THIS BOOK IS, sadly, being published posthumously. Richard W.Bailey died on April 2, 2011, surrounded by friends and family. Professor Bailey had been struggling with serious health issues for four years, after a near fatal car accident in 2007. But he was determined to finish this book designed to tell the history of American English in an entirely original way, drawing on the kinds of archival treasures for which Professor Bailey was known. He submitted the full manuscript of the book to Oxford University Press the day after Christmas 2010.
The book readers will find here remains very faithful to the manuscript that Professor Bailey submitted to the Press. In editing the manuscript, there were times when we wished we could consult with him to resolve an ambiguous passage or ensure that the wording of a claim was accurate. Where we felt confident that we understood his intentions, we slightly altered wording for clarity; in other places, we left potential ambiguity unresolved, relying on readers to interpret the passage in context. We left the organization largely untouched, only moving some lengthy parenthetical material into footnotes.
We wish Professor Bailey were alive to see this book in print, and we hope that readers will enjoy learning from this rich source of historical material about the development of speaking American.