LINGUIST List 7.1007

Wed Jul 10 1996

Sum: History of English

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>


  1. Johanna Rubba, Summary: History of English course

Message 1: Summary: History of English course

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 09:51:06 PDT
From: Johanna Rubba <>
Subject: Summary: History of English course
Enclosed my summary of responses on this query.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Johanna Rubba Assistant Professor, Linguistics =
English Department, California Polytechnic State University =
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 =
Tel. (805)-756-0117 E-mail: =
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Greetings, all:

Below is a summary of responses to my query earlier this summer
about materials for an undergraduate History of English Lang. course
for non-linguistics majors.

My sincere thanks to the following respondents: George Aubin,
Catherine Ball, Michael Earl Darnell, Bethany K, Dumas, James
Giangola, Anthea Frasier Gupta, John H. Hagge, Dick Hudson,
LINGUIST, Margaret Luebs, Charles T. Scott, Beth Simon, Bill Spruiell,
Kathleen Ward, and Brita Warvik. I hope I've left no one out.

This summary lists web sites, then video materials, then book

Web sites/lists:
Also, the World Lecture Hall.
My syllabus (for a Masters course, however) is on the web at:

An HEL discussion list:
SUBSCRIBE HEL-L 'your first name' 'your last name'
to the address:


-American Tongues (Center for New American Media):
Take a look at both versions [one has been edited to remove the
word 'nigger'. This is a video about dialect variation in the USA,
not focused on history of the language, but students like it.]
-'Yeah, You Rite" = a video from the same series as 'American
Tongues',this one deals with the varieties of English in New Orleans,
with some historical commentary.
Both available from the Center for New American Media, 524
Broadway, New York, NY 10012-4408.
-If you want something much more historical, you might want to try
the Nova film, 'In Search of The First Language', which deals with
endeavors in historical linguistics on a grand scale. It is available
from WGBH, PO Box 2284, South Burlington, VT 05407-2284.
-I've found some of the "Story of English" episodes to be
quite useful adjuncts to the course (sp., "The Mother Tongue" and "A
Muse of Fire").


Pyles, Thomas, and John Algeo. 1993. The origins and development of
the English language, 4th ed. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Has an accompanying workbook. [Several people recommended this
book; others said it was too linguistically technical for non-linguists.]

Baugh, Albert C., and Thomas Cable. 1993 A history of the English
language, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. [Some
recommendations; some criticisms that the book focuses too much on
'external' history (cultural history surrounding the devel. of the
language) and not enough on linguistic history; and some remarked
that the language attitudes expressed were not quite desirable.]

The English Language: A Historical Introduction, by Charles
Barber.This is a paperback published by Cambridge UP.

English in its Social Contexts: Essays in Historical Sociolinguistics
(Oxford University Press, 1992)Tim William Machan and Charles T.

"A Biography of the English Language" by C.M. Millward (Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich 1989? 2nd ed.?). Workbook title: _A Workbook to
Accompany A Biography of the English Language_. [This was strongly
recommended by several commenters -- for level - appropriateness,
the usefulness of the workbook, general design, and coverage
(several remarked that it covers syntax more extensively than the
other texts.)]

Routledge Language Workbooks has a book on
History of English in MS form, by Jonathan Culpeper of Lancaster
University. It's very short (12 units of about 3 pages single-spaced)
and very elementary, with lots of data-based exercises (being a
workbook) and no theory.

Aitchison, Jean. _Language Change: Progress or Decay?_ Cambridge.

two books by Claiborne, one on the history of English
in general and one on the development of American English.

Craig Carver's _A History of English in its own Words_

Bauer, Laurie. 1994. Watching English change: An introduction to the study of
 linguistic change in standard Englishes in the twentieth century.
 London: Longman. [This book recently received a positive book
 notice in the June 96 issue of Language.]

an easy-reading, classic, story-of-english-type-of-deal is Otto
Jespersen's *The history of the English language*

End of summary.
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