This short introduction to the history of English is the product of teaching a subject that is often daunting to the student. It is intended to be as clear and simple as possible and therefore assumes no technical knowledge on the part of the reader.
Inevitably the debt to numerous works of scholarship is too heavy to acknowledge in copious notes and references. The book has drawn extensively on the work of historians of English like C.L. Barber, M.L. Samuels, and Barbara Strang; of linguists and language scholars like A.C. Gimson, Geoffrey Leech, Frank Palmer, Randolph Quirk, and R.A. Waldron; and of sociolinguists like Joshua Fishman, Einar Haugen, William Labov, and Peter Trudgill. And the work of Raymond Williams has proved an invaluable supplement. The more specific contributions of others have been acknowledged in the Notes and Bibliography at the end of the book.
The book is divided into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 trace the history of English within England, first by outlining a 'historical sociology' of the language and then by exploring some case studies of linguistic change. Part 3 concerns the history of English in other areas of the British Isles and in different parts of the world.