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The History of English Spelling

ISBN: 978-1-4443-4297-0
224 pages
September 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
The History of English Spelling (1444342975) cover image


The History of English Spelling reveals the history of Modern English spelling, tracing its origins and development from Old English up to the present day.

  • Includes a wealth of information and data on English spelling not available anywhere else
  • Features a complementary website with additional material at www.historyofenglishspelling.info
  • Includes detailed coverage of the contributions from French, Latin, Greek - and the many other languages - to our current orthography
  • Serves as a companion volume to Geoffrey Hughes's A History of English Words in the same series
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Table of Contents

List of Figures.

List of Tables.


Abbreviations and Symbols.

Language Periods Referred to in the Text.

1. Introduction and Overview.

2. England and English from the Romans to the Vikings.

3. The Old English Roots of Modern English Spelling.

4. The Decline and Revival of English in the Middle English Period.

5. The Franco-Latin Element.

6. Some Sound and Spelling Developments in Middle and Modern English.

7. The Greek Contribution.

8. The Exotic Input.

9. Reformers, Lexicographers and the Parting of the Ways.

Glossary of Technical Terms.


Language Index.

Word Index Subject and Author Index.

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Author Information

Christopher Upward (1938-2002) was a Senior Lecturer in German at Aston University in Birmingham until his retirement in 1995. For many years Upward was a member of the committee of the Simplified Spelling Society (now known as the English Spelling Society), and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society. He was also an Associate Editor of The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992), and prepared two editions of Cut Spelling: A handbook to the simplification of written English by omission of redundant letters (Simplified Spelling Society 1992, 1996).

George Davidson is a freelance lexicographer, book compiler and editor. He has written several books on English grammar, usage, spelling, and vocabulary, such as How to Punctuate (2005) and Improve Your Spelling (2005), and has edited numerous books, including the 150th Anniversary Edition of Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words & Phrases (2002).  He has formerly worked as a French teacher and lecturer in linguistics.

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“Summing Up:  Highly recommended.  All readers.”  (Choice, 1 October 2012)
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