A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.
Episode 141: The Great Vowel Shift (Part 1)
The term ‘Great Vowel Shift’ was coined in the early 1900s by the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen to describe a systematic change in the long vowel sounds of English. The changes help to mark the transition from Middle English to … Continue reading →
Episode 140: You Say ‘To-may-to’
Vowel sounds are a key feature of every language, but the actual vowel sounds vary from one language to another. The English language contains about twenty vowel sounds, some of which are pure vowels and some of which are a … Continue reading →
Episode 139: The Business of Printing
William Caxton introduced the mass production of books to England in the 1470s. He was also the first person to print books in the English language via the printing press. Caxton’s publications reveal the priorities and concerns of a businessman, … Continue reading →
Episode 138: Family Matters
In the 1400s, rising literacy rates and access to cheap paper combined to produce the first collections of personal letters in the English language. One of the earliest letter collections was maintained by the Paston family of Norfolk. Their letters … Continue reading →
Episode 137: A Rose By Any Other Name
The rose is one of the most beloved flowers in western Europe, and it has a long association with English royalty. In this episode, we explore the history of English gardens and the use of the rose as a symbol … Continue reading →
Episode 136: The Real Robin Hood
The legend of Robin Hood has its origins in the murky history of England after the Norman Conquest, but the first written examples of Robin Hood ballads don’t appear until the mid-1400s. In this episode, we examine the earliest references … Continue reading →
Fine decision-making on level of detail, repetition and cross-referencing. I love your choice of battles, how you fight them (with semi-ironic awareness of listener interest thresholds) and the battles from which you realise you must flee (as a great philologist once put it). I will do my best to get my cildru to listen.
Awesome!!! This podcast should be a book! It would be an amazing read!
Together with the podcasts by john merriman, richard pogge, carey olsen and paul freedman, this is one of my favorite courses. What's especially striking with this one is the sheer size of the material. I listen to this while dishing. Thanks, hugs and kisses to the author of it.