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Publisher's Summary

Named one of America’s best professors by Princeton Review, Christopher R. Fee invites you to explore your heritage from an unconventional angle: through the origin and development of the English language. 

Professor Fee is an award-winning professor and medievalist whose expertise spans Old English, Old Norse, and historical linguistics. With flair and gusto, he draws from this well of knowledge to help you trace the evolution of English across a fascinating range of cultures. 

In liberal-arts fashion, this series of 24 lectures mixes the study of technical subjects (like phonetics, linguistics, and historical grammar) with cultural and historic topics, such as the impact of the Norman Invasion on Old English, the advent of the printing press, the place of Ebonics in the modern public-school curriculum, how English became a world language, and how close the Vikings came to ensuring that this course might have been about Danish instead of English. 

Prof. Fee has a knack for combining scholarly insight with great storytelling. Expect to enjoy his account of the characters “worthy of a seamy soap opera” tasked with writing a dictionary. 

Language is a cornerstone - arguably the very foundation - of human culture. It is a vital part of who we are and a subject invaluable to anyone interested in the humanities.

This course is part of the Learn25 Collection. 

©2019 Now You Know Media Inc. (P)2019 Now You Know Media Inc.

What listeners say about The History of English: The Biography of a Language

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-01-2020

A Great Guide to the Evolution of English Language

Do you know that we are not supposed to talk? When a child is born, he/she is not born with language; he/she hears words, learns them, and then start talking. Before listening to this course, I had many questions. For example, why does the world include that number of languages? Why did we invent the language? How did English evolve throughout history? Why is English so common? Why are there many accents? What is the difference between modern and old English? What are the effects of language on people, cultures, and history? All these questions and more are answered in this course.

I love old English poems and poets; that is why I got this course. I am glad to find a course that comprehensive about a topic I am very interested in.
It is not easy to simplify the topics in this course. In fact, I don’t know how professor Chris managed to make it possible for everyone to understand the nature of language. We read and write all the time; have we ever contemplated what we are doing? This course will make you contemplate everything literally when it comes to languages, especially English. If you are dealing with tourists or people from different countries, you will find this course GREAT.

Languages evolve, develop, die, and live longer than others. It is a purely human artifact. Professor Chris has shown me the history of English from its beginning up till now in different places and times. It is full of information that will make you contemplate every English word you speak or write. Now, I know why they bring a specialist in language when they make a show about a certain place or period of time.

Get it if you want to learn A LOT about the most common language on Earth. Thank you, Professor Chris, for this great effort.

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  • Tom McGowan
  • 09-10-2019

Amazing professor!

Chris Fee delivers again! Chris is one of my favorite Learn25 professors. This is clearly one of his best subjects. The course is both a history of a language and the story of how English shaped the lives and creativity of a people. Fascinating, well organized, funny, and well presented.

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  • Glenda Nichols
  • 18-12-2019

Uh, uh, uh.

I hate to be so negative, but when the author uttered his 10th “uh” by the 4
minute mark I just had to stop. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stand so many pauses filled with “Uh”.

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  • T. Hawes
  • 17-08-2019

Missed opportunity, waffling and stuttering

So much stuttering and 'er' 'um' 'ah' almost every sentence makes this hard enough to follow. The first 2 chapters (intro and chapter 1 of the book) seem irrelevant waffling. so many places in the book lack a concrete example of what he is talking about.
The book seems not to be in chronologucal order all the time, so you have to put the jigsaw together yourself.
the author seems to have spent so long in academic circles they have forgotten how to talk to am outside audience. The book is ok for people who already know all the jargon and the subject, but this is not a book of use to those who want to learn.
I thought it was going to be a historical guide step by step to the development of the English language but it is more a sampling of some events padded around with waffle and big words.
So many occasions it would have helped to have given examples, which he did sometimes.

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