Skip to main content
  • Print publication year: 1999
  • Online publication date: March 2008


This introduction presents an overview of concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book discusses regional forms of English which developed after 1776. One can identify a common core to British and American features of a language now more correctly called International English. The chapter addresses the common core of British and American English can be justified on several grounds, historical, social and linguistic. The split between the two major varieties is somewhat neater when looked at from a lexical and grammatical standpoint. Grammatical differences, in particular, tend to be for the most part minor, at least as far as the inner circle is concerned. If no distinctive vocabulary items are used, it is quite often not possible to tell in certain text types (apart from spelling) what nationality the author is.
Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge History of the English Language
  • Online ISBN: 9781139053655
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *
Abercrombie, D. (1963). Problems and Principles in Language Study. 2nd edn. London: Longman.
Abercrombie, D. (1965). Studies in Phonetics and Linguistics. London: Oxford University Press.
Le Page, R. B. & Tabouret-Keller, A. (1985). Acts of Identity. Creole-based Approaches to Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Alford, H. (1864). A Plea for the Queen's English.
Alford, H. (1864). The Queen's English: a Manual of Idiom and Usage. London: Longman and Green.
Algeo, J. & Algeo, A. (1993). Among the new words. American Speech 68.
Algeo, J. (1988a). A computer corpus for a dictionary of Briticisms. In Kytö, Ihalainen & Riissanen, (eds.).
Algeo, J. (1988b). British and American Grammatical Differences. International Journal of Lexicography 1.
Algeo, J. (ed.) (forthcoming). English in North America: origins and development. The Cambridge History of the English Language, vol. VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Anderson, B. (1991). Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Revised edn.
Ashcroft, B. , Griffiths, G. & Tiffin, H. (1989). The Empire Writes Back Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. London: Routledge.
Auerbach, E. (1968). Mimesis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ayto, J. (1983). English: failures of language reforms. In Fodor, I. & Hagège, C. (eds.), Language Reform. History and Future, vol. I. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag>.
Bailey, C.-J. N. & Maroldt, K. (1977). The French lineage of English. In Meisel, Jürgen (ed.), Pidgins – Creoles – Languages in Contact. Tüingen: Narr.
Bailey, R. W. (1991). Images of English. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Baker, S. J. (1945). The Australian Language. Melbourne: Sun Books.
Baron, D. (1990). The English-Only Question. An Official Language for Americans. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bauer, L. (1993). Progress with a Corpus of New Zealand English and some early results. In Souter, C. & Atwell, E. (eds.) Corpus-Based Computational Linguistics. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Baugh, A. C. & Cable, T. (1993). A History of the English Language. 4th edn. London: Routledge.
Beier, A. L. & Finlay, R. (eds.) (1986). London 1500–1700. The Making of the Metropolis. London: Longman.
Bell, A. (1982). This isn't the BBC: colonialism in New Zealand English. Applied Linguistics 3.
Beloff, M. (1938). Public Order and Public Disturbances, 1660– 1714. London.
Bhabha, H. K. (ed.) (1990). Nation and Narration. London: Routledge.
Biber, D. & Finegan, E. (1989). Drift and the evolution of English style: a history of three genres. Language 65.
Blake, N. F. (1992). Translation and the history of English. In Rissanen, , Ihalainen, , Nevalainen, & Taavitsainen, (eds.).
Brathwaite, E. K. (1984). The History of the Voice: the Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry. London: New Beacon Books.
Brookman, J. (1993). Britain's lost literary horizons. Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 February.
Burchfield, R. W. (1989). The English Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burchfield, R. W. (ed.) (1994). English in Britain and Overseas: Origins and Development. The Cambridge History of the English Language, vol. V. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cameron, D. & Bourne, J. (1988). No common ground: Kingman, Grammar and the Nation. Language and Education 2.
Chambers, J. K. & Trudgill, P. (1980). Dialectology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chambers, J. K. 1992. Dialect acquisition. Language 68.
Chapman, R. W. (1932). Oxford English. Society for Pure English, 4, no. 37.
Clyne, M. (ed.) (1992). Pericentric Languages Differing Norms in Different Languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Cobbett, W. (1818). A Grammar of the English Language. London.
Collins, P. & Peters, P. (1988). The Australian Corpus Project. In Kytö, Ihalainen & Rissanen, (eds.).
Cooper, C. (1995). Noises in the Blood. Orality, Gender, and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Culture. Durham: Duke University Press.
Corfield, P. J. (1991). Class by name and number in eighteenth century Britain. In Corfield, (ed.).
Corfield, P. J. (ed.) (1991). Language, History and Class. Oxford: Blackwell.
Crowley, T. (ed.) (1991). Proper English? Readings in Language, History and Cultural Identity. London: Routledge.
