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Sound Change and the History of English

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Overview

This book addresses the question: why do sound changes happen when and where they do? Jeremy Smith discusses the origins of a series of sound changes in English. He relates his arguments to larger questions about the nature of explanation in history and historical linguistics, and examines the interplay between sound change and social change. Drawing on the latest research in the linguistics and history he shows how insights in one field illuminate the other.

After the opening chapter describing the book's approach and a general theoretical framework for the study of sound-change, the author discusses problems of evidence and considers the nature of phonological processes. He then presents detailed investigations of major sound-changes from three transitional periods: first, when English emerged as a language distinct from the other West Germanic varieties; secondly, during the transition from Old to Middle English; and thirdly during the time when Middle English evolved into Early Modern English.

The book is written with minimal use of jargon and offers clear definitions of complex notions. It will appeal to all serious students of English historical linguistics, from advanced undergraduate to researcher.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Smith here updates and substantially expands the treatment of langauge change he articulated in A Historical Study of English. This title has a broad focus and considers sound changes in Old English, Middle English, and modern English. This authoritative and accessible book should become a major resource for those interested in language. Recommended." —Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199563319
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Smith is Professor of English Philology in the University of Glasgow. His publications include Essentials of Early EnglishR (second edition, 2005), An Introduction to Middle EnglishR (with Simon Horobin, 2002), and An Historical Study of EnglishR (1996). He is a contributor to the Oxford History of EnglishR edited by Lynda Mugglestone (2006).

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Table of Contents

1. On Explaining Sound Change
2. On Evidence
3. Phonological Approaches and Processes
4. From Pre-English to Old English
5. From Old to Middle English
6. From Middle to Early Modern English
7. On the Historiography of Sound Change
Appendix
Suggestions for Further Reading
References
Index

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