Staff Review: The History of English
The History of English: An Introduction
As an introductory textbook, The History of English by Stephan Gramley isn’t exactly the kind of book you’d imagine someone would sit down and read for enjoyment, from cover to cover – but that’s exactly what I did. Being a (past) student of linguistics and a bit of a word nerd, I wanted to refresh my knowledge of our fair language, its origins and mutations and those little nuggets of curiosity sprinkled throughout. And this book did just that, and a whole lot more.
This comprehensive and wholly-readable text covers everything there is to know about the history of the English language, from its origins with the Germanic tribes, to the invasions of the Vikings and their Old Norse, and the influences of French and Latin, both forced and borrowed. Later imperial and colonial efforts spawned a whole plethora of dialects, pidgins and creoles – the World Englishes – and each of these is discussed in detail.
The relevant historical developments are recounted, giving a brief but fascinating snapshot of the history of the Anglophone world – most disturbing of which would have to be the African slave trade. The examples of texts used throughout are illuminating, as well as being slightly humourous – do we Australians really talk like that? Most interesting to me was the final part on Global English: the language of the globalised world today with its advertising lingo, text speak and the ‘writing’ of the Internet. Makes me wonder what’s next in store for this infinitely adaptable language of ours…
Find the book here, and buy at your local bookshop.
There have been very few times in my life where I haven’t had a book on the go; I’ve always loved discovering new worlds, whether they be one of fantasy or a very real one that I didn’t even know existed around me. Without books, I’d never see into those worlds.