Daly, M. (1987). Webster's First New Intergalactic Wickedary of the English Language Conjured by Mary Daly in Cahoots with Jane Caputi. Boston: Beacon Press.
Delbridge, A. (1990). Australian English now. In Ricks, C. & Michaels, L. (eds.), The State of the Language. Berkeley: University of California Press.
,Department of Education and Science (DES) (1985). Education for all. (The Swann Report on the Education of Children from Ethnic Minority Groups) London: HMSO.
,Department of Education and Science (DES) (1988). Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of the English Language (The Kingman Report). London: HMSO.
Duff, A. (1990). Once Were Warriors. Auckland: Tandem Press.
Ellis, A. J. (1869). On Early English Pronunciation. London: Early English Text Society.
Enright, D. J. (1989). Tide of pollution that engulfs our language. The Observer 24 December.
Fallon, P. & Mahon, D. (eds.) (1990). The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Verse. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Ferguson, C. F. & Heath, S. B. (eds.) (1981). Language in the USA. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fowler, H. W. (1906). The Kings English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gates, H. L. Jr. (1992). African American criticism. In Greenblatt, S. & Gunn, G. (eds.) (1992), Redrawing the Boundaries. The Transformation of English and American Literary Studies. New York: The Modern Language Association.
Gerritsen, M. & Stein, D. (eds.) (1992). Internal and External Factors in Syntactic Change. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Giegerich, H. J. (1992). English Phonology. An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gimson, A. C. (1980). An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English. 3rd edn. London: Edward Arnold.
Graham, G. F. (1869). A Book About Words. Chapter XIII Slang Words and Americanisms. Reprinted in Crowley, T. (ed.) (1991), Proper English? Readings in Language, History and Cultural Identity. London: Routledge.
Gramsci, A. (1985). Selections from Cultural Writings. (Eds. Forgacs, D. & Nowell Smith, G. ; trans. Boelhower, W. .) London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Greaves, W. (1989). Selling English by the pound. The Times October 24.
Greenbaum, S. (1990). Whose English? In Ricks, C. & Michaels, L. (eds.), The State of the Language. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Grillo, R. D. (1989). Dominant Languages. Language and Hierarchy in Britain and France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harris, J. (1984). Syntactic variation and dialect divergence. Journal of Linguistics 20.
Harris, J. (1991). Conservation vs. substratal transfer in Irish English. In Trudgill, & Chambers, (eds.).
Harris, M. (1987). Developing one's Haspirations. Daily Telegraph. December 23.
Hobsbawm, E. J. (1987). The Age of Empire, 1875–1914. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Holmes, J. (1995). Glottal stops in New Zealand English: an analysis of variants of word final /t/. Linguistics 33.
Hon, H. H. (1866). Poor Letter H. Its Use and Abuse. London: John F.Shaw and Co. (40th edn.)
Honey, J. (1988). The Language Trap: Race, Class and the ‘Standard Language’ Issue in British Schools. London: National Council for Educational Standards.
Honey, J. (1989). Does Accent Matter? The Pygmalion Factor. Boston: Faber and Faber.
Hulme, K. (1983). The Bone People. Auckland: Hodder & Stoughton.
Ihimaera, W. (1987). The Matriarch. Auckland: Heinemann.
Jameson, F. (1986). Third-World literature in the era of multinational capitalism. Social Text 15.
Johnson, S. (1755). A Dictionary of the English Language. 2 vols. London.
Jones, C. (1993). Scottish Standard English in the late eighteenth century. Transactions of the Philological Society 91.
Jones, D. (1917). An English Pronouncing Dictionary. London: Dent.
Kachru, B. (ed.) (1980). The Other Tongue. Oxford: Pergamon.
Kallen, J. L. (1994), English in Ireland. In Burchfield, (ed.).
Kelman, J. (1994). How Late it was, How Late. London: Secker and Warburg.
Kilpiö, M. (1995). The verb To Be from Old to Early Modern English. In Rissanen, M. et al. (1995), English in Transition. Diachronic Studies in Variation. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Kincaid, J. (1996). The Autobiography of My Mother. New York: Farrar Straus, Giroux.
Kloss, H. (1967). Abstand languages and Ausbau languages. Anthropological Linguistics 9.
Kloss, H. (1978). Die Entwicklung neuer germanischer Kultursprachen seit 1800. Düsseldorf: Schwann.
Kytö, M. (1991). Variation and Diachrony, with Early American English in Focus. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Kytö, M. , Ihalainen, O. & Rissanen, M. (eds.) (1988). Corpus Linguistics, Hard and Soft. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Labov, W. (1966). The Social Stratification of English in New York City. Washington, DC: Centre for Applied Linguistics.
Labov, W. (1991). The boundaries of a grammar: inter-dialectal reactions to positive anymore. In Trudgill, & Chambers, (eds.).
