How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
One of the most important factors in language change is synchronic variation due to social differences including gender-specific language use. The papers in the present volume all address this topic in connection with the history of English. They range from Chaucer's and Shakespeare's forms of address to questions of political correctness today; they also include the discussion of attitudes to regional variation and of the influence of social variation on syntax and phonology as well as the role of standardization in a social context.