History of the English Language

English 4610/7610
Section 1
Matthew Gordon

This course examines the history of English from the prehistoric roots that bind it to other languages of Europe and Asia, through the period of its earliest attestation, and into the modern era. We will see that English has undergone dramatic alterations throughout its life, and we will look at changes in sounds, grammar, meaning, and vocabulary. To understand these changes and why they occur, we will look for explanations in both the structure of the language and in the social history of its speakers. We will approach the subject from the perspective of modern linguistics and will, therefore, also develop familiarity with the theory and analytical methods of this field. There is one main textbook for this course with additional readings available online. Grading is based on regular homework assignments and exams.