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Timeline: Early Modern English

 

Learn about the events and people that shaped the development of English in the 16th and 17th centuries...

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Printing and Its Consequences

 

Learn about the introduction of printing by William Caxton and its consequences for the emergence of Standard English...

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The "Ink-horn" Controversy

 

Learn about the reasons for the rise of loanword antipathy that spilled out into the "ink-horn" controversy...

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Shakespeare Home

 

This section of the web site explores Shakespeare's linguistic and poetic legacy...

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The Impact of the Bible

 

The Bible's lexicon is less than half that of Shakespeare, but its impact has been much greater. Learn why...

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Coventry Martyrs and the Bible

 

Learn about 16th century religious strife in Coventry when men and women were martyred for their belief that the Bible should be read in English...

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Biblical Phrases Test

 

Take an online test to check your knowledge of  proverbial expressions from the Bible...

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The Rise of Prescriptivism

 

Learn about cultural and social pressures that led to the rise of prescriptive attitudes about the use of English...

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A Projected English Academy

 

Read Daniel Defoe's 1697 proposal on founding an institution to look after the language...

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Scenes from "My Fair Lady" (video)

 

Watch how important the notion of "correct" English is for the transformation of a flower-girl into a lady...

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David Crystal Interviewed at the Hay Festival 2007 (video)

 

Watch David Crystal condemning a rigid prescriptivist approach to language use in general and spelling in particular...

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A History of English Dictionaries

 

Learn about the early stages in the development of English lexicography that culminated in Samuel Johnson's classic Dictionary...

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Early Dictionaries & Glossaries

 

Learn about the latest revisionist thinking about the origins of the English lexicographic tradition..

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Johnson's Dictionary

 

Learn about the extent of continuity and innovation in Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language...

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Johnson's Definitions

 

Read a small selection of some of the more amusing entries drawn from the first edition (1755) of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language...

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Samuel Johnson's Brief Biography

 

Samuel Johnson's life covers many points, but it's a story about overcoming considerable adversity, to ultimately become one of the best known men of his age...

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Samuel Johnson's Witticisms

 

Johnsonís witticisms were recorded by his loyal biographer, Boswell, who has left us a portrayal of Johnson as a human being: flawed, eccentric, opinionated, and, above all, lovable...

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Blackadder and Dr Johnson (video)

 

Blackadder accidentally burns the manuscript of Dr Johnson's Dictionary and must rewrite in one night the work that took Johnson 10 years... 

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Standardizing the Language

 

Learn about the efforts of the orthographers, orthoepists, and grammarians to standardize the English language...

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Up with which we will not put

  Learn about the type of linguistic prescriptivism up with which Winston Churchill would not put...

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British vs. American English

 

This section of the web site explores the forces that shaped the unique character of American English and made it diverge from its British parent...

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The Impact of the Industrial Revolution

 

Learn about the linguistic consequences of the Industrial Revolution and the remarkable expansion of scientific and technical vocabulary...

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