A History of English provides an intelligent and accessible synthesis of modern sociolinguistic approaches to the development of the English Language.
Sections cover pre-history; old, middle, early modern, and present-day English; English in the US; and throughout the world. This volume is a change from the more technical histories of linguists and historians of English because it posits speakers in real situations pushing language in new directions. For example, two engines of change among native English speakers are imperfect knowledge of the language, and emulation<-->imitating a respected person's pronunciation, vocabulary, or inflection. In the Early Modern English period (some 300 years), change is attributed to the great vowel shift yes, but also to possible influence from a burgeoning British class society. And the transition to Modern English is partially attributed to international travel and communications. Speculations on the role of English as a world language and meditations on English as a killer of linguistic diversity end the volume. Fennell is senior lecturer in linguistics at the University of Aberdeen. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)