- Cultural Reformations
- List of Illustrations
- List of Abbreviations
- List of Contributors
- National Histories
- Literary Histories
- Enclosed Spaces
- The Eucharist
- The Saints
- Vernacular Theology
- When English Became Latin
- Heresy and Treason
- Naughty Printed Books
- Utopian Pleasure
- Poetic Fame
- London Books and London Readers
- The Reformation of the Household
- Active and Contemplative Lives
- Autobiography and the History of Reading
Abstract and Keywords
The English language, at all grammatical levels, underwent a profound, albeit gradual, change between 1377 and 1642. These phonological changes include the Great Vowel Shift and the change in inflectional morphology. This article examines the transition from Middle English to Modern English and how English became Latin. It considers the retention of what might be called England’s sociolinguistic infrastructure, alongside a wide-ranging reconfiguration of English’s grammar and social uses. It discusses three unfamiliar constancies that characterize the decisive shift in the English language between the medieval and early modern epochs: the first involved the object of grammatical inquiry in early modern England, the second concerned the character of England’s linguistic repertoire of which diglossia was the notable organizing principle, and the third relates to the cultural significance that English was understood to project as an emerging High Language.
Tim William Machan is professor of English at Marquette University, where he teaches and has published extensively on historical English linguistics, medieval manuscript culture, and Old Norse. His most recent book is Language Anxiety: Conflict and Change in the History of English (OUP, 2009). His What Is English, and Why Do Should We Care? is forthcoming from OUP in 2013.
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