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Language Change

3. A Turning Point in English Grammar

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we introduce one of the most important structural changes in the history of English language – the move from inflection to non-inflection – focusing in particular on: (i) the concept of an inflected language, i.e. one that uses the form of a word to indicate its grammatical function or category; (ii) the extent to which Old English was an inflected language, and the extent to which modern English is an inflected language; (iii) the historical reason that word endings in Old English lost their importance from the 800s onwards, and the impact on both the written and spoken language; and (iv) the increasing importance of word order in the English language in this period.

Course

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.

Lecturer

Simon Horobin is Professor of English Language and Literature and Tutorial Fellow at Magdalen College at the University of Oxford. He specialises in the history of the English language, especially in the Medieval period. Some of his recent publications include How English Became English: A Short History of a Global Language (2016), The English Language: A Very Short Introduction (2018), and Bagels, Bumf, and Buses: A Day in the Life of the English Language (2019).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Horobin, S. (2022, April 11). Language Change - A Turning Point in English Grammar [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/language-change-in-the-english-language/a-turning-point-in-english-grammar

MLA style

Horobin, S. "Language Change – A Turning Point in English Grammar." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/language-change-in-the-english-language/a-turning-point-in-english-grammar

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