Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language / Edition 1

Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language / Edition 1

3.6 6
by Seth Lerer
     
 

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ISBN-10: 023113794X

ISBN-13: 9780231137942

Pub. Date: 04/03/2007

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Seth Lerer tells a masterful history of the English language from the age of Beowulf to the rap of Eminem. Though many have written about the evolution of English grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, only Lerer situates these developments within the larger history of the language, America, and literature. This edition features a new chapter on the influence of

Overview

Seth Lerer tells a masterful history of the English language from the age of Beowulf to the rap of Eminem. Though many have written about the evolution of English grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, only Lerer situates these developments within the larger history of the language, America, and literature. This edition features a new chapter on the influence of biblical translation and an epilogue on the relationship of English speech to writing. A unique blend of historical and personal narrative, Inventing English is the surprising tale of a language that is as dynamic and innovative as the people to whom it belongs.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231137942
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
04/03/2007
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
903,436
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents


A Note on Texts and Letter Forms     vii
Introduction: Finding English, Finding Us     1
Caedmon Learns to Sing: Old English and the Origins of Poetry     12
From Beowulf to Wulfstan: The Language of Old English Literature     25
In This Year: The Politics of Language and the End of Old English     39
From Kingdom to Realm: Middle English in a French World     54
Lord of This Langage: Chaucer's English     70
I Is as Ille a Millere as Are Ye: Middle English Dialects     85
The Great Vowel Shift and the Changing Character of English     101
Chancery, Caxton, and the Making of English Prose     115
I Do, I Will: Shakespeare's English     129
A Universal Hubbub Wild: New Words and Worlds in Early Modern English     141
Visible Speech: The Orthoepists and the Origins of Standard English     153
A Harmless Drudge: Samuel Johnson and the Making of the Dictionary     167
Horrid, Hooting Stanzas: Lexicography and Literature in American English     181
Antses in the Sugar: Dialect and Regionalism in American English     192
Hello, Dude: Mark Twain and the Making of the American Idiom     207
Ready for the Funk: African American English and Its Impact     220
Pioneers Through an Untrodden Forest: TheOxford English Dictionary and Its Readers     235
Listening to Private Ryan: War and Language     246
He Speaks in Your Voice: Everyhody's English     258
English Sounds and Their Representation     267
Glossary     271
References and Further Reading     277
Acknowledgments     289
Index     291

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Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Savagely_Cheerful More than 1 year ago
This was my textbook for a college class and I was impressed with how clear and straight-forward the writing is. After being dragged thriugh the desert of traditional textbooks, this was a breath of fresh air! I don't even plan on getting rid of it now that the class is over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The possibilities of this title caught my eye (ear?) while listening to Professor Lerer discuss it and its subject on C-Span. Reading it proved interesting - he provides a number of pieces of information and discusses a number of topics which I found new or unfamiliar - but it fell short of its promise. First, disclaimers to the contrary, a basic knowledge of linguistics is necessary to appreciate the information it provides. Second, the professor does indeed know his English, but fails repeatedly and annoyingly when he strays into Latin. Enough so that his invitation to sing along with him at the end of his first chapter prompted me to say, 'not if you keep hitting these sour notes.' Third, while he celebrates the changing character of modern English and invites his reader to do the same, his text is a standard popularization of the language in which he teaches, reflecting little of what he claims is going on. Perhaps because his book would otherwise never have seen print? Fourth and last, like many of his academic contemporaries, he shows himself ready and eager to question or challenge the mental worlds in which his predecessors thought about the language, but unable to question his own, e.g., his assumption about the fluidity of the language which cannot be 'regulated' by anyone. All in all, the book is an interesting way to pick up information about the history of English if you're unfamiliar with it, less so if you are and are familiar with the wider field of linguistics.