Here, Robert Burchfield, editor of the four-volume Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, offers a brief survey on the development of English. He expertly stresses the flexibility of the English language, tracing its ever-changing face from the 5th century AD to the present day. Burchfield describes the resilience of the language--from the days of runes to the origins of printing, through social, religious, political and industrial change in the eighteenth century, through the rise of the British Empire and the development of world English, right up to the enormous changes in the English language that have taken place in the twentieth-century. In a stirring Afterword, John Simpson looks at what the historical details of the English Language tell us about the world of its speakers, and how ideas about what constitutes the English Language have changed over the past decades. Wonderfully informative and a delight to read, The English Language is an essential guide for anyone interested in the early days of our language and how it has transformed over the years into its modern form.
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Robert Burchfield was Chief Editor of the Oxford English dictionaries (1971-84) and is now an Emeritus Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford. He has edited several English language reference works, including A Supplement to the OED and Fowler's Modern English Usage, Revised Third Edition.
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