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Introduction to the History of English

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Thomas Kohnen

This book is written for students of English who are interested in the history of the language and would like to read an accessible but also comprehensive and reasonably detailed introduction. Apart from basic information about language change and the Indo-European background of English, it gives an outline of the major periods of the language (Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English and Late Modern English), with a brief examination of the perspectives of present-day English. Each period chapter provides information about the socio-historical background, the core areas of linguistic structure, discourse, speech acts and genres, and concludes with study questions and exercises.
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Preface

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This book aims to provide an accessible but also comprehensive and reasonably detailed introduction to the history of the English language. After a short overview of the basic facts of language change and the Indo-European background of English, it traces the major periods of the language (Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English and Late Modern English), with a brief examination of the perspectives of present-day English. Each period chapter follows the same pattern, providing information about the socio-historical background and the core areas of linguistic structure, but also about discourse, speech acts and genres. The text is richly illustrated with examples and text excerpts, and each chapter concludes with a section containing study questions and exercises.

I would like to thank Tanja Rütten for her feedback on the manuscript. I would also like to thank Stefanie Leu, who designed the maps and figures, and Kirsten Gather, Leonie Mohr and Christina Rath for their help with the manuscript.

Cologne November 2013

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