Inventing English

A Portable History of the Language, revised and expanded edition

Seth Lerer

Columbia University Press

Inventing English

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Pub Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9780231174473

Format: Paperback

List Price: $18.95£16.00

Pub Date: August 2015

ISBN: 9780231541244

Format: E-book

List Price: $18.99£16.00

Inventing English

A Portable History of the Language, revised and expanded edition

Seth Lerer

Columbia University Press

Seth Lerer tells a masterful history of the English language from the age of Beowulf to the rap of Eminem. Many have written about the evolution of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, but only Lerer situates these developments within the larger history of English, America, and literature. This edition features a new chapter on the influence of biblical translation and an epilogue on the relationship of English speech to writing. A unique blend of historical and personal narrative, Inventing English is the surprising tale of a language that is as dynamic as the people to whom it belongs.

A Note on Texts and Letter Forms
Preface to the Revised Edition
Introduction: Finding English, Finding Us
1. Caedmon Learns to Sing: Old English and the Origins of Poetry
2. From Beowulf to Wulfstan: The Language of Old English Literature
3. In This Year: The Politics of Language and the End of Old English
4. From Kingdom to Realm: Middle English in a French World
5. Lord of This Langage: Chaucer's English
6. I Is as Ille as a Millere Are Ye: Middle English Dialects
7. The Great Vowel Shift and the Changing Character of English
8. Chancery, Caxton, and the Making of English Prose
9. I Do, I Will: Shakespeare's English
10. A Universal Hubbub Wild: New Words and Worlds in Early Modern English
11. Visible Speech: The Orthoepists and the Origins of Standard English
12. A Harmless Drudge: Samuel Johnson and the Making of the Dictionary
13. Horrid, Hooting Stanzas: Lexicography and Literature in American English
14. Antses in the Sugar: Dialect and Regionalism in American English
15. Hello, Dude: Mark Twain and the Making of the American Idiom
16. Ready for the Funk: African American English and Its Impact
17. Pioneers Through an Untrodden Forest: The Oxford English Dictionary and Its Readers
18. Listening to Private Ryan: War and Language
19. He Speaks in Your Voice: Everybody's English
20. Faith in English: Vernacular Devotion and Biblical Translation
Epilogue: The Talk and the Text
Appendix: English Sounds and Their Representation
Glossary
References and Further Reading
Acknowledgments
Acknowledgments to the Revised Edition
Index

Read the chapter, "Hello, Dude: Mark Twain and the Making of the American Idiom":

Honorable Mention—PSP Awards for Excellence in Literature, Language, and Linguistics, Association of American Publishers

About the Author

Seth Lerer is Distinguished Professor of Literature and the former Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, San Diego. He is known nationally for his audio and videotape series, The History of the English Language, for the Teaching Company.