Jim's genie jottings

Website of the Fleming, Jolliffe, Kessey and Murphy families of New South Wales - and their forebears

07/04/2019 - A history of British languages

Language TreeThe United Kingdom was a multi-lingual area for most of its history. It is only in the last century of two that Modern English has been in widespread use. A series of new maps and diagrams by Ryan Starkey has just been released that illustrate the historical changes brilliantly.

Altogether there are two charts and sixteen maps, showing how the languages of Britain and Ireland have changed since the Roman rule of Britannia ended 1600 years ago! Click here to access this fantastic resource.

The tree chart at left illustrates how the various languages originated and how they developed and changed over time. This gives an idea of the variety and complexity of languages that have been spoken in the British Isles.

The chart below illustrates how this mix of languages has changed in the major parts of Britain over the centuries. It shows that Modern English has only become dominant over the last century or so.

Ryan Starkey's website also contains an interesting moving GIF that shows the ebbing and flowing of language use across the British Isles over 1600 years. It is well worth a look.

Language Chart