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The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? In Do You Speak English? Simon Horobin investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how the language continues to adapt even today, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. EThe English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? In Do You Speak English? Simon Horobin investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how the language continues to adapt even today, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, Horobin considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English Language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or are we witnessing its replacement by newlyemerging Englishes?...

Title : how english became english a short history of a global language
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ISBN : 28390268
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
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how english became english a short history of a global language Reviews

  • Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
    2019-02-11 20:09

    Review to come closer to publication date.*********************************April, 4thI have to start by saying that English is not my first language. At the same time, 90% (if not more) of the books I've been reading since last year are in English. Also, I studied English in school (from the second grade up until college). What I'm trying to say is that English is a very dear language to me, and I sometimes prefer it to my native language when there are books involved. Especially books written by English speaking authors. I feel most of the true meaning is lost in the translation process. Returning to Simon Horobin's book, this is a very nice, light look into English language history. It is extremely accessible even to non-English people.Rather more playfully, Mark Forsyth, author of the bestselling Etymologicon, proposes two methods of determining the acceptability of a contested usage. The first is to apply the SWANS test (Sounds Wrong to a Native Speaker) and the second the GAS test (God and Shakespeare): does the construction appear in the works of Shakespeare or in the Authorized Version of the Bible?If the SWANS test makes sense to me, the GAS one makes me smile because, as it is stated in the book also, the language is constantly changing (as all other languages of the world), so I think Shakespeare should be let to rest in peace.We also learn some interesting information from How English Became English: A short history of a global language such as: adjectives referring to size precede colour adjectives; the addition of silent letters to different words as a reverence for Latinate spellings, such as b for debt or p for receipt etc.Also, look at that pretty cover. I bet the physical edition is amazing.Bottom line is I strongly recommend this short history no matter if English is your first language or not.*I thank Simon Horobin, Oxford University Press, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Melanti
    2019-02-20 21:48

    A very British-centric look at the English language. English outside the UK is looked at but as a separate subject rather integrated into the main part of the analysis.This is a rather slim volume that tries to cover a huge amount of ground, so though I was disappointed that it glossed over so many of the historical details and only provided high level views of important events such as the Norman invasion, I suppose I can't really fault it for doing so. But the history it presents was so very basic as to just function as a refresher for me and I'm not sure it would have answered many questions if I'd been new to the subject.Horobin spends a great deal of time discussing such things as who has the authority to create standards for English, but I think he missed the mark by being dismissive of online sources.For instance, while discussing dictionaries, he mentions two online dictionaries - Wiktionary, and Urban Dictionary. He never mentions Wiktionary again, but legitimately dismisses Urban Dictionary as being biased. But what about Wiktionary? Wikipedia, for all the flack it gets for being inaccurate, has been shown in some studies to be as accurate (or more accurate) as Encyclopedia Britannica -- at least in the less controversial articles. I was looking forward to getting his take on the accuracy of Wiktionary. Yet it isn't there.And another lost opportunity comes up when he's discussing relevance. Is O.E.D. still relevant in these days when its content is hidden behind a paywall when there's half a dozen reliable dictionaries freely available online? Surely ease of accessibility is a vital component to relevance in the digital age.Another internet-related subject that was lacking was when he was discussing the question of whether English would continue to diverge into multiple separate and mutually incomprehensible languages. With the internet and the constant communication all over the world, wouldn't this foster a convergence of language rather than a divergence? Or at least a simplified version of English? But that's not a question he explores at all. The internet has greatly changed a lot of aspects of society, but other than a few paragraphs here and there, much of this book could have been written twenty years ago - and that makes it seem a little out of date even though it's a recent publication.Thank you to Netgalley and Oxford University Press for the free review copy.

  • Theresa
    2019-02-05 00:03

    This slight book and barely 200 pages is more of an extended essay. It covers the origins of English and its mix of languages such as French, Saxon and Norse. I was surprised how familiar I was with the history of the language and found the chapter on changes in contemporary English the most interesting. Horobin classifies texting as a dialect, which I found thought provoking. Anyone who has tried to explain to a student that text speak is not acceptable in an essay may find that defining it as a dialect may persuade the recalcitrant that it has its place and that place is on the phone and not in essays, formal letters and the like. I also like the concept of the emoji as an universal language.Language constantly evolves and I was very taken with the fact that the US navy traditionally sends all its telegrams in upper case. Then along came the texting generation for whom upper case means shouting and they complained that they were being shouted at. So now the US navy sends its telegrams in lower case.Horobin has a chair at the University of Oxford and has a highly readable style. You will read this over a couple of cups of coffee and is ideal as an introduction to the subject. It is difficult to rate but assuming that the reader is new to the history of English I have given it 5*.

