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Is there Modern Engish & Old Fashioned English ?

Is there Modern Engish & Old Fashioned English ?


What is the difference between both of them ?


& Could you tell me about all English Language Classifications ?
Like . . . modern, old fashioned, slang . . . What else?



All languages naturally change over time and space as certain words go in and out of fashion, and social conditions (such as class and religion) also play a role in defining how people speak. 


So for example, how people spoke in the early 1900s in England is fairly different from today, and how people spoke during the 1800s is very different (when I say very different, this is of course relative... some languages change more than others). A lot of archaisms (old-fashioned words, phrases, extinct verb conjugations and spellings) mainly exist in proverbs, songs and nursery rhymes. A lot of these come from the Bible, such as "thou" (= "you", ie. "Thou shalt not kill"), or from proverbs from Shakespeare's time that are still widely-used, like "thy/thine" (= "your" ie. "To thine own self be true" ~ William Shakespeare). As the influence of the Church has diminished, so has the usage of archaic English which is used in the Bible.


You can still find old pubs or local food products with old-fashioned names that haven't changed over the years, thus giving them an authentic feel, like "Ye Olde Cornish Mead Wine" (my Dad bought me a bottle when he went to Cornwall, it tasted horrible! xD). If you were to go around speaking archaic English, people would think you were either funny or crazy :)


If I were to try and classify the English language, I'd do it according to region, class and formality rather than modern vs. archaic, as we all speak "modern" English and yet it differs greatly according to the parameters just mentioned.


In general terms, the development of English is classified into three periods: Old English, Middle English and Modern English:


Old English is more or less a different language from English, and one would have to learn it as a new language to understand it. The most famous work in Old English is Beowulf. Here is an extract from it. You will see what I mean:


The most famous work from the Middle English period is Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. This resembles modern English much more, but even this a modern speaker would struggle to understand in places without a special glossary.


As you can see from the Wikipedia article, Modern English is said to have started from before Shakespeare's time! However, it will also be agreed that many words have changed in meaning and usage since Shakespeare's time, so that it can be hard to understand Shakespeare for example without a lot of annotation. So you are right to talk about Modern English and old fashioned English. For me, even Austen or Dickens would be old fashioned (that is not used negatively), although there are not many words which a well educated modern speaker would not understand. The main difference is the nature of sentence construction, with sentences often being much longer, having many more subclauses in a work by say, Dickens, than might be found in a modern context. The other big difference is that today's English (as opposed to Modern English) has a lot more words due to the influence of technology and the introduction of foreign words in the English language.

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