November has always been a historical month in Britain and across the world but a couple of things has happened this November that will forever leave it’s mark in our memories as well as in the memories of those from generations to come. Below is a timeline of what has happened in November’s throughout history.
All Saint’s Day – 1st November
All Saint’s Day is a holy festival held annually on the 1st November. There is a range of other names given to this day such as, Solemnity of All Saints or the Day of All Saints. It was referred to as Hallowmas by Shakespeare and is still known as Hallow’s Day to some people today. Perhaps this has something to do with All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween) the night before. The church honours the saints or those who have been beatified on this day and it is believed that this has been celebrated since the beginning of the 8th century to coincide with the Celtic festival, Samhain on 31st October. The Celts believed that the barrier between the world of living and dead is thinnest on this time and for this reason many cultures around the world dedicate this day to remembering loved ones and those who have passed away. For instance, the core of the festival is still very much intact in the Mexican culture, where they celebrate Dia de los Muertos from the 31st October to 2nd November. While on one side of the world, Mexicans make elaborate and meaningful displays to honour the souls of their departed loved ones, be they young or old. On the other side of world… in Britain, All Saint’s Day is pretty much a day that the Brits use to get over the hang over after Halloween. Not quite as meaningful but Halloween is pretty eventful with lots of pumpkins, trick or treating and the customary party. We at WCE always ensure to take part in the commercialised festival with our annual pumpkin carving competition.
Remember, Remember, the fifth of November. This day has been inscribed into British History since 1605 (that’s 410 years)! There are also various names attributed to this day, most commonly of which are Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night. If you’re wondering what/ who on earth Guy Fawkes is then read on. It all started after Queen Elizabeth I’s death two years prior, in 1603. Catholics who had been persecuted in England during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign were hopeful upon her death, that her successor, King James I would show more tolerance to the religion. After all, King James’ mother was a devout Christian, so why wouldn’t he? However, King James was the first King of Scotland that became the King of England too and he didn’t want to cause outrage among the English, so Catholics continued to be persecuted. This led a group of 13 Catholics to take drastic measures. Their plan: to kill the king by blowing up parliament. It is believed that when the day to execute their plan was drawing closer, one of the 13 had a change of heart and decided to warn one of his friends to stay away from parliament. Ironically, by him betraying his co-conspirators and his friend’s betrayal, the message soon reached the ears of the King and the plot backfired. It was the mastermind, Guy Fawkes, who was found in the cellar of parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder. He was arrested, tortured for a confession and consequently executed. The King told the public that they were to set bonfires to proclaim the King’s safety. Every year since then, the English celebrate this with firework displays and by burning a straw figure representing Guy Fawkes (known as an Effigy) on a bonfire.
Another curious fact that you might want to know, is that the Queen only steps into parliament once a year and during this day, before she enters the Palace of Westminster, a guard goes down to check the cellar. Some may think that that’s extreme paranoia but it’s a tradition that has followed through until this very day.
8th November 1895
Most people won’t know this unless they’re really geeky and have awesome general knowledge but Professor Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays at Wurzburg University on this day in 1895. Quite important stuff and something that should be remembered and possibly commemorated too. I mean, what would medicine be like without it? In fact, in 2009, 50,000 British museum visitors voted the ‘x-ray machine’ as the discovery that has had the greatest impact in science. Roentgen’s breakthrough won him the first ever Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
The 11th November is morecommonly known as Remembrance Day. It is also known as Armistice Day. The word ‘armistice’ is another word for truce where two sides stop fighting a war. Armistice or Remembrance Day refers to the day in 1918 on which an agreement was signed in Compiègne to end the fighting on the Western Front and put an end to World War I. The armistice was effective from the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For this reason, the British hold a 1 minute silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th November annually to pay tribute those who served their country now and then. You may have noticed that many British people wear a poppy upon their breast and buses also display a poppy. The symbol of the poppy has been used since 1921 and it represents those who were lost at war. You can buy a poppy yourself to raise money to go towards the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal and help families and veterans of the past and the present.
13th November 2015
I won’t be too lengthy to explain the tragic events of this day, as this is something the whole world is aware of and quite frankly, this event evoked fear among the public across the world but mainly in France and Belgium. The world is currently on alert to any further terrorist attacks. It is two weeks since 130 innocent people were massacred in the French capital and France has paid tribute to the victims of the attack by draping French flags over their windows. This will be another event that has been etched into worldwide history – and not for the nicest of reasons.
29th November 2015
This will be the first day of advent and you know what that means… ONLY 24 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! Have you brought your advent calendar yet to count down the days? On this day, it is officially acceptable to put up Christmas decorations. It’s time to get festive as we approach the most wonderful time of the year! Keep your eyes peeled for Christmas offers and our Mini Christmas Concert next week!
