History of English Language

To be taught by Prof. Teresa Morell

Required Text

  • Course Reader (CRDG Marketing and Publication, Castle 101)

In this course, we will study the origins and evolution, in
historical and linguistic terms, of what today may best be described in the
plural form: the English languages. There will be detailed analysis (and
translation) of a variety of historical texts, including several from what are
traditionally defined as the Early and Middle English periods. To do this will
inevitably require of students a willingness to engage with grammars and
vocabularies that appear very different from the language most of us use in our
text messages or e-mails.

From its very humble origins on a sparsely populated island
off the coast of Europe, a motley collection of minor Germanic dialects quickly
overwhelmed the indigenous languages of Britain before becoming itself
subjected to outside invasion and eventual conquest. The resulting linguistic
hybrid, Celtic-Roman-Saxon-Danish-Norwegian-Norman English, then began,
primarily through colonial expansion and global domination, to outgrow its
sister languages on the Continent, eventually establishing itself as what most
Americans gratefully know it to be today: the whole world’s lingua franca.

If, in what form, and for how long ‘English’ will remain the
primary global language are questions which no-one today can answer, which is
why this course also aims to look beyond the hegemony of the current
Anglo-American centre (spelled correctly according to a competing
variety).  To do this, we will be
examining some competing English-speaking communities and cultures at the
centre and periphery of the so-called English-speaking world for whom the
precepts of the descendants of Dr. Johnson and Noah Webster are no longer quite
as binding.


  • There will be two midterms (40%)
  • And a final examination (30%)
  • Weekly Laulima Postings (20%)
  • Full Attendance (10%)