Skip to main content

A Companion to the History of the English Language

A Companion to the History of the English Language

Haruko Momma (Editor), Michael Matto (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-444-30285-1

Feb 2009, Wiley-Blackwell

592 pages


A Companion to the History of the English Language addresses the linguistic, cultural, social, and literary approaches to language study. The first text to offer a complete survey of the field, this volume provides the most up-to-date insights of leading international scholars.
  • An accessible reference to the history of the English language
  • Comprises more than sixty essays written by leading international scholars
  • Aids literature students in incorporating language study into their work
  • Includes an historical survey of the English language, from its Germanic and Indo- European beginnings to modern British and American English
  • Enriched with maps, diagrams, and illustrations from historical publications
  • Introduces the latest scholarship in the field
List of Figures xi

Notes on Contributors xiii

Acknowledgments xxii

Note on Phonetic Symbols and Orthography xxiv

A Timeline for HEL xxix

Part I Introduction 1

1 History, English, Language: Studying HEL Today 3
Michael Matto and Haruko Momma

2 History of the History of the English Language: How Has the Subject Been Studied? 11
Thomas Cable

3 Essential Linguistics 18
Mary Blockley

Part II Linguistic Survey 25

4 Phonology: Segmental Histories 29
Donka Minkova and Robert Stockwell

5 History of English Morphology 43
Robert McColl Millar

6 History of English Syntax 57
Olga Fischer

7 A History of the English Lexicon 69
Geoffrey Hughes

8 History of English Prosody 81
Geoffrey Russom

Part III English Semantics and Lexicography 89

9 Dictionaries Today: What Can We Do With Them? 93
Reinhard R. K. Hartmann

10 English Onomasiological Dictionaries and Thesauri 103
Werner Hüllen

11 Johnson, Webster, and the Oxford English Dictionary 113
Charlotte Brewer

Part IV Pre-history of English 123

12 English as an Indo-European Language 127
Philip Baldi

13 English as a Germanic Language 142
R. D. Fulk

Part V English in History: England and America 151

Section 1 Old English in History (ca. 450–1066) 153

14 Early Old English (up to 899) 156
Daniel Donoghue

15 Late Old English (899–1066) 165
Mechthild Gretsch

16 Topics in Old English Dialects 172
Lucia Kornexl

Section 2 Middle English in History (1066–1485) 181

17 Early Middle English (1066–ca. 1350) 184
Thorlac Turville-Petre

18 Late Middle English (ca. 1350–1485) 191
Seth Lerer

19 Varieties of Middle English 198
Jeremy J. Smith

Section 3 Early Modern English in History (1485–1660) 207

20 Early Modern English (1485–1660) 209
Terttu Nevalainen

21 Varieties of Early Modern English 216
Jonathan Hope

Section 4 Modern British English in History (1660–present) 225

22 British English in the Long Eighteenth Century (1660–1830) 228
Carey McIntosh

23 British English Since 1830 235
Richard W. Bailey

24 The Rise of Received Pronunciation 243
Lynda Mugglestone

Section 5 American English in History 251

25 American English to 1865 254
David Simpson

26 American English Since 1865 263
Walt Wolfram

27 American English Dialects 274
Gavin Jones

Section 6 Topics in History 281

28 Early Modern English Print Culture 284
John N. King

29 Issues of Gender in Modern English 293
Deborah Cameron

30 Class, Ethnicity, and the Formation of "Standard English" 303
Tony Crowley

31 The Transplantation of American English in Philippine Soil 313
Br. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC

32 English, Latin, and the Teaching of Rhetoric 323
Michael Matto

33 English in Mass Communications: News Discourse and the Language of Journalism 334
Philippa K. Smith and Allan Bell

Part VI English in History: English Outside England and the United States 345

Section 1 British Isles and Ireland 347

34 English in Wales 350
Marion Löffler

35 English in Scotland 358
J. Derrick McClure

36 English in Ireland 366
Terence Patrick Dolan

Section 2 English in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand 377

37 English in Canada 380
John Edwards

38 Australian and New Zealand English 389
Pam Peters

Section 3 Colonial and Post-colonial English 401

39 South Asian English 404
Kamal K. Sridhar

40 English in the Caribbean 413
Donald Winford

41 English in Africa 423
Alamin M. Mazrui

Part VII Literary Languages 431

42 The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Tradition 435
Fred C. Robinson

43 "In swich englissh as he kan": Chaucer's Literary Language 445
John F. Plummer

