- Series: Canto Classics
- Paperback: 318 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (March 30, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1107693934
- ISBN-13: 978-1107693937
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The English Language (Canto Classics) 2nd Edition
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This bestselling text by Charles Barber, with updating contributions from Joan C. Beal and Philip A. Shaw, recounts the history of the English language from its remote ancestry to the present day. Using dozens of familiar texts, including the English of King Alfred, Shakespeare and Chaucer, the English language is explored in terms of where it came from, where it is going, and the global impact it has had, taking into account the many varieties of English that now exist. Stimulating and interesting, it is not only written for specialists on language and linguistics, but also for general readers who take an interest in the subject.
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Another caveat-- Barber is British, and bases all his pronunciations on British 'Received Pronunciation' rules, which may challenge American readers--like myself--trying to puzzle out his pronunctions...and a cursory knowledge of Latin and perhaps Greek or German can really help in understanding the 'pre-historical' aspects of his argument.
A last note: an earlier reviewer has claimed that this book 'makes clear the relationship between Dutch and English.' I think he's misunderstood Barber's analysis, as Barber clearly states that English is most closely related to Anglo-Frisian, which is a branch of the West-Germanic group, but distinct from the Dutch/Old Franconian branch. The languages are hereditary, but not linear (according to Barber). This could be a niggling point, but may prejudice potential reader's to Barber.
Overall, a great (but technical) read, and thrilling to a determined student of English-language development.
This book is a mess. The authors want to tell a story in a friendly manner, but first they spend over 50 pages of a 300-page book describing the basics of linguistics (phonology, syntax, language change). This will scare away readers wanting a friendly introduction, and for readers wanting a more meaty text these linguistic concepts are presented in far too sketchy a fashion to really prepare them for serious study. After that introductory chapter, the actual description of English over time is little more than the authors throwing out trivia without forming a coherent, smoothly flowing text. It feels like something cobbled together.
The chapter on Late Modern English is interesting. While anyone can notice that e.g. Jane Austen was writing from a different time due to her quaint vocabulary, I had never noticed some syntactic changes that had occurred in English only after her time. Still, there must be better historical introductions to English out there.