The origin of the English language

February 8, 2018

Students from Havant & South Downs College found out more about the origins of the English language when they visited the British Library on Friday, 2 February.

Ten students from both campuses travelled to London as part of the College’s Heritage Lottery Funded project to research the Portsmouth accent and dialect.

They participated in two workshops to give them an understanding of the origins and development of the English language and the way it is spoken in different ways across the United Kingdom.

Dialectologist Jonnie Robinson, head of Spoken English, highlighted many regional differences, pointing out, for example, that the word used for footwear in PE is plimsolls, pumps or dabs depending on where you live in the country.

He also talked about what is called ‘The Bath Vowel’, the elongation of the vowel sound in a word such as bath that distinguishes accents in the south from those further north.

Lecturer Steve Murray said: “The trip was helpful in giving the students broader context relating to the development of language and its relationship to power.

“The workshops were interesting and informative and have provided the starting point for our own investigation into the origins of the Portsmouth accent and the way it has been influenced by migrants attracted by the dockyard.”

If you are interested in the English language, why not look at courses by clicking here.