When Did People in the UK Start Speaking English?

26 April 2018, 17:39

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Mystery Hour Question

If I went back in time, how far would I be able to go before I could not understand what people said to me? Alex, Hornchurch

Name: Richard, Acton

Qualification: Renaissance Man

Answer: Basing the answer on English literature, roughly the 13th Century.

Going back through time, most find reading 16th century Shakespeare relatively easy.

They can then read 14th Century Chaucer with difficulty.

The first time the English parliament met was in 1362.

Before the Norman invasion in 1066 people spoke either Anglo-Saxon (which was a mixture of Danish and German), or Celtic, an ancient form of the Welsh language.

So we can narrow down the area where English became vaguely similar to our modern language to before 1362 and some point after the Norman Invasion.