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


Professor Lerer may rub you the wrong way a little when you first hear his voice; he did me.

I had that reaction, I think, because he enunciates each word with such excruciating clarity and exactness that it becomes at times distracting from the actual content of the lecture.

It was only a little further into the course, however, that this very trouble, that is the shifting of focus between the meaning of the sentences/sections/thoughts and the individual words (free from direct context, highlighted by the intentionality with which he executes them) became a source of joy and reflection that added tremendously to the experience. I'm sure this was one of his goals in constructing these polished lectures.

His apparently deep knowledge of the pronunciation of old and middle English, including the various dialects, makes listening to his readings of Chaucer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, Cadmon and even Shakespeare (reconstructed to sound as it would have if you were hearing it circa 1600) really thrilling.

I'm going to find his other courses after reviewing this one. Highly recommended!
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

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