Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Headed

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In Alphabet to Email Naomi Baron takes us on a fascinating and often entertaining journey through the history of the English language, showing how technology - especially email - is gradually stripping language of its formality.
Drawing together strands of thinking about writing, speech, pedagogy, technology, and globalization, Naomi Baron explores the ever-changing relationship between speech and writing and considers the implications of current language trends on the future of written English.
Alphabet to Email will appeal to anyone who is curious about how the English language has changed over the centuries and where it might be going.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Naomi Baron has succeeded in writing a fascinating yet erudite, and quite compact, history that draws together threads from a bewildering variety of sources.' - Pam Le Gassick, Society of Indexers

'At one level, Alphabet to Email is a fascinating chronological history of written English; at another, it is a carefully argued case for preserving the distinctions between oral and written language.' - Ilana Snyder, Journal of Sociolinguistics

David Crystal
Alphabet to Email is one of those rare publishing hybrids: scholarly yet accessible, historically full yet currently relevant, theoretically aware yet practically illustrated. It refreshed the parts that other books on the history of writing have not so far been able to reach.
Written in a lively, anecdotal style, it should be useful in undergraduate collections and enjoyed by its intended audience of linguists, teachers of composition and TESOL, computer specialists, and the educated lay person.
Boston Sunday Globe
Offers a broad, and broadly informal, overview of the evolution of literacy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415186858
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Pages: 332
  • Lexile: 1490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi S. Baron is Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Department of Language and Foreign Studies at American University. She is the author of five previous books about language, including Growing Up With Language: How children learn to talk (Addison-Wesley, 1992).

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
1 Robin Hood's Retort 1
2 Legitimating Written English 26
3 Who Writes, Who Reads, and Why 48
4 Setting Standards 95
5 The Rise of English Comp 143
6 Commas and Canaries 167
7 What Remington Wrought 197
8 Language at a Distance 216
9 Why the Jury's Still Out on Email 247
10 Epilogue: Destiny or Choice 260
Notes 270
Bibliography 285
Name Index 305
Subject Index 311
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