Landmarks in the History of the English Language identifies twelve key landmarks spread throughout the language’s history to provide a lively and interesting introduction to the history of English.

Each landmark focuses on one individual associated with the key moment which helps to engage the reader and provide the history of the language with a ‘human face’. The landmarks range from Alfred the Great and his attempts to further English through its use in education, to the spread of English worldwide and the work of the linguist Braj Kachru. The final chapter takes a look into the future through the writings of David Crystal. Whilst focusing on the specific events and people, the book includes a broad outline of the history of English so that the reader can locate each landmark within the language’s history.

Written in a student-friendly style and with short activities available online, this book provides a brief introduction for those coming to the topic for the first time, as well an engaging supplementary text for those studying modules on the history of English on degrees in English Language, Linguistics and Literature. General readers with an interest in the English language and its history will also find the book engaging.

chapter 1|12 pages

English, the Ancestral Trail

William Jones and the Indo-European family of languages

chapter 2|10 pages

Putting English on the Map

Alfred the Great and the establishment of English

chapter Interlude 1|3 pages

What OE Was Like

The nun, the devil and a lettuce

chapter 3|10 pages

Simplifying English

Samuel Moore and the case of the disappearing inflections

chapter 4|10 pages

Standardising Written English

Henry V and Chancery English

chapter Interlude 2|4 pages

What ME was Like

A gat-toothed wife

chapter 5|11 pages

Enriching English

Thomas Elyot, Thomas Wilson and a proliferation of new words

chapter 6|9 pages

‘Worshipping the English’

Richard Mulcaster and his Elementarie

chapter Interlude 3|4 pages

What EModE was Like

Hands red with blood

chapter 7|11 pages

Fixing the Language

Samuel Johnson and his dictionary

chapter 8|14 pages

Crossing the Atlantic

Noah Webster and American English

chapter 9|10 pages

Going beyond the Standard

William Barnes and the Dorset dialect

chapter 10|12 pages

A ‘Dictionary of All English’

James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary

chapter 11|12 pages

The Spread of English

Braj Kachru and his concentric circles

chapter 12|12 pages

What Next?

David Crystal and the future of English