Old English is the term generally used to refer to the period of the English language extending, approximately, from 600 to 1150. These dates are arbitrary, because linguistic changes do not happen overnight. However, they are useful pointers, on the one hand, to the developing differences between the Continental Germanic linguistic varieties brought over by the Germanic tribes who conquered Britain in the fifth century and, on the other hand, to the considerable changes in terms of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary that the language underwent in the transition from the Old to the Middle English period.
Scholars commonly identify two branches in fifth-century Germanic: East Germanic (spoken by the Goths; this branch is nowadays extinct) and North-West Germanic; the latter is said to
Citation: Pons-Sanz, Sara. "The Old English Language". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 December 2011 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=17654, accessed 03 December 2023.]