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The Story of English: How the English language conquered the world Paperback – 28 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857383280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857383280
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 593,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"A handy pocket guide." --PublishersWeekly.com

From the Back Cover

Born as a Germanic tongue with the arrival in Britain of the Anglo-Saxons in the early medieval period, heavily influenced by Norman French from the 11th century, and finally emerging as modern English from the late Middle Ages, the English language has grown to become the linguistic equivalent of a superpower. Worldwide, some 380-million people speak English as a first language and some 600-million as a second language. A staggering one-billion people are believed to be learning it. English is the premier international language in communications, science, business, aviation, entertainment, diplomacy, and on the Internet. It is thought by many to be well on the way to becoming the world's first universal language. Philip Gooden tells the story of the English language in all its richness and variety. From the intriguing origins and changing definitions of common words such as 'OK', 'berserk', 'curfew', 'cabal' and 'pow-wow', to the massive transformation wrought in the vocabulary and structure of the language by Anglo-Saxon and Norman conquest, through to the literary triumphs of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and the works of Shakespeare, right up to the profound and surprising effect electronic media have had on its development. The Story of English is a fascinating tale of linguistic, social and cultural transformation, told accessibly and authoritatively.


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 4 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm not quite sure why Philip Gooden decided to call his book "The Story Of English" when there is already an excellent book by Robert McCrum of the same title, linked to a TV series from around 25 years ago. That being said, this book is a useful addition to the canon on language history. Gooden simplifies matters by looking at the development of English under broad headings, corresponding to well known periods of European or British history. He is good on how spelling has changed over the years, how English has taken in many words from other languages, and how it is non-mother tongue countries that are now driving its development. I suggest that if you are interested in the subject you read this book, along with McCrum's, and Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By dunelmensis on 31 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this started out well, but in the middle did seem to loose its way
i was hoping to find out things like why new zealanders developed their accent, and the regional dialect changes in Britain but these were not really addressed
if anyone is interested there is a great podcast- thehistoryofenglish which goes into matters in much greater detail
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jane Brown on 19 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
I first borrowed this book from the library and soon realized what a wealth of interest it contained with mention of books, some familiar but others previously unknown to me. This will lead me to a study of books mentioned and also of current English usage. A friend who also read the book agreed it is a fascinating read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dreamboat on 28 Jan 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this started well, but the nod to 'celebrities' towards the end was irritating. David Crystal covers some of the same ground and I'd recommend his titles (Global English, for example) rather than this book.
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The Story of English was written very clearly. it follows the development of the English Language through many changes and influences, and explains how it has become one of the world's dominant languages.
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By alison noble on 1 May 2014
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A good book that will make you see our wonderful language in a very different way! It makes you think about how our language evolved.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think you can rely on this book as a broad overview but when you read that Thomas Arnold was the headmaster of Rugby School and the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays you know you'd better not take bets about the smaller details.

Good value for £1.49 I would say.
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A fascinating and very readable history of the emergence and development of the English Language. Why don't they teach this stuff in school?
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