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English in America: A Linguistic History Lecture

English in America: A Linguistic History

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Publisher's Summary

Think about this: How would you address a group of two or more people? Would you say "you", "you all", "yous", "you lot", "y'all", "you guys", "you'uns", "yinz", or something else? Would that change depending on whom you were talking to or where you were? Your answers can provide revealing insights into who you are, where you grew up or live now, and your social, economic, and educational background.

Welcome to the enthralling world of linguistics. If you've ever been curious about how words like awesomesauce ever came to be, let alone made it into the Oxford English Dictionary, or if you've wondered why you say "firefly" and someone else calls the same insect a "lightning bug", English in America is for you.

There's an incredibly rich and colorful history behind American English. A profoundly diverse assortment of cultures has influenced our vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar, and the language continues to grow and shift. Dialect variations are widespread and actually increasing, and the new words, accents, and sentence structures both reflect and shape changes in our culture and society. Investigating these dialects is the domain of sociolinguistics, the study of the intricate interrelation between language variation and cultural, interpersonal, and personal identity.

Over 24 lectures, you'll encounter a wide range of ethnic and social groups that have shaped the course of the development of American English over the centuries: English speakers from all over the British Isles; speakers of West African languages; immigrants from Western and Eastern Europe; speakers of languages from Asia; and Spanish speakers from all over the world. In considering the contributions of these groups, you'll also gain deep insights into the perceptions - and misperceptions - about language and dialect variation. As you'll discover, American English is an umbrella term for many different EnglishES, reflecting who we have always been as a nation.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC

What Members Say

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  •  
    LadyLindi AZ, USA 05-11-16
    LadyLindi AZ, USA 05-11-16 Member Since 2013

    I listen mostly to history, classic scifi, cozies, medical suspense and liberal arts Great Courses.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More like a book than lectures"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Probably not. It did have some very interesting parts, but I agree with another reviewer that it got too political. Even though I don't necessarily disagree with most of her political views, I didn't decide to listen to the lectures because I wanted a political commentary on language - I was just interested in the development of American English.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Natalie Schilling’s performances?

    No. I usually love Great Courses, but this was more like a book than lectures. The professor probably knows her stuff, but neither the content nor her delivery were very inspiring.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexis Meskill BEMIDJI, MN, US 06-21-16
    Alexis Meskill BEMIDJI, MN, US 06-21-16
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    "learned good basics"

    I am an English teacher in a rural US high school with a lot of students who will not go on to college and need reasons to pass English classes to graduate. being able to give students fun and interesting reasons why our language is the way it is will positively affect my teaching. I do wish more time were spent on midland states and not so much emphasis on the southern dialects

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    flourandthreads 04-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "enthralling"

    Very interesting topic, the professor is easy to understand and has fun with the listener.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony 04-09-16
    Tony 04-09-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Great Stuff, Political Nonsense, More Great Stuff"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Natalie Schilling?

    Yes.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    An entertaining overview of the arrival and development of the English language in America, with lots of insight into how the various dialects developed.


    Any additional comments?

    Schilling veers into nonsense land for several sections with what turns out to be a bit of a diatribe on supposed majority prejudices against nonstandard dialects of minorities. It is a bit rich after her required linguist's assertion (without much proof here, although it is prima facie obvious to anyone who has ever thought about language) that all dialects are equal in complexity and depth. If this is true, then it follows that no dialects are better than others, even if they are used by supposedly oppressed groups. It would seem Dr. Schilling believes some dialects are more equal than others when the assertion suits a identity-based political agenda. But these sections of political opinion can be skipped when they become irksome. The majority of the lecture series is both entertaining, thought-provoking, and informative. Schilling has a delightful delivery, as well. It is certainly worthwhile, good stuff in the main, and recommended.

    4 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcos 06-02-16
    Marcos 06-02-16 Member Since 2014
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    "A truly great course for newbies and experts alike!"

    A really insightful and entertaining course! Prof. Schilling presents a nuanced perspective on language in the US that is accessible to all.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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