Lecture: History of the English Language (Intro.)

Enseignant(s): Dutton Elisabeth
Cursus: Master
Type d'enseignement: Cours
Langue(s) du cours: Anglais
Semestre(s): SA-2019

This course will provide an introductory survey of the development of the English language from the beginnings to the present day.  Topics covered will include: the development of standard English, the relationship between written and spoken language, ideas of ‘purity’ in language, the nature of ‘literary’ language, language and power.  The influence on language of historical events such as conquest and colonization will be discussed, as will the influence of conscious language-shaping activities such as the writing of dictionaries, and the power of cultural icons such as the King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare. 


  • An understanding of the broad narrative of the development of the English language
  • An ability to situate key literary texts within the narrative of the development of the language
  • An understanding of scholarly debate around language standardization, and language and power
  • A developing capacity to reflect on evaluative descriptions of language
  • An appreciation of English as a Germanic language, and the influence of French and Latin on it
  • An understanding of the development of English as a written vernacular