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English Begins at Jamestown Narrating the History of a Language

9780198846369

English Begins at Jamestown Narrating the History of a Language

  • ISBN 13:

    9780198846369

  • ISBN 10:

    0198846363

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 12/29/2022
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Summary

Any history of English starts with the evidence its narrators select, the historical periods they focus on, and the guiding principles and frameworks they adopt. Even slightly different choices lead to significantly different narratives.

English Begins at Jamestown investigates the factors behind these choices and the effects they have on our understanding of the English language and its history. Tim Machan explores how people tell and have told the story of English, from its Indo-European origins to its present-day status as a global language. He describes how narrative principles are constructed, what kinds of facts and analyses they allow or prevent, and what can be known outside of them. The book's historically and critically wide-ranging arguments center on the themes of social purpose, aesthetics, periodization, and grammatical structure, while the conclusion extends the discussion into the roles of speakers themselves, who have transformed the grammar and pragmatics of English since the colonial period embodied in the Jamestown settlement. English Begins at Jamestown shows that there are better, worse, and wrong ways to narrate the language's history, even if there cannot necessarily be one correct way.

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