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  • Cited by 25
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    ZEHENTNER, EVA 2017. Ditransitives in Middle English: on semantic specialisation and the rise of the dative alternation. English Language and Linguistics, p. 1.

    HOFFMANN, THOMAS 2017. Construction Grammar as Cognitive Structuralism: the interaction of constructional networks and processing in the diachronic evolution of English comparative correlatives. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 21, Issue. , p. 349.

    COLE, MARCELLE 2017. Pronominal anaphoric strategies in the West Saxon dialect of Old English. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 21, Issue. , p. 381.

    BECH, KRISTIN 2017. Old ‘truths’, new corpora: revisiting the word order of conjunct clauses in Old English. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 21, Issue. , p. 1.

    Lühr, Rosemarie 2016. Indogermanistik und Germanistik. Historical Linguistics, Vol. 129, Issue. , p. 233.

    Estrada-Fernández, Zarina 2016. Finiteness and Nominalization. Vol. 113, Issue. , p. 43.

    Lee, Jerry Won 2016. The Politics of Intentionality in Englishes: Provincializing Capitalization. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, Vol. 13, Issue. , p. 46.

    CICHOSZ, ANNA 2016. Old English verbs of saying and verb-initial order. English Language and Linguistics, p. 1.

    FONTEYN, LAUREN and VAN DE POL, NIKKI 2016. Divide and conquer: the formation and functional dynamics of the Modern English ing-clause network. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 20, Issue. , p. 185.

    Theron, Roberto and Fontanillo, Laura 2015. Diachronic-information visualization in historical dictionaries. Information Visualization, Vol. 14, Issue. , p. 111.

    Rusten, Kristian A. 2015. A quantitative study of empty referential subjects in Old English prose and poetry. Transactions of the Philological Society, Vol. 113, Issue. , p. 53.

    D'Arcy, Alexandra and Tagliamonte, Sali A. 2015. Not always variable: Probing the vernacular grammar. Language Variation and Change, Vol. 27, Issue. , p. 255.

    Fulk, Robert D. 2014. A historical phonology of English. By Donka Minkova. Diachronica, Vol. 31, Issue. , p. 457.

    2013. The Classical Tradition. p. 432.

    MOLINEAUX, BENJAMIN J. 2012. Prosodically conditioned morphological change: preservation vs loss in Early English prefixes. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 16, Issue. , p. 427.

    Thurber, Beverly A. 2011. Voicing of Initial Interdental Fricatives in Early Middle English Function Words. Journal of Germanic Linguistics, Vol. 23, Issue. , p. 65.

    LODGE, KEN 2010. Th'interpretation of t'definite article in t'North of England. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 14, Issue. , p. 111.

    HAUMANN, DAGMAR 2010. Adnominal adjectives in Old English. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 14, Issue. , p. 53.

    McWHORTER, J. H. 2009. What else happened to English? A brief for the Celtic hypothesis. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 13, Issue. , p. 163.

    SUÁREZ-GÓMEZ, CRISTINA 2009. On the syntactic differences between OE dialects: evidence from the Gospels. English Language and Linguistics, Vol. 13, Issue. , p. 57.

  • Volume 1: The Beginnings to 1066
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The Cambridge History of the English Language is the first multi-volume work to provide a full account of the history of English. Its authoritative coverage extends from areas of central linguistic interest and concern to more specialised topics such as personal and place names. The volumes dealing with earlier periods are chronologically based, whilst those dealing with more recent periods are geographically based, thus reflecting the spread of English over the last 300 years. Volume 1 deals with the history of English up to the Norman Conquest, and contains chapters on Indo-European and Germanic, phonology and morphology, syntax, semantics and vocabulary, dialectology, onomastics, and literary language. Each chapter, as well as giving a chronologically-oriented presentation of the data, surveys scholarship in the area and takes full account of the impact of developing and current linguistic theory on the interpretation of the data. The chapters have been written with both specialists and non-specialists in mind; they will be essential reading for all those interested in the history of English.


‘... far and away the biggest and most ambitious history of the language ever published, and to judge from the quality of the two volumes that have appeared, it will be an achievement of which all concerned can be thoroughly proud.’ Randolph Quirk, London Review of Books

