You really have to understand that most people of the British Isles couldn't read and write. English was mostly a spoken language. And it was quite different than the English we know today.
However, I think it is interesting to explore the runic alphabet and compare/contrast it with other existing alphabets of the times.
Evidence (see Wikipedia's article) suggests that runes were used by Anglo-Saxon England until the 10th century A.D.
However, as I wrote above, the lay people did not know how to read and write. Probably only monks used the runes.
a cool website about the history of Runes.
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, z [no "k" or "y" originally].
And, still only the monks and the well-educated were able to read and write the new Roman (Latin) alphabet.
Emperor Constantine issues the "Milan Edict" saying that Christianity was allowed to be freely practiced in all Roman territories.
By the time the Romans left in 410 A.D., there were a lot of Christians in the British Isles.
I mention this, because religion has had a HUGE effect upon the
language. Most English names are now from the Christian Bible.
British Independence from Rome, and the start of 500 years of civil wars
Saxon mercenaries hired to defeat the Irish, given land.
King Arthur defeats the Saxons (because the Saxons were getting unruly).
Vikings (Norsemen) invade the Isle. And, their presence lasts for many years.
Danes (from Denmark) invade England
Danes and Norwegians invade the Isle.
King Canute the Great of Denmark & Norway invade England and Saxon Wessex.
King Canute the Great becomes the King of all England, Wessex, Denmark and Norway.
The Norman conquest of England begins. (Normandy = pre-France)
and so on....
Finally England defeats France and becomes it's own kingdom.
King James had the Bible translated into common English (of the
Thus, the Bible became more accessible to the common people, who beforehand had to rely upon the interpretations of their local priests.
And of course, There are a few Arabic words and quite a few Dutch words.
As time progressed, English adopted words from languages all around the world.
Therefore, you might be interested in my English-Words-From-Other-Languages Page.
English, or what I would call "Pure English" is very
similar to Dutch, which is very similar to German, in fact it is thought that the first people on the isle of
Great Britain, came from Germanic tribes that migrated north along the Danube
River. But the English we speak today is so full of influence of other
languages that it makes a good lingua franka (for Europe, anyways; not for the
other parts of the world).