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Language Change

2. The History of the English Language

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we provide an introduction to the history of the English language, focusing in particular on: (i) the four main periods in the evolution of the English language: Old English (650-1100), Middle English (1100-1500), Early Modern English (1500-1750) and Late Modern English (1750-Present); (ii) the origins and character of Old English, and its evolution between 650-1100; (iii) the impact of the Norman Conquest (1066) on the English language, including the influence of both Norman French and (by the 14th century) Parisian French; (iv) the impact of the European Renaissance on the English language, particularly the rediscovery of Greek and Latin classics; (v) the increasing desire to codify the language from the mid-18th century onwards, as characterised by Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1775) and the proliferation of guides for spelling, pronunciation and grammar; (vi) the influence of this prescriptivist tradition on how we think about spelling and grammar today.

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 - The History of the English Language [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/language-change-in-the-english-language/the-history-of-the-english-language

MLA style

Horobin, S. "Language Change – The History of the English Language." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Apr 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/language-change-in-the-english-language/the-history-of-the-english-language

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