Lass, R. (forthcoming). Phonology and morphology. In Lass, R. (ed.), The Cambridge History of the English Language. Volume III 1476–1776. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Leitner, G. (1982). The consolidation of ‘Educated Southern English’ as a model in the early 20th century. International Review of Applied Linguistics 20.
Leitner, G. (1984). Australian English or English in Australia – linguistic identity or dependence in broadcast language. English World Wide 5.
Macaulay, R. K. S. (1988). RP R.I.P. Applied Linguistics 9.
Marshall, D. (1982). Industrial England 1776–1851. (2nd edn) London.
Quincey, T. (1890). The English Language. In Masson, D. (ed.), Collected Writings New and Enlarged. 14 vols. Edinburgh. Vol. XIV:.
Matthews, B. (1900). The future literary centre of the English Language. Bookman 12.
McAfee, A. (1994). Judges split as Kelman wins Booker. Financial Times. October 12.
McClure, J. D. (1994). English in Scotland. In Burchfield, (ed.).
McCrum, R. , Cran, W. & MacNeil, R. (1986). The Story of English. New York: Viking Penguin Inc.
McLuhan, M. (1989). The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mencken, H. L. (1919). The American Language. Knopf: New York.
Miller, G. M. (ed.) (1971). BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of English Names. London: Oxford University Press.
Milroy, J. & Milroy, L. (1985). Linguistic change, social network, and speaker innovation. Journal of Linguistics 21.
Milroy, J. (1992). Linguistic Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell.
Milroy, L. (1984). Comprehension and context: successful communication and communicative breakdown. In Trudgill, P. (ed.), Applied Sociolinguistics. London: Academic Press.
Mitchell, A. G. (1946). The Pronunciation of English in Australia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
Molee, E. (1888). Plea for an American Language, or Germanic-English. Chicago: John Anderson and Company.
Morris, M. (ed.) (1988). Jean Binta Breeze Riddym Ravings and Other Poems. London: Race Today Publications.
Mugglestone, L. (1995). ‘Talking Proper’ The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Murray, J. A. H. (1900). The Evolution of English Lexicography: The Romanes Lecture. Oxford. (1970. College Park, MD: McGrath)
Narogin, Mudrooroo (1990). Writing from the Fringe. A Study of Modern Aboriginal Literature. Melbourne: Hyland House.
Neale, A. V. & Wallis, H. R. E. (eds.) (1955). The Boke of Chyldren by Thomas Phaire. Edinburgh: E. & S. Livingstone.
Newbolt, H. (1921). The teaching of English in England. Extracts reprinted in Crowley, (ed.) (1991).
Nordberg, B. (ed.) (1994). The Sociolinguistics of Urbanisation: The Case of the Nordic Countries. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Osselton, N. E. (1984). Informal spelling systems in Early Modern English 1500–1800. In Blake, , N. F. & Jones, C. (eds.), English Historical Linguistics: Studies in Development. Sheffield: The Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language.
Paine, T. (1791). The Rights of Man. (ed. Collins, H. . (1969). Harmondsworth: Penguin)
Pedersen, H. (1931). The Discovery of Language: Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century. (Trans. Spargo, J. W. (1959). Bloomington: Indiana University Press)
Penelope, J. (1990). Speaking Freely. Unlearning the Lies of The Fathers' Tongues. Oxford: Pergamon.
Phillips, K. C. (1984). Language in Victorian England. Oxford: Blackwell.
Preisler, B. (1995). Standard English in the world. Multilingua 14.
Quirk, R. , Greenbaum, S. , Leech, G. & Svartvik, J. (1985). A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.
Ramson, W. S. (ed.) (1988). The Australian National Dictionary: a Dictionary of Australianisms in Historical Perspective. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Read, A. W. (1933). British recognition of American speech in the eighteenth century. Dialect Notes 6. (Reprinted in Dillard, J. L. (1980), Social Perspectives on American English. The Hague: Mouton.)
Rissanen, M. , Ihalainen, O. , Nevalainen, T. & Taavitsainen, I. (eds.) (1992). History of Englishes. New Methods and Interpretations in Historical Linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gryuter.
Romaine, S. (1982). Socio-Historical Linguistics. Its Status and Methodology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Romaine, S. (1984a). The sociolinguistic history of t/d deletion. Folia Linguistica Historica 5.
Romaine, S. (1984b). On the problem of syntactic variation and pragmatic meaning in sociolinguistic theory. Folia Linguistica 18.
Romaine, S. (1991). Introduction. In Romaine, S. (ed.), Language in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Romaine, S. (1995). Birds of a different feather: Tok Pisin and Hawai'i Creole English as literary languages. The Contemporary Pacific. A Journal of Island Affairs 7.
