A Cultural History of the English Language (The English Language Series)
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This book presents a new interpretation of the history of English. Access to large corpuses of English has allowed scholars to assess the minutiae of linguistic change with much greater precision than before, often pinpointing the beginnings of linguistic innovations in place and time. The author uses the findings from this research to relate major historical events to change in the language, in particular to areas of linguistic inquiry that have been of particular importance in recent years, such as discourse analysis, stylistics and work on pidgins and creoles. The book does not attempt to chronicle changes in syntax or pronunciation and spelling, but is designed to complement a corpus-based study of formal changes. The story of English is brought up to the late 1990s to include, amongst other things, discussions of Estuary English and the implications of the information superhighway.
the Black Death in 1349, and that since then the situation had changed again. In 1385, 'in al J)e gramerscoles of Engelond childern leuej) Frensch, and construeb> and lurnej) an Englysch'. From 1362 English was used in courts of law, all legal cases being tried in English. However, English was not used consistently in recording the proceedings of courts of law until the eighteenth century (Prins, 1952: 27). English was used in the formal opening of parliament in 1363. The earliest known testament
English in place of Latin, and from their deliberate efforts to bring change about. The shift of power from the aristocracy to the middle class is reflected in the eighteenth-century concept of politeness (chapter 9), which in turn led to the 'fixing' of standard written English (see section 9.5). The increasing economic power of the working class led to the concept of the Queen's English (see section 10.5) and a narrowed definition of acceptable pronunciation (see section 10.4). In the late
proceedings' (Hill, 1993: 117). These metaphors are different in kind from everyday metaphors such as John is a fox or literary metaphors such as all the world's a stage, because common-sense beliefs, assumptions and associations are insinuated along with the overt comparison. Winstanley not only equated monarchy and tyranny, but also took for granted that it was wrong to widen the gulf between rich and poor. Goodwin took for granted that the actions of the proud and lofty were contrary to the
forms have been used in different social situations has continued to change. New words and expressions have continued to be introduced, and old ones have changed their meaning. Archaic forms continue to become obsolete, although they may be sustained beyond their natural span by prescriptive rules. For example, many people must have a vague feeling that they ought to use the old subjunctive in the phrase /// were you, when what comes naturally is if I was you. Similarly some old dual forms still
forms of the RP accent with speaking skills.1 It is easy to talk about accents, and more difficult to identify the new speech skills and speaking styles that broadcasters have had to develop. Early broadcasters predominantly made use of two styles, namely public speaking and reading aloud, but the microphone rendered the traditional styles obsolete. Public speakers had to find a way of addressing a mass audience as though they were talking to an individual. Readers operated within new