The history of the English language began with the arrival of certain Germanic tribes onto the British shores from mainland Europe (mainly from Northern Germany and where we now call, Denmark) in the 5th century. Before these tribes stepped down onto British land, the language spoken by natives was Celtic. However, these inhabitants were pushed back to the west and north (primarily Wales and Scotland but Ireland also). The tribes were known as the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The Angles coincidently came from ENGLALAND and their language was ‘Englisc’ – sounds very similar to what we call England and English. These tribes did indeed mark the beginning of a complex linguistic transition of the Englisc language to what would eventually become the English we know today. This blog takes you back in time through history so that you can understand the language that torments you so with its various complexities and grammatical exceptions:
OLD ENGLISH 450 – 1150
Old English is also know to as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ English because it was the mixture of the similar languages that the individual tribes spoke at the time. Old English looks and sounds nothing like the English we speak today, and every native speaker would have difficulty in trying to understand English language. Check out the following extract from the Aelfric’s “Homily on St. Gregory the Great”, a famous story about how the pope sent missionaries to help convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity after seeing them sell young boys as slaves in Rome.
“Eft he axode, hu ðære ðeode nama wære þe hi of comon. Him wæs geandwyrd, þæt hi Angle genemnode wæron. Þa cwæð he, “Rihtlice hi sind Angle gehatene, for ðan ðe hi engla wlite habbað, and swilcum gedafenað þæt hi on heofonum engla geferan beon.”
Did you understand any of that? Sure, you can still find some words that are identical in spelling to their modern equivalents such as: Of, he, him, for, and, on etc. but the rest looks more like ‘elfish’ language from the Lord of the Rings or something. Although, modern English looks nothing like the above, many words still have Old English roots. For instance, the words: habbað (have), swilcum (such), heofonum (heaven), and beon (be).
The modern English version of the above extract for anyone who wants to understand what it actually says is as follows:
“Again he [St. Gregory] asked what might be the name of the people from which they came. It was answered to him that they were named Angles. Then he said, “Rightly are they called Angles because they have the beauty of angels, and it is fitting that such as they should be the angels’ companions in heaven.”
MIDDLE ENGLISH 1150 – 1500
Possibly the best time period of the English language (in my opinion, ed.). This time period was largely influenced by the French and the Latin brought over by the French. This made some significant changes to the phonology and grammatical structure of the English language, including the loss or reduction of some inflections. This was a period when Chaucer brought back the English language through his literature in a country where French and Latin were the languages adopted by the upper classes and educated. He is known as the father of English Literature and we can thank him for legitimising vernacular Middle English – without him we could all be speaking French. Read some of Chaucer’s work below and you will notice that much of our sentence structures still mirror those of Chaucer’s time:
Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
- Befelle, that, in that seson on a day,
- In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
- Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
- To Canterbury with devoute corage,
- At night was come into that hostelrie
- Wel nine and twenty in a compagnie
- Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
- In felawship, and pilgrimes were they alle,
- That toward Canterbury wolden ride.
- The chambres and the stables weren wide,
- And wel we weren esed atte beste.
- And shortly, whan the sonne was gon to reste,
- So hadde I spoken with hem everich on,
- That I was of hir felawship anon,
- And made forword erly for to rise,
- To take cure way ther as I you devise.
So, it’s not as indistinct as Old English but it’s still not easy for a native English speaker to completely grasp nowadays. Still, we’ve got to love a bit of Chaucer.
EARLY MODERN ENGLISH 1500 – 1800
Towards the end of the Middle English period, there was a sudden change in pronunciation, where vowels were pronounced shorter and shorter (otherwise known as the Great Vowel Shift). The influence of Latin also had a stabilising effect on the English spelling. Furthermore, from the 16th century onwards, the British came into contact with people from around the world through colonialism; this added some new interesting words to the English lexicon. In fact the first English dictionary was first published in 1604. With the increased printing standardising the language and making books readily available to the public, people became more literate. The greatest English language writer wrote in Early Modern English – yes, twas Shakespeare!
LATE MODERN ENGLISH 1800 – Present
The main difference between early and late modern English is the increase of vocabulary that came about was due to the Industrial Revolution and invention of new technology. In addition to this, at the beginning of the Late Modern English period, the English empire covered around a quarter of the world meaning that we got some more fancy foreign words from other countries to add to our language. The English language continues to change and develop every day, some might say that the standard of English is changing for the worse and that somehow we are seeing deterioration in the standard of modern day English that is vastly influenced by technology and laziness. Can we safe the sophistication of the English language? Or will we all be speaking like Vicky Pollard clones in years to come?