Fall 2018


The Fabulous Origins of English Words (55+)

Where does the English language come from? What are the origins of our wonderful words, including those that make up Canadian English, eh? In this course we’ll explore the remarkable rise and spread of English around the world, focusing on its rich vocabulary.

First we will examine the mother tongue of most western languages, Indo-European. Then we’ll investigate the Celtic roots of English. We will also study the impact of the Germanic and French invasions of England to see how English grew from the merger of these two rich sources. Together we will learn how the magnificent English Bible and the works of Shakespeare reveal the beauty and power of English, now established as the most widely spoken language in the world.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2017.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Graham Forst $115.00 0 Join Waitlist

What will I learn?

Week 1: The Roots of English

English is part of a great family of languages called “Indo-European,” which includes, among many others, German, French, Russian and Greek. In this class we explore the roots of English in Indo-European, discuss the nature of the first language spoken in England, Celtic, and examine the impact of the Roman invasion in the mid-first century CE.

Week 2: Anglo-Saxon

From mid-5th to early 7th centuries CE, England was invaded by Germanic peoples, whose language became the source of English. This class traces the history of the Germanic (and later, Viking) invasions and their influence on the development of English.

Week 3: 1066 and the Norman Invasion

The English vocabulary doubles almost overnight, as French supplies us with all our words for government and administration, military ranks, legal terms, religious phrases, morality, and art and architecture. We also explore the poetry of Chaucer and the language we call “Middle English.”

Week 4: Middle English Gives Way to Modern English

We consider the effect of Shakespeare and the King James Bible on English in the mid-Renaissance. The influence of Greek vocabulary is also discussed.

Week 5: England rules the words! 

We look at English in the 17th and 18th centuries, including the massive importation of “loan words” from Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Hindi and many others.

Week 6: Canadian English, eh?

Our unique spellings, vocabulary, pronunciations…  and the “Wet-Coast Quiz”: can you pass it? 

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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