Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

By Richard W. Bailey | Go to book overview

Preface

AMERICAN ENGLISH HAS often been seen, particularly in Britain, as an imperfect language, mainly derived from the survival of expressions that have become archaic in England, borrowings from other languages encountered here in North America, or even errors and mistakes that Americans didn’t know enough to correct. But American English, from the beginning, began to take its own course, shaped by the new landscape and the various human languages found in it. Early in the seventeenth century, English observers noticed that words like maize and canoe had become English words and were valuable additions to the language. From that time forward, American expressions were recognized even if they were sometimes demeaned.

The history of American English does not consist, however, of what Britons (and anglophiles) thought about the language, but of the language itself as it evolved over four centuries. Most attention in the past has centered on New England, largely because the written records are most abundant there. Other places were also prominent and influential in shaping the evolution of the language, as this book details.

-xiii-

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Speaking American: A History of English in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Editorial Note xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1- Introduction 3
  • 2- Chesapeake Bay, before 1650 16
  • 3- Boston, 1650–1700 27
  • 4- Charleston, 1700–1750 48
  • 5- Philadelphia, 1750–1800 72
  • 6- New Orleans, 1800–1850 98
  • 7- New York, 1850–1900 121
  • 8- Chicago, 1900–1950 139
  • 9- Los Angeles, 1950–2000 162
  • 10- Epilogue 183
  • References 185
  • Index 199
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