Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language
by Seth Lerer

Language and Linguistics books

Chapters of Inventing English


  1. Caedmon learns to sing: Old English and the origins of poetry.
  2. From Beowulf to Wulfstan: The language of Old English Literature.
  3. In this year: The politics of language and the end of Old English.
  4. From Kingdom to Realm: Middle English in a French world.
  5. Lord of this language: Chaucer's world.
  6. I is as ille a millere as are ye: Middle English dialects.
  7. The Great Vowel Shift and the changing character of English.
  8. Chancery, Caxton, and the making of English prose.
  9. I do, I will: Shakespeare's English.
  10. A universal hubbub wild: new words and worlds in Early Modern English.
  11. Visible speech: The orthoepists and the origins of Standard English.
  12. A harmless drudge: Samuel Johnson and the making of the Dictionary.
  13. Horrid, hooting stanzas: Lexicography and literature in American English.
    * Fingers Webster as the prescriber of American English, through his paring and respelling of British English in his dictionary.
  14. Antses in the sugar: dialect and regionalism in American English.
  15. Hello, Dude: Mark Twain and the making of the American Idiom.
  16. Ready for the funk: African American English and its impact.
  17. Pioneers through an untrodden forest: The Oxford English Dictionary and its readers.
  18. Listening to Private Ryan: War and language.
  19. He speaks in your voice: Everybody's English.

Concludes with: