This text examines the origins and development of the English language. 2000 years ago, English was confined to a handful of savage tribes on the shores of north-west Europe. Today, in one form or another, it is spoken by a billion people around the world, of whom 350 million use it as their mother tongue. More widely scattered, written and spoken than any other language in history, English has become a global phenomenon. Based on the award-winning BBC TV series of the same name, this book tells the story of the English language, combining social history, literature and linguistics.