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Prologue: A View from the Birthplace

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 May 2023

Peter Trudgill
Affiliation:
Université de Fribourg, Switzerland
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Summary

I am sitting at my laptop, in the county of Norfolk in the east of England, about 16 miles (25 kilometres) from the North Sea coast, writing the beginnings of a book about English in English. That is a rather new thing to be able to do. And I do not mean because laptops are an extremely recent invention, although of course they are. And I do not mean because people of relatively humble origins like me have only quite recently known how to write, although that is true too.

What I mean is that the English language itself is rather recent. Human language is a phenomenon which is at least 200,000 years old, and maybe much more, but the English language has not been around for even as little as 1 per cent of that time. Five thousand years ago, there was no such language as ‘English’ – not even here in Norfolk which, as I shall argue later, is one of the places where English may have been born.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Long Journey of English
A Geographical History of the Language
, pp. 1
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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