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Brexit – What’s really happening?

On the 23rd June all of us woke up to realise that the unthinkable had actually happened… Britain had voted to exit the European Union. However, the voting margin was so close that many questioned and still question whether such a huge decision could go ahead without a second vote. Despite over 4 million people petitioning to have a second EU referendum, British parliament has stuck to their guns by saying there was no threshold on votes and that Brexit would go ahead. Not only did we wake up to the reality that Britain had drawn a line on its membership with the European Union but we also saw the country become drastically divided with the 52% of Brexit campaigners and eurosceptics thrilled to bits that Britain was a step closer to ‘independence’ and the other 48% ashamed and in utter disbelief this was actually happening.

It didn’t take long to see the after effects of Brexit… we also awakened to see that the pound was at an all time low, in fact the lowest it had ever been in 30 years and the stock markets were crashing because of it. Then, of course, there was the utter outrage that we saw from those strongly in favour of remaining, which went viral pretty darn quickly. Yes… I’m talking about the cyclist who approached a group of Eurosceptics to tell them off and ask them to reflect about what they had done to the country but my all-time favourite has to be Boris Johnson getting jeered at by a crowd of pro-EU campaigners outside his home on the 24th June.  And to add to the ridiculousness of the situation, we witnessed Nigel Farage’s emotive speech at the European Parliament. Not only did he rub Brexit in EU officials’ faces but he also made some pretty outrageous comments, such as ‘none of them had actually had a real job in their lives and claimed that EU countries would lose out more if they did not trade with the UK (Oh the irony of it all). This statement might have made Farage feel smug but all he got from the EU officials were snickers and disapproval. On the other hand, the Scottish MEP, Alyn Smith’s speech was received with great acclaim whilst at one point it seemed to have momentarily wiped the smug look off Farage’s face.

For Bremainers, this was mildly satisfying to watch but it was sad and scary to see that this decision was potentially causing the United Kingdom to fall apart. With Scotland SNP first minister, Nicola Sturgeon saying that Scotland would most likely hold a second independence referendum so that they could remain part of the European Union should Brexit go ahead and talks of Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland forming an Irish Union just so Northern Ireland could stay in the European Union. Is this really what Brexiters intended? It doesn’t seem like it because soon after the vote, many Britons were googling what the E.U. actually was (Yes you better believe it! Some people didn’t even know what they were voting for)! Many but not all, do regret voting to leave but what is done is done.

google-search-what-is-the-eu

As if the above wasn’t bad enough, on the 24th June the country also went into political turmoil when David Cameron resigned as PM after losing the campaign to stay in Europe and announcing the country needed a new leadership to go ahead with what would be a lengthy divorce process from Europe. The best of all was that 4 days later on the 28th, the pioneer of the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage, also stood down as UKIP leader, stating that he ‘wanted his life back.’ What a reason! Everyone behind Brexit was standing down just like rats abandoning a sinking ship! So obviously the pound took another pounding during the time it was leaderless (around two weeks). But when Theresa May was appointed as the second lady Prime Minister, people were filled with hope and the pound stabilised slightly. The hope instilled in many of the pro-European campaigners was short lived after Theresa May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit and we’ll make a success out of it’ speech. So her and her new government (including Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary) had the hefty task of steering Britain away from Europe and in a new direction from Wednesday 13th July 2016.

maySo what’s actually been happening since Theresa May came into power? Well, not much apart from lots of talks but other than this not much has advanced. We’re still in Europe (woohoo!) and they’re not even sure when to trigger Article 50 (the two-year process that will eventually divorce the UK from Europe). Scottish Independence Talks have also died down – probably because the current government is still none the wiser how to go about this whole Brexit situation. The thing is, Theresa May has suggested that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty could be triggered as early as the beginning of next year but this is still very unclear and uncertain, given the fact that there will be a series of elections occurring in Europe in 2017 (mainly French and German elections) and whether the UK goes forward with Brexit also depends on this. What Theresa May would probably be wanting to avoid next year is initiating Article 50 and then having other countries in the Eurozone not heed any attention to the negotiations that Brexit would ensue. So delaying Article 50 until later in 2017 may be a preferable option for May and her cabinet. However, many believe that Brexit will happen before 2020, seeing this is when the EU sets its new budget so it would be convenient for them to have the UK out of the Union by then not to mention the fact there will be general elections in the UK in 2020 and no one wants to have that on their backs when campaigning. So we know that the UK will most probably be out of the EU by 2020 but when exactly Article 50 will be triggered is still up in the air. Downing Street has been pretty invasive as to when it will be triggered that’s for sure and contrary to what Boris Johnson recently said, the article will not be evoked this year as May and her government are working on their negotiations.

eu-presidentAnd so they should be because can the UK really profit from the Single Market without being a member of the EU? Boris Johnson is adamant that the UK will strike a deal with the EU regarding staying in the single market. However, according to the EU Parliament, Britain will not be able to access the single market without free movement. In other words, they cannot close out EU nationals and then profit from the movement of goods that the EU has. Furthermore, it is unlikely the EU Parliament will lax on this, given the fact that they do want to give other EU state members any funny ideas but then could there be a middle ground where the UK is allowed to restrict migration but still remain in the EU and will this therefore, content the Britons enough for them to revoke Brexit? Who knows? Things are still just as uncertain as they were on the 24th June, the only difference is that we’re over the shock and the only thing we can do from now on is see how things pan out. The cards have been laid down and no one is sure what the next move will be, we just have to wait but whatever it be, it best be a well-thought move.

chess-what-move

Negotiating Brexit – probably as easy as the chess game in Harry Potter!

 

A timeline of the English language

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_englishOld 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.”

 elvishDid 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

shakespeare 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

modern_english 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

 late-modern-englishThe 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?

no-but-yeah

 

 

 

 

 

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