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English Language   >   Language Change

Why Study Language Change?

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Language Change

In this course, Professor Simon Horobin (University of Oxford) explores language change in the English language. In the first module, we think about why we should study language change at all. In the second module we provide an introduction to the history of the English language, from Old English (650-1100) to Late Modern English (1750-present). In the third module, we think about one of the most important structural changes in the history of the English language – the shift from inflection to non-inflection – and why it happened when it did. In the fourth module, we think about the emergence of standard written English, before turning in the fifth module to the concept of semantic change – focusing in particular on the word 'literally'. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about some issue relating to spelling in modern English.

Why Study Language Change?

In this module, we explore one argument for why it's worth studying language change, focusing in particular on: (i) Lord Digby Jones' criticism of Alex Scott for 'g-dropping'; (ii) the history of the idea that some accents are 'better' than others; (iii) the development of Upper Received Pronunciation and mainstream Received Pronunciation in the twentieth century, and the phonological features of each accent; and (iv) the connection between spelling and 'correct' pronunciation.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Horobin, S. (2022, April 11). Language Change - Why Study Language Change? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Horobin, S. "Language Change – Why Study Language Change?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022,


Prof. Simon Horobin

Prof. Simon Horobin

University of Oxford