This is a collection of essays about the English language by English and American men of letters, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries; that is, until the rise of formal linguistic studies. The writers represented are concerned with the history, the use, the reform or the changing nature of English. Topics discussed include the defence of English as a literary language; the relationship with other languages; propriety in literary style; the psychological bases of speech; the relationship between words and things; usage; the need for academies and standards of correctness; the rise of lexicography; spelling reform; prescriptive grammar. These essays are the most important serious attempts to consider the language from various standpoints. Students of English in university departments will find this a convenient and comprehensive collection. It is also in itself an illustration of the development of the literary language.
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- Date Published: January 1966
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521093798
- length: 244 pages
- dimensions: 216 x 14 x 140 mm
- weight: 0.32kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. William Caxton: Prologue to Eneydos
2. Richard Mulcaster: 'That the English tung hath matter', from The First Part of the Elementarie
3. William Harrison: 'Of the languages spoken in this Iland', from Holinshed's Chronicles
4. William Camden: 'The Languages', from Remaines Concerning Britain
5. Ben Jonson: Excerpt from Timber: or, Discoveries
6. Thomas Hobbes: 'Of Speech', from Leviathan
7. John Dryden: 'Defence of the Epilogue'
8. Sir Thomas Browne: 'Of Languages, and Particularly of the Saxon Tongue'
9. John Locke: 'Of Words or Language in general' and 'Of the Signification of Words', from An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding
10. Daniel Defoe: 'Of Academies', from An Essay upon Projects
11. Joseph Addison: Spectator 135
12. Jonathan Swift: 'A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue'
13. Lord Chesterfield: Letter to The World
14. Samuel Johnson: Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language
15. Noah Webster: 'An Essay on…Spelling', from Dissertations on the English Language
16. Benjamin Franklin: 'On Modern Innovations in the English Language and in Printing'
17. William Cobbett: 'Syntax, as Relating to Nouns', from A Grammar of the English Language
18. William Hazlitt: 'English Grammar'
19. Ralph Waldo Emerson: 'Language' from Nature
20. Thomas De Quincey: 'The English Language'
Select index of literary and linguistic topics.
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