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Language Change (ENB6 etc)

Susan Wilde

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I've been "raiding" the ELL emails again, to make a more permenant record of tips passed on, these first were suggested by e-Julie:


Good resources to get you up to speed on teaching this topic include:

Crystal's Encyclopaedia of the English Language esp the - first

seven chapters.

a couple of chapters of Graddol et al, History of the English Language: history, diversity and change.

Freeborn's From Old English to Standard English: because it is a fantastic source of "old" texts.

ed. adds : I agree - I've done a handout using some of the facsimile texts from Swift, Johnson, Lowth and Cobbet that are in here - it is great for getting a grip on the whole standards debate, and for reading some "original" texts ... we spent quite a while on this, then linked it up to a few bits and pieces on the emergence fo the National Curriculum in English - (including a great quotation from Tebbit where he more or less says that having "poor" grammar makes you a criminal!)

for a more audio-visaul angle - - look at Bragg's Routes of English series see http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/routesofenglish/

- also available on CD-ROM.

ed adds: and linked to quite a bit of "activity" on the website if you follow that link

;) cheers julie

Edited by susanwilde
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also form ELL email:

steve campsall reminds us of a couple of web resources estblished by two teachers, one of them being himself (cheers, mate!)

and one being the veteran pedagogue - andrew moore (god bless ya, sir!)





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more cut and paste - Alan Thomas suggests:

Two books by Hodder and Stoughton. Both are aimed at A-Level students.

1. The "Core Book" in the Living Language series (Keith and Shuttleworth)

the satellite text by Shelley Martin (Language Change - useful for facsimiles).

and another text that the students can use: Norman and Watkiss English Language for AQA B - the A2 version - has some useful stuff and integrates some language change into Editorial Writing.

For background reading try: Jean Aitchson's Reith lectures - the first

one is about attitudes to change.

ed adds her book Language Change: Progress or Decay? is a fave of mine, too

Dick Leith's A Social History of English need mediating for A-Level students but gives a very detailed account of the standardisation of English.

There's a chapter in Tim Shortis's The Language of ICT on word formation and semantic change.

ed adds:that reminds me: much of the stuff we've been discussing in the Technology thread has relevenace here - there is going to be a better overlap between ENB2 and ENB6 now, cos dialect is central to change issues as well....

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I like this site:

Michael Quinion's World Wide Words: "Investigating international English from a British viewpoint" - a useful and amusing site that takes an oblique look at the English language: new words, weird words, fun words, slang, etc.


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@ John - I was slightly confused when I followed that link - do you mean the whole thing there is your directory, or is your directory is one of the sites on that list?

and the teachit site that is on the top of that list confuses me too - cos it's not free when I click in things it tells me "oops" (as a college we dont have e credits!) are the pdf things free wether or not you subscribe?

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Yes, that is my directory. They are all websites reviewed in previous editions of Education on the Internet.


The rest of the directory can be found at:



All of TeachIt web resources are free. However, they do charge for other versions of their material.

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I host a blog on language issues for A Level English Language students. Each week I post something about a language issue that has come up in the news, with links to relevant articles. There is space for students (and anyone else for that matter!) to engage in online debate, and links to useful websites. I can't predict what will come up any week, but already there are quite a few posts that are linked to contemporary language change - eg new directive to judges about politically correct language, new book about current slang... It's at http://languagelegend.blogspot.com.

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Guest brinn
@ John - I was slightly confused when I followed that link - do you mean the whole thing there is your directory,  or is  your directory is one of the sites on that list?

and the teachit site that is on the top of that list confuses me too - cos it's not free  when I click in things it tells me "oops" (as a college we don't have e credits!) are the pdf things free whether or not you subscribe?

teachit is free to everyone, but the word processed versions and quite a few 'extras' cost extra subscription. Our place has ecredits and I use it a lot - it really is excellent, but we are secondary: don't know exactly how useful it would be for you to, say buy a sub from your budget (not that pricey) for just A level.

It has some interactive stuff too, but so far nothing too spectacular.

Regarding A Lang - e-julie's blog is excellent! Also you can subscribe to news letters from the OED (better if your dept can buy it on CD-Rom).

Edited by brinn
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thanks brinn ... there was a rumour that the OED was going to put some samples on line for free access - I suppose I could go over and check if they have or not.

We have the OED CD but from ages ago - no-one ever used it in the past, and when I came to try the drivers were all lost/wrong - I need help!

maybe I'll take my enquiries about teachit to another thread ;)

Edited by susanwilde
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apparently Adrian Beard has a new book out too: "Language Change" (how do they come up with these titles!!)

published by Routledge in their Intertext series, which are generall a fabby source of ideas and data £9.99.

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You can get a "word of the day" by email from the OED without being a subscriber. Sometimes these words are useful teaching material for language change, sometimes they're not, but if you sign up for the free email you can pick and choose.

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Guest brinn

David Crystal's book on Language and the Internet came into our school library today - I have scanned it quickly and it looks great for ENB2, ENB5 and for students wanting to do an ENB4 on the topic and needing some informed research.

Our library has also used some of its ecredits to buy a subscription to the Oxford Reference Online (Oxford Online Premium Collection). It's a great site with masses of reference books across the entire curriculum including texts very useful for Language Change (etymological dictionary) and Lit.

I know Sixth Form Colleges don't get ecredits so perhaps Depts can club together for a subscription? Sounds as if it would be more useful to find out how to supply those missing drivers though, suze.

I like the following websites just to give students a flavour of sounds and language change:

The Great Vowel Shift Site (Java).


Exercises in pronouncing Middle English Long Vowels


Teach Yourself to read Chaucer’s Middle English aloud



Sound file for Old and Middle English


It looks quite useful for lang change and contains short audio clips so that students can hear old & middle English.

A British Library site. Well worth it!! Includes sound files. They should do the KS3 pages first


Elizabethan Accents


Everyone must know this site: History of the English Language (HEL)


This is a nice British Library site


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  • 3 months later...

I dunno if this just duplicates what brinn said, or is a new address for the British Library


they certainly seem to be working flat out to give us intersting stuff there

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more "lang list" raiding -in the hopes of getting permenant records for ppl in the future ...

Guy posted this list of tips








word histories/ puzzles



A tutorial on Language Change:


On computers affecting language change:


Test on language change


Research studies/ Language and Social Contexts



Language Change

Language Change: Progress or decay J. Aitchison

From Alphabet to E-mail N. Baron

A Social History of English D. Leith

A History of the English Language D. Burnley

A History of English Baugh and Cable

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