  • Prima Seadiva
    2019-02-10 19:57

    More like 3.5 starsQuick little read, yet quite interesting. I've always found words and language fascinating. Maybe it was that 3 years of Latin -LOL!This was an overview of how English has evolved over the centuries into the language it is today. Covered were its roots, various other language influences, variations and changes ongoing today especially with the social media influences. For such a small book it covered a lot. I found the writing very accessible. I knew some of the information but some was new to me.I particularly liked how the author addressed the 2 main grammar viewpoints of prescriptive (seeing grammar as more fixed with certain inviolable rules) and descriptive (seeing how things work and how they change. I also liked how he touched on how class and race beliefs have impacted the ways people see English as "correct" or not. His section on dialects was quite interesting, including texting and electronic communication in that area made sense to me.For those learning English as a second language I think this would be clear most useful.

  • Dexter
    2019-01-25 21:45

    Super fascinating and well-written. Horobin does a really great job of being unbiased for the majority of the text, stating all the facts from all sides of the issue. It's also surprisingly in-depth for such a little book. Not only is there a history of the English language with specific examples, there's also a bunch on modern issues with English such as texting and Spanglish and what even counts as a language anyway? PLUS, he concludes it all with a why does it matter section. I applaud not only the book itself, but the structure as well.Great for nerds like me who love words and languages and obscure facts. Also great for anyone concerned with modern social issues, because language is a big part of every "race" and culture, and Horobin does a great job of addressing it.

  • Darrin
    2019-02-21 17:54

    This is a better book than Gooden's, The Story of English. In almost half the number of pages, Horobin covers virtually the same ground in a more concise, interesting and detailed manner. I was particularly interested in the chapters regarding varieties of English spoken in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. I did not realize what an impact the original regional dialects of the first English colonists had on the varieties of English that came to be used in these countries.Also, with interest, I read the chapter that talks about Singlish (Singaporean English) and its mix of English, Malay and Chinese words and grammatical constructs. I have a Singaporean friend on Facebook who I often see using Singlish in her posts.It is a quick read, though you may not think so by the amount of time it took me to finish. A number of other life activities got in the way over the past month, but if you have an interest, I do recommend this book for a well-written overview of the English language.

  • Lexish
    2019-01-26 00:01

    Of all the books I've read -- or tried to read -- on this topic, this one was the most palatable! Not dry, not overly-detailed. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in learning a little more about language and linguistics.

  • Enrico Sorrentino
    2019-02-22 01:09

    Not exhaustive but a good introduction that raises a lot of important points about the English language.

  • Darren
    2019-02-03 00:51

    It is not far-fetched to say that most English speakers do not know the real history of their own language. Britons especially! This book provides a readable, concise history about the global language which is English, something that is spoken by over a billion people worldwide, whether as a primary or secondary language. The history and development of English is fascinating and, of course, as a language it is always changing. It can be a truism to say that English people may have a poor understanding of their language. They certainly en masse fail to have an appreciation to its history and development. Foreigners can and frequently do have a better understanding of it, at least on a technical and often historical level. For those who have British as a mother tongue, “it just is” can be a standard, puzzled answer to any question concerning their language. Otherwise why the past tense of walk is walked, whereas the past tense of go is went? Now, English is far from a rigid, pure language. It borrows literally, quelle surprise, from many other languages. Many common-or-garden English words or phrases may appear English but they have been taken from foreign languages before being Anglicized and forming part of everyday speech. It is slightly unfortunate that this book can be heavy going, particularly to a reader who is not a linguist. This is a shame as even someone with English as a mother tongue may be struggling to keep up with this book. That said, it is still worth the effort. Reading this book gave the equivalent of many cartoon thought bubbles filled with exclamation marks. The author has done his homework and reveals many fine, top-rate observations. Why would an English speaker plump for “The little yellow book” but ignore “The yellow little book”? There is a reason yet most won’t know it, despite knowing their preference. The book’s low price is a steal for what you get and the hours of attentive, information-rich knowledge that it imparts. It might not change how you use English (perhaps it is too late for that) yet it may change how you appreciate and value the language.

