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History of the English Language  

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Full-Text Reference Books from Literati

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Dictionary of Languages
The essential guide to the languages of the world, comprehensively detailing languages in a clear A-Z style.

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Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics: The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes
The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes constitutes a comprehensive introduction to the study of world Englishes drawing on the expertise of leading authors within the field.

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The Penguin English Dictionary
Clear, detailed definitions, with particular emphasis on difficult concepts and meanings. Includes not only standard English, but also scientific and technical vocabulary, specialist terms, slang, and the English of earlier periods.

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Word Histories and Mysteries
Provides a panoramic view of the unique richness of English, uncovering the origins of five hundred everyday words whose surprising and often amusing stories offer insights into the history of humankind.

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Word Origins - John Ayto
The origins of thousands of words in the English language explored and explained.


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  • English Language: Topic Page
    A language belonging to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family. Its unbroken literary heritage goes back to the inflecting language, Anglo-Saxon, notably in the 8th Century epic poem Beowulf. MORE
  • Modern English
    From Collins English Dictionary: The English language since about 1450, especially any of the standard forms developed from the S East Midland dialect of Middle English. MORE

Related Languages and Peoples

  • Anglo-Saxons
    Name given to the Germanic-speaking peoples who settled in England after the decline of Roman rule there. They were first invited by the Celtic King Vortigern, who needed help fighting the Picts and Scots. MORE
  • Roman Empire: Topic Page

    Mediterranean empire formed (ca. 27 BCE) by Augustus after the assassination (ca. 44 BCE) of Julius Caesar. Its power centre was ancient Rome. MORE
  • Frisian
    From Dictionary of Languages: One of the GERMANIC LANGUAGES, Frisian is a regional language of the province of Friesland in the Netherlands, spoken by about 5 per cent of the whole population of the country. MORE
  • Old Norse
    From The Penguin English Dictionary: The substantial Old Norse element in the English vocabulary comes from the Scandinavians, mostly from Denmark and Norway, who raided England from the late eighth cent., settled in the country from the mid-ninth cent., and became rulers of the region north and east of a line from London to Chester. MORE
  • Anglo-Norman
    From The Bloomsbury Dictionary of English Literature: The dialect of French used in the British Isles from the time of the Conquest onwards alongside Latin and English. MORE
  • Greek: Topic Page
    Member of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-European). It is the language of one of the major civilizations of the world. MORE
  • Celtic: Topic Page
    Subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. At one time, during the Hellenistic period, Celtic speech extended all the way from Britain and the Iberian Peninsula in the west across Europe to Asia Minor in the east. MORE

Related Topics

  • Generative Phonology
    From Key Ideas in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language: A branch of generative grammar that aims to establish a set of rules, principles or constraints capable of producing the surface phonetic forms of a language and of modelling the internalised linguistic knowledge of the native speaker. MORE
  • Phonology: Topic Page
    In linguistics, the study of the sound systems of languages. Its main activity is the discovery of the distinctive sounds of language. MORE
  • Linguistics: Topic Page
    Scientific study of language, covering the structure (morphology and syntax; see grammar), sounds (phonology), and meaning (semantics). MORE
  • Grammar: Topic Page
    Description of the structure of a language, consisting of the sounds (see phonology); the meaningful combinations of these sounds into words. MORE
  • Philology
    From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather guide: In historical linguistics, the study of the development of languages. It is also an obsolete term for the study of literature. MORE

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Topic Pages are a scholarly version of the articles that you find on Wikipedia. The difference is that Topic Pages only include information that's scholarly, citable and verified so you don't have to spend time determining if it is appropriate for use in your academic paper. Literati has nearly 10,000 topic pages so the odds are that you can find one that addresses your topic. Explore the topics on this LibGuide page or use this Literati search box to find others:

Articles and Essays

  • Standardized English
    From Routledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics: The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes: Kachru (1992: 356) describes the Three Circles Model of the sociolinguistic profile of English as consisting of ‘three concentric circles’, representing, ‘the types of spread, the patterns of acquisition, and the functional allocation of English in diverse cultural contexts’. MORE
  • Indo-European Languages
    From Dictionary of Languages: Indo-European languages are spoken on every continent and by members of every racial group. English, Spanish, French and Russian have some official status in dozens of countries worldwide. MORE
  • Great Vowel Shift
    From A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics: A series of SOUND CHANGES, termed a CHAIN SHIFT, that took place in the English VOWEL system between around 1400 and 1600, during which LONG, HIGH vowels became diphthongs, and other long vowels moved one step upwards. MORE

Language Families

  • Indo-European: Topic Page
    Family of languages having more speakers than any other language family. It is estimated that approximately half the world's population speaks an Indo-European tongue as a first language. MORE
  • Romance: Topic Page
    Group of languages belonging to the Italic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Italic languages). Also called Romanic. MORE
  • Germanic: Topic Page
    Subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by about 470 million people in many parts of the world, but chiefly in Europe. MORE

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