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A History of the English Language, Fifth Edition Hardcover – November 19, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0130151667 ISBN-10: 0130151661 Edition: 5th

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 447 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 5th edition (November 19, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0130151661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0130151667
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'A scholarly book that is a model of clarity and quite the best history of English obtainable in one volume.' - The Irish Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

A classic comprehensive and balanced exploration of the history of the English language -- from the Middle Ages to the present -- that combines internal linguistic history and external cultural history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The information contained within the book is great, and is more detailed than some other books I have read on the subject.
Frederick van Allwijn
A fascinating book for any student of the English language to read as well as a well established textbook, this book comes highly recommended, at least by me.
DKS
The cultural and social impact which brought change and foreign languages into English was just fascinating and very well written.
B. R. Cook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Richard Webner on April 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought "A History of the English Language" looking for a dependable history of the English language that could be read by a beginner in Linguistics. In this book I found exactly what I wanted.

"A History" presents English's long, complicated development in a fascinating and accessible way. Although the text is dense and somewhat slow, it is never boring. The writers are clearly very passionate about the subject, and although the book is fifty years old it is well-updated, including a new chapter on African-American English.

In fact, few books have taught me more than "A History." England's numerous migrations and occupations, by the Romans, the Normans, the Scandinavians, and the French, shaped the language, so I learned much about England's own history. I found the first chapter, about the Indo-European language and its influence, especially edifying. "A History" also briefs you on the European intellectual movements that influenced English. In explaining English's development, Baugh and Cable acquaint the reader with many linguistic terms and theories.

This readable, informative, comprehensive history of English is highly recommended.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Nick on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in the English language, and anyone curious about it, I strongly recommend this major book. Of course, get the latest edition, mine is the fifth, that is the 2002 edition.

As to the book itself, it's a most complete study of English. It does a wonderful job of explaining the development in history of the language and it willl undoubtedly shed so much light on your understanding of English that it's really worth a peek. That book will make clear most of the strangeness of English; if you ever wondered about "irregular" verbs--as most non-native do--you will find the answer in this book. And there's more than just English alone, the book also deals with Indo-European and tells a lot about tons of other things that make the whole thing--the development of languages--much clearer to the reader.

That is the book most used by universities as far as the history of English is concerned. You don't need to be a specialised linguist to read it, by the way; even though, due to the extreme preciseness of the work, you may not remember most of the details put in there. I'm thinking mostly of historical details and such, but that shouldn't worry you, just know it's very well documented.

The book is divided into sections, most of which are chronologically placed, although not all; there's for instance a section about English in America.

That's about it for my review of this great book. The best thing you can do is check it for yourself, but I strongly recommend it. Even if you have no specific interest in linguistics and stuff, you'll still get a lot of enjoyement from reading this book, if only because you speak English. It's gonna be a hoot for you I assure. Go for it!
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By B. R. Cook on June 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I,like another reviewer, read this book over 20 years ago for a college class when I was a major in Linguistics. I was so enthralled with it, that it still graces my library shelves today. The cultural and social impact which brought change and foreign languages into English was just fascinating and very well written. I highly recommend this book.
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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read this book about 25 years ago. It was a textbook for a graduate course, The History of the English language, Of course, I cannot make very specific remarks about something that I read so long ago, but I can state that I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was complete, well documented, and utterly fascinating! It enabled me to understand so much more about how people speak and think, how language changes, and how it stays the same.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Frederick van Allwijn on August 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Firstly, I own the first edition of this book, and although some of the items have surely changed between that edition and the current edition, most of the information will surely hold true between the versions.

On a whim I took this book on vacation to read. I am about half way through the book, but I feel that my comments can be applied to the whole book. I am studying my bachelor's degree in English, and have also taken a language course which focused on the history of the English language. This book compliments my field of study nicely. The book consists of 10 or 12 chapters which focus on broad topics (for instance Middle English, The Norman Conquest, etc). Each chapter is divided further into several subsections, which focus on important events which occured during these periods of history, which played a role in changing how English was written, spoken, perceived, etc. In this way, the book is very organized. If one is short for time, he or she can easily skip around and read the sections of the book which interest him or her. However, the information is also easily read in chronological order, and provides much information on the English language.

I only have two problems with this fine book. The first problem is that sometimes expressions will be referenced in French, and no English translations are provided. As a student of English, German and Dutch, these references do not help me at all, as I cannot understand them (I guess some of the English felt this way too, when French was being spoken in the courts of England!) However, this complaint is very minor and hinders my comprehension very little.

The larger complaint I have is that this book is sort of boring.
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