.
Nelson and Parker, The Sixties
19 Sep 1962
UK
The Welsh-language broadcaster Teledu Cymru
started transmissions in North and West Wales.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
1960
US
Voice communication for people who cannot talk:
an electronic larynx.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu November
2006
18 Jul 1957
UK
The BBC Overseas Service began radio
transmissions in the Somali language.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
20 Feb 1957
UK
London's High Court of Justice invalidates
playwright George Bernard Shaw's attempt to
provide a legacy to sponsor a 40-letter alphabet.
Merritt, The Fifties
1957
US
Noam Chomsky and George Miller co-author
Finite State Languages.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2007
1955
International
Speech is our principal means of structuring
interpersonal distances. And these distances
are not just physical but emotional and cultural.
We involuntarily raise our voices when speaking
to those who do not understand our language.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 283
(1955)
1954
Greece
In the Phaedrus [written in roughly 370 BCE),
Plato argued that the new arrival of writing would
revolutionize culture for the worst. He suggested
that it would substitute reminiscence for thought
and mechanical learning for the true dialect of the
living quest for truth by discourse and
conversation.
McLuhan in Essential McLuhan, P. 285
(1954)
1953
International
The translating of auditory into visual terms set up
an inner life in man which separated himself from
the exterior world and, in part from his own
senses, as we know from the study of pre-literate
societies.
McLuhan Essential McLuhan, P. 284 (1953)
1952
Near East
Cause of Manichaeism served that of Iran.
Iranian spirit lived and language flourished in rich
poetical literature as states more independent of
Bagdad emerged." [Definition of Manichaeism
from wordnetweb.princeton. edu/perl/webwn: "a
religion founded by Manes in the third century; a
synthesis of Zoroastrian dualism between light
and dark and Babylonian folklore and Buddhist
ethics and superficial elements of Christianity;
spread widely in the Roman Empire but had
largely died out by 1000."]
Innis, Idea File, 23-24 (1952)
1952
International
Significance of Jaeger in restoring significance
of oral tradition after being overlaid by written
tradition, poetry shifted to dialogue to lecture and
prose and philosophy. From listening to reading,
rise of authority of literature - Plato used
Socrates as device to screen his position.
Necessity of realizing importance of continued
thought not acceptance of written authority. Image
worship crept over civilisation particularly with
printing and influence of sacred word.
Innis, Idea File, 2-24 (1952)
1952
International
Poetry a device for building up cultural
stratification with a language or of separating
languages - represents specialization between
languages - point at which language matures.
Innis, Idea File, 5-180 (1952)
1952
International
Most significant that Greeks did not have a
second learned language - stood on their own
feet - no energy absorbed in confusion of a
second language. Widening of communications
and reaching to lower strata makes for vested
interest in large-scale printing and publishing and
accentuates difficulty between nations - means
increasing departure from common language of
small number. Printing weakening grip of capital
on language and increased differences between
languages. [Note: Common language of small
number might refer to the middle ages when the
elites communicated in Latin. - SM]
Innis, Idea File, 5-180 (1952)
1952
International
Language - before printing various regions
develop special language and unable to speak
with each other, i.e. disputes in England. Printing
produces order in language and holds it in check.
South Sea Islanders - rapid change in language -
young generation unable to understand old -
printing not available to hold it in check.
Significance of alphabet to trade.
Innis, Idea File, 5-77 (1952)
1952
International
Influence of newspaper writing on speech -
editors tend to speak a written language - see
John Wilson
Innis, Idea File, 9-5 (1952)
1952
International
How far lawyers emphasize vernacular in
assisting empire and national state against Latin
and papacy. As gap widens between Latin and
vernacular possible that lawyers step into breach.
In custom law in northern France and England
necessary for lawyers to remain close to custom
or vernacular. Repression of English with Norman
court probably emphasized its position in
vernacular and saved it from imposition of other
languages - made it easier to learn with less
emphasis on learned languages or learned style
as in Germany - more adaptable to trade. Oral
tradition in France - universities - richness of
language and precision. Escape from drains of
dual language - Latin and vernacular and
emphasis on vernacular made for rich
development of literature.
