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The Origins and Development of the English Language [Hardcover]

Thomas Pyles , John Algeo
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)


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The Origins and Development of the English Language The Origins and Development of the English Language
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Book Description

April 1982 0155676083 978-0155676084 3rd
The fourth edition of THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE continues to focus on the internal history of English -- its sounds, grammar, and vocabulary. In organization, the vocabulary is still treated most intensely in the final three chapter of the book. By studying the history of English, one can better understand the irregularities of modern English as well as finding more about ourselves.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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About the Author

John Algeo is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Georgia. He is past president of the American Dialect Society, the Dictionary Society of North America, and the American Name Society. He was an associate editor of the OXFORD COMPANION TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE and editor of Volume 6 of the CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: ENGLISH IN NORTH AMERICA. He was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow at University College London and is author of the 2006 Cambridge book BRITISH OR AMERICAN ENGLISH? A HANDBOOK OF WORD AND GRAMMAR PATTERNS. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Thomson Learning; 3rd edition (April 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0155676083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0155676084
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,356,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FASCINATING! June 29, 2000
By Reader
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Every aspect of the English languageis presented clearly and delightfully. Why does "ea" have three different pronunciations in "dream," "thread," and "great"? How did the Danish conquest of Engliand affect words like "sky" and "egg"? What words did the Roman Latin leave in English? Pyles writes great English himself.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars educational, fascinating, and fun! November 7, 2003
Format:Hardcover
"sklon'yat'... vo vs'ekh pad'ezhakh" -- "to decline (someone) in all the cases", so the Russian idiom goes. To discuss someone at length. Few speakers of modern English would make much sense of that idiom. Yet English was once nearly as inflected as Russian, having in common five of that language's six noun cases: the Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, and Instrumental, each with corresponding pronominal and adjectival declension. Old English nouns had gender, too, and not just masculine and feminine as in the "Romance" (Italic) Languages, but, like Russian, the neuter as well. English verbs once required more complex conjugation, and the subjunctive was used far more extensively than today. Old English structurally resembled modern European languages, and until comparatively recently, even had formal and informal second-person address. The reason for these similarities? Six modern language groups all descended from a common ancestor, Indo-European. They include Indo-Iranian (Farsi, Hindi, Romani), Balto-Slavic (Lithuanian, Russian, Polish), Celtic (Gaelic, Cornish, Welsh), Italic (French, Spanish, Roumanian), Germanic (German, Icelandic, Norwegian), and Hellenic (Greek). English is a sub-group of the Germanic branch. This book is a fascinating technical study of how English developed and changed over the centuries and was influenced by various languages and regional dialects. From Chaucer to Shakespeare to Melville to present, you'll see how English has become simplified yet enriched. Learn the reasons for the varying pronunciations of our vowel combinations and consonant clusters that drive ESL students nuts! This is a scholarly study. But you don't have to be a linguist to enjoy the text. Even the most etymologically "challenged" will easily see some distinctive similarities between Old and modern English and other Indo-European languages. BTW, that Russian idiom? We English speakers would discuss someone "every which way".
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars W00t. July 16, 2004
By Sara
Format:Hardcover
I must say that this book is genuinely exciting. In this case, you may judge the book by the cover (I think the cover's pretty nifty, anyway).

I guess you have to be into this sort of thing (linguistics) to pick up this book in the first place, but once you do, don't be afraid to read it straight through. You won't be disappointed. You learn so many interesting tidbits (and they actually have come in handy a few times). I also suggest THE MOTHER TONGUE, by Bill Bryson (come on, it's fun, even if some of the content is questionable). Together with this book you'll be a language whiz.

ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE isn't only for geeks, mind you. There's a helpful index at the back and if you want to learn more about a word or a particular age in our language's history, it's no trouble.

A la fin, this book is worth however much money it costs. It's really, really super.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS VERSION IS 5x AS EXPENSIVE AS THE PAPERBACK. October 26, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Save your money. Buy this excellent, if technical, book in paperback. Be good to yourself. Save the $55.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new classic for me! December 24, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a great introduction into the history of the English language. This is an older edition, but it is still great! It mainly gives some insight into Old English up to Modern English. This includes grammar, lexicon, etc. It also gives background information about events that led to changes from Germanic to English. There are also various examples. I would recommend this to people who are interested in learning about the history of the English language.
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