Landmarks in the History of the English Language

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Landmarks in the History of the English Language identifies twelve key landmarks spread throughout the language’s history to provide a lively and interesting introduction to the history of English.

Each landmark focuses on one individual associated with the key moment which helps to engage the reader and provide the history of the language with a ‘human face’. The landmarks range from Alfred the Great and his attempts to further English through its use in education, to the spread of English worldwide and the work of the linguist Braj Kachru. The final chapter takes a look into the future through the writings of David Crystal. Whilst focusing on the specific events and people, the book includes a broad outline of the history of English so that the reader can locate each landmark within the language’s history.

Written in a student-friendly style and with short activities available online, this book provides a brief introduction for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well an engaging supplementary text for those studying modules on the history of English on degrees in English Language, Linguistics and Literature. General readers with an interest in the English language and its history will also find the book engaging.

Author(s): Keith Johnson
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2024

Language: English
Pages: 160

Half Title
1 English, the ancestral trail: William Jones and the Indo-European family of languages
2 Putting English on the map: Alfred the Great and the establishment of English
Interlude 1 What OE was like: The nun, the devil and a lettuce
3 Simplifying English: Samuel Moore and the case of the disappearing inflections
4 Standardising written English: Henry V and Chancery English
Interlude 2 What ME was like: A gat-toothed wife
5 Enriching English: Thomas Elyot, Thomas Wilson and a proliferation of new words
6 ‘Worshipping the English’: Richard Mulcaster and his Elementarie
Interlude 3 What EModE was like: Hands red with blood
7 Fixing the language: Samuel Johnson and his dictionary
8 Crossing the Atlantic: Noah Webster and American English
9 Going beyond the standard: William Barnes and the Dorset dialect
10 A ‘dictionary of all English’: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary
11 The spread of English: Braj Kachru and his concentric circles
12 What next?: David Crystal and the future of English