Innis, Idea File , 15-26 (1952)
1952
Greece
Plato attempted to abolish poetry and rhetoric in
favour of philosophy and prose.
Innis, Idea, 11-35 (1952)
1952
England
Problem of English language - lack of precision
following borrowing from outside, i.e. use of
French in documents giving greater purity and
precision.
Innis, Idea File, 12-21 (1952)
1952
England
English language makes for greater flexibility -
common law, parliamentary constitutions, and
trade.
Innis, Idea File, 12-24 (1952)
1951
Germany
Ernst Cassirer, a German refugee scholar, has
described the word-coiners as masters of
political propaganda. Nazi-Deutsch, a glossary of
contemporary German usage, included a long list
of words which he found it impossible to render
adequately into English. As a result of the new
words coined to support the Hitler-fascist myth he
no longer understood the German language.
Innis, Bias of Communication, P. 30 (1951)
1949
US
Hans Kurath publishes A Word Geography of the
Eastern United States, a landmark in the
scientific study of American regionalisms.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_3.htm December 2006
1947
India
India is freed from British control and divided into
Pakistan and India. The constitution provides that
English remain the official language for only 15
years.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_3.htm October 2006
1940
Russia
Moscow imposed the Cyrillic alphabet over the
Roman alphabet.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
1936
US
Electronic speech synthesizer mimics human
speech.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2008
1936
US
Bell Labs invents a voice recognition machine.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
1936
Malta
It was not until 1936 that Maltese was recognised
as the island's official language of Malta.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_literature
May 2011
1932
Turkey
The Turkish Language Institute was established
in 1932 to carry out linguistic research and
contribute to the natural development of the
language.
http://www.turkishculture.org/literature/literatur
e-473.htm March 2011
1928
UK
The Oxford English Dictionary is published.
http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-
history.htm November 2010
1928
Turkey
In 1928, five years after the proclamation of the
Republic, the Arabic alphabet was replaced by
the Latin one, which in turn speeded up the
movement to rid the language of foreign words.
http://www.turkishculture.org/literature/literatur
e-473.htm March 2011
1925
South Africa
Thomas Mofolo's Chaka the Zulu is written in the
Sotho language.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
1924
India
Archaeologists identified a writing system they
called the Indus Valley Script.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
1921
Ireland
Ireland achieves Home Rule, and Gaelic is made
an official language in addition to English.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2007
1918
Slovakia
Prior to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire [in 1918], Hungary administered
Slovakia. The Slovaks were subjected to the
policies of Magyarization-becoming Hungarian
through forced linguistic assimilation.
http://timelines.ws November 2006
1912
International
No Greek word has an exact equivalent in
English; no important abstract conception covers
the same area or carries with it the same
atmosphere of association. Translation from one
language to another is impossible, from an
ancient to a modern language grotesquely
impossible because of these profound
differences of collective representation, which no
'translation' will ever transfer.
Cornford, From Religion, P. 45 (1912)
01 Aug 1911
Germany
Konrad Duden (b.1829), German philologist,
died. His 1880 dictionary represents the start of
the Duden series and included 28,000 words on
187 pages.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
1908
Albania
Albanian intellectuals met in Manastir (Bitolja,
Macedonia), at the Congress of Manastir to
standardize the Albanian alphabet using the Latin
script. Up to now, Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic script
had been used.
http://timelines.ws July 2007
13 Jan 1900
Hungary
To combat Czech nationalism, Emperor Franz
Joseph of Austria-Hungary decreed that German
would be the language of the imperial army.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1900
UK
English handwriting experts establish the art of
calligraphy.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2009
07 Jul 1880
Germany
German educator Konrad Duden publishes a
dictionary with the title Vollständiges
Orthographisches Wörterbuch der deutschen
Sprache. That same year the Kingdom of
Prussia declares his reference work to be the
authority on German spelling.
http://german.about.com/library/blreform.htm
Jun 2012
1880
Germany
Bavaria and Prussia introduced Spelling reform.
Chancellor Bismarck threatened civil servants
with increased fines if the new system was not
used.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1879
UK
James A.H. Murray begins editing the
Philological Society's New English Dictionary on
Historical Principles (later renamed The Oxford
English Dictionary).
