How English Became English: A Short History of Global Language

Oxford Univ. May 2016. 144p. illus. index. ISBN 9780198754275. $16.95. COMM
OrangeReviewStarIn this concise narrative of the history of the English language, Horobin (English language & literature, Univ. of Oxford; Does Spelling Matter??) analyzes historical context just enough to unfurl the object called "English." In so doing, the author segments the language into habits of usage and local flavor. The core of his examples are gathered in support of English studies, but he also discusses famous alarmists (such as Samuel Johnson) who advocated for correct grammar and purity, the force of "American" English, and the modes of disconnect among the language's ability to implement terms from other language matrices. In addition, Horobin explores the scenarios in which vocabulary sets have been adopted from German and Latin to such a degree that the label "English" hides an incomplete tongue in the past and present that has been influenced by Indo-European languages. Horobin suggests the expansion of English occurred when the language was used by colonizing parties such as Great Britain and the United States. He further argues that although variant pronunciation, dialects, and pidgins are used internationally, there are still "prejudices" for certain usages over others, concluding that language has a diversity of social and political layers that are inseparable from its history.
VERDICT Recommended for students of language history and general readers who enjoy familiarity with technical terms from an array of subjects.

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