A social history of English by Dick Leith

By Dick Leith

A Social heritage of English is the 1st historical past of the English language to make use of the ideas, insights and matters of sociolinguistics. Written in a non-technical approach, it takes under consideration standardization, pidginization, bi- and multilingualism, the problems of language upkeep and language loyalty, and linguistic variation.
This new version has been totally revised. Additions comprise: * new fabric approximately 'New Englishes' around the world
* a brand new bankruptcy entitled 'A serious Linguistic heritage of English Texts'
* a dialogue of difficulties occupied with writing a heritage of English
All phrases and ideas are defined as they're brought, and linguistic examples are selected for his or her accessibility and intelligibility to the final reader.
It may be of curiosity to scholars of Sociolinguistics, English Language, heritage and Cultural reports.

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Example text

If we remember that the spellings of many words represent their pronunciation, in a particular region, of centuries ago, it is not surprising that we find what seem to be disparities between how we pronounce and what we write. But there are a number of misunderstandings about the nature 30 EMERGENCE AND CONSOLIDATION of this relationship. It is not uncommon to find many people, including some historians of English, describe our spelling as arbitrary, illogical, and even chaotic. Yet it can only be described thus if we perversely expect it to do what it no longer can.

When we look up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, we are immediately confronted by a bewildering range of spellings. There are two main reasons for this. First, scribes wrote in their own dialects, so there were different spelling systems in different parts of the country. Second, scribes were more often guided by their own speech-habits than by written precedent, which meant that changes in pronunciation were often mirrored in spelling. ‘Bone’ in Anglo-Saxon was spelt ban, but by the fourteenth century it was boon.

It is instructive to consider how far the meaning of the term standard has often been taken from the terms to which it is opposed. Although it is often contrasted STANDARDISATION AND WRITING 29 with the creatively informal vocabulary usually called slang, the term to which it is most often opposed is dialect. One dimension of this contrast concerns writing: dialect is not usually associated with writing, still less with print. Another dimension has to do with functional elaboration: the dialects have not been developed in the same range of formal functions.

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A social history of English by Dick Leith
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