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Description de l’éditeur
A history of English from the age of Beowulf to the rap of Eminem, “written with real authority, enthusiasm and love for our unruly and exquisite language” (The Washington Post).
Many have written about the evolution of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary, but only Seth Lerer situates these developments within the larger history of English, America, and literature. This edition of his “remarkable linguistic investigation” (Booklist) features a new chapter on the influence of biblical translation and an epilogue on the relationship of English speech to writing.
A unique blend of historical and personal narrative, both “erudite and accessible” (The Globe and Mail), Inventing English is the surprising tale of a language that is as dynamic as the people to whom it belongs.
“Lerer is not just a scholar; he's also a fan of English—his passion is evident on every page of this examination of how our language came to sound—and look—as it does and how words came to have their current meanings…the book percolates with creative energy and will please anyone intrigued by how our richly variegated language came to be.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Lerer is not just a scholar (he's a professor of humanities at Stanford and the man behind the Teaching Company's audio and videotape series The History of the English Language); he's also a fan of English his passion is evident on every page of this examination of how our language came to sound and look as it does and how words came to have their current meanings. He writes with friendly reverence of the masters Chaucer, Milton, Johnson, Shakespeare, Twain illustrating through example the monumental influence they had on the English we speak and write today (Shakespeare alone coined nearly 6,000 words). Anecdotes illustrate how developments in the physical world (technological advances, human migration) gave rise to new words and word-forms. With the invention of the telephone, for instance, a neutral greeting was required to address callers whose gender and social rank weren't known. America minted "hello" (derived from the maritime "ahoy"), and soon Twain enshrined the term in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Whether it's Lerer's close examination of the earliest surviving poem in English (the seventh-century Caedmon's Hymn) or his fresh perspective on Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, the book percolates with creative energy and will please anyone intrigued by how our richly variegated language came to be.