The Story of English: How an Obscure Dialect Became the World's Most-Spoken Language

The Story of English: How an Obscure Dialect Became the World's Most-Spoken Language

by Joseph Piercy
     
 

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The fascinating story of how the English language has developed over the last 15 centuries

Illustrating the compelling history of how the relatively obscure dialects spoken by tribes from what are now Denmark, the Low Countries, and northern Germany became the most widely spoken language in the world, this history also explores how that

Overview

The fascinating story of how the English language has developed over the last 15 centuries

Illustrating the compelling history of how the relatively obscure dialects spoken by tribes from what are now Denmark, the Low Countries, and northern Germany became the most widely spoken language in the world, this history also explores how that language evolved during the last two millennia. Chronologically ordered and divided into six main sections covering pre-Roman and Latin influences, the ascent of Old English, and the succession of Middle English, Early Modern, and then Late Modern English to today's global language, this fascinating book also explores such factors as the history of the printing press, the works of Chaucer, the evolution of The American Dictionary of the English Language—commonly known as Webster's—and the magisterial Oxford English Dictionary, to the use of slang in today's speech and the coming of electronic messaging: language for a postmodern world. This is the perfect gift for any lover not just of English, but of the history and development of language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Piercy (Slippery Tipples) offers a handy pocket guide to the way the English language conquered the world. Moving chronologically, he opens with a cursory look at how, despite four centuries of Roman rule, the native Celts resisted speaking Latin, before "Anglisc" emerges circa AD 450 with the arrival of the next invaders, the Angles and Saxons. "Olde" English took a big leap forward during the reign of Alfred the Great (871-899)—Oxford founder, literacy promoter, and defender against Viking attacks. When the Normans brought French across the Channel, the aristocracy adopted it despite the formalization of the English alphabet by an industrious monk in 1011. In the 1370s Chaucer, with his Canterbury Tales, memorialized Middle English, a hybrid of French, Anglo Saxon, and Old Norse. Between colonization and the Industrial Revolution, by Queen Victoria's reign a quarter of the planet became English speakers. Organized in bite-size chapters peppered with sidebars and quotations Piercy closes with today's robust, slang-infused English. While the topics of BBC English and colonial dialects may be lost on American readers, puzzle lovers will be pleased to discover one of the earliest extant books in English: an anthology of poems and riddles entitled the Exeter Book. (June)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781843178835
Publisher:
Michael O'Mara Books
Publication date:
04/01/2013
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Piercy is the author of Are You Turning into Your Dad? and Slippery Tipples: A Guide to Weird and Wonderful Spirits & Liqueurs.

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