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

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...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (24) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $9.37   
  • Used (15) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

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.

Read More Show Less

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)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781843178835
  • Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2013
  • 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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

Part 1 The Celts and the Romans (40 BC to AD 450) 15

Continental Celtic versus Insular Celtic 16

The Ogham Alphabet 19

The Roman Invasion 21

Part 2 The Rise of Old English (AD 450 to 1066) 25

Angles, Saxons and Jutes 26

Anglo-Saxons 27

The Runic Alphabet 28

Old English and Christianity 28

The Old English Alphabet 31

The Lindisfarne Gospels 32

Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People 35

Viking Marauders: The Influence of Old Norse 35

Alfred the Great 39

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 42

The Riddles of the Exeter Book 43

Beowulf 48

Part 3 Middle English: Geoffrey Chaucer and All that (1066 to 1475) 53

A Language United? 54

The Domesday Book 56

Norman French: The Language of Class and Culture 59

The Middle-English Creole Hypothesis 61

The Ormulum 63

Wycliffe's Bible 65

Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales 68

The Decline of French 74

Chancery Standard 76

The Great Vowel Shift 78

Part 4 Early Modern English: A Leviathan of Language (1475 To 1670) 81

William Caxton and the Printing Press 83

Le Morte d'Arthur 87

William Tyndale's Bible Translations 91

Punctuation, Pronouns and Standardized Spelling 97

Tottel's Miscellany 100

The Inkhorn Debate 103

The Campaign for Plain English? 106

The Bard and the Renaissance Theatre 107

'False Friends' and Faux Pas 114

Sir Francis Bacon 117

The King James Bible 120

Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan 127

John Milton and Paradise Lost 131

Part 5 Late Modern English: Towards a Global Language (1670 To 1900) 137

Alexander Pope 140

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language 144

The Hammer Blows of Grammar 149

The Language of Industry 154

American English and Webster's Dictionary 156

The Ultimate Worde Horde: The Story of The Oxford English Dictionary 160

The Language of Empire 164

Part 6 Post-Modern English 167

Slang and Euphemisms 169

BBC English versus Estuary English 173

Singlish and Spanglish 176

Digital English 181

Select Bibliography 185

Index 187

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)