44 Shakespeare's Literary Language 455
Adam N. McKeown

45 Jane Austen's Literary English 464
Mary Poovey

46 Joyce's English 471
Laurent Milesi

47 Faulkner's Language 479
Noel Polk

48 Twixt the Twain: East-West in Rushdie's Zubaan-Tongue 487
Tabish Khair

49 Toni Morrison: The Struggle for the Word 495
Justine Tally

Part VIII Issues in Present-Day English 505

50 Migration and Motivation in the Development of African American Vernacular English 509
Mary B. Zeigler

51 Latino Varieties of English 521
Robert Bayley

52 Teaching English to Native Speakers: The Subject Matter of Composition (1970–2005) 531
Mary Soliday

53 Earning as well as Learning a Language: English and the Post-colonial Teacher 541
Eugene Chen Eoyang

54 Creoles and Pidgins 553
Salikoko S. Mufwene

55 World Englishes in World Contexts 567
Braj B. Kachru

Part IX Further Approaches to Language Study 581

56 Style and Stylistics 585
David L. Hoover

57 Corpus-Based Linguistic Approaches to the History of English 596
Anne Curzan

58 Sociolinguistics 608
Robin Tolmach Lakoff

59 Cognitive Linguistics 618
Dirk Geeraerts

Glossary of Linguistic Terms 630

Haruko Momma

Index 646

“In conclusion, this book succeeds in doing what it intended, to provide linguistic grounding for readers primarily interested in the literature and culture of English past and present. It deserves a place in libraries and classrooms, to be read cover to cover or dipped into for specific topics . . . Because it is readable and has good chapter bibliographies and a detailed index, it might also serve as a reference for students researching a topic within the history of English.”  (Linguist, 20 January 2013) 

"Readers will find clear guides to basic information.... Editorial introductions to the various sections clarify and summarise the material. Each chapter ends with extensive lists of references and further reading. A glossary of linguistic terms, reflecting 'the terms as used by the authors,' is included. As with all the Blackwell Companions, the presentation of this substantial volume is of the highest standard." (Reference Reviews, November 2009)

"Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of the language, whether an old-fashioned description of Middle English morphology or an au courant discussion of global Englishes, will be glad to have [this] Companion on the shelf." (Times Literary Supplement, May 2009)

Momma (New York Univ.) and Matto (Adelphi Univ.) draw on an international cast of scholars to present 59 essays on the history of the English language. Part of the "Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture" series, this substantial volume is organized in nine sections and certainly covers the field. The first three sections provide essential linguistic concepts and a survey of the history of words, sounds, and grammar. Sections 4-6 deal with the Indo-European and Germanic roots of English, the history of English in England and the US, and English in British colonies and the postcolonial world. The last three sections cover literary language (including Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Toni Morrison), language variation and language teaching, and approaches to language study such as stylistics and cognitive linguistics. The editors provide brief contextual commentary for each section, and each essay has its own bibliography to facilitate further reading. All the contributions are readable and concise. This comprehensive picture of English and its history is a must for scholars. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. -- E. L. Battistella, Southern Oregon University (Choice, February, 2009)

  • An accessible reference to the history of the English language
  • Comprises fifty-nine essays written by scholars from fourteen countries
  • Aids literature students in incorporating language study into their work
  • Includes an historical survey of the English language, from its Indo- European and Germanic beginnings to modern British and American English and to the rise of colonial and post-colonial varieties of English
  • Enriched with useful tools such as a chronological list of events and a glossary
  • Introduces the latest scholarship in the field