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The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition | [The Great Courses, Seth Lerer]

The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition

This course offers an overview of the English language that is literary, historical, cultural, political, and scientific in its scope and designed to give you greater insight into the written and spoken word.The lectures provide a thorough understanding of the history of the English language - from its origins as a dialect of the Germanic-speaking peoples through the literary and cultural documents of its 1,500-year span to the state of American speech today.

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Publisher's Summary

This course offers an overview of the English language that is literary, historical, cultural, political, and scientific in its scope and designed to give you greater insight into the written and spoken word.The lectures provide a thorough understanding of the history of the English language - from its origins as a dialect of the Germanic-speaking peoples through the literary and cultural documents of its 1,500-year span to the state of American speech today.

Professor Lerer defines concepts by illustrating them with copious examples. He often speaks in the dialect appropriate to each lecture - be it Old English, Chaucer’s Middle English, or the colloquial style of Mark Twain’s most unforgettable characters.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (39 )
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  •  
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 09-24-13
    Ken Millbrook, New York, United States 09-24-13 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating and informative"

    I listened to the first version of this course on cassette tapes way back in the day and found it truly fascinating. The second version contains much of the original material, and it was fun to be reminded of the things I had forgotten. It is a testament to the original course that I also remembered quite a lot! The new material at the end brings the history of English up to date by covering the ways in which new technologies are transforming the language. Professor Lerer presents the lectures at a perfect pace, uses great examples to illustrate abstract concepts, and clearly loves this material. His enthusiasm is infectious. Highly recommended as a way to learn not only the history of English but also some widely applicable principles of philology and linguistics.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avid Reader Hawaii 03-12-14
    Avid Reader Hawaii 03-12-14 Member Since 2013

    from Hawaii

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    "Very detailed"
    Would you listen to The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition again? Why?

    I listened to the entire course. Professor Lerer is very learned and prepares well, but it was more information than I really wanted to learn. This is a very detailed history.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    Yes. This was my third course.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 11-02-14
    John Chamblee, GA, United States 11-02-14 Member Since 2009

    I'm a lawyer and mediator. I represent businesses in disputes with their insurers and in other complex litigation. I also assist machinery companies and manufacturers (primarily international) with equipment sales, non-disclosure agreements, and business issues. I also mediate commercial disputes.

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    "Good, But Could Be Better"

    This course is very interesting, although it could be better. The first two parts of the book are excellent with a wealth of historical information about the historical development of the English language going, well, back to the beginning. Really fascinating, and I felt like I learned a lot.

    When the book gets to the later stages, however, it slips a bit. The professor lapses into more than a little political correctness, which is probably not surprising given his background. If you can take it or leave it, the discussion is still interesting.

    The professor is not a bad lecturer, but he has one incredibly irritating habit: He says "if you like" all the time. It becomes glaringly obvious, especially given the length of the recording. Maybe the professor can fix this in the third edition.

    Another irritation--although certainly not the professor's fault--is the trumpet music announcing each new chapter along with the fake applause (which also closes each chapter). Straight out of 1950s sound effects. Just plain awful and prevalent in the "Great Courses." But, fortunately, a small part of the recording.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DMG 05-24-14
    DMG 05-24-14
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    "Way, way too long"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only if I knew them to be a total language geek or a career student


    Would you recommend The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition to your friends? Why or why not?

    Only if I knew them to be a total language geek or a career student


    How could the performance have been better?

    The instructor speaks as if he is putting hard emphasis in each sentence. 36 hours of emphasis is a lot to listen to. It would have been better if he modulated his tone.


    Did The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition inspire you to do anything?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I purchased the course because I was interested in how the English language developed into what it is today. The lectures did bring out a few interesting points - the fact that England was a tri-lingual country for hundreds of years was interesting. Also other odd points here and there. But this was 36 lectures, about a half hour each. It would have been more merciful to at least compress it into a fourth (or less) with more stuff and less boring fluff.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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