The story of the English language - in 10 funny sessions

Attention linguists! Prepare for your tutorial on the History of the English Language as presented by OpenLearn. The ten one-minute video sessions are narrated by Clive Anderson and illustrated by animated line drawings. Get your pencils - and senses of humor - ready.


  1. Anglo-Saxon      A look at what words the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings bought to the English language. Read more Anglo-Saxon
  2. The Norman Conquest      In 1066, William the Conqueror invaded Britain and bought with him fancy French words to add to the English language.
  3. Shakespeare      This video tells us that Shakespeare invented over 2000 new words and phrases like eyeball, anchovy and puppy.
  4. The King James Bible      Illustrating that in 1611, the new King James Bible was created and gave us many famous phrases.
  5. The English of Science      In the 17th Century, new science words were being created like acid, ovary and tonsil.
  6. English and Empire      Exploring how the British Empire spread across the world bringing back many new words and phrases.
  7. The Age of the Dictionary      A look at how lexicographers started creating the Dictionary of the English Language to ensure that everyone spelt words correctly and knew their correct definition.
  8. American English      Learn about American-English and how some American words were actually English to start with.
  9. Internet English      Exploring the expansion of internet language, with abbreviations like lol and btw.
  10. Global English      The future of English and the many hybrids that have been created. Should we still call it English?