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The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]
The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]

Simon Horobin
  • Provides a concise and accessible history of English
  • Engages with key debates concerning issues of correctness, standards, and dialects
  • Investigates the uses of English worldwide
  • Reflects on the future of the English language
  • Originall published in hardback as How English Became English (ISBN: 9780198754275)

The English language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today?

In this Very Short Introduction Simon Horobin investigates how we have arrived at the English we know today, and celebrates the way new speakers and new uses mean that it continues to adapt. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, Horobin considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or we are witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?


1: What is English?
2: Origins
3: Authority
4: Standards
5: Varieties
6: Global English
7: Why do we care?
Further Reading

About the author: 

Simon Horobin, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford
Simon Horobin is Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Magdalen College. He has written extensively on the history, structure, and uses of the English language. He is the author of How English Became English (OUP, 2016), Does Spelling Matter? (OUP, 2013), and books on the history of English, and the language of Chaucer.

"A lively and erudite introduction to the richness and variety of our language from one of the world's leading experts on English usage and its history. Professor Horobin does more than survey he argues for an open and welcoming approach to the diversity of the vernacular, to the debates on grammar and standards, and to the challenges of change and variation in our own lives. A book for students, teachers, and all lovers of language alike." - Seth Lerer, author of History of the English Language

"Intelligent, witty, and engaging, the book is for anyone who is interested in how English became what it is today and who is wondering where it will go next." - Tim William Machan, University of Notre Dame

"Review from previous edition Simon Horobin's marvellous How English Became English ... should be handed to every pedant you know." - Jonathan Wright, Books of the Year 2016, Catholic Herald

"In this concise narrative of the history of the English language, Horobin analyzes historical context just enough to unfurl the object called 'English.'" - Library Journal, starred review

"A happy mixture of scholarship, clear writing, and humour" - Kirkus

"There's a lot of detailed information in this succinct book and it's very readable" - Susan Elkin, Independent on Sunday

"informative and entertaining new book" - Oliver Kamm, The Times

"Horobin is ... on a laudable and ... interesting mission to educate the wider public." - Faramerz Dabhoiwala, Guardian

"We all have our hobbyhorses when it comes to the finer points of English grammar. Simon Horobin's witty book provides the antidote to our pedantry." - Jonathan Wright, Herald

"Horobin's succinctness is impressive" - Times Literary Supplement

"Distilling an inexhaustible topic into 170 short pages. Horobin gives an unstuffy guide to the descent, dialects and global diversification of English. Pragmatic rather than pedantic, he eschews grammarian finger-wagging in favour of some pointers on why we still care about getting it 'right'." - Oxford Today

"this book was as good as expected" - The Bookbag

"Horobin clearly loves the English language, but unlike many self-proclaimed language experts, he is not fearful of what the future of English may hold ... How English Became English reminds me what it was that I found so fascinating about the English language." - Jenny Hallquist, Babel

Product details

ISBN : 9780198709251

Simon Horobin
176 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Jan 2018
Very Short Introductions
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The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction [#551]