In life nothing comes out of thin air, everything has a core root to which it can be traced back to. The same applies to languages.
A language is a process that passes through many channels to be the language spoken today. This is amazing because a language that
undergoes changes is alive. Just as we have the Bantu language family where African languages such as Oshiwambo evolved from, the English language has a family too. It is called the Proto-Indo- European language family. Most of us associate English with
England, which is not necessarily wrong, but English was not born there (did not originate there).
Throughout the article I will briefly tell you about the origin of English Language and English asma lingua franca in Namibia today.
The English language traces its original roots back to the Neolithic (late Stone Age) people known as the Indo-Europeans or
Proto-Indo-Europeans, who lived in Eastern Europe and Central Asia around 5000 BC.
This is however not the precise time as different hypotheses suggest different dates. The Indo-European family is actually
a large, widespread family of languages that contains about 140 languages, which are classified into 11 groups.
One of these languages is Germanic, where English developed from. Don’t then think that it jumped from Germanic right into
English, as there were other languages in between. One branch was that of West- Germanic which evolved into Anglo-Frisian that
flowed into Old English.
If this article was written in Old English we wouldn’t be able to read and understand it as now in the 21st century we use Modern English. Did you know the word “stān” is what we now know as “stone” today. Some sentences would read like “my life is run
his compass” where today one should say “my life has run its compass”. Would you really understand this: “… and that it prouffyte to alle them that shal rede or here redde, and may increase in them virtue and expelle uyce and synne that by the ensanmple of the holy
sayntes amend theyr lyuyng here in thys shorte lyf that by their merytes they and I may come to everllastyng and blysse in heuen.
This is only to give few simple examples. All these transitions in English were brought about by the obstacles and influences that the
They may be considered as internal factors that changed the language lexicon, phonology, morphology and syntax, as well as external factors which include the social, political, technological and cultural factors. To avoid confusion with the English family, think of a normal family (it started with your great grandparents and forefathers and the channel goes on until it reaches you). Thus language is also a process!
One may wonder why this sudden interest, but remember English is now a lingua franca in Namibia. “A language may be
important as a lingua franca in a country or region whose diverse populations would otherwise be unable to communicate.”
This statement holds critical importance in the Namibia context. Hook up two folks in Windhoek for the first time, one
from the north (Oshiwambo monolingual) and one hailing from the south (Afrikaans monolingual). You can foretell
the disaster! The crucial part of the English language in Namibia is on the education sector.
Namibia with its wide diversity of indigenous languages, English has made tertiary education a smooth ride. Equally significant,
English has made communication possible in our multilingual society. In terms of business matters English is the commercial
language connecting Namibia with the rest of the world. Isn’t that essential enough to pry into where this so called “English
language” derives from? I know it arouses curiosity in you but I cannot give it all at once. This is just a tip of an ice
berg! To feed your curiosity, do some studies in English with the University of Namibia.
* Monika Nakale is a Master of Arts in English Studies student in the Department of Language and Literature Studies, Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Namibia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org