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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2023
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Book description

English is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, with native-speaking communities at the furthest ends of the earth. However, just three thousand years ago, the language-which-became-English was not spoken anywhere in Britain. Trudgill, one of the foremost authorities on the English language, takes us on a remarkable journey through the history of English to show how it grew to become the global phenomenon that we know today. Over ten short, easily digestible chapters, he traces its development and global spread, starting with the earliest genesis of English five thousand years ago, exploring its expansion in the British Isles, and finishing with an overview of how the language looks today, including its use in an increasingly digital world. Particular attention is paid to the native-speaker varieties of English from all around the world, and the relationship between colonial varieties of English and indigenous languages.


‘Here is an original and eminently enjoyable book detailing the origins of our language and the millennia-long geographical spread of earlier stages of what was to become English in all its varieties.’

Robert Fulks - Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana University

‘Peter Trudgill’s account of the geographical journey of the English language is highly educational, truly captivating, and uniquely sensitive to what has been lost along the way.’

Erik Smitterberg - Professor of English Linguistics, Uppsala University

‘This book is a real page turner. Some people find readings about the History of the English Language boring. This is not going to happen with this book - Peter Trudgill marries a thrilling exploration of geographical expansion and retreat with a masterful investigation of the linguistic facts. Food for thought!’

Benedikt Szmrecsanyi - Professor of Linguistics, KU Leuven

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