  • Lindsay Stares
    2019-02-11 01:58

    Premise: A layman-friendly history of the English language: the roots of its complexity, the source of its foibles, the ways people have sought to define or legislate it, and the ways it is continuing to grow and change.What a joy for a word-lover like me! This book lays out English in all its glory.I loved learning about the languages that came together to make Old English and all the reasons that other languages and words were folded in later. It was especially interesting to get examples of how the long-ago mashing together of people and language created specific inconsistencies and quirks that carry through to the modern language. The book has a humorous, modern tone, which I enjoyed, and the author clearly has little sympathy for prescriptivists who would put the language in a box and freeze “correct” English in place. There’s a good deal of commentary on the history of language authorities. I enjoyed the description of the circular nature of certain important references, i.e. citing Shakespeare’s use of a word to prove the meaning of the word, and then using the citation to prove the importance of Shakespeare to the language. I would have liked more about emerging dialects and the future of English, although the commentary on the classism inherent in the codification of Standard English is well done. This was a proof copy, so the book is not necessarily final, but the ending was a bit jarring, just sort of: “Well, and that’s a list of all the things about the history of English you should know.”Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  • Phillip Curwood
    2019-01-24 20:51

    How English Became English by Simon Horobin, is a must read for all those questioning the roots of our universal language. The author digs deep to find a multitude of dialects, from Latin to Papua New Guinea, French to Germanic, making us question each and every word that comes out our mouths.A highly recommended read for lovers of the lexicon!

  • Gizzard
    2019-02-22 18:03

    A short, very readable discussion of the origins of the English language. This is kind of just a taste of a detailed in depth subject. But, linguistics is a fascinating field of study, encompasses a lot of history. Give this short interesting book a try to see if you might be interested in this subject.Thanks NetGalley for the preview copy.

  • Eileen Hall
    2019-02-09 20:06

    A fascinating writing on the origins, development and spread of the English language.Simon Horobin also speculates on how long the language will last and what, if any, other language may take its place.A must for any language student.I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Oxford University Press via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.

  • Karen
    2019-02-07 20:43

    Meh. I thought it was going to spend a lot more time on history, etymology, and dialects (the blending of Anglo-Saxon with French and Latin, etc.), but those sections are actually rather brief and dry, and then it moves on to issues of usage and descriptivism/prescriptivism, etc., which I'm bored to death with already.

  • E Moll
    2019-01-28 17:53

    I enjoyed this book, although I can never get through nonfiction as quickly as fiction. I was hoping it would have more information about different accents of English in America, but it was mostly focused on English in England, which makes sense. Overall I thought it was interesting to learn more about my native language!

  • Migdalia Jimenez
    2019-02-21 19:05

    Formal yet accessible, I found this book engaging. Horobin provides a history lesson on the English language that makes it clear that there has never been and never will be a 'correct' or authoritative English.

  • Amanda [Novel Addiction]
    2019-02-08 20:05

    Sometimes, this felt like it was droning on. However, every time I started to get bored or my eyes would start crossing - the next section proved to be exciting and interesting. So while a fully exciting book would be preferable - I do think this manages to come out even.

  • Mackay
    2019-01-24 23:55

    Exactly what its title/subtitle promise. Walks a careful line between the prescriptivist & descriptivist schools of linguistics. Some interesting graphs and charts, but not a lot I didn't know before. Worthwhile, though, if one hasn't immersed oneself in the English language previously.

  • Max
    2019-01-30 23:53

    A short, accessible, very readable little volume that explores the complexities of the English language in a non-prescriptivist way.

  • Barbara Adde
    2019-01-31 21:48

    A subject that I've been curious about and was well-researched and written as engagingly as any book about the history of language could be, I suppose.

  • Jina
    2019-02-21 20:05

    How English Became English was a really interesting read. While we learn English in school, we don’t really learn about the language’s history itself. We are being taught “upper class/proper” Standard English. I didn’t even realize that spelling was chaotic until printing was more widely used, but that makes sense if you think about it. I tend to be a bit of a “grammar nazi” at times, however this book has opened my eyes as not only why I am that way (“ As users of English, it is impossible for us to take an external stance from which to observe current usage. As we have all had to acquire the English language, negotiating its grammatically niceties, its fiendishly tricky spellings, and its unusual pronunciations, it is impossible for us to adopt a neutral position from which to observe debates concerning correct usage.”), but also why it’s (to a degree) unnecessary. English has never been a pure language one reason it has been around so long is because it adapts and evolves.