English 10: Writing Portfolio
Catholic Memorial High School
|The word king has had a strong
reign in the English language since the very
beginning. Many people if asked would say that the word king is only a few hundred years old when
it has actually been around since the ninth and tenth centuries, around when the language first
started. This word even existed before the English language did. This may be confusing but it
actually is possible. For example, this word could have come from any of the languages that English
was derived from such as Latin, and other West Germanic languages. This word is a perfect example
of our language’s history and how it has evolved over the years. The word king is first recorded in
the English language as “cyning”. The word king tells us that in many aspects the words of the
English language have changed a lot but the meanings of the words have not.
Many people if asked would say that the word king came to be in the English language when the first
British kings started to rule over the land. Many would also say and when asked did say that a king
is “a man who rules a country and has complete control over that country and the people in it”.
This is close to what the word originally meant. In the beginning the word meant “The male
sovereign ruler of an independent state, whose position was purely hereditary.” The title first
appeared with the names of the first Anglian and Saxon tribe leaders and clan leaders who invaded
Britain. This means that the word didn’t imply that the “king” had the same degree of power that we
associate with the word today. When I asked people what the first thing that came to their mind
when they heard the word king was, most said, something along the lines of, royalty. In fact one
person said the word royalty and all but one person’s word that came to mind had to do with royalty.
This means eighty percent had something to do with royalty and only twenty percent did not. I find
these results to be very interesting. It seems that because the word is easy to use, has an easy
definition, and is very easy to spell it will live on for a long time in the English language. I
believe that in the future the word will not change much in spelling or meaning and will not go
extinct. This word is an example of how definitions of words of the past can be different,
associated differently, and even similar to definitions we associate with words today.
Foreign language speakers were also asked about this word. When asked one hundred percent of the
surveyed found it to be an easy word to use in a sentence. All used the word correctly and used it
in the traditional sense. I think that because of these results it is pretty clear that the word
king will live on in the English language virtually unchanged through time and will survive even the
influence of other languages on ours.
The word king made some changes over time not so much in the meaning but the word itself and the
way it is used. For example, the word has changed in spelling a lot. It has gone from “cyning” to
“cing” to “kyng” then finally to our word today king with just a few more different spellings in
between. The word started out with the definition of “The male sovereign ruler of an independent
state, whose position was purely hereditary.” Today the most recent meaning is “A male sovereign or
monarch; a man who holds by life tenure, and usually by hereditary right, the chief authority over a
country and people.” The meanings are very similar however the word has been used differently.
In the beginning the word was only used to talk about a person mainly a man that was
king but soon took on new uses and according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) even at one time
referred to a women who acted like a king being called a king. After this the word became
frequently used in the naming of animals and even rarely with humans too. After this as it became
more common for people to have the name king the word was used to stress someone having a lot of
power. The final ad latest way the word was and is used is to express the great importance or value
that something has and how it dominates over other things. For example, “Cotton is king” or “Canada
is a nation where the best-seller is king”. This goes to show that even though the definition may
not have change much the use of the word can and has changed greatly.
Many authors if not all have used the word king. Some interesting authors however are William
Shakespeare, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sir Francis Bacon, Sir William Blackstone, George Orwell,
William Makepeace Thackeray, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, George Eliot, and John Milton. The OED
says that Shakespeare used the word in 1591 in Henry the sixth verse 66 when he said: “the lawful
heire of Edward King, the Third of that descent.” and in 1602 in Hamlet verse 123 when he said,
“There’s such Diuinity doth hedge a king.” The Oxford says that Longfellow also used the word when
he wrote, “… laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach was made in the king-row.” These are just
a few of the many authors that have used the word king and some in an interesting way.
Research was also done for new uses of this word on a website called EBSCO. No authors since 2000
have used the word in any unique ways. In fact the word mostly came up as a persons last name.
This just helps the theory that the word will not change much in years to come and that king will
not take on any more new meanings or uses.
A lot about the word king has changed in the many years since the English language was first
written. And the word I have chosen that has ruled over the language since the beginning is a
perfect example of how the language has changed. The word’s meaning has not changed much but the
words spelling and use has. This mirrors the English language because the language and spellings
have all changed yet the same words still exist and are used today.
Dear Mr. William Shakespeare,
American Football is called this because it was
invented in the United States of America.
Throughout the world as literature became
increasingly popular Great Britain emerged as a leader in