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The Oxford History of English

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There are various histories of English that have been published, but this revised Oxford edition views the subject across an unusually lengthy time frame. It traces the history of English right back to its Indo-European origins and from there across fifteen centuries up to an analysis of the impact that electronic communication is now having on the language.

For many, the most interesting period is the time when we were a nation of three languages. Norman French was the language of the new nobility, Latin was the language of the Church and the professions, whilst Old English continued as the language spoken in the fields and on the markets of working Britain. The impact of Norse languages also made a significant contribution.

Eventually a single language evolved from this situation, albeit with many regional variants, which developed through Renaissance, Tudor, and subsequent periods until sociological and technological change has delivered the fluid state of the language we have today.

 

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