I didn't mean to watch this entire thing, but dammit if I didn't sit through all ten minutes (alright, technically 11 minutes and 20 seconds) of this fantastically witty, animated history of the English language.

Created by the good folks at The Open University's OpenLab, the animation is presented in ten "chapters," beginning with an overview of words brought to the English language by the Vikings and Anglo Saxons, and carrying right on through to the present, into a discussion on the future of English and its modern-day hybrids. Conveniently, the animation can also be viewed in its ten constituent chapters.

Via OpenLab:

Where did the phrase 'a wolf in sheep's clothing' come from? And when did scientists finally get round to naming sexual body parts? Voiced by Clive Anderson, this entertaining romp through 'The History of English' squeezes 1600 years of history into 10 one-minute bites, uncovering the sources of English words and phrases from Shakespeare and the King James Bible to America and the Internet. Bursting with fascinating facts, the series looks at how English grew from a small tongue into a major global language before reflecting on the future of English in the 21st century.

A wonderfully rich and creative look at the history of English and its frequently foreign origins. Its quick pace and densely animated style are sure to reward multiple-viewings.

[OpenLearn via Jennifer Oullette]