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2007
1872
Near East
George Smith deciphers cuneiform tablets
containing the epic of Gilgamesh.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
06 Sep 1865
Lithuania
Russia forbade the use of Latin letters in the
Lithuanian language. Following the 1863
uprising the Czarist authorities prohibited the
publication of Lithuanian books in Roman letters.
Books in Cyrillic were allowed but not accepted
by the people. Secret book couriers smuggled in
Latin lettered books until 1904.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1861
Albania
The first school known to use the Albanian
language in modern times was opened in
Shkodra.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1844
US
The telegraph is invented by Samuel Morse,
inaugurating the development of rapid
communication, a major influence on the growth
and spread of English.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2007
1837
UK
Isaac Pitman's Stenographic Soundhand
introduces shorthand.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
1818
Germany
Grimm's Law (discovered by Friedrich von
Schlegel and Rasmus Rask, later elaborated by
Jacob Grimm) identifies relationships between
certain consonants in Germanic languages
(including English) and their originals in Indo-
European. The formulation of Grimm's Law
marks a major advance in the development of
linguistics as a scholarly field of study. [Early 19th
century]
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2007
1806
US
Noah Webster publishes A Compendious
Dictionary of the English Language.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2007
1802
Egypt
The Rosetta Stone was seized by the British in
Egypt after the defeat of Napoleon's army and
was sent to England.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1800
Mexico
Testerian is a pictorial writing system that was
used until the 19th century to teach Christian
doctrine to the indigenous peoples of Mexico,
who were unfamiliar with alphabetic writing
systems. Its invention is attributed to Jacobo de
Testera, a Franciscan who arrived in Mexico in
1529.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testerian June
2012
1799
Egypt
Pierre Bouchard [Boussart], an officer in
Napoleon's army, discovered the Rosetta Stone
in the city of Rosetta [Rashid], Egypt. The
Rosetta Stone is a tablet with hieroglyphic
translations into Greek. The stone is black
basalt... and bears three texts: the uppermost is
in early Egyptian hieroglyphic; the middle one in
the Neo-Egyptian demotic script often used in
writing papyri; and the lowermost text is Greek.
Deciphering the stone, the work of English
physicist Thomas Young and then French
archaeologist Jean-Francois Champollion, led to
an understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphic
writing. Champollion published memoirs on the
decipherment in 1822.
http://timelines.ws February 2007
1783
Austria
After this year German officially replace Latin as
the language of instruction.
http://timelines.ws January 2007
15 Apr 1755
UK
Dr. Samuel Johnson, English writer, published
his “Dictionary of the English Language,” a
selective English dictionary, after 9 years of work.
The first edition had 42,773 entries.
http://timelines.ws July 2007
1746
UK
A consortium of London publishers offered
Samuel Johnson (36) a modest sum to compose
a dictionary of the English Language. He
promised to do the job in 3 years, but didn't finish
the first edition until 1755.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
1715
UK
Elisabeth Elstob publishes the first grammar of
Old English.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm March 2009
1712
UK
Anglo-Irish satirist and cleric Jonathan Swift
proposes the creation of an English Academy to
regulate English usage and "ascertain" the
language.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2009
1662
England
The Royal Society of London appoints a
committee to consider ways of "improving"
English as a language of science.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline_2.htm June 2009
1648
France
Cardinal Mazarin founds the Academie
Francaise in 1648 to promote literature.
http://www.scaruffi.com September 2006
07 Feb 1639
France
Academie Francaise began its Dictionary of
French Language.
http://timelines.ws January 2007
22 Feb 1635
France
King Louis XIII at the urging of Cardinal Richelieu
granted letters patent to formally establish the
Academie Francaise in Paris. The Académie
française was responsible for the regulation of
French grammar, orthography, and literature.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
13 Mar 1634
France
Academie Francaise was established. Its task
was to preserve the purity of the French language,
which included maintaining a dictionary.
Members came to be known as the "immortals"
and by 1998 they were struggling with masculine
nouns of positions held by women who desired
feminine endings.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
1618
England
In London the play "Swetnam the Woman-Hater"
introduced the term "misogynist" into the English
language.
http://timelines.ws December 2006
1600
Russia
The historical development of the Russian
language is not easy to trace because until the
17th century, the religious and cultural language
of the Russian people was not Russian but
Church Slavonic.
