This accessible introductory reference source surveys the linguistic and cultural background of the earliest known Germanic languages and examines their similarities and differences. The Languages covered include:Gothic Old Norse Old SaxonOld English Old Low Franconian Old High German Written in a lively style, each chapter opens with a brief cultural history of the people who used the language, followed by selected authentic and translated texts and an examination of particular areas including grammar, pronunciation, lexis, dialect variation and borrowing, textual transmission, analogy and drift.
Is historical linguistics different in principle from other linguistic research? This book addresses problems encountered in gathering and analysing data from early English, including the incomplete nature of the evidence and the dangers of misinterpretation or over-interpretation. Even so, gaps in the data can sometimes be filled. The volume brings together a team of leading English historical linguists who have encountered such issues first-hand, to discuss and suggest solutions to a range of problems in the phonology, syntax, dialectology and onomastics of older English. The topics extend widely over the history of English, chronologically and linguistically, and include Anglo-Saxon naming practices, the phonology of the alliterative line, computational measurement of dialect similarity, dialect levelling and enregisterment in late Modern English, stress-timing in English phonology and the syntax of Old and early Modern English. The book will be of particular interest to researchers and students in English historical linguistics.
This practical introduction to word history investigates every aspect of where words come from and how they change. Philip Durkin, chief etymologist of the Oxford English Dictionary, shows how different types of evidence can shed light on the myriad ways in which words change in form and meaning. He considers how such changes can be part of wider linguistic processes, or be influenced by a complex mixture of social and cultural factors. He illustrates every point with a wide range of fascinating examples. Dr Durkin investigates folk etymology and other changes which words undergo in everyday use. He shows how language families are established, how words in different languages can have a common ancester, and the ways in which the latter can be distinguished from words introduced through language contact. He examines the etymologies of the names of people and places. His focus is on English but he draws many examples from languages such as French, German, and Latin which cast light on the pre-histories of English words. The Oxford Guide to Etymology is reliable, readable, instructive, and enjoyable. Everyone interested in the history of words will value this account of an endlessly fascinating subject.
This groundbreaking collection explores the beliefs and approaches to the history of English that do not make it into standard textbooks. Orthodox histories have presented a tunnel version of the history of the English language which is sociologically inadequate. In this book a range of leading international scholars show how this focus on standard English dialect is to the detriment of those which are non-standard or from other areas of the world. Alternative Histories of English: * reveals the range of possible 'narratives' about how different varieties of 'Englishes' may have emerged * places emphasis on pragmatic, sociolinguistic and discourse-oriented aspects of English rather than the traditional grammar, vocabulary and phonology * considers diverse topics including South African English, Indian English, Southern Hemisphere Englishes, Early Modern English, women's writing, and politeness. Presenting a fuller and richer picture of the complexity of the history of English, the contributors to Alternative Histories of English explain why English is the diverse world language it is today.