The History of English
A Student's Guide
Routledge – 2005 – 256 pages
The History of English provides an accessible introduction to the changes that English has undergone from its Indo-European beginnings to the present day. The text looks at the major periods in the history of English, and provides for each a socio-historical context, an overview of the relevant major linguistic changes, and also focuses on an area of current research interest, either in sociolinguistics or in literary studies. Exercises and activities that allow the reader to get 'hands-on' with different stages of the language, as well as with the concepts of language change, are also included.
By explaining language change with close reference to literary and other textual examples and emphasising the integral link between a language and its society, this text is especially useful for students of literature as well as linguistics.
Singh's book is a refreshing departure from the traditional history of English textbooks. It does not simply convey 'facts' to students but shows them how to think about those 'facts'. It covers the traditional areas but also places them in context and shows how different perspectives are possible … For students who already have a basic grasp of linguistics, this is in my view the best history of English textbook on the market.
1. English as a Changing Language
2. Language Families and the Pre-history of English
3. Old English 500-1100
4. Middle English 1100â€“1500
5. Early Modern English 1500-1700
6. Modern English 1700 onwards
Ishtla Singh is Reader in the Department of English Language and Literature, King's College London, UK.