The History and Evolution of English — Resources
Thank you all so much for coming out to learn about the history and evolution of English. I had a great time answering all your questions, and I certainly hope you enjoyed the class too!
It’s taken me quite a while to put this resources page together, because there’s just so much incredibly awesome stuff to share. You’ll also find my presentation files in PDF format. I’ll add the sound files I used in the presentation to this page as soon as possible. Happy reading!
Part 1, Origins-1500 (PDF)
Part 2, 1500-present (PDF)
Sounds Familiar? from the British Library — This is a fantastic resource that gives a number of maps of English accents and dialects, and some interviews with native speakers.
The Great Vowel Shift, from Harvard — Now with sound files for comparison.
The History of English Phonemes, from Furman University — This site gives you examples of the same word pronounced in all four eras (Old, Middle, Early Modern, and Modern).
Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary, from Yale — Some enterprising person scanned in the pages and put them online.
History of the English Language, from Dan Short — Super useful timeline here.
American Accent Undergoing Great Vowel Shift, from NPR — It might be happening again!
English Spelling Reform — Some have tried, and all have failed. Here’s why.
If you want to learn more…
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English, by John McWhorter
A tour of British accents (including the “Geordie” I kept mentioning):
Shakespeare in the original pronunciation!
The history of English in 10 minutes (super funny!):