The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition : The Great Courses: Linguistics

  • by The Great Courses, Seth Lerer
  • Narrated by Professor Seth Lerer
  • Series: The Great Courses: Linguistics
  • 18 hrs and 27 mins
  • Lecture

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.

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Customer Reviews

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What did you love best about The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition?

The historical etymologies and the traced evolution of English were a delight to learn about.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition?

If you like if you like if you like if you like if you like ad infinitum.


How could the performance have been better?

If the words "if," "you," and "like" were suddenly deleted from Professor Lerer's vocabulary. He says it at least two to three times each lesson, and you WILL notice. In fact, in the lesson I just listened to, he said it twice in one sentence.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Apart from the "If you like"s being really frustrating, there were two things that got to me. The pronunciations of the rare French readings made me cry as a French speaker, and every once in a while Professor Lerer would say things that were not quite right that I had already known beforehand as an amateur linguist.Everything else was great and a delight to listen to.


Any additional comments?

If you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like if you like

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- William Harrison

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.
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- John

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses