Approximately 1.35 billion people use it, either as a first or second language, so English and the way that we speak it has a daily impact on huge numbers of people. But how did the English language develop? In this episode from our sibling podcast Gone Medieval, Cat Jarman spoke to Eleanor Rye, an Associate Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of York. Using the present-day language, place names and dialects as evidence, Ellie shows us how English was impacted by a series of migrations. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
In this introductory episode, we look at the emergence of English as a global language and the evolution of the language from its Germanic origins.
The year in language. Cronut. Vape. Twerk. Sharknado. We’ll look at the language that went large in 2013.
In this episode, we continue our look at the gradual emergence of Middle English from the linguistic rubble left in the wake of the Norman Conquest. English remained fractured and broken, and foreign influences continued to come in. We explore the changing language of the Peterborough Chronicle. We also examine how a merchant’s failed attempt to buy some eggs shaped the history of the English language.
David Crystal is a world-renowned linguist. He’s the author of over 100 books, and an advocate of what he calls “Internet Linguistics" — an approach to understanding how we use language online. Nora Young interviewed David for Spark 220. This Q&A is a lightly edited version of that interview.
Pavement/sidewalk; football/soccer; bum bag/fanny pack: we know that the English language is different in the UK and the USA. But why? Linguist Lynne Murphy points out the geographical, cultural and social influences that separate the common language.
"Politics and the English Language" (1946) is an essay by George Orwell that criticised the "ugly and inaccurate" written English of his time and examines the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language.
The essay focuses on political language, which, according to Orwell, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". Orwell believed that the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless because it was intended to hide the truth rather than express it. This unclear prose was a "contagion" which had spread to those who did not intend to hide the truth, and it concealed a writer’s thoughts from himself and others. Orwell encourages concreteness and clarity instead of vagueness, and individuality over political conformity.
Steven Pinker discusses the interplay of language and the mind and how psychological processes have shaped the English language.
The best stuff is about using Google’s enormous database of word-from-books to track how language evolves over time, in particular the gradual erosion of irregular forms in English (keep/kept and drive/drove) in favour of their regular counterparts (beep/beeped and jive/jived).
Which you WILL want to follow up with a visit to Google Ngrams - http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/ - essentially Google Trends but with all written words in the English language for the last 1,000 years (instead of all search terms in the last ten years).
Evolving English: Linguistics at the Library Podcast
What happens when lots of languages and dialects come into contact with each other? This week, Andrew and Rowan discuss contact effects in super-diverse cities like London, and what happens to English as more and more people speak it around the world. We also answer a question from Twitter about the noises we make in conversation to show that we’re listening.
Tweet us: @VoicesofEnglish
This week’s ‘What’s the feature?’ used a clip from: Millennium Memory Bank Recording in Birmingham. BBC, UK, rec. 1999 [digital audio file]. British Library, C900/18580. Available: https://sounds.bl.uk/Accents-and-dialects/Millenium-memory-bank/021M-C0900X18580X-1600V1
Links: Multicultural London English databank: http://linguistics.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/linguistics/english-language-teaching/databank-of-spoken-london-english/
Donahue, R. T. (1998). Japanese culture and communication: Critical cultural analysis. University Press of America.
Cheshire, Jenny, Kerswill, Paul orcid.org/0000-0002-6540-9312, Fox, Susan et al. (1 more author) (2011) Contact, the feature pool and the speech community : The emergence of Multicultural London English. Jou…
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/the-british-library/evolving-english-linguistics-at-the-library-episode-4?in=the-british-library/sets/evolving-english-linguistics
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Does Scrabble in fact celebrate language? Or does it merely reduce English to a set of mathematical symbols and probability calculations? In the final episode of our first series of Lexicon Valley podcasts, I talk to Word Freak author and competitive Scrabble player Stefan Fatsis about how a math game disguised as a word game nevertheless unlocks the essential beauty of the English language.