New Columbia Encyclopedia
1588
UK
In England, Timothy Bright invents shorthand.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
1566
Lithuania
The Old Belorussian language was the official
language of that state as stipulated by the
provisions of the second wording of the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania Statute in 1566.
http://www.president.gov.by/en/press10675.h
tml May 2011
1558
UK
Child's speller written in England as spelling
consistency gradually emerges.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2009
10 Aug 1539
France
King Francis of France declared that all official
documents were to be written in French, not
Latin.
http://timelines.ws February 2007
1539
France
In 1539 a royal decree proclaimed French the
official language of the public administration.
Since that period the government was always
involved in the development and the
standardization of the language.
http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/French/Fr
ench.html November 2010
1534
UK
Jan Van Wynkyn (Wynkyn de Worde) published
"Tullius Offyce," the first Latin-English dictionary.
He was the first printer in England to use italic
type.
http://timelines.ws December 2007
1534
Germany
Martin Luther (1483-1546) is the most important
figure of this period and his most important work
is his translation of the Bible (printed complete at
Wittenberg, 1534; final edition, 1543-45). The
German translations before his time had been
made from the Vulgate and were deficient in
literary quality. Luther's version is from the
original, and although not free from errors it is of
wonderful clearness and thoroughly idiomatic. Its
effect on the German language was enormous;
the dialect in which it is written, a Middle German
dialect used in the chancery of Upper Saxony,
became gradually the norm for both Protestant
and Catholic writers, and is thus the basis of the
modern literary German.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06517a.ht
m March 2011
1400
England
The Great Vowel Shift begins.
http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-
history.htm November 2010
1362
England
The Statute of Pleading makes English the
official language in England. Parliament is
opened with its first speech delivered in English.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm
1350
England
Geoffrey Chaucer composes The Canterbury
Tales in Middle English. English becomes the
official language of the law courts and replaces
Latin as the medium of instruction at most
schools. John Wycliffe's English translation of the
Latin Bible is published. The Great Vowel Shift
begins, marking the loss of the so-called "pure"
vowel sounds (which are still found in many
continental languages) and the loss of the
phonetic pairings of most long and short vowel
sounds.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm March 2008
1314
Germany
By the time of Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian
(reigned 1314–1347), most imperial documents
were written in German, in particular when they
pertained to affairs in Southern Germany, and
documents he issued as duke of Bavaria were
nearly exclusively written in German.
http://www.lrz.de/~hr/lang/dt-hist.html
November 2010
1300
Italy
During the 14th century the Tuscan dialect began
to predominate, because of the central position
of Tuscany in Italy, and because of the
aggressive commerce of its most important city,
Florence. Moreover, of all the Italian dialects,
Tuscan departs least in morphology and
phonology from classical Latin, and it therefore
harmonizes best with the Italian traditions of Latin
culture.
http://italian.about.com/library/weekly/aa0606
99a.htm November 2010
1283
Thailand
Thailand gets its own alphabet.
http://timelnes.ws November 2006
1225
Italy
The Cantico delle Creature (Song of All
Creatures) by St. Francis of Assisi was probably
written in 1225 and is the earliest poetic work
written in Italy’s lyric vernacular. [Note: vernacular
Italian vs. Latin]
http://www.italianculture.net/english/language.
html April 2011
1150
England
The Middle English period saw the breakdown of
the inflectional system of Old English and the
expansion of vocabulary with many borrowings
from French and Latin. [1150-1500]
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm June 2007
1100
England
In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of
Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and
conquered England. The new conquerors (called
the Normans) brought with them a kind of French,
which became the language of the Royal Court,
and the ruling and business classes. For a period
there was a kind of linguistic class division,
where the lower classes spoke English and the
upper classes spoke French. In the 14th century
English became dominant in Britain again, but
with many French words added. This language is
called Middle English. It was the language of the
great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), but it would
still be difficult for native English speakers to
understand today. This was spoken from 1100
until roughly 1500.
http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-
history.htm November 2010
1000
England
Approximate date of the only surviving
manuscript of the Old English epic poem
Beowulf.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm December 2006
0940
Near East
Jewish philosopher Saadiah translates Hebrew
literature into Arabic.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu June 2007
0890
England
Alfred the Great supervises translation of Latin
works into Old English.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
0842
France
The so called Serment de Strasbourg is an oath
sworn by Charles the Bald (later Holy Roman
Emperor Charles II) and Louis the German in
solemnizing their alliance against their brother,
Emperor Lothair I. The chief political result of this
alliance was the Treaty of Verdun (843). Each
brother made his oath in the language of the
other’s followers, so that it might be understood.
The version used by Louis is often considered
the oldest known specimen of French.
http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/French/Te
xts/Period_02/0842-
Le_Serment_de_Strasbourg.htm November
2010
0800
England
King Alfred of Wessex (Alfred the Great) in the
late 9th century leads the Anglo-Saxons to victory
over the Vikings, translates Latin works into
English, and establishes the writing of prose in
English. He uses the English language to foster a
sense of national identity.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm August 2007
0700
England
Approximate date of the earliest manuscript
records of Old English.
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/historyt
imeline.htm January 2010
0500
Germany
Between the years 500 and 700 occurred the
High German soundshifting, which divided the
dialects of the South, High German, from those of
the North, Low German.
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06517a.ht
m March 2011
0450
England
The invading Germanic tribes spoke similar
languages, which in Britain developed into what
we now call Old English. Old English did not
sound or look like English today. Native English
speakers now would have great difficulty
understanding Old English. Nevertheless, about
half of the most commonly used words in Modern
English have Old English roots. The words be,
strong and water, for example, derive from Old
English. Old English was spoken from 450 until
around 1100.
http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-
history.htm November 2010
0450
England
Beginnings of Old English; it will last 700 years.
[450 to 1150]
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu January
2007
0200 BCE
Middle East
Aristophanes of Byzantium, and other scholars
from the Library of Alexandria, invent punctuation.
Before then, written words were strung into one
continuous line.
http://www.ciolek.com/GLOBAL/early.html#1
st century BCE August 2010
0216 BCE
Europe
Arriving in the Iberian Peninsula in 216 BC, the
Romans brought with them the Latin language,
from which all Romance languages descend.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_lang
uage June 2011
0500 BCE
Greece
The use of characters for writing spread to
Greece where vowels were added and the basis
for all Western alphabets was established. The
Greeks invented a reed pen.
http://timelines.ws March 2007
0550 BCE
Mediterranean
Across much of Mediterranean world, writing now
runs left to right.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu July 2007
0600 BCE
Roman Empire
First appearance of Latin.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
0600 BCE
Mediterranean
Mediterranean cultures agree on left-to-right
writing.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu March
2007
0650 BCE
Americas
Olmecs, a pre-Mayan people, invented first
writing system in the Americas.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu
0709 BCE
Babylonia
'The cuneiform (wedge-shaped) script, the
beginning of kingship' became the means of
advancing to high position of Babylon in 709 BC.
Innis, Empire, P. 59
0800 BCE
Near East
Moabite stone bears Phoenician alphabet.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2006
0800 BCE
Greece
Greeks improve Phoenician alphabet by adding
vowels; capital letters only.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu
1000 BCE
Near East
Alphabetic writing appears in various parts of the
Near East.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu December
2006
1000 BCE
Lebanon
The Ahiram Sarcophagus, discovered by the
French archaeologist Pierre Montet in 1923 in
Jbeil, Lebanon (the historic Byblos), is the oldest
known evidence of the Phoenician alphabet. It is
preserved in the National Museum of Beirut.
http://www.historyofscience.com/G2I/timeline/
index.php December 2006
1400 BCE
Anatolia
Anatolian hieroglyphs are an indigenous
hieroglyphic script native to western Anatolia
[now Turkey] first appearing on Luwian royal
seals from the 14th century BC, used to record
the Hieroglyphic Luwian language.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_writing
#Elamite_scripts May 2012
2300 BCE
Near East
Akkadian is the diplomatic language of the Near
East.
http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu August
2010
Language Timeline
Created with Timeline Maker Professional. Produced on 07 Jun 2012.