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51 - English Historical Linguistics and Varieties and Dialects of English

    Table of contents
    1. 1. topics
    2. 2. to study
    3. 3. for further reference


    1. The Indo-European and the Germanic languages
      The Indo-European languages: Proofs of relationship. Branches. Some characteristic vocalic and consonantal changes (e.g., Grimm's Law, mergers in the vocalic system, Verner's Law). PIE features surviving in PdE. The Germanic languages: Branches (Eastern, Western, Northern). Gothic. West Germanic: High and Low (Old High German Consonant Shift). Scandinavian.

    1. Vowels and stress, consonants from OE to PdE

    Vowels and stress: Umlaut. The Great Vowel Shift (push or drag chain, affected class of vowels), its effects on PdE morphology. Pre-R changes (breaking, broadening). Germanic stress: place of stress (nouns vs. verbs) and its effects on vowels (full vs. reduced). Romance stress. Consonants: The consonant system of OE/ME/PdE: Allophones vs. phonemes (grammaticalisation). Voice. Distribution of fricatives and its relevance to PdE. The pronunciation of 'gh'. Palatalisation. The velar nasal.

    1. The nominal categories (nouns, pronouns and adjectives) from OE to PdE

    Nouns and adjectives: Weak and strong nouns (basis of classification and its reflexes in PdE. Definite (weak) and indefinite (strong) adjectival declension. Inflectional vs. analytical tendencies (prepositional constructions): Today's irregular plurals. The genitive. Pluralia tantum. Pronouns: The OE case system and its PdE reflexes: him/her/me. PdE nominative vs. non-nominative cases. The use of prepositions. The birth of the definite article. Gender (grammatical vs. natural). The you--thou problem. Scandinavian influence on the pronoun system (e.g., they). Grammaticalisation (e.g., my/mine).

    1. The verbal category from OE to PdE

    Weak vs. strong verbs: Dental suffix vs. ablaut series; The was/were distinction. Third person ending. Suppletivism. Today's irregular verbs. Distinction between 'strong' and 'irregular'. Emergence of periphrastic verb forms and tenses.

    1.  The history of English spelling

    Runic writing. History of today's letter-to-sound-rules. The love words. The conservatism of spelling (e.g., retention of 'gh', the meat--meet merger, the first--nurse--merger).

    1. The history of English syntax

    Main vs. subordinate clauses. English as a V2 language. Subject-verb inversion vs. fronting (this school you will never leave vs. *this school will you never leave). Do-support. Order of constituents (auxiliary vs. main verbs, preposition + N, adjective + noun). Tense, aspect, voice, mood and their distribution in MoE (e.g. it was done, it was being done, it will have been done).

    1. Semantic and stylistic change

    Slang and standardisation. Amelioration and pejoration. Narrowing and extension. Homonyms vs. homophones vs. synonyms (basis of classification). Biblical translation as an example for such changes. Slang. Jargon. Taboo.

    1. English word formation

    Derivation and inflexion. Bound vs. free forms. Stem, marker (extensions), root (change in word formation processes: root vs. stem based). Change of lexical words to suffixes (e.g., -ly, -dom, -ship). Augments (drama-t-ic).

    1. Loanwords in English and their dating

    (vulgar/mediaeval) Latin. Coastal (AN) French vs. Parisian (central) Old French. MoFrench vs. Latin (chandelier vs. candle). Scandinavian (skirt vs. shirt). Popular loans vs. learned loans vs. inherited (native) forms. Chronology of sound changes (both English and that of source languages) as applied to loanwords (e.g., chief vs. chef vs. capital). Loans in overseas Englishes.

    1. Methods of dialectology

    Dialect vs. accent vs. language. Vernacular. Social differentiation. Hypercorrection. Horizontal and vertical differentiation. Lexical diffusion. Isoglosses. Diglossia. Code-switching. Split.

    1. Varieties of English on the British Isles (past and present)

    Dialects of England: Geographical distribution in OE and ME and their relevance for modern English. The emergence of Estuary English and SSBE. RP and SSBE. English beyond England: Irish English. Welsh English. Scottish English.

    1. Varieties of English overseas

    American English (GA). Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African, etc. English (discuss some differences and similarities with respect to SSBE).

    to study

    • Baugh, A.C. and Cable, T. (1951, 1959, 1978, 1993). A History of the English Language. London and New York: Routledge.
    • Burrow, J.A. and Turville-Petre, Th. (1992). A Book of Middle English. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • Cheshire, J. (ed.) (1994). English World Wide. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Görlach, M. (1985). Introduction to Early Modern English. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Hughes, A. and Trudgill, P. (1979). English Accents and Dialects. London: Edward Arnold.

    for further reference

    • Barber, C. (1976). Early Modern English. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Corbett, G. (1991). Gender. (ch. 10). Cambridge: CUP.
    • Ekwall, E. (1975). History of English Sound and Morphology. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • Hogg, R.M. (ed.) (1990). The Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Jenkins, J. (2009). World Englishes (A Resource book for Students). London and New York: Routledge.
    • Jones, Mari C. and Singh, Ishtla (2005). Exploring Language Change. London and New York: Routledge.
    • Lass, R. (1994). Old English (A historical linguistic companion). Cambridge: CUP.
    • Matthews, P.H. (1974). Morphology: An Introduction to the Theory of Word-Structure. Cambridge: CUP.
    • Millward, C.M. (1989). A Biography of the English Language. Fort Worth, etc.: Holt. Rinehart and Winston.
    • Mitchell, B. and Robinson, H.R. (1980). A Guide to Old English. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • Murrison, D. (1977). The Guid Scots Tongue. Edinburgh: Blackwood.
    • Trudgill, P. (1974). Sociolinguistics. Harmodsworth: Penguin.
    • Wright, J. and Wright, E. (1984). An Elementary Middle English Grammar. Oxford: Oxford UP.
    • Quirk, R. and Wrenn, C.L. (1989). An Old English Grammar. London: Routledge.
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