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A Biography of the English Language

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The second edition of A Biography of the English Language continues to examine the structure of language. The textbook discusses three important issues: languages and language change are systematic; the inner history of a language is profoundly affected by its outer history of political and culural events; and the English of the past has everywhere left its traces on prese The second edition of A Biography of the English Language continues to examine the structure of language. The textbook discusses three important issues: languages and language change are systematic; the inner history of a language is profoundly affected by its outer history of political and culural events; and the English of the past has everywhere left its traces on present-day English. By uncovering the language's past, one can better communicate with it.


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The second edition of A Biography of the English Language continues to examine the structure of language. The textbook discusses three important issues: languages and language change are systematic; the inner history of a language is profoundly affected by its outer history of political and culural events; and the English of the past has everywhere left its traces on prese The second edition of A Biography of the English Language continues to examine the structure of language. The textbook discusses three important issues: languages and language change are systematic; the inner history of a language is profoundly affected by its outer history of political and culural events; and the English of the past has everywhere left its traces on present-day English. By uncovering the language's past, one can better communicate with it.

30 review for A Biography of the English Language

  1. 5 out of 5

    S.

    Extremely boring, extremely fascinating. I've never been so intrigued while snoring. It's like reading your own family history--not particularly impressive, but it's your own and every minutia is grand because it's so much a part of your day to day existence. Extremely boring, extremely fascinating. I've never been so intrigued while snoring. It's like reading your own family history--not particularly impressive, but it's your own and every minutia is grand because it's so much a part of your day to day existence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Owen Daniel

    It was a good read, but I felt unqualified to read it... would help if one knows the International Phonetic Alphabet by heart (or has a reference book close to hand at all times)... I did learn some stuff tho, and don't regret reading it... It was a good read, but I felt unqualified to read it... would help if one knows the International Phonetic Alphabet by heart (or has a reference book close to hand at all times)... I did learn some stuff tho, and don't regret reading it...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    This was for one of my favorite classes (probably EVER) and I'm so sad it's over. This was for one of my favorite classes (probably EVER) and I'm so sad it's over.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Hestand

    This book was okay for a textbook and did manage to provide a decent amount of information. There are, however, at least occasional inaccuracies. For instance, the author very much misunderstands the meaning of “bless your heart” since it’s described as a positive statement. That’s certainly a misinterpretation. I also don’t like the passages that address the reader since they needlessly presume the views that someone reading the book might have.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anatha

    8/26/2011 - I'm treating this as a textbook for my History of the English Language class, and we're officially beginning readings today. :) Whether I like this book or not, it's my constant companion until the end of the semester. 12/1/2011 - Though we did not get to go through the entire book this semester for class, I intend to use it for future reference as I pursue my various degrees. It is informative, but I hardly think that it's as readable as an introductory linguistics book. Several top 8/26/2011 - I'm treating this as a textbook for my History of the English Language class, and we're officially beginning readings today. :) Whether I like this book or not, it's my constant companion until the end of the semester. 12/1/2011 - Though we did not get to go through the entire book this semester for class, I intend to use it for future reference as I pursue my various degrees. It is informative, but I hardly think that it's as readable as an introductory linguistics book. Several topics were heady and difficult to understand due to unhelpful explanations, but I managed to get the hang of it. The external history = fascinating. The internal history = fascinating in a different light, but certainly cumbersome to those that could care less. I found it fascinating but even had to trudge through it at times. However, I'm glad that I read what I did, and if anyone should have any basic questions concerning the origin or certain characteristics of the English language, I'd be happy to recommend them a Biography of the English Language.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aurel Mihai

    As a textbook, A Biography makes a great read. It isn't just a dry analysis of the language. It places the English language in context among other languages that evolved with it. It gives a good amount of related history. There are many, many fun and interesting facts interspersed throughout the book. As casual reading, A Biography is sometimes tough to swallow. There are a few long stretches of highly technical grammar lingo and after referring to the glossary four or five times I just gave up As a textbook, A Biography makes a great read. It isn't just a dry analysis of the language. It places the English language in context among other languages that evolved with it. It gives a good amount of related history. There are many, many fun and interesting facts interspersed throughout the book. As casual reading, A Biography is sometimes tough to swallow. There are a few long stretches of highly technical grammar lingo and after referring to the glossary four or five times I just gave up and skipped a few pages. I still can't keep straight all the vowel sounds and the phonetic alphabet. I suppose that for somebody who studies this sort of thing regularly it isn't an issue, but the book does seem to try to fill that odd gap between a hard textbook and a fun stroll through history for casual amateurs of the language. I took it in very small chunks, interspersed it with easier reads and tended to skip bits that dragged on. The vast majority of the book is well worth reading even casually.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jamilah

    A little tedious to read at times, but full of fascinating information nonetheless. (I especially loved the little anecdote about the nickname the French gave the British during the Hundred-Years' War... XD) This book covers Early English, Futhorc, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Present-Day English. I didn't know that we had so many French words in English. o_O A little tedious to read at times, but full of fascinating information nonetheless. (I especially loved the little anecdote about the nickname the French gave the British during the Hundred-Years' War... XD) This book covers Early English, Futhorc, Middle English, Early Modern English, and Present-Day English. I didn't know that we had so many French words in English. o_O

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    The history of spoken English and what dialect, pidgin and creole mean. It ends with the recipe for Oyster Mush in Gullah, the last of it is "Mus' don' was' oshtuh mush 'long de chillun. Gib' de chillun aig en' hom'ny." (Children won't appreciate oyster mush. Cook eggs and hominy for them.) The history of spoken English and what dialect, pidgin and creole mean. It ends with the recipe for Oyster Mush in Gullah, the last of it is "Mus' don' was' oshtuh mush 'long de chillun. Gib' de chillun aig en' hom'ny." (Children won't appreciate oyster mush. Cook eggs and hominy for them.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is another really great book on language but obviously deals more specificially with English and it's development over time so there's a lot more specific history and details in it. Still really interesting. This is another really great book on language but obviously deals more specificially with English and it's development over time so there's a lot more specific history and details in it. Still really interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Great for people interested in a beginner's book on linguistics. Great for people interested in a beginner's book on linguistics.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Miller

    everything about english, ever.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dave Haskins

    Language,English

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  15. 4 out of 5

    A.B. Bright

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stoney Breyer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Coralee

  18. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Stewart

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Farah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  22. 4 out of 5

    M

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elsa María

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marie Shepherd

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella Marquis

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaz

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