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About a Hitchhiker’s History of the English Language (v1.0)

This presentation is one of many stories[1] about the history of the English language (HOTEL). It captures my developing understanding of the subject after having completed the course History of the English Language (ENGL 3311) during the Spring 2019 semester at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. My story is but a single stitch of a single thread woven through a much larger HOTEL tapestry.

A good approach to learning a new and complex topic is to break the information down into chunks. You may already be familiar with this approach to learning, and that it allows us to take in smaller aspects of the larger topic; combine them together as we learn; and eventually begin to synthesize them as a whole as we progress in our understanding. Chunking is a very useful strategy to apply when taking on board such a multi-faceted topic as a HOTEL. I have attempted to share information in this way throughout this presentation.

It’s convenient that there are several periods in a HOTEL that we can separate out where distinguishable characteristics of the language can be identified and that include notable historical landmarks and watersheds. Four specific periods that historical linguists refer to in a HOTEL are Old English (OE), Middle English (ME), Early Modern English (EModE), and Modern English (ModE). This presentation is organized around these four linguistic phases.

TECHNICAL MATTERS

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Presentation format: This presentation’s slide deck consists of 27 slides, which include:

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Acronyms and abbreviated forms: Throughout this presentation, I use the following acronyms and abbreviated forms:

  • HOTELHistory of the English Language
  • OE – Old English
  • ME – Middle English
  • EModE – Early Modern English
  • ModE – Modern English
  • PIE – Proto-Indo-European

Navigation: Please use the navigation arrows, located to the right of a slide’s title, to advance to each successive slide. If you get lost, a “You are here” breadcrumb navigation bar is located at the top of each slide, directly under the slide title. [Note: If you are on a smartphone, the navigation arrows may be located under the slide title.]

1 Author David Crystal notes in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, that there is “no one ‘story’ of English” (Crystal iii). “To model the English language is, rather, to provide an abstract representation of its central characteristics, so that it becomes easier to see how it is structured and used” (Crystal 2).