Romaine, S. (1996). Internal vs. external factors in socio-historical explanations of change: a fruitless dichotomy? In Ahlers, J. , Bilmes, L. , Guenter, J. S. , Kaiser, B. A. & Namkung, J. (eds.), Proceedings of the Twenty-First Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. General Session and Parasession on Historical Issues in Sociolinguistics/Social Issues in Historical Linguistics. Department of Linguistics. University of California, Berkeley.
Romaine, S. (1997a). The British heresy in ESL revisited. In Eliasson, S. & Jahr, E. H. (eds.), Language and its Ecology. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Romaine, S. (1997b). Forgetting and remembering: Novels and nations. 11th Pacific History Association Conference and Twenty First Annual University of Hawai'i Pacific Islands Studies Conference. History, Culture and Power in the Pacific. To appear in Ethnohistory.
Rosewarne, D. (1994). Estuary English; Tomorrow's RP?English Today 37.
Ross, A. S. C. (1956). U and non-U Reprinted in Mitford, N. (ed.) (1980). Noblesse Oblige. London: Futura.
Said, E. W. (1993). Culture and Imperialism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Sapir, E. (1921). Language. An Introduction to the study of speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace.
Seton-Watson, H. (1977). Nations and States. An Enquiry into the Origins of Nations and the Politics of Nationalism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Shattuck, J. & Wolff, M. (eds.) (1982). Introduction. The Victorian Periodical Press. Samplings and Soundings. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Shaw, G. B. (1916). Pygmalion. New York: Brentano.
Simon, J. (1980). Paradigms Lost. Reflections on Literacy and Its Decline. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc.
Singh, G. (ed.) (1983). Collected Essays. D. Q. Leavis. Vol. I: The Englishness of the English Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Smith, L.J. (1994). ‘The prize will be useful. I'm skint’. The Times. October 13.
Snow, C. P. (1959). The two cultures: and a second look. New York: Mentor.
Spender, D. (1980). Man Made Language. London: Routledge.
Stead, C. K. (1985). Keri Hulme's The Bone People and the Pegasus Award for Maori Literature. Ariel 16.
Steiner, G. (1975). Why English? Presidential Address delivered to the English Association. London.
Strang, B. M. H. (1970). A History of English. London: Methuen.
Sweet, H. (1890). A Primer of Spoken English. Oxford.
Treglown, J. (ed.) (1988). The Lantern Bearers and Other Essays by Robert Louis Stevenson. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Trench, D. Richard Chevenix (1855). English Past and Present. Five lectures. London: John W Parker and Son.
Trudgill, P. & Hannah, J. (1982). International English. A Guide to Varieties of Standard English. London: Edward Arnold.
Trudgill, P. (1974). The Social Differentiation of English in Norwich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Trudgill, P. (1981). On the limits of passive ‘competence’: sociolinguistics and the polylectal grammar controversy. In Crystal, D. (ed.), Linguistic Controversies: Festschrift for F. R. Palmer. London: Arnold.
Trudgill, P. (1986). Dialects in Contact. Oxford: Blackwell.
Trudgill, P. & Chambers, J. K. (eds.) (1991). Dialects of English. Studies in Grammatical Variation. Harlow: Longman.
Tulloch, G. (1989). Review of The Good News Bible. Australian Bicentennial Edition. English World Wide 10.
Watt, I. (1957). The Rise of the Novel. Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Webster, N. (1788). American Spelling Book. Middletown, CT: William H. Niles. (1831 edn.)
Webster, N. (1789). Dissertations on the English Language. Boston: Thomas.
Webster, N. (1806). A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Sidney's Press. (Facsimile edition 1970 edn. by P. P. Gove. Bounty Books.)
Webster, N. (1828). An American Dictionary of the English Language. New York: Converse.
Weinreich, U. , Labov, W. , & Herzog, M. (1968). Empirical foundations for a theory of language change. In Lehmann, W. P. & Malkiel, Y. (eds.), Directions in Historical Linguistics. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English, 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wendt, A. (1973). Sons for the Return Home. Auckland: Longman Paul. (1978).
Wendt, A.Leaves of the Banyan Tree. Auckland: Longman Paul.
Williams, G. A. (1989). Artisans and Sans-Culottes: Popular Movements in France and Britain during the French Revolution. Routledge: London.
Willinsky, J. (1994). Empire of Words. The Reign of the OED. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Wrightson, K. (1991). Estates, degrees, and sorts: changing perceptions of society in Tudor and Stuart England. In Corfield, (ed.).
Wyld, H. C. (1906). The Place of the Mother Tongue in National Education. London: Murray.
Wyld, H. C. (1920). A History of Modern Colloquial English. 3rd edn. Oxford: Blackwell..
Wyld, H. C. (1927). A Short History of English. 3rd edn. London: John Murray.
Wyld, H. C. (1934). The Best English: a Claim for the Superiority of Received Standard English. Society for Pure English, tract 39. Oxford: Clarendon Press.