English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers from various parts of northwest Germany. Initially, Old English was simply a group of dialects reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms. One of these dialects, West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. The original Old English language was subsequently influenced by two successive waves of invasion. The first was by speakers of languages in the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family, who colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The second wave was of the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke a variety of French. These two invasions caused English to become "mixed" to some degree (though it was never a truly mixed language in the linguistic sense of the word; mixed languages arise from the cohabitation of speakers of different languages, who develop a hybrid tongue for basic communication.) Cohabitation with the Scandinavians resulted in a significant grammatical simplification and lexical enrichment of the Anglo-Frisian core of English; the later Norman occupation led to the grafting onto that Germanic core a more elaborate layer of words from the Romance branch of European languages; this new layer entered English through use in the courts and government. Thus, English developed into a "borrowing" language of considerable suppleness and huge vocabulary.
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