Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

By Richard W. Bailey | Go to book overview

4 Charleston, 1700–1750

AMERICAN ENGLISH BEGAN to define itself in new ways at the opening of the eighteenth century, and nowhere was this change more apparent than in South Carolina. Present-day North and South Carolina were still united as a single colony, but their settled places were far apart and very different. Charles Town (as it was then known) from modest beginnings became, by midcentury, one of the wealthiest and most important cities in British North America.1

European influence in the region began, of course, much earlier. Five Spanish expeditions traversed the southeast during the sixteenth century, and, from the records created to document them, a detailed picture of the inhabitants and their societies can be discerned. Here as so often elsewhere in the spread of languages, “interpreters” came on board vessels or emerged from the forest to negotiate the exchange of information. In the very first of these expeditions, that led by Hernando de Soto between 1539 and 1543, the interpreter was a French boy who had spent a year in “monolingual

1. Throughout the rest of the chapter, I will refer to the city as “Charleston,” although people of the period would not have known the city by that name.

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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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