A Survey of Modern English

A Survey of Modern English

A Survey of Modern English

A Survey of Modern English


Fully revised and updated, the second edition of this authoritative guide is a comprehensive, scholarly and systematic review of modern English. In one volume the book presents a description of both the linguistic structure of present-day English and its geographical, social, gender, and ethnic variations.Covering new developments such as the impact of email on language and corpus-based grammars, this accessible text has been extensively rewritten and brings the survey of modern English right up to date. It also offers new examples and suggestions for further reading.


A Survey of Modern English has grown, over twenty years, from a vague idea in the late 1970s, by way of our German language book Das moderne Englisch and the first, 1992 edition, to what it is here - a sometimes expanded, sometimes abridged and in any case very differently structured volume.

This book is to a large extent the product of teaching the subjects treated here to several generations of students in Bielefeld. We need, therefore, to thank them for reminding us again and again to keep our feet on the ground and to remember what they need and want: a view of the language related to what they know, explanations for phenomena that are new for them, insights into structures difficult to analyse immediately, and descriptions of varieties of English never before (or at least not extensively) encountered. It is because of our students, whom we have constantly had in mind in writing, that we have tried to be so relatively comprehensive and have made continual efforts to give straightforward explanations and to avoid too much unnecessary terminology. Where we have used the terms of the field, we have tried to be clear about what they designate either by using short glosses or by providing more extensive discussion.

We have also had our students in mind as we have made the often hard choices about what to include and what to leave out. Needless to say, the choices could have been different and not everyone who uses this book will agree fully. Nor, we know, will everyone agree with us in all of our interpretations. We know this from our own experience with each other. For although we divided up the work more or less according to themes and chapters (both: 1, 6, 12; KMP: 2, 3, 7; SG: 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14) and have read and discussed each other's work critically, there has not always been complete agreement between the two of us.

For this edition, the text of A Survey of Modern English has been carefully and completely revised. This has resulted in a tightened text, in which, however, nothing of importance has been left out. Some old chapters have been amalgamated while others have been substantially rewritten (new Chapters 1 and 2). All the chapters now end with notes on further reading and there are full references in the bibliography at the end of the book, which has been brought up to date to take account of developments over the past eleven years. Another new feature is a separate bibliography with a classified list of dictionaries and other reference works. We hope that our book in its new shape will continue to be found useful as an introduction to modern English and would be grateful for any suggestions for its improvement.

Extract from Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourne published by Chatto & Windus. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited.

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