Elizabeth Closs Traugott - Stanford University

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    pp 1-25
  • View abstract
    This chapter provides compares the history of Old English with the political history, ecclesiastical history and literary history of Britain. It begins with a story of the Anglo-Saxon invasions and settlements of Britain by Saint Bede. From the linguistic point of view the most remarkable feature of the Anglo-Saxon settlement must be the virtually complete elimination of the Celtic languages. In the first half of the ninth century Mercian linguistic influence on Kentish texts was considerable, whilst towards the end of the period West Saxon texts can sometimes be seen to have Kentish influence. This could be due the ecclesiastical influence of Kent was much stronger than its political influence. The Alfredian texts, on phonological and morphological grounds commonly called Early West Saxon texts, are of immense importance in the history of the language, as they represent the first attempts at a written literary prose style. For a present-day language, the nature of the evidence is wide and varied.
    pp 26-66
  • View abstract
    Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Germanic, Celtic and a few other languages stem from a common proto-language, which is usually termed 'Indo-European'. The main concepts which underlie historical linguistics are the regularity of sound change and the systematic character of diachronic change in general. This chapter, after first discussing language change and historical linguistics, gives some information about the documentation available for the various Germanic languages; then an attempt is made at characterising the linguistic structure of Germanic language. English is often grouped together with Frisian as Ingvaeonic on the assumption that both represent a special linguistic group within West Germanic. Since Latin and Greek are the two Indo-European languages most widely known in European tradition, the examples given in the chapter are often drawn from them. The sound system of Indo-European results from systematic comparison of cognate lexical items in the individual languages. The chapter establishes the relationship between Germanic phonemes and their Indo-European starting-points.
    pp 67-167
  • View abstract
    Old English was closely related to the other contemporary Germanic languages. Thus, whatever structures we suppose for Old English should not be drastically out of line with the structures supposed for those languages. The principal difficulty in morphological reconstruction, as opposed to phonological reconstruction, is to decide which type of analysis should be preferred. Orthographic usage was reasonably stable during the Old English period. Nevertheless, certain alphabets, which represent the usage of the late tenth century, underwent modifications of two different kinds with the passage of time. The sound system changed drastically between the time of the first Anglo-Saxon settlements and the Norman Conquest. Just as today one finds different sound systems in different dialects, so in Old English there was considerable dialect variation. Compared with the present-day language, Old English was highly inflected. Nouns had four cases and three genders; verbs inflected for person and number and for the indicative and subjunctive moods.
  • 4 - SYNTAX
    pp 168-289
  • View abstract
    To understand the syntax of a language fully, one needs to have access to grammaticality judgements. This chapter focuses on constructions that are of particular interest in the history of English, and which highlight differences between Old English (OE) and later stages of the language. It concentrates on the absence of a determiner to express indefiniteness and on the question of whether there is evidence for an indefinite article in OE. By 'verbal group' is meant both the finite verb, and verbal phrases consisting of a main verb and one or more auxiliary verbs. The chapter provides a discussion of the finite verb, with focus on subject-verb agreement, tense and mood, and then moves on to constructions with auxiliary verbs. Then, it offers some generalisations about case assignment, moves on to a discussion of impersonal constructions, and then addresses the issue of subject and object in OE, including passives and reflexive constructions.
    pp 290-408
  • View abstract
    Vocabulary is characterised by large morphologically related word-families, where the relationship is transparent not only formally but most often also semantically. This chapter provides an outline of the major Old English (OE) word-formation patterns, since there still does not exist a comprehensive treatment of OE word-formation. It looks at these morphological aspects of the OE vocabulary, after providing some detailed remarks on the etymological sources of the OE vocabulary, notably the loan-words forming part of it, and its diatopic and diaphasic stratification. The general contact situation responsible for the borrowing process and the events leading up to are discussed briefly, because this was established during the Danelaw period, and later during the period of Danish rule between 1016 and 1035, and consequently falls within the OE period. The chapter surveys OE word-formation, and provides a general assessment of its typological properties, which could also be used as a starting-point for tracing the subsequent developments in the Middle English period.
    pp 409-451
  • View abstract
    Linguists interested in earlier varieties of English are fortunate that the English language has been written for over a thousand years. Those records attest several clearly distinct historical varieties. This chapter investigates the methods for extracting information from ancient written records. The speech patterns we acquire early include markers of regional and social dialect. The chapter explores the linguistic relations between the Vespasian Psalter (VPs), the charters, the glossaries and a number of other related texts, now generally regarded as representing Mercian or Mercian influenced varieties of Old English. It provides an over-simplification and over-generalization of a great deal of textual diversity. The chapter offers an alternative interpretation of the earliest non-Northumbrian data, an interpretation which demonstrates patterns of linguistically significant variation and takes into account what we can know of contexts in which the texts were produced. It provides a summary of synchronically variable data from Epinal, Erfurt, Corpus glossaries and the VPs helps illustrate the first point.
    pp 452-489
  • View abstract
    The sources for early name-forms, of people and of places alike, are, in terms of the conventional disciplines, ones more often associated with 'History' than with 'English Studies'. Onomastic sources for the Old English (OE) period include: chronicles, Latin and vernacular; libri vitae; inscriptions and coin-legends; charters, wills, writs and other business-records; and above all Domesday Book. Early Germanic custom required that each individual should have a single, distinctive name. The term 'personal name' favoured for this purpose by some scholars is over-general, because 'by-names' and family-names are no less 'personal'. For convenience, the terminology adopted in this chapter is knowingly inconsistent: simply to distinguish anthroponym from toponym, 'personal name' is used. Place-names begin as topographical and/or possessory descriptions of the sites concerned. Recurrent commonplace formations emphasise how uncertain distinction is between descriptive term and name.
    pp 490-535
  • View abstract
    Literary language is of particular importance to historical linguists because it shows the language being tested to the full, being used by individuals who think seriously about the right choice and use of language. There is a general similarity in the language of much of the poetry which distinguishes it sharply from most prose. This chapter attempts to describe the relatively homogeneous poetic language shared by most poems before going on to consider the variations from it. Anglo-Saxon poetry is remarkable for its use of a single metrical form sustained with only minor variations over the whole corpus, regardless of date or genre. Whereas Anglo-Saxon poetry and the specialised language associated with it have their origins deep in the pre-literate past, sustained discourse in prose began essentially in the late ninth century. Much of Old English prose writing was public and official, in a way that prose seldom was to be again after the Conquest until the late fourteenth century.
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