Courses » ENGL 312: History of the English Language


When Chaucer made the observation "that in forme of speche is chaunge" the stated the self-evident, perhaps without knowing the principles of historical linguistics. He emphasized the fact that words change, but he had nothing to say on pronunciation and syntax.

English has been written down for more than 1200 years, and the earliest written sources show the language through its three stages of Old English (about A.D. 500 to 1100), Middle English (1100 to 1500), and Modern English (1500 to present). Emphasis will be placed o n the evolution of the renunciation from the earliest times to now, on the changes in the meaning and form of words, and on the changes in sentence structure. Attention will also be given to social, cultural, and historical factors which bring about language change. In an excursus at the beginning of the course the relationship of English to other Indo-European languages will be explored briefly.