The English Language

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Oxford University Press, 2002 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 208 pages
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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About the author (2002)

Robert Burchfield (1923- ) was born in Wanganui, New Zealand. He was awarded a Rhodes scholarship in 1949 and went on to hold a number of academic posts at Oxford University before becoming Chief Editor of the Oxford English dictionaries (1971-84). He was a Senior research Fellow of StPeter's College Oxford from 1979 to 1990 and is now an Emeritus Fellow of the College. His publications include The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology,1966 (with C. T. Onions and G. W. S. Friedrichsen), A Supplement to the OED, 1972-86, The Spoken Word: A BBC Guide, 1981, The New Zealand PocketOxford Dictionary, 1986, Unlocking the English Language, 1989, and Fowler's Modern English Usage, revised third edition, 1998. He also edited the Cambridge History of the English Language volume V, 1994. He was awarded the CBE in 1975.

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